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|“||Oh, no. None of you have done anything wrong. And you're not devils. It's just that you all have to die. There's nothing you can do now.||„|
|~ Bertolt threatens Armin Arlert|
|“||If we talk will you agree to DIE?! We only have two demands!! We want you to give us Eren!! And we want all of humanity inside the walls to be wiped out!! That's just how reality is, Armin!! Everything has already been decided!!||„|
|~ Bertolt's response to Armin asking to talk.|
Bertholdt Hoover is the central antagonist in the anime/manga series, Attack on Titan. He is the true identity of the Colossal Titan; an Eldian who infiltrated the military of the Walls as a spy as a part of a plot to eradicate the "remainder of humanity", and the childhood friend of Reiner Braun. He initially appears as a supporting protagonist, whilst also secretly appearing as the main antagonist of the Fall of Shiganshina and Battle of Trost District arcs, until the second half of the Clash of the Titans arc, where his identity is revealed and he becomes the secondary antagonist and serves as the central antagonist of the Return to Shiganshina arc. He also returns as a supporting protagonist in the flashbacks of the Marley arc and is a posthumous antagonist in the present day storyline of the Marley arc and the War for Paradis arc.
Though largely a subordinate for Reiner and Zeke Yeager, Bertolt is the strongest and most feared Titan throughout the series and is considered humanity's greatest threat. His actions are also the catalyst for main events of the series including Eren's transformation into a warrior determined to exterminate the Titans; being responsible for the death of Carla Yeager and the destruction of Shiganshina. His and Reiner's actions also caused the poverties endured by the citizens of Wall Rose resulting in thousands more deaths which increased the corruption of Wall Sina's authority. He also serves as a foil for Armin Arlert.
He is voiced by Tomohisa Hashizume in the Japanese version of the anime, and David Matranga in the English dubbed version.
The Colossal Titan
The second largest Titan ever encountered, having first appeared in the Year 845 outside the District of Shiganshina.
It is approximately 60 meters tall with a physical appearance resembling a humanoid being without any skin, exposing muscles and connective tissue.
In addition, it has not shown any interest in consuming humans. It appears suddenly and without warning in a flash of lightning, and disappears in a similar manner in large clouds of steam, which constantly pours from most parts of its body.
It possesses the ability to release this steam at high pressure to defend the weak point at the base of its neck. Possessing a physical mass far larger than any other known Titan, it was easily able to kick down the Gate into the District of Shiganshina and thus is partially responsible for the fall of the Wall Maria.
It displays cognitive recognition when it appears before the District of Trost in the year 850, as after kicking down the gate into the district, it destroys the cannon artillery atop the wall so that the invading Titans would meet less resistance.
Personality and Character
Bertolt gets very different perspectives and judgmentes from the audience: some consider him evil, some called him innocent and good-hearted, some mentally unstable, some good but too much apathetic and indifferent. The character was created to be mostly read through his facial expressions and buried emotions.
Bertolt is a quiet young man who identifies himself as someone that follows popular opinion with "no will of his own" and no purpose in life. This sometimes bothers his companions, because he acts as if he can't fight or do anything else, yet during his trainings in both Marley and Paradis' Walls, he excelled at everything he did and he was praised for his great shooting abilities. Likewise, his instructor noted him to be a person with great potential, but an utter lack of initiative, noting these words: "Highly proficient in various hand-to-hand combat styles and has great potential. But lacks in self-confidence and tends to leave it to others when it comes to showing assertiveness.". Because of his personality, passive behavior, and utter dependence on others' commands, Bertholdt's potential and talents are considered wasted and thus, at the Walls, he got the grade A- and ranked under Reiner, instead of Mikasa. He was further described by Eren Yeager as being taciturn, and often acting as "Reiner's shadow". Among his former comrades, he was particularly close to Armin Arlert and read with him. He was also often seen with Jean, Eren, and Marco. Other times he could find himself surrounded by all his comrades, due to him being with Reiner, who used to be the most popular trainee, and Bertolt never approved of this due to his fear of Reiner exposing their real identities. Bertolt failed to stop his partner from becoming too popular. Reiner developed a delusional personality entirely taken from Marcel and even got a crush on Christa. While Eren got along with Bertolt, the former still had his reservations about him, not having a clear view of his reserved and silent nature. Besides Bertolt's trouble with Reiner and concern for his mental stability, his relationship with Annie is completely unknown, except for Reiner and Armin's impressions that he has a crush on her and a some flashbacks with Bertolt with Annie, Reiner, Marcel, Porco, and Pieck as children, where Bertolt tells Annie and Reiner how loyalty towards Marley is important. Sometimes, instead of being alone or with Mina, Annie would join with Bertolt, Jean, and Marco during meals. He is often called Bert, even by Levi and the Survey Corps. Bertolt tends to remain in the background unless necessary. By his own admission, he is something of a coward and is noted for his low self-esteem and lack of aggressiveness, though ways to anger him do exist. When Reiner calls him unreliable Bertolt quietly agrees without protests and the only thing he acknowledges about himself is being athletic and able to fight. His best talent is actually his exceptional aim with guns, as he never misses his targets and is the best Warrior in marksmanship.
