A beloved character passed away in Attack on Titan that continues to affect both Jean and the series as a whole.
WARNING: The following contains disclosures for Attack on Titan Season 4, episode 24
As a dark fantasy action series set in a post-apocalyptic world, Attack on Titan certainly no stranger to tragedies. With each passing season, the death toll increased in tandem with the presence of grief and sadness as familiar faces disappeared one by one, often in horrifying ways. Living in the midst of great devastation often raises the question: what do they die for?
This question has been explored earlier in Attack on Titan, namely Erwin Smith, who, in the fiery battle to regain Wall Maria, exclaims to his soldiers that it is they who are still alive. – is the one who gives meaning to the death of a comrade. The hopes and dreams of the fallen soldiers are still alive and give strength and motivation to those left behind to keep moving forward. That being said, an early death continued to affect later seasons of scouting troupes – especially Jean Kirstein.
In Episode 24 of Season 4, Jean is provided with everything he ever wanted – to live a relatively safe and easy life – by joining the Jaegerist. He struggles with this decision before deciding to join Floch Forster, but at the end of the episode, Jean betrays them and sided with his friends. In doing so, he throws away his former ideals and ventures into the impossible, joining this new team of Eldians and Marleys, who are ready to risk everything against Eren. Jaeger. When asked why, Jean mentioned gray bones, an obvious reference to an old friend and former cadet, Marco Bodt.
Marco was a member of the 104th training corps and was originally thought to be a martyr of the war. A skilled soldier who graduated as the 7th intern in his class, Marco was remembered for his keen intuition and natural leadership qualities, including the used to raise morale for teammates. His ideal personality is the exact opposite of his best friend Jean, who is presented as short-tempered and sly, but they balance each other out very well. It was Marco who saw Jean’s flaws and realized that jean had the potential to be a strong and trustworthy leader – even better than Marco himself – and he encouraged Jean to be better. again.
After Marco’s death in Attack on Titan, Jean memorizes his friend’s words. Instead of joining the Police Corps as planned, he joined the Survey Corps despite being extremely scared. Jean changes his selfish way of life as the memory of Marco motivates him to keep fighting, even amid the terror and devastation surrounding humanity.
The full circumstances of Marco’s death are not revealed until flashbacks in Season 3. During the Battle of Trost, Reiner Braun and Bertholdt Hoover discuss their titan forms and how they broke through the wall twice. – a conversation that Marco unfortunately stumbled across. From their discussion, he discovers that there are people other than Eren who can transform into giants and that these traitors are lurking in the shadows and working against the Paradis. Reiner attacks, but is unable to let Marco live after discovering their secret, giant guardian Annie Leonhart removes Marco’s ODM device, rendering him defenseless against the giants and bridges ask for a chance to tell everything when he is eaten.
However, indirectly killing their friend was not without consequences. Horrified by the situation, Annie hesitates, clearly unwilling to participate, but gives in after an excessive reminder from Reiner. She witnessed his passing with tears and continues to be haunted by it through nightmares. This event may have contributed to her mental breakdown at the end of Attack on Titan Season 1.
This is also the point at which Reiner’s grasp of his identity becomes disjointed, questioning why Marco was eaten despite letting him die just seconds ago. This problem persisted as Reiner’s mental health deteriorated severely over time, leaving him frequently confused as to whether he was a Marleyan warrior or a soldier for the scout group. It was clear that Marco’s death did not weigh heavily on Jean.
Marco’s influence continues through Jean, who exclaims that if he chooses to stay with the Jaegerists or even lock himself in his room, Marco will never forgive him. Now, Jean continues to rise above her easygoing lifestyle despite her own fears. His betrayal to the Jaegerists was directly due to his friendship with Marco, which allowed him to save Yelena and Onyankopon, with Mikasa Ackerman and co. Time to escape and gain the trust of Pieck Finger and Theo Magath. In turn, Marco influenced the entire anime series as Jean’s actions marked a major turning point for the legions. And just as Erwin claimed, Jean made sure that Marco’s death was not in vain.