Attack On Titan: Walls
For those who aren’t that familiar, in Attack On Titan, humans were once nearly exterminated by giant monstrosities known as Titans. These disproportionate humanoid creatures range in size from the size of small houses to the size of skyscrapers. They are generally mindless and eat humans for pleasure. In order to survive the remaining humans built cities surrounded by immense walls to protect themselves. They keep one group of soldiers on the move outside the wall, one group of soldiers protecting the walls from the inside, and another patrolling everyone else.
Just so I don’t come off like I’m an expert, I’m not huge on anime, and in all reality Attack On Titan is the first one I’ve really watched since Dragon Ball Z was on Cartoon Network. Several of my Con friends and a couple students encouraged me to give it a shot, and I just so happened to have some quality time with Netflix to kill. I went into it clueless and then by the end of the second episode I was like “What am I watching???” The story is powerful. The Titans, outside of just being powerful monsters, are even more unsettling and frightening because they are these abominable metaphors of mankind itself: carnal, violent, and destructive of everything around them. It sets up its core and supportive cast really
strongly and makes you invest quickly. The plot twists and surprises are actually genuinely surprising and not predictable. When I finished on Netflix, I literally ran to my desktop and bought three of the books that were beyond the show so I could keep the story going. There’s a lot to draw from in the series from the importance of the oaths we make, the importance of choosing which group and who you want to be in life, but the thing I wanted to focus on is the walls. The idea is that mankind lived in such terror and despair that they walled themselves up into one central clump, but not only that but that the walls are different heights and depths depending on the “value” of the people. The way maps and charts of the walls that are continually shown throughout the story initially annoyed me, but then I really saw how important it was to not only a plot line, but to the reality of the entire concept. If you’ve only see what’s on Netflix (season 1), I’m going to avoid any spoilers beyond that point, but the further you get into the story you will see that their walls play a much bigger part to the story than you realize.
In our lives, we build walls up. Sometimes that’s a good thing, sometimes that’s bad. Building walls up to protect our lives, our hearts, our minds, our values, and what’s precious to us isn’t unreasonable, but if we wall ourselves in too deeply, they quickly become a prison. In the first episode, the “Colossal Titan” breaks a hole in the wall around Shiganshina and titans flood in. The Garrison was so complacent living within the wall and never actually doing what they were meant to do that they couldn’t handle what came next. With nowhere to go, the area becomes a slaughter cage as countless lives are lost. So often this happens when we wall ourselves inside a “Christian Bubble” and don’t actually interact with people outside of our faith. It effectively makes us ineffective to be able to live out the gospel if we aren’t loving and sharing with people who don’t already know the gospel. Outside of that concept we should build walls in our lives, like integrity, faith, Biblical knowledge, that will help keep us whole as we grow. If we don’t have a secure structure around our faith it will be tossed and battered. Proverbs 25:28 shows us what this looks like. “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit.”
On a real note though, it doesn’t matter how strong our integrity is on our own or how thick we make our walls. We are sinners and they will eventually crack on some level. If we could build our own lasting emotional/mental/spiritual walls we wouldn’t need grace or Christ. Armin echoes this in the first episode
“Indeed. I think people are crazy if they think we’ll be safe inside these walls forever. Just because the walls haven’t fallen for a hundred years, doesn’t guarantee they won’t fall today.” Paul echoes this back in 1 Corinthians 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!”
The walls we build will inevitably fall in some degree. It might be a smaller hole in our character like the Colossal Titan caused initially, but as we saw it wasn’t usually just a one failure scenario. After the Colossal Titan’s first breech, the Armored Titan plowed into another wall, and then the Colossal came back for another round. If we don’t make an effort to repair the damage done in our lives we will never be able to be solid. In AOT, the Garrison (stationary guard) is responsible for wall maintenance and repair, but in our lives we will have to make the effort to repair the damage. Sometimes these repairs are through self-discipline or just committing it to God and asking Him to strengthen our breeches. How often do we recognize that there are areas in our lives that need repair, but we just ignore them? Eren nearly killed himself trying to repair the breach at Trost; the least we could do is repent and ask God to forgive us. In Isaiah 58:12 we see that God wants His people to repair.
"Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.” Sometimes we aren’t just here to repair our walls but to repair the walls in other’s lives. People have different Titans crashing down on them constantly; maybe we can be more useful as encouragers than the Garrison Unit is to the physical walls.
In the end God is the one who is truly going to have to make our walls truly enduring as we spend our lives following Him, serving Him, and drawing closer to Him that is a very practical reality. In Jeremiah 15:20 He assures us of this. “I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you,” declares the Lord.”
Flipping it around though, sometimes we don’t need to be defenders of walls, like Eren shows us. Sometimes we need to be the Titan to get the job done. Sometimes we need to help break down walls of insecurities, fear, and sin that people have built up around themselves. That doesn’t literally mean we need to go slamming into people until they crumble, but it means we need to love them, to let them see that any lies that are built up around them aren’t the reality, that there is love and life beyond what they can see in their despair. God doesn’t need our force to bring down walls. He needs our obedience. Just like we see in Joshua 6:20 “When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.” Sometimes it’s so easy to give up when we feel so ill equipped. Several times we would see Survey Corp members stranded on rooftops because their equipment had failed them. But we aren’t dependent on our own efforts but God’s power, just like we see in Psalm 89:40, “You have broken down all his walls; You have brought his strongholds to ruin.” God not only has the ability to break through the walls we have wrongly built around ourselves but also rebuild us into what he wants us to be.
Walls are no challenge or difficulty to God, and overcoming them through Him will not be for us either It’s time for us to, as Eren pledges, “Break free from these walls.”
“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.” -Psalm 18:29