Following the manga's conclusion, the editor of Attack on Titan looked back on the series to discuss fan theories and what they think the story was ultimately about.
In an interview translated by Twitter user @kasumi_kasa, Attack on Titan editor Shintaro Kawakubo acknowledged that the team behind the manga, including creator Hajima Isayama, were aware of the popular fan theory that believes the entire story of the series is a self-replicating time loop. "I think it was one of the things Isayama was worried about," Kawakubo said, adding, "From the very first chapter, there was a description that made me think of a loop, but if it really was a loop, some people would be disappointed... However, as the story of Ymir the founder unfolds, there are things that cannot be changed... But then, how would the reader feel if it was drawn in a way that makes it feel like a loop?" Ultimately, Kawakubo left the conclusion up to readers' interpretation, saying, "I can't say that it's a loop, and I can't say that it's not a loop. It's up to the readers to decide."
Kawakubo also spoke on the concept of "Sekaikei," the idea that stories are formed around the relationship between two characters and how that relationship affects and impacts the other characters and world around those two central figures. In Kawakubo's mind, Attack on Titan is a sekaikei based around the the relationship between protagonists Eren Jaeger and Mikasa Ackerman. "The word "sekaikei" was also in Isayama's mind," Kawakubo said. "It (Attack on Titan) is the story of Eren and Mikasa."
The interview also revealed that Kawakubo and Isayama put a lot of thought into balancing fan expectations for the story with their own goals. "There are a lot of things that people are looking for regardless of AoT, things that are trending, and there are things that people are looking for in AoT, so how do you find a balance between the two?" Kawakubo explained, adding, "I think this way about loops, I think this way about sekaikei, I think this way about manga, and if I were in his (Isayama's) position, I feel that if I draw whatever I want, I am not fulfilling my responsibility." Kawakubo admitted that maintaining this balance while creating a satisfying conclusion for the manga was difficult. "For Isayama, the closer he got to the end, the more troubled he became in the process of finding a compromise."
Kawakubo also revealed that Isayama originally wanted to kill off one of the series' most popular heroes in the finale, but was talked out of it during an editorial meeting.
The Attack on Titan manga is published in North America by Kodansha USA. Season 1 of Attack on Titan anime is available on Netflix. The first three seasons, as well as part 1 of Season 4, are available for streaming on Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Funimation.