So... hi guys. I'd like to bring up a very peculiar observation regarding Isayama's new favourite character, and speculate on what it might mean for his character. (My first blog post, hopefully it'll turn out okay).
At some point when reading the story, you might have noticed Reiner's... uncanny knack for survival. No matter how many times people, including himself, have tried to kill him, this guy Just. Can't. Seem. To. DIE.
It's gotten to the point where people are starting to call him "Immortal", "Plot Armored Titan", making Reiner depression memes, and other things along those lines. I myself have made a forum post on Reiner's many close calls with death some years back during the Shiganshina arc. And I'm happy to say that since then, the trend has continued! I've updated the list with Reiner's 3 latest near-death experiences in the image gallery below for your viewing pleasure.
All the times Reiner almost died
In addition, here's the list of all the people who have tried to kill Reiner so far (but failed):
2. Random Titan
3. Himself (Twice)
4. Mikasa (Twice)
5. Eren (Twice)
9. The Mid-East Navy
Humor aside, I'm sure you can see by now that all those Reiner memes has a real basis behind them. To say that Reiner survived because of plot armor is a massive understatement. So, what's the point I'm trying to make here?
Isayama is doing this on purpose.
It's no coincidence that Reiner has nearly died not once, not twice, but a DOZEN times. This has gone beyond a convenient plot device; it's a recurring theme now.
What this means for Reiner
(From this point on, everything I say is my own speculation based on current evidence from the story, so don't take it as the truth; in fact, please correct me if you spot any flaws in my reasoning!)
For a character like Reiner, who has been pretty much established as being unkillable as a sort of (gag?) theme, along the lines of One Punch Man, a conventional death as an ending just wouldn't do. That's why I believe Isayama is planning something very special for him at the end of the story.
As to what it could be, here are my current theories:
1. Reiner goes the way of Deadpool and lives
Most people I've spoken to seem to think that it's a given that Reiner will die sooner or later. I would say otherwise. Given Isayama's infamous track record of giving the story unexpected twists, I'd say that there's a solid chance of Reiner surviving the end of the series. Just like Deadpool (another character whose main theme is also the inability to die), he has to come to terms with the fact that he's destined to be a survivor. This would fit nicely with the "Cruel World" theme throughout the series, where characters tend to not get what they want. Furthermore, it'll be the perfect juxtaposition between Eren and Reiner, if Eren, whose theme is that of being a survivor, dies in the end, while Reiner, who wants nothing more than to die at this point, ends up alive.
2. Reiner sacrifices himself
It is true that Reiner has had self-sacrificing moments before, such as when he was prepared to jump off Castle Utgard with that Titan, and when he shielded the Beast Titan from the artillery barrage. However, the reason he did those things was the fulfill his duty, first as a soldier, than as a Warrior. Thus far, he has only risked his life for the cause he serves, with reckless abandon to his own life while doing so. It is only when Reiner recognizes the value of his life as something he doesn't want to lose, but sacrifices it anyway for the greater good, that it becomes a real sacrifice, like those of Armin and Erwin. Reiner finally seeing the value of his life like a normal person, but throwing it away regardless to save the people he cares for, would be a fitting end to his character arc.
3. Reiner's fate is left unknown
I'm not exactly sure how Isayama would pull this off, but it would fit in with the recurring theme of his fate constantly being left in question at the end of each chapter. A wild speculation I have is that Reiner will be involved in some climactic finale involving the Curse of Ymir, and he gets "sucked" into the Paths in the process, leaving his eventual fate unknown.
What do you all think? Will Reiner live till the end of the series? Or will he die in some other unexpected way?