Warning: Spoilers for Attack on Titan Final Season Part 3.1 ahead.
Attack on Titan is a shonen anime with dark and brutal themes that barely had time for romance. However, that does not mean that there are literally zero characters who may feel something for each other. The primary example is Eren and Mikasa themselves, with Eren’s significant question: “What am I to you?” , along with Mikasa’s fierce devotion to Eren ever since they were kids.
Then you also have Ymir and Historia’s implied romantic relationship, and how it was tragically cut short. And then Reiner’s unrequited and comedic attraction towards Historia. Falco confessing to Gabi about his feelings at such a young age is the cherry on top.
The bottomline is, romance and relationships are still present in Attack on Titan. They are just not the main focus of the story. But the hints and implications were there, if one would observe carefully.
Considering that Attack on Titan recently returned with the part 1 of the finale, they also brought upon a new relationship to light as well. And that is none other than the intelligent Armin Arlert and the tough Annie Leonhart.
But this was received by mixed reactions online. There are some who questioned whether or not they are truly in-love. Some felt that their relationship came out of nowhere. Were there any hints that indicate they may have felt something for one another?
Armin Thinks Annie is a Good Person
The first interaction that we witness between the two is when they were gearing up on joining the military factions after their graduation as trainees. Annie asked Armin if he was sure on joining Survey Corps, with her tone melancholic even. She seemed to show concern for his safety. This led Armin to tell Annie that he thinks she is actually a good person underneath her tough exterior.
Annie was slightly flustered by this, and Armin is most likely the only person who told her that. Armin’s words remarkably left an impact on Annie.
Granted, this was before Armin was able to confirm Annie being the Female Titan. However, we must realize that Armin was actually starting to suspect something was amiss. For one, he noticed Annie took Marco’s omni-directional mobility gear (ODM gear). Armin was already thinking Annie may have a hand in Marco’s death.
Despite that, Armin was still able to see Annie’s genuine worry of him joining Survey Corps. Whether or not his comment of Annie being a good person is based from his true opinion of her, or an intent to manipulate her is not certain. However, there may be more hints that it is more leaning towards the former rather than the latter.
Annie as the Female Titan Spared Armin
The most outstanding hint of Armin and Annie’s relationship is when Annie was in her Female Titan form in Season 1. She was fulfilling her mission of taking Eren back to Marley – killing a lot of Survey Corps soldiers along the way. She was ruthless and brutal in her killing spree, but it was learned later on that she was doing all of these for a reason.
When Annie was searching for Eren, she stumbled upon Armin. Armin was cowering in fear, believing that he was going to die right then and there. But to his shock, Annie spared him. She just gently removed his hood to take a good look at him, before running away to chase down Eren.
Annie’s decision to spare Armin has proven to be her downfall. She had the chance there to finish off Armin, considering that she knew what Armin is capable of. Armin is immensely intelligent and observant, and Annie looking at him in her Titan form gave her away. This is heavily anchored on how Armin sees her as a good person – which is an indication on how much that matters to her.
Strangely, despite all that, Armin refused to admit at first that Annie is the Female Titan. He was in denial to perceive Annie as the enemy. This is why his previous compliment of Annie being a good person is probably from his genuine view of her. This, and he most likely thought of Annie sparing him. This obviously caused conflicted feelings for him.
However, Armin is dedicated to Survey Corps, so he led her to a trap. In this though, he manipulated her that she is going to be a good person to him if she helps him. Armin probably figured out how his compliment to her is significant, which is why he used it against her.
Annie thought that Armin is leading her into a trap, so she had prepared herself before agreeing to Armin’s plan. She then wondered aloud why she spared Armin, and she mentioned that she was glad she could be a good person to him. Then she seemingly accepted that she was now an enemy to Armin’s eyes while laughing, and transformed into the Female Titan once more.
