Attack On Titan's manga ending has been notoriously divisive, judging by fan reactions - and it likely will be for years to come. (Warning Major Spoilers Follow) One of the more controversial aspects of Attack On Titan's manga ending is the scene in which Mikasa Ackerman is alone at Eren's grave and has a strange encounter with a seagull, which tugs at her scarf. We are meant to understand that his bird represents the reincarnated version of Eren, who is showing his continued love of Mikasa. It's a strange ending to a series like Attack On Titan, but the meaning behind the bird moment is proving to be even more controversial:
Attack On Titan fans have done the research on the symbolism and metaphor of birds as it relates to death, and found some interesting parallels to how Eren and Mikasa's story ends. It's indeed true that birds are used as vessels of reincarnation in many cultures (including Japan), as a way of symbolizing sentiments like freedom and liberation. The portion about how only the most pious or righteous people come back as birds are where things get a bit more controversial, where Attack On Titan is concerned.
(More Spoilers Follow!) In the final chapter of the manga, Eren Jaeger unleashed a massive genocidal wave against the rest of humanity, in the form of The Rumbling, which sent all of the Colossus Titans hidden in the walls of Paradis Island stampeding across the world, crushing everything in their path. In the end, Eren's closest friends (Mikasa, Armin, and Levi) had to kill Eren's Founding Titan to stop him. Nonetheless, Eren managed to wipe out an estimated 80% of humanity, before he was finally stopped.
The choice to have Eren unleash The Rumbling is quickly going down as one of the most controversial twists in any manga/anime protganist's story arc, ever. The debate over whether Eren is a villain or a somehow carrying out some higher purpose will likely never end. However, a significant portion of the fandom seems to agree that mass genocide - no matter the reasoning - is not something that should earn a person the highest and holiest level of reincarnated.
It gets even more complicated that Attack On Titan creator Hajime Isayama seemed to have planned this pious or "saintly" transformation of Eren from the very beginning. A look back at the anime's first scene shows the bird reincarnation being forshadowed, as Eren stares up at it in the sky. So in the end, Eren got his "reward" in the next life, being free to fly beyond any walls. But again: cosmic/heavenly rewards for a mass murderer isn't exactly the kind of story that Attack On Titan fans good about, or comfortable with.
How did YOU feel about the end of Attack On Titan? Let us know in the comments. The anime will release the final episodes of the series in 2022.