With just a little more than a month until the midseason return of the anime hit, Attack on Titan, fans have been eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the final season of the dark fantasy. On the heels of the show’s anticipated return, the team’s committee recently released new Attack on Titan merchandise available for pre-sale. And although the new merch would surely sell amongst the series’ large fanbase, one piece in particular opened up a fresh can of racial controversy, leading the product to be pulled by the anime’s committee.
Check out the merchandise in questions for yourself:
The armbands were a replication of the ones seen in Attack on Titan. In the show, the state of Marley passed a law that all Eldians must wear the armband to differentiate themselves from the rest of the population. The Eldians face constant oppression and are forced to reside in low-income housing. And if this sounds at all familiar, that’s likely because the Eldians resonate closely with Jewish people and their real-world treatment around World War II.
German Nazi officials began implementing a Jewish badge between 1939 and 1945. The yellow Jewish star badge often was accompanied with the words “Jew” and was used to not only identify and humiliate someone for being Jewish but also for deportation to ghettos and eventually concentration camps. With the Holocaust being the deadliest genocide in history, the horrific period in time is meant to be remembered, but not honored–and that’s exactly what some feel the Attack on Titan Eldian armband would do.
The producers of the show were quick to pull the armband from its sales while also giving a statement. The statement was a straightforward apology, as the statement reads: “The product set for production reproduces part of a character’s costume that appears in Attack on Titan,” the producers said in a statement. “However, [the armband] is also considered a symbol of racial and ethnic discrimination. We recognize there was a lack of consideration in commercializing the item. We are very sorry.”
Attack on Titan made its emergence into the world of anime in 2009 when the Japanese publishing company, Kodansha, began publishing the manga in its magazine. As the series’ global popularity rose, Attack on Titan received a slew of other projects, including video games, novels, and eventually the anime TV series. At its core, Attack on Titan is a dark fantasy series set in a post-apocalyptic world. When humanity was driven to the brink of extinction after the emergence of humanoid giants called Titans, the survivors were forced to retreat to the cities inside a safe haven guarded by three enormous walls. Nearly a century later, Attack on Titan follows the story of Elen Yeager as he vows to eradicate the titans after the death of his mother.
While some took to social media to express anger at the company for pulling the armbands, stating that people are “too sensitive”, the majority of the fanbase expressed their gratitude for the company for realizing their mistake and pulling the product from production. Many were quick to point out that the armbands themselves in the show are not the controversy, the idea of replicating them, however, into a wearable piece of clothing, is. The conclusion to Attack on Titan will commence when the show returns to TV in January 2022.