WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Attack on Titan Season 4, now streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, Funimation and Amazon Prime.
Many exciting and compelling characters drive the story of Attack on Titan forward, from the protective big sister figure Mikasa Ackerman to the conflicted Reiner Braun and even Eren Yeager himself, who is amassing power and slowly descending into villainy. In the middle of all this is Sasha Braus, who has a rather strong claim to the title of Best Girl or even the best character overall.
It's true that poor Sasha died at the hands of the warrior candidate Gabi, who shot her in cold blood aboard a zeppelin the Scouts had commandeered. But even without the benefit of nostalgia goggles, it's clear why Sasha stands out among the Attack on Titan cast and shines in a dark world ruled by fear, loss and destruction.
The Strength Of Sasha's Character, Staying True To Herself
What makes for a Best Boy or a Best Girl? Often, it's a combination of strength of character and that character's actions, and Sasha Braus has a lot to offer on both fronts, even if she is a side character with thin plot armor.
Sasha overcame her longtime mistrust of city folk and outsiders when she became a soldier, which is saying a lot. At the time, Paradis Island's people all shared intense fear and vulnerability to the Titan threat, but humanity was far from united. In particular, many rural citizens wanted nothing to do with the central government or city folk, and Sasha shared these feelings with her father. Instead, they hunted game with bows and arrows in the wild but later, Sasha's worldview was broadened when she met Eren, Mikasa, Jean and many other trainees.
During this time, Sasha dissolved her mistrust of others and accepted the other trainees as her trusted and beloved friends, truly becoming one of the gang. Of course, she still had her quirky side, such as her intense fondness of meat products and her absent-minded moments. But all the same, Sasha's faith in her friends marked her as a trustworthy soldier and a vital ally, and her constant good spirits, humor and optimism were a much-needed ray of light.
Sasha also showed remarkable courage when she faced a Titan with nothing but a bow and arrow, and enhanced her professional side when she took part in the raid on Liberio with great skill. She was good friends with Connie, a fellow countryside denizen, and she got along well with Mikasa and Historia Reiss, despite their differences. It should also be noted that Sasha had no particular dislike toward Niccolo despite him being a Marleyan outsider. Instead, she showered him with praise and thanks for preparing great seafood, making her likable on many levels. Only the Best Girl could show such incredible strength of character, and best of all, Sasha stayed true to herself, her desires and countryside roots the entire time. She has an air of authenticity that not many characters share.
Sasha's Heroic Actions Balance Her Goofy Personality
Sasha's character is well-balanced, with her silly antics and whimsical kind side contrasting well with her concrete skills and noted accomplishments. She is funny and carefree, but is neither cheap comic relief nor a pratfall-oriented character. Attack on Titan does more with its characters, and Sasha impressed viewers not only with her stubborn yet hopeful personality, but also her deep strength. She proved her worth when a three-meter Titan threatened Kaya's family.
This time Sasha didn't have her friends -- or even her ODM gear -- to back her up. However, she was in her element, bravely facing that small Titan and saving Kaya's life with nothing but a bow and arrow, a horse, and sheer grit. In the grand scheme of things this battle scene meant little, but that's not what makes it a great scene. Viewers love a scrappy underdog who will risk everything despite poor odds, and Sasha could have cut her losses and run. Instead she had strength of character and outer strength alike, usin them to fight the Titan in a desperate battle while also saving Kaya's life.
Years later, Kaya would recount this tale to Gabi and Falco, and viewers certainly hadn't forgotten it either. A true Best Girl stands up for what's right when other characters would run, in spite of (and often because of) overwhelming odds. The Scouts and Attack on Titan fans alike lost a wonderful person when Sasha was gunned down aboard that airship over Liberio.