Despite his brief appearance in “Attack of the Titans”, Marco Bott had a considerable impact on several characters and the atmosphere of the anime.

How Marco Bott's Death Changed History

In 2013, the “Attack of the Titans” series was launched, introducing viewers to the 104th Training Brigade. The first episodes introduce a group of characters as a casting ensemble alongside the already established protagonists. Among them are the best members of the class: Krista, Sasha, Connie, Jean, Eren, Annie, Bertholt, Reiner, Mikasa and Marco. Although these characters prove to be the most successful in the 104th Brigade, one rookie only makes it halfway through the first season. Marco, who was captain of Squad 19 at the time of Trost’s attack, is found half-eaten in season 1 episode 13, entitled “Primitive Desire”.

Considered one of the main characters, an advanced member of the recruits and a generally amiable person, Marco’s death sets the tone for the anime. While episode 1 of season 1, entitled “To You, 2000 Years From Now”, announces that this anime will feature gruesome deaths, and secondary characters die throughout the story of “Attack of the Titans”, Marco’s death is one of the most striking as he is the first core member to die, and it happens unceremoniously.

How Marco Bott's Death Changed History

While Armin and Eren watch helplessly as their lesser-known comrades are devoured, Marco’s body is discovered by his friend Jean. The death of Marco, such a responsible and warm-hearted member of the team, upsets Jean, but what really strikes him is the fact that nobody knows what happened to him. The fact that a key character dies off-screen in this way underlines the cruelty of this world and proves that no one, whatever their status, is immune.

In addition to devastating Jean, Marco’s death causes him to abandon his dream of joining the special brigade. Throughout the first half of season 1, Jean clearly expresses his desire to become a military policeman and lead an affluent life; however, after Marco’s death, Jean better understands the injustice of the world and enlists in the Exploration Battalion regiment.

Although he doesn’t consider the profession noble, Jean can no longer live in ignorance or allow others to die like Marco. Marco’s death reinforces Jean’s evolution within the soldiers of the Exploration Battalion, where he saves Mikasa and replaces Eren on two secret missions. Without Jean as a Battalion soldier, several key members might have perished, and the few victories they celebrate would carry less weight.

In addition to setting these actions in motion, Marco’s death constantly haunts Jean. What drives Jean forward is making sure Marco’s death wasn’t in vain. He’s not the only character haunted by Marco’s death; however, while Jean is confronted with the reality of this war, Annie, Bertholt and Reiner face the consequences of their actions.

How Marco Bott's Death Changed History

In 2017, season 2 of “Attack of the Titans” aired, along with “Lost Girls”. In the latter, fans discover that Annie isn’t acting alone. Reiner and Bertholdt are deeply undercover, developing genuine friendships with their victims. We also learn that all three were present at Marco’s death.

After their separation in season 2 episode 9, entitled “Words”, Reiner is confronted with the truth when Bertholdt reminds him that they are warriors. This sets him off and triggers a flashback to the Battle of Trost, where Bertholdt, Annie and Reiner witnessed Marco’s death. As Annie cries and Bertholdt looks on in horror, they both understand the circumstances that led to this moment, but Reiner does not.

The implication of this scene is that Marco’s death is the cause of Reiner’s split personality, which allows him to face the horrors of their actions. Although they’ve killed countless innocents, it’s Marco’s death that breaks him, because Reiner knew Marco as a friend.

Even Annie, usually considered an emotionless person, is consumed by grief over this. In the opening of the OVA, she has a nightmare about it. While we see her in season 1 privately apologizing to those she killed, it’s Marco’s death that haunts her, as does Reiner, but she manages to deal with it better.

How Marco Bott's Death Changed History

It’s no surprise that Marco’s death shakes up all three characters, especially when viewers get the full picture in season 3 episode 15, entitled “Irruption”. Marco overhears Reiner and Bertholdt discussing their titans, and Reiner deems it too risky, so he pins him to the roof, forces Annie to remove her three-dimensional equipment and leaves him to be devoured. Despite his fate, Marco’s last words are “we haven’t even had a chance to talk about it”, implying that he was willing to listen to the traitors, give them the benefit of the doubt and question their perception of the people inside the walls.

In addition to traumatizing the members of the 104th Training Brigade, Marco’s death reveals a truth to Armin. In season 1, the soldiers don’t know who the Female Titan is; however, Armin finds out thanks to several clues, including the fact that Annie possesses the three-dimensional equipment that belonged to Marco, acquired after his death.

Although Marco was initially a key character in the ensemble, he ends up having a minor role in terms of screen time. Despite this, the impact he had on the anime’s characters continues to resonate through the seasons, and demonstrates the lasting effects a tragic death like his can have on others.


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