The Female Titan arc is the pinnacle of depicting the earlier signs of Annie and Armin’s relationship. It is evident they both respected each other, with hesitation on both of their parts to hurt the other. At the end of the day, they made the choice to become enemies despite their feelings. It is a jumpstart to a complicated relationship.
Armin Confided in Annie for 4 Years
Following Annie’s defeat in Stohess District, she encapsulated herself in a crystal rock to avoid sharing information of Marley and herself. She was then confined to the premises of the Military Police, with Hitch watching over her.
During the 4-year timeskip between Season 3 and the Final Season, it was revealed that Armin has been visiting Annie multiple times. It is to the point that when Armin was falling out with Eren, he decided to confide in Annie all of his fears and worries for the future. He was seen holding the seashell he had found in the beach – a symbol of his childhood dream – as he talks to Annie.
It is interesting to see Armin deciding to go to Annie instead of Mikasa, in which the latter is more responsive. Annie, trapped in the crystal rock, cannot respond at all – but somehow Armin finds respite in this.
Armin then admitted that he had finally understood what Annie had went through. He understood that Annie has her own reasons for committing the things that she did. This was because Armin himself has killed numerous civilians as well during the raid in Liberio. And it could also be that Armin has access to Bertholdt’s memories, so he was able to see who Annie is.
Armin begged Annie to give him a response or a clue on what he has been dealing with. He even tried to reach out to touch her crystal, but was stopped by Hitch. Hitch then teased Armin of wanting to touch Annie and having inappropriate thoughts. Armin got incredibly embarrassed and stammered that it is not what she thinks it is. It could mean that Armin was heavily in denial that he may have grown feelings for Annie. At the same time, Armin told Hitch not to ban him from future visits.
Armin and Annie’s Reunion
When Eren awakened the numerous Colossal Titans within the Walls, the hardening abilities of all the Titans (including the Nine Titans) were removed. This includes Reiner’s armored Titan body, and Annie’s crystal rock. Annie was freed, and Armin immediately thought of her when he found out the hardening has been undone.
Later, Armin and Annie reunited when Annie suddenly barged in the group while swallowing down pies. It was a comedic scene, because Annie had not eaten anything in the past 4 years inside the crystal.
However, Annie and Armin would only get to talk privately after some time. They were both on a ship towards securing a flying boat to stop Eren.
Annie asked Armin to sit beside her. There seemed to be some sort of tension between them, but Annie initiated the conversation. She thanked Armin for coming to talk to her, as she has been very lonely inside her crystal. She appreciated Armin and Hitch of providing her company.
This led to Annie questioning why Armin is regularly talking to her even when he will get no response in return. Annie then told him that there were probably more fun girls out there to talk to, in which Armin responded, “I wanted to see you, Annie.”
Armin’s answer caused both of them to blush deeply. Armin himself feels embarrassed by admitting it. This is the sign that Armin’s feelings for Annie went deeper than platonic. If Armin only viewed Annie as a friend, then he would not have such a strong reaction to it. He would not have blushed and just casually tell Annie that he just wants to see her.
Annie is disbelieving Armin’s feelings, and asked him, “Why?” It seemed to tell that Annie cannot understand why someone would genuinely like her. Armin thought Annie would have gotten the hint by now, as Hitch has been teasing him a lot of times. It could mean that while Annie may seemed to be aware of Armin’s feelings, she still cannot bring herself to accept it. This is because she does not think she deserves it. She cannot think of any redeeming qualities she has, referring to herself as a ‘monster’.
She then tries to rationalize that Armin is merely doing his part to be good to his enemies. He disagreed being labelled as a “good person”, because he did things that could brand him as a bad person or a ‘monster’ as well. This cements the deeper understanding between the two of them.
Read More: Why Did Eren Turn Evil in Attack on Titan?
Armin and Annie’s Farewell
Their reunion had to be cut short because Annie decided not to join the team in finding Eren. She does not want to fight anymore as she sees little point in it. Her main goal is to return to her father, but when she thought that the majority of Marley has been destroyed, she lost all of her will to fight.
