One of the most iconic and cherished characters in Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), Levi Ackerman, has a compelling backstory and motivation for joining the Scout Regiment.
Before he became humanity’s strongest soldier, he lived a life on the other side of the law. Here’s an examination of the events that led to him becoming a soldier.
The Underground City
Levi grew up in the Underground City, a grim and dangerous place located beneath the innermost walls.
This subterranean world was filled with crime, poverty, and despair. His early life was marked by hardship, beginning with the loss of his mother to illness. Without opportunities or resources, Levi was forced into a life of crime.
With his close friends, Furlan Church and Isabel Magnolia, he formed a trio that took on various illegal jobs to survive, showcasing his incredible combat skills and quick-thinking abilities.
This backstory is showcased in the two-parter Attack on Titan original video animation, No Regrets.
Another pivotal character in his backstory is Kenny Ackerman. Kenny, a relative and one-time guardian of Levi, was an infamous serial killer.
He was known for his skill in using the 3D maneuver gear, a unique piece of equipment designed for combat against the Titans. Levi’s combat skills, particularly with the blades used in the 3D maneuver gear, were honed under Kenny’s tutelage.
Kenny’s relationship with Levi was complicated as it was a blend of guardianship, mentorship, and rivalry. However, it can’t be denied that Kenny played a significant role in molding him into the formidable fighter he became.
A Deal with Erwin Smith
Levi’s turning point came when he encountered Erwin Smith, the future Commander of the Scout Regiment.
Erwin was on a mission in the Underground City when he crossed paths with Levi and his team. Recognizing his unmatched skills, Erwin saw potential in him for something more significant than petty crimes.
Following a series of events where Levi’s loyalty to his friends was tested, Erwin proposed a deal.
Instead of punishing him and his team for their criminal activities, they could join the Scout Regiment, offering them a chance at a new life on the surface and an opportunity to utilize their skills for a greater cause.
Seeking Freedom and Purpose
The idea of living on the surface, under the open sky, appealed to the trio. For individuals who had been confined to the Underground City’s oppressive environment, the surface meant freedom.
Additionally, Levi saw a person with a genuine purpose and vision in Erwin. His dedication to unraveling the mysteries of their walled world and the Titans’ existence resonated with Levi.
Over time, the bond and trust between them deepened, with Levi coming to respect and follow Erwin’s leadership wholeheartedly. This decision to join the Scouts wasn’t a straightforward recruitment.
His journey from the Underground City’s dark alleys to the Scouts’ front lines against the Titans was curated via personal loss, mentorship, and a desire for freedom and purpose.