His withdrawn and emotionless behavior initially led to the impression of him being the least emotionally compromised of the three Titan agents. He showed little attachment or remorse over his actions, seeming to care only about his partner, Reiner. However, when confronted by his former comrades and questioned about their friendship, he revealed himself to be far more conflicted and guilt-ridden than it originally appeared. His claims of not having a choice add a further level of ambiguity to his character, leaving many of his actions in question. He shows great devotion to both of his fellow agents, Reiner Braun and Annie Leonhart, and is easily driven to action or anger when he feels either is threatened. He rarely smiles and the only times he did it more often was during his 3 past years of training. In reality, he is constantly nervous, gloomy, with a frowning face showing uneasiness and insecurity. He is wary of others and acts as a voice of reason to Reiner, cautioning him repeatedly about lowering his guard. He refuses to trust his prisoners and prefers to incapacitate them. His interactions with Ymir reveal that while his actions have caused considerable suffering, he is not a cruel person and is capable of showing genuine kindness towards others. Bertolt can also showed panic and slight tears when he saw Marco dying. He also points out that what he does is his job and his own feelings must not get in his way, causing Eren to view him as cold, indifferent, and unsympathetic person.
Raised as a Warrior child, Bertolt was trained to be only a ruthless war machine to serve the power of the Marley Empire. He was fed with lies and to believe that one day he could save all the Eldians living in the Marley ghettos from Ymir's curse by eradicating all the remaining rebel Eldians in the Walls. While Reiner and Annie allowed their feelings get in the way, Bertolt always remained focused on his mission and never forgot his real identity. In his mind general, Bertolt became neutral in the war and all he wants eventually is to just end his mission and return home with his companions, already accepting himself as a terrorist with a short life anyway. Before he started showing more of his way of thinking and remorse, the audience thought he was the worst of the titan trio, apparently being the least conflicted of them and acting indifferent about his actions, fo example his cold and composed reaction when Eren reminds him his role in his mother's death. The fans accused him of being evil and amoral, even after he showed his remorse when talking to Connie and Jean, accusing him of genuinely trying to be remorseful, but in reality being more able to kill than spare lives. At first Bertolt let his insecurity and fears get the best of him and was deeply remorseful to betray his comrades, especially when he's cornered by them. Months later he decided to stop hiding behind Reiner and cast away his guilt and carry on with killing his former friends for the sake of his real side and real companions, thus acting more aggressive and threatening, even accepting Mikasa's challenge to fight. To succeed his military mission, he had to embrace his role as the Colossal Titan even if he hated it, so that he could finally use his destructive power without hesitation. For the sake of his Warrior companions and to protect Marley's secrets, Bertolt lies to his enemies by making them believe what they always thought: that he is Humanity's Greatest Enemy and that he decided himself to kill all humans.
By his thoughts and extra information from Hajime Isayama, Bertolt showed that he's not very able to put a value for life in general since he doesn't see anything good about the world or any decent reason to live, to the point of not even having a will of his own or independent thoughts and simply follow the orders of Zeke Yeager and the military officers who sent him to destroy the walls and recover the coordinate. Among the many different perspectives from the fans, there are those who consider his behavior, from a psychological perspective, the one of a borderline sociopath and a bit suicidal who was only getting worse and more ruthless, despite his hate for violence, as his mission was getting more frustrating as well as seeing Reiner, Annie, Marcel, and Marco suffering too much while he was only shaking, running away, or sweating. Even after his death, much of Bertholdt still remains unkown and it's never revealed how his enviroment where he grew up has made him like that.
Although he genuinely pities his enemies, Bertholdt knows how to deal with his mission and broke down in tears once, due to a stressful situation at facing his friends' reactions to his lies. He also cried during Marco's murder, as he never prepared to have to dispose of him in human form only because he and Reiner talked to loud. As a child, he acted cool about his mission, then during the training in the 104th he became extremely quiet. He still attacks the Walls for a second time and causes the battle of Trost. When Reiner decided to not continue their advance to Wall Sina and focus on Eren's capture, Bertholdt was actually bothered, showing a weak disagreement in letting Eren plug the Wall because he had "worked hard" to prepare the Trost invasion. Another mistake of his was taking Erwin's bait and join with Reiner in the Survey Corps, wait one month before having Annie trying to take Eren from the more experienced Scouting Legion The best course of action would have been kidnapping the weak Eren back at Trost and flee to Marley, then return later to deal with the Reiss family. Upon facing the consequences of the exposal of his identity, Bertholdt panicked and lost all confidence to the point of tears, but nor enough to attack the Survey Corps and stealing a ODM gear and Ymir. When not nervous or scared, he acted passive and cold in Wall Maria.