She is tired, and wants to live in peace in her remaining years. She shared this sentiment to Mikasa while she is staring longingly towards Armin. This led to Mikasa deducing that Annie has feelings for Armin, which causes both of them to blush.
Annie’s stare towards Armin may mean that she wished to live her remaining life peacefully with Armin in it.
Mikasa then probed on when Annie and Armin had started developing feelings for each other. However, Annie remains in denial and embarrassed by this exposure.
Mikasa reminded Annie that Armin is going to face Eren. This meant that whatever Annie’s desires are, she will have to accept that she has to bid goodbye to Armin. The future is very uncertain, and Armin might die in battle. Annie is saddened by this, yet she stayed firm on not joining.
The next day, Annie is set off to sail to Hizuru alongside Kiyomi, Gabi, and Falco. She bade farewell to her fellow Warriors. When it comes to Armin, she hesitated. She cannot bring herself to say or wave goodbye to him. She stared a little longer, until she turned around to leave.
Mikasa then asked Armin if he is alright with parting ways with Annie. Armin looked momentarily embarrassed until his expression became melancholic. He respected Annie’s wishes despite how painful it could be. “I want Annie to stay Annie.“
That scene is significant in their relationship because it might be the last time they will see each other again. Annie’s decision is weighing on her heavily while she is on-board the ship. It seems that she may be having second thoughts in leaving her friends behind.
Will she return for a final battle with her friends? Will she able to see Armin again?
So, Are They in Love?
Considering all of the aforementioned scenes above, we can say that Armin and Annie indeed feel something towards each other. But using the term ‘love’ is too strong for now. ‘Like’ or ‘attraction’ is a better term to describe their feelings.
There is a potential for a romantic relationship to develop there, but it will take a lot of time for this to materialize. This is because both Armin and Annie have more important things to attend to, and the final battle is just starting. Even if they do survive the war afterwards, they will still need time to come to terms of what had happened. They will definitely still suffer from personal issues themselves, most especially the amount of pain and harm inflicted between the Paradis soldiers and Marley warriors.
What Did Fans Think?
The reception to this pairing is mixed. As mentioned earlier, some thought it came out of nowhere. Some cannot forgive Annie for what she had done by killing the first Levi squad. Some thought that it is inappropriate to show a possible romantic pairing when there is something huge going on like the Rumbling.
Some cannot understand why Armin has feelings for Annie, and believed that it probably came from Bertholdt. They thought that Armin’s feelings were not genuine as they came from Bertholdt.
Notably, even Eren pointed out that Bertholdt is influencing Armin as he also noticed the frequent visits to Annie. Eren even went as far to accuse Armin of being manipulated by the enemy.
When we look back on Annie and Armin’s relationship, it did not came from nowhere at all. They were already hints of it even as early as Season 2, as evident in the Female Titan arc. However, fans may believe that it is random because there are rarely any moments shared between Annie and Armin. There is not much build-up to their relationship when you compare it to another main pairing of the show: Eren and Mikasa.
They do have the point, as the anime and manga did not explore much of Armin and Annie’s relationship. Like what led to them having feelings for each other? How did they have a bond in the beginning?
As for Armin having Bertholdt’s feelings, this can be a faulty interpretation. If we take the logic that any feelings of the previous Titan holder will be inherited to the next one, then Porco Galliard should have feelings for Historia now (because his predecessor is Ymir). Eren should have questionable feelings towards his mother since he inherited the Beast and Founding Titan from his father, Grisha.
What we know is that Titan inheritors only have access to their predecessors’ memories. It does not automatically mean that any feelings nor views shared by their predecessors will be inherited as well. Armin accessing Bertholdt’s memories just allowed him to understand Annie a bit more. And this probably led to him developing feelings for her.
Still, whether or not fans support it, it was a relationship that was put out by Hajime Isayama. We have the freedom to either accept it or not. To each their own.
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