Levi Ackerman is, without a doubt, one of the most popular characters in Attack on Titan and even in the anime world. He even surpassed the main protagonist, Eren Yeager, a lot of times.
But why is Levi so popular? What is so special about him? What does he have that makes him stand out even the most prominent anime figures?
His Attractive Physical Features
Levi was never conceptualized to be handsome like some sort of idol. He was not the popular guy in a slice-of-life anime, nor he was meant to be a ladies’ man oozing with charm. Zeke even noted that Levi is not popular among women.
He was meant to be a soldier in a shounen anime series. The thought given to his appearance is not the most important. He was meant to be a tough guy uncaring about his appearance. In the Attack on Titan world, he is probably not the most attractive guy around. As a matter of fact, Levi actually ended up with no one, nor did he have any sort of romantic link with someone. (Although shippers beg to differ, nothing is canonically confirmed.)
He has a permanent scowl on his face, and he has a small height. He has dark circles under his eyes for the lack of sleep. His demeanor is quite intimidating.
But that did not stop him from being appealing to a lot of fans. He is still technically attractive, with his neat dark hair and sharp jawline. His narrow eyes are also quite striking, which adds to his unapproachable aura. His small height can even be a source of comic relief. This was apparent when he complained that Connie and the others have grown taller than him.
His Amazing Strength
Considering that Levi is a soldier in shounen anime, there is definitely an emphasis to his capabilities. Indeed, when fans first encounter him in Season 1, he killed a Titan with ease and precision. It indicated how used he is to fighting Titans, and how he has superior skills than others. This is because he has the Ackerman power of having supernatural abilities.
His fighting skills are demonstrated in incredible scenes. A fine example of this would be his battle against his uncle, Kenny Ackerman. He expertly dodged all of Kenny’s bullets as he navigated his 3D omni-directional mobility gear like it’s a walk on a park. His fluid movements are fascinating to watch.
Read More: Can Ackermans Become Titans?
You can watch the Levi vs Kenny fight below:
Aside from Kenny, his fight against the Beast Titan is also a strong contender for being one of the most iconic scenes. This is why he was labeled as a ‘fidget spinner’ by the fandom, because of how fast he attacked the Beast Titan with his blazing blades. His blades spun rapidly, wounding the Beast Titan.
You can watch the iconic Levi vs Beast Titan below:
The Survey Corps rely so much on him, the second only to the former Commander, Erwin Smith. He is very much respected among the ranks.
He is labeled as “Humanity’s Strongest”, in which he represents the hope humans have against the Titans. This is why he is actually well-known among the residents in Paradis Island, and even admired. While he is not popular for his looks, he is popular for his strength.
Every time the Survey Corps is starting the expedition, people would talk about how strong Levi is. However, there are some who view him negatively – mostly the Military Police officers and his opponents among Marley Warriors. But they acknowledge his strength, as Reiner and Bertholdt warned Zeke to watch out for Levi. It can be said that those who oppose him fear him greatly.
Levi definitely has grown very popular among anime and manga fans because of his abilities. Every time he enters the scene, the audience feels some sort of relief because Survey Corps will stand even a slim chance.
However, every battle and mission is not automatically successful just because Levi is around. Rather, it is guaranteed that Levi will buy more time if the Survey Corps plan to retreat. He is crucial in making sure the mission gets fulfilled – and everyone trusts him.
Read More: Is Mikasa In Love With Eren?
He Looks Cold, But Is Not Cold-Hearted
Despite his popularity though, there are still some people who mischaracterize Levi. This is because he looks cold and apathetic on the outside. He barely shows any emotion and insults others. He does not hesitate to use harsh words even to his fellow soldiers. They assume that Levi is cold-hearted as well.
This is far from the truth. If you watched the series closely, you will notice that Levi is actually very empathetic and caring towards his comrades. This is first seen when he held a dying soldier’s hand, as told assurances. Any average fan will know that Levi is a clean-freak, and does not like touching even the tiniest dirt. The dying soldier has a bloody hand, and Levi did not hesitate to hold it.
When a soldier complained of Levi leaving bodies behind, Levi preserved their Survey Corps insignia on their uniform. Mentioning this, it pained Levi to sacrifice the soldiers’ bodies just so they can evade the Titans. This is most apparent when he eyed Petra’s body being tossed off the cart.
Speaking of Petra, Levi felt pain and grief when his entire first squad members got killed. While he does not scream nor cry, he is very silent… his eyes mourning over them.
