Nine years after the airing of the first episode of Attack on Titan, we are finally here watching Eren time travel in the anime (Did he, or did he not?). The recent episodes of the Final Season of Attack on Titan revealed one of the biggest plot twists that changed the narrative of the entire anime right from the start. It looked like Eren Yeager time travelled and manipulated the events leading to the upcoming Rumbling.
As much as everyone likes the concept of time travel in anime (Tokyo Revengers, Steins Gate, Erased, Re: Zero) Eren did not really go back in time. Instead, he transcended through time by receiving memories from future inheritors of the Attack Titan.
Take note that the defining characteristic of the Attack Titan apart from the rest is its ability to see the memories of future inheritors. However, future inheritors of the power can choose what the previous inheritors can see. This is without a doubt, a very important plot point in the narrative of the anime. With that, prepare to delve deeper into one of the anime's most game-changing moments.
Disclaimer: Please read at your own risk, spoiler warning activated!
What Happened to Eren and Zeke?
Eren and Zeke were inside the Paths. In case you missed it, the Paths is the realm where Ymir Fritz’s soul resides. This is where she molds titans from the ethereal sands of the Paths. Future inheritors of the Founding Titan came here to seek the powers of Ymir to do whatever they asked her for. Both Zeke and Eren were here, and they were discussing their opposite plans for humanity’s freedom.
Time works differently along the Paths. According to Zeke, one second feels like a thousand years. He told Eren that he had spent an eternity waiting for his awakening. By that time, Ymir had already fixed Zeke’s body and was also following his orders.
After all, Zeke is born from the royal blood of Dina Fritz. If you didn’t know about Dina Fritz, she was the former partner of Grisha, the blonde titan who is also known as the Smiling Titan, is the same titan who ate Carla Yeager in the first episode of the anime.
Upon learning that they had opposite plans for the people of the world, Zeke decided to convince him by guiding Eren through their late father’s memories. Take note that Zeke wants to continue his euthanization plan, while Eren thoroughly rejected it. Instead, Eren wants to activate the rumbling and exterminate all the people, including the Eldians outside of Paradis.
Zeke guided Eren through Grisha’s memories in the hopes that he could convince him. However, his plan backfired. Zeke learns the truth behind Eren’s upbringing. His little brother was raised very differently from the way he grew up in the Yeager-Fritz household. The truth greatly overwhelmed Zeke, and he fell into a shock. Indeed, Eren used a reverse-uno card on him!
A quick side note: Eren has been the subject of memers lately. This is because of his reverse-uno card for his brother Zeke.
In case you missed it: Who are the titan shifters?
How Did Eren Manipulate Grisha?
Zeke played a huge role in the success of Eren’s plan. Thanks to him, Eren managed to influence the actions taken by his father, leading to the events of the Rumbling. To clearly understand the context, we need to go back to the important points from the lives of the three known Attack Titan shifters.
The known shifters of the Attack Titan are Eren Kruger, Grisha, and Eren Yeager. It was first revealed that the Attack Titan could see the memories of the future inheritors of the titan powers. This explains the reason behind Eren Kruger’s advice to Grisha to protect a girl named Mikasa and a boy named Armin, even if he didn’t know them. Basically, Eren Kruger has already seen Eren Yeager’s future memories.
Afterwards, Grisha inherited the Attack Titan powers from Kruger to make it to the outer walls. From here on, Eren has been continuously guiding Grisha’s every action. He allowed his father to see glimpses of his memory that best suited his future goals. Hence, Eren did not allow Grisha to see the events of the rumbling, for it would affect his plan.
One instance is how Eren pushed Grisha to murder the Reiss family and take the founding titan’s power. If you go back to Season 3 of Attack on Titan Episode 21, there was a cut scene before Grisha decided to kill the royal family. In the final season, we learned that Grisha abruptly canceled his plan, but Eren pushed him further. Grisha then proceeds to exterminate the Reiss family.
On the contrary, the only good that came out of it for Zeke and Grisha was that they were able to make amends towards each other. Faintly, Eren allowed Grisha to see Zeke, hugged him, and apologized to his eldest son.
You might want to read: How Did Ymir Fritz Become a Titan?
Did Eren Time Travel?
To conclude, Eren did not go back in time, nor did he time travel. He just used his Attack Titan abilities to usher Grisha towards his real plan. It is just an assumption fueled by the scenes in the anime that made it look like Eren did time travel.
Are you ready for the rumbling? It was quite a long journey. If we could time travel, perhaps we could all see ourselves speculating over and over again about the origins of the titans. Apparently, all of us never expected the twists and turns of events that happened in the anime.
Season 1 of the anime threw us on an exciting and thrilling journey against the humanoid-eating monsters we all know as Titans. However, the following seasons left us wondering what would happen. Attack on Titan is truly a masterpiece. Cheers to Hajime Isayama's supremacy!