Months later Bertholdt underwent a serious change and returns colder, detached, indifferent, callous, and a lot more dangerous and careless. He embraced his role as "the villain and the greatest enemy of humankind", and he was ready to fulfill his savage duty with his full potential and abilities. Armin thought Bertholdt would listen to him, for the sake of their old friendship, and tried to talk him out his mission and turning into the Colossal Titan, giving him a change of negotiation and redemption: Bertolt rudely declined Armin's offer and mocked both Armin and his old self, statying that this time he wouldn't cry and flee and that Armin had no way to play mind games on him. In fact Bertolt remained calm and composed, and did not feel sorry or bad when he told his former friends that he will kill them and all humans inside the Walls because he has decided to do so. He was not fazed by Armin's attempt at manipulating him by bringing up Annie, and told him to have her fed to the pigs for all he cared. He did not feel panic or dread when other Scouts where going to kill Reiner and he had to leave him to himself, and Reiner was rather helpless at this point. This time Armin ended uo victim of Bertolt's mind games and ruthless behavior, resulting with everyone noticing tey were dealing with the infamous and imposing Colossal Titan, not the timid and nervous comrade they knew. Bertolt noted how Armin is unable to do anything to him as long as he shakes in fear of his presence. Their conversation it only ended with bickerings, mutual mind games, and Bertholdt and Mikasa fighting, when the latter finally felt too threatened and tried to kill him. Mikasa was dismayed to see that Bertholdt and the Survey Corps realized that they wouldn't find pity or negotiation from him. Bertholdt used his fighting techniques against Mikasa and repelled her attacks to get rid of her, unlike that one time where he had panicked and run upon seeing her.
Bertolt came to accept his villainous self, and rationalized that none of it is his or anyone's fault, but that the world is just cruel, and all of it was inevitable. Even if he admitted that he never hated Armin and the others, Bertholdt proceeded to blow up the entire district with a huge explosion that killed almost every person present. He showed disappoitment and annoyance when ironically his 104th old friends were the only survivors, admitting to himself that he hoped they could just die already. He then proceeded to destroy the entire city and attempted to kill all his former friends, while Zeke kept Erwin and Levi busy, killing all the other scouts that weren't on Bertholdt's reach.
Bertholdt soon finds himself confronted by Eren's Attack Titan, whom he dispatches with a single kick. Before he can finish Eren off, however, he is attacked by Armin and is forced to stop moving in order to repel him. This proves to be a costly mistake: Although Bertolt fatally injures Armin with his steam attack, he is unable to defend himself when Eren (now in human form) appears from behind and violently cuts Bertolt's out of his Titan body, severing his arms and legs in the process.
After being defeated, Bertolt is tied up and rendered unconscious by Eren and the other surviving Corps members while Levi decides who to feed him to: Armin or Erwin. He ultimately picks Armin and transforms him into a Pure Titan. Bertolt awakens just in time to see Armin's Titan reach for him. He cries out in terror, first begging for help from the Survey Corps, and then from Annie and Reiner, before being eaten by Armin.
Bertolt's death caused a great change, chaos and ended the world's fear for Marley and the Titans. It signed the liberation of Paradis from the Titans, Marley's first defeat after 100 years, a new war against an other continent, and the beginning of the end of the dominion of the Titans in earth. The defeat of the Colossal Titan resulted with freedom of the people from the Walls and ended Marley's advance and forced its government to start updating their normal war machines, navy, and airline. Without Bertolt, Zeke and Reiner alone were not powerful enough to stop the Wall Eldians, that had gained improved brand new equipment to fight Titans. Despite such heavy consequences Zeke and Reiner were not punished by the Marleyan government, even if protecting Bertolt and bringing him back was supposed to be a priority, as his Titan (besides the Founding Titan), was the only thing that could have kept the Power of the Titans unquestioned by its enemies. With the Colossal Titan under Paradis' possession, the Titans are now obsolete and no match to the other countries' war machines.
