As Attack on Titan progresses, it becomes apparent that there are secrets and mysteries to be uncovered. To understand these secrets, there needs to be someone who can explain them. That’s where Armin Arlert comes in: He acts as the narrator in the Attack on Titan series, providing insight into the main plot and tying together important story elements with his perspectives. Armin’s voice always narrates the story’s events, so much so that we’ve gotten used to hearing the events told from his perspective. But have you ever stopped to wonder why Attack on Titan is narrated by Armin?
There’s no canon reason that Armin narrates the events in Attack on Titan. Still, popular fan theories state that Armin is telling the story as a metaphor for the importance of preserving history. Armin was always interested in books, and it’d not be out of character for him to want to compile an unbiased historical account. Another fan theory is that Armin narrates the story because he’s telling it to a crystallized Annie. However, since narrator Armin is an anime-only thing, it may turn out that he’s not the narrator after all.
Armin was chosen as the narrator for Attack on Titan because of his connection to Eren Yeager and his story arc. He has experienced similar trials that his companions have faced and thus can empathize with them while still keeping his distance, allowing him to view events more objectively. This makes him suited perfectly for a narrative role which requires introducing complexities involved in each story while providing background information necessary for audience understanding. Armin’s connection to Annie also justifies why he would tell someone else the story. We will also discuss why Armin might not be the narrator, despite both characters having the same voice actress. Read on to learn more about how.
The thematic importance of preserving the history
Attack on Titan tackles many hot-button issues, and one of its main themes is preserving history. King Karl Fritz stole the memories of all Eldians within the walls of Paradis Island, robbing them of their right to their heritage and the knowledge of what’s going on beyond the island. Both Eldian Restorationarists and the Marleyan government fabricated parts of history to manipulate the narrative in their favor.
We may not have had our memories stolen, but we’ve all likely been robbed of important knowledge by higher-ups who don’t have our best interests in mind. We may not be citizens of a former empire who can turn into Titans. Still, select parts of history have been altered to create propaganda to manipulate us. This happens in every country in the world, during wartime and peacetime. It always breeds hatred and resentment towards innocent individuals.
“Those who forget history will be doomed to repeat it” is a phrase so often repeated it has become a cliche, but it’s true. Attack on Titan reinforces the importance of remembering history while thinking critically about what happened.
Armin is very level-headed and has a thirst for knowledge, which lends well to his being unbiased. This makes him a great choice of narrator, as we can count on him to tell the events as accurately as possible.
We also see Armin writing notes about everything Eren learned from Grisha’s memories. This suggests that he’s keeping historical records of the events. Although the manga ended, we haven’t gotten an explicit explanation as to why Armin kept these records.
But knowing that he survives and becomes an important peacetime leader, we can assume it’s because he wanted to broadcast the events of Attack on Titan as accurately as possible to the public. This would help the inhabitants of Paradis Island in political negotiations.
Armin is telling Annie what happened.
In a manga panel that has yet to be animated, the story is interrupted by a shot of Armin sitting cross-legged on the ground in front of a crystallized Annie. He says to her, “Right…Annie? Please… Say something.”
This suggests that Armin was telling all the events up until that point to Annie, who was in a crystallized state. Because Armin ate Bertholdt and gained the power of the Colossal Titan, some of Bertholdt’s memories transferred over to him.
Annie and Bertholdt were friends or at least comrades on a dangerous mission. Memories are a key part of an individual’s personality, so when Armin ate Bertholdt, he became a little bit like him. This is likely why he feels the subconscious need to visit and narrate what has happened to Annie, though he doesn’t know if she can even hear him.
Armin might not be the narrator.
It’s possible that Armin and the narrator and two different characters. This theory was popularized because Armin’s voice actress, Marina Inoue, also voices the narrator. However, in the credits, Marina Inoue is credited as voicing both Armin Arlert and the narrator. This might indicate they’re different characters, albeit voiced by the same voice actress.
After all, the manga doesn’t specify who is narrating the events. Only in the anime do we make that distinction because only in the anime are we able to hear the lines being spoken instead of reading them.
But even in the anime, there are times when the narrator refers to Armin in the third person, as if he is someone different. For example, in the preview for episode 10, attached to the end of episode 9, the narrator says, “Armin stands up for him, risking his life.” It can be safely assumed that Armin is the narrator, but it wouldn’t be surprising if that weren’t the case.