Humans are enclosed within a cage to be out of the reach of their frightening predators. Once upon a time there was a man who, as a kid, got a glimpse of what is beyond the Walls and perhaps even why. He was determined to dedicate himself in liberating humanity and discovering if that faint glimpse was true. Once upon a time there was also an impoverished child who got orphaned, had to face the ugliness of the human heart every day and fight with nails and teeth to survive. Survey Corps is the place where their paths cross and get to shape humanity’s future!
Erwin Smith inspires respect and perhaps even fear to those around him. His shining blonde hair, his intense blue eyes and his “perfect bone structure” -as Nile says in the School spin off-, even his thick eyebrows make him look dashing, almost divine. He’s a formidable presence taking into account his height, his stoic mask and the way he bears himself publicly full of confidence. Erwin Smith is a very capable man both in the battlefield and in social interactions but it’s mostly his demonic cunning that people are scared of. He’s single-minded in his duties and obsessed in his efforts of bringing the truth to light. He’s a perspicacious individual who grabs every chance that comes his way. His tactics could be characterized quite machiavellian.
He’s often painted for that reason as merciless, someone who sents his men and women to their deaths without any qualms, but this is an unfair portrait for a strategist who has suggested, among other things, a battlefield formation to avoid Titans and minimize the count of losses. He makes sacrifices but isn’t afraid to accept a failure and retreat. He’s in the front line fighting, side by side with his soldiers, putting his life on the line. Erwin Smith isn’t an emotionless monster in any way. When he forbids the retrieval of dead bodies from the field, it isn’t because he doesn’t care, but because experience has taught him to prioritize the living over the dead. He’s the leader and has learnt to take hard decisions. He, who has the gift of eloquency, is rendered speechless in front of the grief and displaced anger of the common people every time they return from an expedition. He bears the burden of his “sins” alongside his personal pain silently, and only when he’s broken, we glimpse for a little his doubts and bad consciousness. He might appear distant but he’s still very much human.
Levi is many things: “humanity’s strongest”, “the clean freak”, a former thug… “unexpectedly short, high strung, ill-mannered and unapproachable”. Besides his undeniable prowess, he isn’t just a kiling machine. Violence is his last resort; Levi hates unnecessary deaths. He cares deeply for his soldiers, encourages them and reassures the moribund that their sacrifice won’t be meaningless. His said perpetually sullen face is a defensive mechanism developed to survive in the Underground and between dangerous missions. But Levi is definitely also capable of anger, vindictiveness, sadness, surprise, hope and gratitude; we are just rarely graced with such expressions. Circumstances demand he’d rather be perceived as scary and dangerous.
Generally, Levi might be a tangled ball of quirks but that’s exactly what makes him so attractive and loveable. He has his guard high most of the time, he’s straightforward, blunt, sarcastic and swears casually -and quite endearingly if I may add; he has OCPD (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) and an affinity for black tea and cravats -leftover needs of his harsh childhood. Additionally, although his outward appearance isn’t conventionally handsome, he has a wild beauty in his features and a grace in his movements.
It’s all about trust. Trust and respect. Erwin saw the immense potential in Levi, and he was right in wanting him in the Survey Corps, fighting for humanity’s freedom. Erwin admires Levi’s skills with the Gear and Levi admires Erwin’s leadership, his foresight, his manipulations, his dedication to the cause and his fortitude in taking risks. Levi had a name in the Underground, meaning he was a leader himself, so he can assess Erwin completely. Moreover it’s noticeable that he listens to him without second thoughts, he whom life taught him to be wary. Very rarely he’ll doubt what the best course of action is and even then it’s done in the best intentions. They are almost inseparable; we see them together when they plan on how to act about Eren’s case, on most missions, in the barracks. Erwin is the brains and Levi is the brawn. They usually address each other without their titles.
Levi lost his mother from a young age and the whereabouts of his father are unknown. He was forced to face life’s brutality and be part of it. He faced abandonement and understood what it means to be used and then be thrown away. So when the Commander of the Survey Corps called him and showed him they’ll fight the fight together, he found stability in his life, a shelter, someone worthy looking up to. It’s really not hard at all to imagine these two consoling each other, finding love, tenderness and understanding in more physical encounters. The duress they go through during battles doesn’t really discriminate per rank; and there’s no better balm for it than human warmth. Erwin surely needs support in shouldering all this grief and responsibility. Even away from the Titans, Erwin works too much for his own good; there must be someone to coax him to rest. Not to mention how perfectly their bodies fit each other in spooning. Everything about them works so well -they compliment each other perfectly.
Thank goodness the eruri fandom is big enough to fill in every hole *cough cough* -in the story I mean- and give us many beautiful stories, AU scenarios, pictures, cosplay etc. (For more, see next three pages)
Notes (spoilers ahead):
- Erwin has Germanic descent and means “honored friend/ warrior friend”, while Levi is a Hebrew name meaning “joined/pledged/attached”.
- Erwin is fondly called “Commander Handsome” or “Commander Eyebrows” within the fandom. By the way I wish the animators decide what kind of eyebrows they want to give him. They are ever changing! Levi got the nickname “Humanity’s tightest” somewhere along the way for his fine ass.
- I love Levi’s undercut though I’d die to see him officially with longer hair, too. Someone photoshopped him with a ponytail and he’s bloody smexy. I also want Erwin mith messy hair. He’s too preppy with his current hairstyle (that thing really looks like a toupee -sorry, husbando).
- I wasn’t particular fond of Levi at first, but I’m head over heels now for him as well. The voice actors of both Levi (Hiroshi Kamiya) and Erwin (Daisuke Ono) are excellent and their voices are particularly warm, with Levi’s having a metallic texture to it. Very memorable and arousing~
- This series is full of ships but eruri has just stolen my heart completely to the point of being on adrenaline over a month continuously now. Beyond them being badass, they’re also adults -a rare breed in the anime world-, our old men in love! The veterans have such chemistry among them, that I could very well root for an OT3 with Hanji or even a sweet polyamorous family Nanaba-Mike-Erwin-Levi-Hanji in various combinations. I also like yumikuri (yes, it’s canon), jeanmarco, jeanmin, and the Titan Trio.
- Obviously the producers have sniffed this pairing’s success and saw it fit to milk money by producing a backstory of these two, A Choice With No Regrets- which one can find as visual novel, manga and OVA, none of which can really be considered canon, since they aren’t written by Isayama. I’m not sure if the recent OVA is trying to retcon things, but I honestly think the VN does a fairly better job at the characterization and script. You can read it here. I’ll write more about it at the end of the year in my 10 moments post.
- If you want to read further character analysis of Erwin, Levi and theories about Shingeki, I highly recommend Teetan Theories, Pontifications, & Other Big Words.