Several of Bertolt's personality traits seem to have been passed onto Armin in addition to the Colossal Titan power, namely his meekness and his attraction to Annie. After eating Bertolt, Armin visits Annie in her crystal prison often, and Eren notes at point that Armin's strategic abilities have faltered since becoming the Colossal Titan (although it's been hinted that Eren's observations were more likely his attempt to alienate himself to his friends in preparation for the Rumbling since Armin also demonstrated a fondness towards Annie prior to inheriting Bertolt's power).
- Previous holder of the Colossal Titan (as a mindless titan)
- Moblit Berner
- Numerous residents of Shiganshina District
- Black-haired soldier
- At least 17 unnamed Survey Corps members
- Carla Yeager
- Samuel Linke-Jackson
- Thomas Wagner
- Mylius Zeramuski
- Mina Carolina
- Nac Tias
- Franz Kefka
- Hannah Diamant
- Marco Bott
- Mitabi Jarnach
- Ian Dietrich
- Ruth D. Kline
- Numerous counts of Shiganshina District citizens
- Numerous counts of Wall Maria residents
- Numerous counts of unnamed 104th Cadet Corps members
- Numerous counts of unnamed Garrison members
- According to Reiner, Bertholdt was the only known human in the current story to have been able to master his Titan form the very first time as a child, without ending up exhausted and unable to stand like normally should happen the first time, the Titan form being also the most difficult to control. Nevertheless, when he was a child soldier he still struggled to keep his Colossal form for too long, unlike when he is older. Bertholdt's many outstanding abilities would explain why the Marley military would decide to give the Colossal form to someone as insecure as him, however it seems that neither Magath or Zeke has ever bothered to work on his flaws that made most of his talents unused and wasted. In fact Bertholdt's personality makes it easy for everyone to underestimate him, including Bertholdt himself (much to Reiner's frustration), who refuses to take any initiative in anything unless only Reiner or Annie are in danger.
- Out of all the young Warriors in training, Bertholdt and Annie were the only ones who didn't look interested in the Marley's teachings at all and kept a nonchalant attitude about it. Both of them are self-admitted weak persons who follow the greater flow without ever using initiative or expressing their actual thoughts. They also use their abilities only when it's necessary, otherwise they do nothing or speak at all. Their behaviors and lack of teamwork didn't go unnoticed by Reiner to the point that, after he took Marcel's personality and became a leader, he sometimes called them slackers and unreliable, who let him plan everything alone. However, unlike Annie, Bertholdt considers loyalty important, hence why he never hesitated in his mission. Also unlike Annie, Bertholdt doesn't feel the need to cause creative deaths and inflict unnecessary extra pain.
- There are parallels between Bertholdt and Mikasa Ackerman: they both know they live in a cruel world and they were both terrified by it. Their fears were replaced by control, self-awareness, and coldness.
- The difference is that Mikasa did it while she was still a child and found something to live for, while Bertholdt only really stopped trembling when he realized he was just standing there all the time while he let most of the dirty job to Reiner and Annie and would not stop them when they made foolish mistakes. Mikasa's faces the cruelty of the world while looking beyond it and sees beauty and love, she focuses on those things and keeps living. Bertholdt doesn't see this and has only a nihilistic view of life. He's often apathetic and even admits to have no reason to live for to the point he considers death as freedom. In his last moments he had no problem with killing countless people anymore and was even cool with Annie being fed to the pigs or Reiner failing and die, possibly because he didn't expect to live longer anyway. He burned Armin alive with no hesitation, despite he was one of his favorite comrades, thinking he was putting him out of his misery. However, when he was defeated and was about being eaten alive, he still panicked and screamed for help.
- Another interpretation from readers is that perhaps he became too self-indulgent, having no true life purpose or actual like for life and will to live. It's believed that his projection of conflict into Armin is the culmination of all the subtle gathering of suppressed thought. So he would have been impenetrable not because the audience are denied access to his mind; rather, he is impenetrable because he doesn’t do a lot of thinking, and when he does, it’s superficial. The kind of defense he muster to explain himself is truistic, yet with a total absence of context it is cryptic and morally ambiguous. When he doesn’t hide himself behind somebody he hides himself behind words.
- Bertolt, Annie, and Marcel never returned to their families in their hometown (Liberio's internment zone). Out of their group, Reiner is the only one who ever made it back to Liberio's ghetto and to his family.
- During the training in Marley, Bertolt and Annie ranked above Reiner because they fight better than him and have more talent. While during the training in Paradis, Reiner ranked both of them, second only to Mikasa. Although Bertolt and Annie are better at fighting and more agile, and Reiner always lost against them, it's apparent that he still ranked above them due to his stronger spirit, loyalty, and above all teamwork. All of those are the most required things requested by the Wall military and the most necessary things to fight and survive the Titans, and Bertolt and Annie lacked those traits.
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