While Levi does not outwardly show his emotions, his eyes tell them. His eyes are actually expressive, validating the famous phrase, “Eyes are the windows to someone’s soul.“
His eyes also expressed his devastation at Erwin’s death. His decision to revive Armin is anchored on his empathy and understanding of Erwin’s burden. Floch acknowledged this as Levi becoming emotional.
When his fellow soldiers got transformed into mindless Titans, he was very much affected. He showed hesitation to kill them all off, and even wondered if his soldiers were still there. His eyes showed sorrow when he was surrounded by them, and the emphasis on his eyes is no mistake.
Zeke intended to transform Levi’s fellow soldiers into Titans because he is aware Levi cares a lot about them. Zeke attempted to use Levi’s weakness against him. Zeke did not even expect Levi to kill off his former subordinates.
To truly establish that Levi is definitely not cold-hearted, you have to watch the original video animation (OVA) or rather additional content of Attack on Titan. There are two OVAs dedicated to his past as a thug in the Underground. Before he became a soldier, he was a criminal because he needed to survive in the harsh environment.
Back then, he already showed empathy to his fellow acquaintances. This was most apparent when he took in a young Isabel Magnolia, and shared some of his and Furlan’s money to a sick acquaintance.
He also accepted a mission from a shady rich man named Lovof, because he wanted to have a better life alongside his friends. It is clear that Furlan and Isabel were his first friends.
The mission was morally questionable, which is to kill Erwin Smith and steal important documents. But we have to remind ourselves that Levi and his friends were struggling to get by. They wanted to improve their situation by securing a home on the surface.
However, they encountered Erwin earlier than expected, and they used this opportunity for their mission. They accepted Erwin’s offer to become Survey Corps members.
In their first expedition, Levi was initially hesitant to let his friends become a part of it because he cared about their safety. This is why when Furlan and Isabel got killed by a Titan, Levi was very, very devastated. Unlike the Levi we all know in the Attack on Titan series, in this OVA, Levi showed his emotions in its fullest form. Arguably, he became even more emotional than Eren ever has.
Read More: Why Did Eren Turn Evil in Attack on Titan?
Here is the scene below, but it may be difficult to watch:
He mercilessly slaughtered the Titan responsible for killing his friends. It is important to note that Levi did not slice off the Titan’s nape to finish it off immediately. He sliced the Titan’s fingers, arms, and legs – before brutally beheading it. All throughout, he expressed his immense pain and anger in his screams. He intended to make the Titan suffer than just simply killing it first.
When the Titan was killed, Levi was actually sobbing. Yes, he cried in this scene. It was never shown explicitly, but his head was bowed down. He just lost his friends… his family. And he blamed himself.
Conclusion: Levi Has a Lot of Humanity
What ultimately makes Levi appealing is that there is more to him than meets the eye. He looks very cold and does not seem to care about anyone or anything, but he actually has a heart.
He has strength that surpasses most of his fellow comrades, but he is never arrogant about it. He does not belittle other soldiers, unless they are his enemies (like the Military Police). He also does not feel like he is above them just because he is strong.
Although he has a sharp tongue when addressing his comrades, at the end of the day, he cares a lot for them. He feels distressed whenever they get killed or harmed, which is why he has no qualms of killing Titans… and eventually opposing soldiers.
This is why the one thing that is driving him is to continue fighting to give meaning to their deaths. He carries the dreams of his dead comrades with him: a world with no Titans.
It is also important to note that he felt very bothered when he found out that Titans were probably humans all along. This is because his goal is to protect human lives, and cannot fathom that he may be killing off fellow humans too.
Considering his difficult background, Levi chose to be good. He chose to retain his humanity and to continue fighting for his dead comrades. He values human lives very much, which is why it irks him that Zeke did not even bother remembering the village’s name he attacked.
It is easy to assume that Levi will just become an asshole person. He lost his mother when he was very young, and grew up in an uncaring environment. He was taught and raised by a serial killer, Kenny Ackerman. In this way, he should have grown to be a selfish man who could care less about other people. Since he has an Ackerman power, he probably would have grown arrogant and excessively confident about himself. But he did not because he chose not to.
Prior to Survey Corps, he already has a good heart within him. He is someone who does not let his past define him. This is why a character’s past, despite how traumatic it may be, can never justify their horrible actions.
Stating all of these, it is no wonder Levi got so popular in the anime world. He truly deserved the top spot of being one of the favorites.