Armin Arlert: When the More Human is Deemed Worse

I don’t know why I’m writing about something from last year.

armin female version. loljk that's maiwaifu

armin female version. loljk that’s maiwaifu

There are times when characters make stupid decisions or don’t decide at all. There are times when (non-villain) characters do things that will only cause harm. Many times, people will get angry (I will never be able to relate on getting angry at fiction.) at those characters for doing the “wrong” things — for being human. Assuming that those “poor” actions made sense for the character at that point, those actions should never be a reason to consider the characters bad. Being a good character isn’t about doing the “right” things. Again, they may simply be using dislike and bad interchangeably, which is wrong IMO.

Armin is a much disliked character in Shingeki no Kyojin. They say he’s a wimp — that he’s so indecisive and is a coward. I personally don’t like Armin that much, but I think he’s the one of the best characterized in SnK, not that there are a lot of them in SnK.

[gg]_Shingeki_no_Kyojin_-_05_[4F8DC1FE].mkv_snapshot_19.01_[2013.05.05_20.52.40]If you’re not scared, you don’t have to muster up the courage to take action. Mikasa and Eren are abnormal. They don’t feel how dangerous their situation really is. Eren lacks the perspective and thinking to see it because he’s so focused on shouting that he wants to kill kyojins while Mikasa is emotionally abnormal. The events that led to them being the way they are make sense. However, a flashback doesn’t really cut it for good characterization. Yes, the characters somehow make sense after that well-executed flashback episode. But still, in presenting the present events, the characters felt flat. The humanity, or the damage in theirs, aren’t depicted well. The complexity isn’t there. This is more true more Mikasa as there are some parts where Eren’s character is depicted well. For the secondary characters, there are quite a few that’re characterized well but they aren’t really that focused on, so the good and the not-so-good aren’t that far apart. One thing about SnK though is that most characters make sense from a logical standpoint. My main problem with it is that it just doesn’t show it. I don’t feel it because just like with Mikasa, after the explanations of the motivations and the general traits, they don’t show more. Humans are more than strong motivations and simple traits. Because of that, I mostly enjoy SnK only when it’s about the conspiracy.

Armin’s struggle can be really felt. He is scared because he can really see the situation. He is fully aware. He didn’t have damaging experiences like Mikasa and Eren and some of the secondary characters. Past events only made him lose confidence. His combat abilities aren’t as good as the other main characters. He was still a very normal human when he was plunged into unthinkable danger for people like him. It’s not easy to fight human-eating giants. Two of the main characters are just blind to just how terrifying that is. Add to that the exaggerated style of the series that completely takes the darkness away.

[gg]_Shingeki_no_Kyojin_-_05_[4F8DC1FE].mkv_snapshot_05.02_[2013.05.05_20.37.12]

production schedules so messed up they can’t even randomize the crowd, or just put a bit of variation so that the pattern isn’t that obvious

Armin isn’t blindly scared. He’s intelligent and is perceptive. He knows what he really needs to do (even if he thinks he can’t). He isn’t fighting blindly. Remember all the things they were able to do thanks to his thinking, and the things he was able to do himself. Armin’s helped a lot more than the majority of skilled soldiers. When as simple as a bus running into some electrical wiring or a bus getting temporarily stopped by military is enough to cause many people to panic (true stories, but not mine), you know how weak people are to danger. To be as scared as Armin is perfectly normal. It’s to be expected of most people. Though unlike most, Armin struggled with all his might. He didn’t run for safety or made excuses. He punished himself. He lacked confidence because he held himself responsible for a lot of things in the past — something a lot of people don’t do but should.

Put in a situation where most people as scared and as inexperienced as him just die without accomplishing anything — in a situation where most would’ve surely died, he managed to act. He didn’t have any confidence in himself, and yet he was able to push himself to evolve. You could say he had the most courage among them because he needed it the most. After all, if your fear isn’t as big as his, then the courage you’ll need also won’t be as big.

Armin is strong.

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About cladinblue

Clad in blue and surrounded by fields of gold.

5 thoughts on “Armin Arlert: When the More Human is Deemed Worse

  1. I didn’t even know he’s the most hated character in SnK. Maybe that’s because I was inclined to liking/admiring his character. To be honest, I don’t think highly of the main characters (you know, the big three in popular social media: Eren, Mikasa, and Levi). Sure, they’re ‘badass’, if badass is equivalent to the enormous desire to kill off each titan and their flashy killing moves to realize that desire. But, as you said, they appeared flat almost throughout the series.

    Armin didn’t only fight against his cowardice by not running away, challenging himself in the brink of annihilation, and by using his intelligence in the most dangerous situations (which actually helped the legion gain the upper hand every now and then). He also showed the greatest act of friendship and his love for Mikasa and Eren. Even from the beginning of the series (i.e. when the titans invaded Wall Maria), we could see and feel just how he actually cared for Eren and Mikasa. And the strength of his resolve for his friends is even more evident in the manga (I’m not gonna spoil). 🙂 In short, I really admire Armin from the bottom of my heart.

    P.S. I also have this affection for Connie Springer. :)) I think these two are my favorite characters in SnK. (Oh, this just gave me an idea on what to write, so… thanks for this subarashii post!)

    • Honestly, I don’t have solid reasons for considering Armin as the most hated. I just remember having read and heard more hate about him than Eren lol. (edited the post to reflect this)

      I actually wanted to go in detail on just how important Armin was to the legion but I can’t recall the details well. I always have that problem when it comes to non-favorites. Aside from Armin and Krista, I think I also liked Jean if my memory’s right.

      • Jean was good, too. 😀 I think he and Armin had the best portrayed conflicts in the story. In his case, it was a fight with his own conviction. He initially didn’t want to join the Scouting Legion, because he planned on joining the Military Police. And we all know how it wasn’t easy for him to arrive at his decision. Hurrah for the horsey Jean!

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