Attack on Titan: The Secrets of the Basement, Explained

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Heads up! This blog will contain HUGE SPOILERS about Attack on Titan!!! If you have not caught up with the anime or manga and do not want spoilers, DO NOT READ!!!

It’s been six years since we learned about the basement. Six years of wondering what secrets it held, what mysteries it would unravel. Now, we finally have the answers we’ve been seeking.

And talk about information overload! The basement holds much more than the secrets to the Titans—it reveals the truth about the entire world where Attack on Titan takes place. It’s understandable to feel a little lost or maybe even in shock, so we’re going to take some time to unpack all the revelations!

As a friendly reminder, this will contain SPOILERS. So please don’t read on if you haven’t watched the recent episodes (or if you haven’t read the manga up to this point).

The Secret of the Key

The key has been an icon for the past six years, yet when it’s finally time to see it unlock the door…it doesn’t even fit! What?! How?? Thankfully, Levi has a better alternative to opening the basement door rather than gawking at it in disbelief. Finally, we’re in! At first glance, the basement seems rather…ordinary. Doctor supplies, research books—expected items for a doctor like Grisha. But luckily, things are more than they seem. After discovering a secret keyhole, we finally have the key’s purpose and a set of journals that hold answers the world didn’t even know it was seeking. A life outside the walls—a life with a completely unfamiliar history, different kinds of walls, armbands, restrictions, and danger. And it’s all based on a legend.

Titan Beginnings

Approximately 1,820 years ago, a young woman named Ymir Fritz (is it a coincidence this name is familiar?? Perhaps…) made contact with the “Devil of All Earth,” giving her and humanity the Power of the Titans. Ymir wielded this power, but when she died, her spirit split into Nine Titans that formed what became the Eldian Empire.

The Marleyan Rise

The Titans of the Eldian Empire took over the nation of Marley, leading the continent into the dark ages. The Subjects of Ymir wreaked havoc on other races, calling them inferior, oppressing them, and stealing their lands and fortunes. For over 1,700 years, they forced the people of Marley to bear Eldian children in an attempt to ethnically cleanse the world. But! The people of Marley plotted to subvert Eldia by bringing seven of the Nine Titans under their control. And 80 years ago, they claimed victory in the Great Titan War. The Eldian king erected three walls on the island of Paradis and fled there with his people. Not all Eldians made it to Paradis, but those that were left in Marley were allowed to live there thanks to the “gracious” Marleyans.

Oppressed and Distressed

Because of this legend, those of Eldian race live a life of oppression, under the watchful eyes of the Marleyans, forced to live in separate living areas and wear armbands that mark them as Eldians. Yes, this is referencing exactly what you think it is.

After years of suffering, abuse, and mistreatment at the hands of the Marleyans, a resistance group known as the Eldia Restorationists began to rise. This group receives information from a secret source known only as “the Owl.” Everything they’re told proves to be true, so they continue to trust him, always awaiting new facts. When Grisha learns the horrible truth of what happened to his little sister at the hands of the Marleyan Public Security Authorities, something ignites in him—a desire for change. Joining the Eldia Restorationists, his eyes are opened to a whole new truth about the Eldian’s past, and he begins to work towards the change they deserve.

Hope

With Grisha’s help and research, the Eldian Restorationists discover that Ymir didn’t just inherit the Titan power, but also cultivated the wilds, built roads, and made the land livable for all of humanity. The story they had been told by the Marleyans was merely a convenient truth, a way to keep Eldians subjugated and under their control.

More information and truths came from Dina Fritz, a relative of the king that fled to Paradis. She revealed that the king turned away from conflict, running to the island and hiding the truth about the Titans by taking the Founding Titan with him.

Fired up and determined to help the Eldians rise up, Grisha forms a plan: to get the Founding Titan back and take over Marley. Meanwhile, he marries Dina and they give birth to a son named Zeke. Grisha knew that with royalty in his blood, Zeke would be their beacon of hope.

Betrayed by Blood

A few years down the line, the Marleyan government began making demands for Eldian children to become warriors for the Marleyan military, granting them and their families the title of Honorary Marleyans. They called the chosen children warriors. But these warriors were not mere soldiers—no, they were candidates for wielding the Titan powers. Thinking this is the perfect opportunity to get inside information and possibly stop the Marleyans from executing their plans, Grisha prepares his son to become a candidate. He tells him the truths that the Eldia Restorationists uncovered and the lies that have been passed down in Marleyan history.

Unfortunately, Zeke proves to be more loyal to Marley and turned his mother and father in to the military. Only later does Grisha realize his mistake of putting so much on the shoulders of a young child.

Banishment

After undergoing torture, Grisha and Dina are taken to Paradis where prisoners are either used as bait for Titans or turned into Titans at the amusement of the Marleyan soldiers. Grisha is forced to watch his friends and wife suffer at the hands of the man who murdered his sister, and right when he thinks his time has finally come, the Owl reveals himself! This whole time it had been a man inside the Marleyan military. And it seems Grisha’s time isn’t up.

As if these reveals weren’t enough, we get one more surprise when Dina changes into a Titan—the very Titan that ate Eren’s mother, the one that spurred Eren’s hatred. What a horrible twist of fate!

What now?

So what does it all mean? Here’s a quick recap (because yeah, that was A LOT): The world Eren and his friends grew up in and the things they thought they knew were all false! Titans are created from people—a special blood-line of humans known as Eldians—and the land they live on is nothing more than a penal colony. There’s a country called Marley where people hate Eldians and oppress them.

Obviously, there’s still much more to uncover and learn about the world Eren and his friends live in. Will they seek out the Marleyans? Is this the beginning of a new battle? Which facts are true? WHAT IS HAPPENING??

Let us know your thoughts, feelings, and more in the forum!

(And please, if you’re already caught up with the manga, refrain from posting spoilers.)

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