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Attack On Titan: The Video Game & 'Cruel' Reality That Inspired Hajime Isayama

The hook for what makes fans want to watch "Attack on Titan" has always been its horrific roots. While there have been stories of man-eating giants and titans for millennia, never has the concept been as terrifying as it is in Hajime Isayama's manga and the subsequent anime adaptation that followed. 

Now, as the world waits to see what will happen in the final episode of "Attack on Titan," the show has never been bigger. As for Isayama himself, however, he explained to the BBC how he found the roots of the story in a few different places from earlier on in his life.

"I got the idea for 'Attack on Titan' from a computer game," Isayama recalled. "The whole universe was under attack from aliens. I thought if those monsters ate humans, that'd be pretty interesting. The cruelty of man-eating Titans," he mused. While the genesis of the idea for the massive franchise sounds like it was already there when Isayama was playing the game, which he doesn't name, it would ultimately be the design of the all-too-familiar titans that made this fictional world so terrifying.

Isayama was also inspired by the casual cruelty of nature

As for the natural order of the world and why humans must hide from the man-eating titans, Hajime Isayama says that this also came from a very natural place. "I think it came from my experience of growing up on a farm as a child," Isayama explained. "I remember thinking all living creatures must get nutrition from other living creatures to survive. We might call it cruel, but it is actually the norm."

This theme is doubled down on from the very first episode of "Attack on Titan," where Eren Jaeger (Yuki Kaji/Bryce Papenbrook) compares humans living behind the walls to the livestock being caged up by a farmer. Naturally, these ideas also tie into the other frightening notions of the series, like what might happen if there were a creature further up the food chain from humans who consumed us for sustenance.

Of course, the way Isayama happened upon the idea as a child is also notable. In "Attack on Titan," Mikasa Ackerman (Yui Ishikawa/Trina Nishimura) recalls how cheerfully she ignored the plight of a moth in a spider's web and other instances of creatures killing and eating one another until the moment her own life was under threat. Still, to hear the direct ways that the central ideas behind the series came to be is still fascinating, especially when you consider the international appeal of the beloved series.