July 03, 2023
Attack on Titan | Mikasa Ackerman | Character Analysis | A Product of the Cruel World
Witness Mikasa Ackerman's transformation in Attack on Titan as she navigates a cruel yet beautiful world, finding strength in love and sacrifice!
By: Simon Shoklevski
"This world is cruel and merciless. But it's also very beautiful"
- Mikasa Ackerman
In a world full of evil, in order to endure, you have no choice but to be both physically and mentally strong.
Our Mikasa is just that. A simple girl who, by having a harsh life, is forced to grow up into a killing machine. She is caring, yet cold, beautiful, yet unforgiving. She is many things, and the fans love her.
Mikasa is one of the most loved and popular female characters in the anime world. But, what exactly makes her the way she is? Who is Mikasa in Attack on Titan?
Mikasa’s Physical Appearance
Mikasa’s appearance subtly changes as she gets older, but she remains the cute yet fierce girl she is. When she was living with Eren’s family, Mikasa had a long dark haircut with bangs that later cut to shoulder-length—the distinctive haircut which characterized her notable appearance throughout the first three seasons. However, in the fourth season, the older Mikasa has even shorter hair, making her look more serious and intimidating.
As for her outfits, Mikasa is almost always wearing her Scout’s Outfit, which is nothing notable. However, there is a unique exception and that’s the red scarf Eren gave her. This scarf is her most precious possession and is a very iconic part of the whole story.
The Childhood That Shaped Mikasa’s Character
To understand all of Mikasa’s actions and learn where her motives come from it’s best to go at the beginning and see the events that shaped her. And what’s a better way to do this other than exploring Mikasa’s childhood?
Most of the time, childhood is a period full of joy and careless moments filled with love and enjoyment. However, nothing related to Attack on Titan is careless or full of joy, including Mikasa’s early years.
Mikasa was a shy and lovely girl who lived a normal life with her parents that lasted for a brief time of peace until human traffickers raided their home and killed both her parents. Luckily, in these dark moments, Mikasa’s friend Eren has managed to kill two of the three traffickers but was bested by the third one. While struggling to break free, Eren was saved by Mikasa who had no choice but to kill the man. Therefore, the adorable girl was no more.
So, apart from witnessing her parents being killed and her dear friend killing others, this traumatic experience was made even worse by her killing another person. This left a huge emotional scar that turned this lovely girl into a bit of a reserved and cold one. After these events, Mikasa began to live with her new family who took her in (Eren’s family), while trying to cope with her loss and regain a new normal life.
Sadly, the bad things did not stop there. As a matter of fact, the worst was yet to come. While enjoying a somewhat peaceful life with Eren and his parents, Mikasa’s life (along with anyone inside the walls) took a whole new direction with the Fall of Shiganshina. Mikasa lost her new parental figures and was left with Eren, the only remaining person she deeply cares about in this world.
Mikasa and Eren’s Relationship
Mikasa is a character whose development and story revolves around Eren. Growing up and going through so much with him, she looked at the boy as a source of strength and as something worth living for. This has left her with no other choice but wanting to be protective.
Although this may sound heartwarming, showcasing her hidden love for Eren and portraying her as loyal and compassionate, her protectiveness often goes too far. In many instances, Mikasa is shown as a person who isn’t very focused on the ultimate goal of saving humanity, killing all of the Titans, and reaching freedom. Yes, she fights the Titans and cares about saving people, but the only goal in her mind is following Eren in everything he does and looking out for his safety.
She is so emotionally drained and ignorant that she believes she must be tough and in control of every problem. The belief that she should be stronger than anyone oftentimes gives her the courage to disobey orders of superiors and even treat them with disrespect.
Mikasa as a Soldier
She is a skilled warrior and a master in using the ODM gear. Apart from Levi, who is in a league of his own, Mikasa is probably the next strongest Scout when the ODM gear is in question. There are a lot of beautiful scenes when she takes the main stage slicing through the Titans with ease and such brilliance that leaves the fans in awe.
After the time skip, Mikasa grows up into a more mature person who starts to understand the world as it is and wants to do something about making it better. She still cares deeply about Eren but is no longer narrow-minded with the idea that she must follow his every step.
Here, Mikasa takes the role of a soldier way more seriously and is open to working with and obeying the orders of her superiors. She now has different principles and follows her duties in favor of humanity.
This is best shown at the end of the series when, while others were hesitant, Mikasa knew what had to be done and accepted the difficult task of stopping Eren. She gave up on the dream of living together with him and was the one who achieved freedom both for herself and the whole world.
Ultimately, Mikasa’s actions completely change from saving Eren from the world to saving the world from Eren. In my opinion, this shows a mature development of a character who, apart from being a badass with all the killing and swinging, was intellectually rather boring and very shallow at the beginning of the series.
Mikasa is an example of how much the cruel world can change even the most peaceful people. Her story full of hope, love, and struggle is an essential part of the whole picture this series is painting. It often plays a key role in the show's story development, so much so that you could see Mikasa as the main character of the show.
Of course, Mikasa has her flaws and sometimes her being stubborn and narrow-minded can be frustrating. However, she is a person that develops into a responsible soldier, a person who gives up on her ideals and does what needs to be done, no matter how hard it is.
At the end of the day, it's hard to make responsible decisions and stay sane in a world like Mikasa is living in. She understood that very well by saying:
“This world is cruel and merciless. But it's also very beautiful”.
Which I think is a perfect quote for an imperfect world that shaped Mikasa into the character she is.