I was excited coming into Attack on Titan chapter 122, but nothing could have prepared me for how amazing it is.
Hajime Isayama has done it again, delivering another mind blowing chapter that is already among my favourite chapters in the entire manga.
Right from the beginning, I knew we were in for something big as it started off with a flashback to when Historia was first told about Ymir Fritz by her sister, Frieda.
Then there is the title, “From You, 2000 Years Ago”, which is very similar to the title of the first chapter in the manga “To You, in 2000 Years” showing just how well Isayama planned this story out.
This was a great way to start a mostly flashback chapter that went on to detail the short and tragic life of Ymir, and semi-explained the origin of the Titans.
I feel like I have said this before but it needs repeating, I love the way Isayama subverts out expectations.
Back when we first learned of Ymir in Grisha’s flashback chapters, we all assumed she was a powerful leader who created Eldia, whether her intentions were bad like Marley claimed or not.
However, now we know that Ymir was nothing more than a slave, brainwashed into serving a cruel king who would go on to rape her and have their children eat her body after she died protecting him.
Ymir’s life is incredibly sad, with it getting so much worse after she became the first Titan, even though she had so much power.
Speaking of which, let’s talk about how Ymir became the Founding Titan in the first place.
After she set some pigs free, King Fritz lets her go free as well only to send a hunting party after her for sport.
An injured Ymir then comes across a massive tree, which looks like the energy tree in the Titan realm.
She attempts to hide in a crack in the tree but falls into a hole of water and nearly drowns.
But then, it happens.
A weird spinal column looking object rises towards her sinking body and touches her, transforming her into a gigantic, and the very first, Titan Shifter.
Now, what exactly this thing that gives Ymir her power is we cannot be completely sure.
Best guess is that it is “the source of all organic material” as Eren Kruger put it but, beyond that, we don’t know.
I don’t really expect Isayama to expand any more on this but, personally, I think this may be for the best.
I don’t think any full explanation of what started the Titans could be satisfying so it is probably better he keep it vague.
One thing I am sure of, though, is that the origin of the Titans is heavily based off Norse mythology, which has been a constant source of inspiration for Attack on Titan.
This influence is clear with the nine realms that represent the nine Titans and the nine survivors at Shiganshina, along with Ymir being representative of the Ymir from the mythology.
Now, there is the massive tree Ymir gets her powers in and is also seen in the Path Dimension, which is based off the world tree Yggdrasil.
It is because of this tree that Ymir becomes the first Titan, a gigantic monster with a skull-like face and ribs sticking out.
King Fritz then uses her to conquer other nations like Marley and kick start the Eldian Empire’s rise to power.
For a long time, I have considered the only truly evil character in Attack on Titan to be Gross, the man who fed Grisha’s little sister to the dogs.
Well, he just got joined by King Fritz, a truly despicable human being who sadly does not get his comeuppance.
Instead, he apparently dies peacefully, urging his three daughters Maria, Rose and Shina, who have inherited Ymir’s power, to continue this inheritance with their own children, eventually resulting in the nine Titan Shifters.
Before this, though, came the horrifying inheritance of Ymir’s abilities by her daughters.
Just like how the season two outro spoiled it, Maria, Rose and Shina were forced to eat their own mother’s dead body to gain the Titan powers in a sickening image.
I think it is safe to say that, in just one chapter, Isayama has made Ymir the most tragic character in all of Attack on Titan.
Enslaved from a young age, accidentally gaining a massive power, forced to marry a cruel ruler and have his children, only to die and for him to feed her body to their children, and still work as a slave from the Path Dimension, building Titans over what must feel like millions of years for her.
This immense and tragic fate she is given is illustrated by the panel of her building the millions of Colossal Titan for the walls with just a bucket of sand.
From here, the scene changes to the present, with Eren having caught Ymir in an embrace, telling her she is a human being not a slave and is free to choose what she wants.
This is contrasted by Zeke screaming at her to follow his orders because he has royal blood.
And then, for the first time, we get a look at Ymir’s eyes… and she cries.
The panel of this moment was beautifully drawn, showing just how far Isayama has come since his early days when his artwork was honestly less than stellar.
Ymir crying was a truly heartbreaking moment, which then turns to shock and horror as she makes her choice, and chooses Eren.
Out of the Path Dimension, a spinal cord reattaches Eren’s head to his body and, as he transforms, he triggers the event that has been built up for so many chapters.
I completely lost it in this moment, shouting out in both excitement and terror at what was happening.
As the millions of Colossal Titans awaken and break through the walls to do what Eren commands, the chapter ends with the ominous statement, “It can’t be stopped anymore!”
The endgame for Attack on Titan is truly here; the Rumbling is happening and the final chapters of the manga will most likely deal with the consequences.
I loved Chapter 122.
It is an amazing chapter with not just a tragic backstory for Ymir and probably the best cliffhanger in Attack on Titan‘s history, but also a lot of great visual symbolism from Isayama.
First there are the characters’ eyes in the flashback.
They are unseen, represented only by darkness.
This is mainly apparent with King Fritz and this makes for a striking comparison when we see Zeke at the end of the chapter because his eyes are drawn exactly the same in some panels.
From this, we can see that Isayama is linking the two with Zeke planning on using Ymir like Fritz used her, which is ultimately why she chooses Eren.
Then there are the visual similarities between Ymir and the Ymir of the present and Historia.
When Ymir Fritz is turned in at the beginning of the chapter for freeing the pigs everyone points the finger at her, throwing her under the bus just like the other Ymir was thrown under the bus by those she trusted.
More interesting, though, is the parallels between Ymir and Historia.
When Ymir is pregnant, we get an image of her sitting in a chair holding her stomach.
This is eerily reminiscent of the final panel in Chapter 107 when Historia’s pregnancy was revealed.
Then when you consider that,as far as we know, Historia’s pregnancy is being forced on her, like Ymir, the similarities become more prominent.
I think this only adds fuel to the fire that is the theory that Historia will give birth to the reincarnation of Ymir Fritz at the end of the story and name her after the Ymir she knew.
No matter what happens, though, I cannot wait to see how the story will end.
I already consider “From You, 2000 Years Ago” to be one of Attack on Titan‘s best chapters.
If the final arc goes on like this, then it might just have a chance of beating the Return to Shiganshina Arc as my favourite one of the entire series.