All hail the queen.
Historia Reiss, a.k.a. Krista Lenz, showed us exactly what she is made of this chapter. While her abduction and subsequent manipulation led many readers to dislike Historia, saying that she was too naive and stupid in trusting her father, chapter 68 has proved that she is both intelligent and independent.
To understand her character better, we need to look at Historia’s past, taking into consideration the fact that she was rejected by almost all of her family, had death wished upon her by her own mother, and hated herself so much she created a fictional identity to be given a second chance at being seen as a good person. These factors make it much more understandable why she would go to her absent father the moment he showed her the slightest bit of interest. He finally showed that there was a need for her in the world, albeit for selfish gain.
Remembering that this was not long after she was abandoned by her best friend and love interest, Ymir, Rod Reiss managed to time his manipulation perfectly. Historia was already vulnerable, and to be told that she alone could wield the power to exterminate all Titans and restore peace; it would have seemed like a very promising offer. This would have finally given her the tools to prove her worth, to not only her father, but the entire nation. Given that this is a power only granted to the Reiss bloodline, it also means that she would be acknowledged as a member of the family, instead of merely an illegitimate child. Even Eren agreed to be eaten, as both characters suffer from suicidal tendencies. Rod Reiss manipulated two teenagers with poor mental health in order to get what he wanted, yet the majority of fandom hate was focused on Historia.
However, thanks to her memories of Ymir and Frieda, the two people who cared for her prior to joining the military, she fought against her father’s coercion and refused to inject herself. This alone could prove how strong Historia can be, and is also proof of how close the bond between her and Ymir actually is.
But fast forward to chapter 68, and she shows the inner strength she possesses once again. Despite being in a depressive state mere chapters before, she fights back. She joins forces with the Survey Corps to bring down Rod Reiss and stop innocent people being harmed.
After nearly relinquishing her free will to her father, Historia refuses to give it up now. When Erwin proposes that she stay behind to secure her safety so they could reveal her as queen after the battle, she protests. Knowing what it feels like to be told what to do, she says that the people would not accept her that easily. This already shows that she understands them, an essential part of holding a position of power. Rather than remaining behind, she stands on the front lines with the rest of Team Levi, willing to sacrifice her own flesh and blood to make sure that everyone is safe.
However, it’d be a lie if I said Historia’s motives were entirely selfless. Fighting alongside the Survey Corps is the most effective way of proving her worth as not only a monarch, but as a person. For someone with low self-esteem who craves validation from others, this is one way of getting it on a grand scale. The wall is her stage, and everyone inside can see her. So she ignores Erwin’s request, admitting to herself that she is acting selfishly, and throws herself at Rod’s titan form.
And in that moment, Historia goes against her parents’ wishes for the first time. She slices through the titan’s nape, killing her father and saving everyone below. In taking out Rod, she breaks the Reiss line of titan-shifting and acts independently of her ancestry.
After the initial shock of her actions, in a panel which parallels Mikasa’s grief after Eren ‘died’ back in Trost, she recovers very quickly, taking little time to mourn the death of her father. She picks herself back up, reeling at the thought of acting on her own terms as Historia Reiss.
She sheds the persona of Krista Lenz, and proclaims herself as the “true king of the wall”, finally stepping out from underneath her father’s shadow. But while she has already demonstrated some traits of a good leader, there are some issues that she will need to overcome before her place on the throne is secured:
- Will her low confidence affect her ability to make serious decisions, or will the acknowledgement of the people remove any doubts she might have?
- Will the people accept her at all, given that she is a member of the Survey Corps and they’ve been trusted very little since the Uprising? Or will the defeat of Rod’s titan form restore their reputation?
- If Ymir ever returns to Historia, how will the people react to their relationship? What would be worse; affiliating with a titan, or a woman?
All of these concerns will hopefully be covered in later chapters. There are many ways Isayama can take this plotline but to me, Historia in a position of power seems like an inevitability, and she would be a more empathetic ruler towards titan-shifters. Whether this would be an advantage or not is yet to be seen, but she could just be the right kind of revolution.