Gabi Braun is one of the most controversial characters in Attack on Titan, and her actions in episode 78 have not made it any better. As a character, not only does Gabi go through the most developments in a short period of time, she becomes more understandable.
Gabi’s character began with a declaration to kill the people of Paradis, Eren Yeager specifically. Now that she has shot Eren’s head off and her vow has been fulfilled, has Gabi’s character been rounded off? If so, where does she go from here?
Does Gabi have the most character development in Attack on Titan Final Season?
Gabi Braun is Reiner Braun’s niece, and we first met Gabi in Attack on Titan as a candidate to inherit the Armored Titan. Gabi is brilliant, resilient, innovative, and thoroughly indoctrinated into the Marleyan narrative through years of brainwashing.
She lacks the insecurity that made Reiner disillusioned even before he came to Paradis, and the empathy that makes Falco question the truth of the Marleyan government.
Gabi killing Sasha
The first thing fans noticed about her was the blatant parallel between Eren and Gabi - the arrogance and the blindness to everything else once their minds are set on something and the violence with which they pursue their goals.
Gabi became hated in the fandom once she killed Sasha in Attack on Titan Final season part 1, but that was because most fans refused to consider it from her point of view.
Gabi was a 12-year-old child who had been taught that the people of Paradis were monsters. One day, Eren Yeager comes to her town, levels it to the ground, kills her friends and family. Then, the guard protecting her was shot dead by a “Devil of Paradis”.
It is quite understandable that Gabi shoots Sasha dead at the first chance she gets because, in her position, Eren Yeager did the same. Eren’s motives and actions do not become any less severe or wrong than Gabi’s just because his demons were monstrous in appearance, and Gabi’s demons were some of our favorite characters.
It is not the death of Sasha that makes Gabi unlikable. No, where Gabi becomes truly unjustifiable is when she refuses to alter her views of the people of Paradis even after she had lived amongst them and had been shown kindness by people she saw as "devils".
Despite living with Sasha’s family, knowing about her, she refuses to acknowledge them as people. This is put in stark contrast with Falco, who is not only wiser, but also more perceptive.
Gabi truly begins to change when Sasha’s father, even after knowing of her crime, refuses to let her get harmed. This kindness, or rather altruism, from a person who had, in Gabi’s views, every right to kill her, changes her perception of what humanity is, and who the people of this island are.
This realization is side-lined by the threat to Falco’s life and Gabi’s own imprisonment at Eren’s hand.
It is only in episode 77 of Attack on Titan that Gabi fully verbalizes her realization. Upon hearing Sasha’s parents worry about her, and Kaya expressing a desire to kill her, Gabi comes to the understanding that the people of Paradis are just that. They’re people. This makes her understand Reiner’s point of view, which Falco has always understood.
It becomes clear that Isayama had not presented Gabi just as a Marleyan counterpart to Eren, but rather he portrays the dynamic between Gabi and Falco as a parallel to the dynamic between Eren and Reiner. However, a parallel is not a copy, and Gabi and Falco’s bond is a clear contrast to the antagonism between Eren and Reiner.
Gabi in Attack on Titan Episode 78
Gabi had, by Attack on Titan episode 78, grown out of her need to battle the people of Paradis. Her goal at this point has been to get Falco to safety. However, in the span of a few minutes, she sees Zeke using his scream to protect Eren, Falco turning into a titan and burning Colt to death, Falco trying to eat Reiner, and Porco sacrificing himself to save Reiner (in that order).
In the midst of all of this horror, Gabi sees Eren and Zeke trying to touch hands to acquire the powers of the Founding Titan.
When Gabi shoots Eren in Attack on Titan episode 78, she is both traumatized and eerily rational. If this was pure vengeance, she would have shot Zeke, but the Cadet in her made a logical calculation that her first priority should be stopping the Yeager brothers and she has a better chance to get to Eren than to Zeke.
Of course, Eren being constantly painted as a villain, her long-standing admiration for Zeke, and the deaths in Liberio helped her point the rifle towards Eren.
However, at this point, Gabi’s hatred for Eren is only towards Eren, and no longer towards all of Paradis. She has learned to blame individuals for their crimes and to judge things based on what she sees rather than what she is told.
Considering that, Gabi’s character arc seems to have been rounded off, she is at a drastically different point from where she started, while her actions have fulfilled what she had deemed as her purpose, killing Eren Yeager.
[SPOILERS FROM THE MANGA AHEAD]
Where does Gabi go from here?
As Attack on Titan manga readers know, from here on, Gabi’s nature to protect people comes to the forefront. She joins others in trying to stop Eren from carrying out the Rumbling, and despite being left behind for protection, she and Falco follow the Survey Corps when they move against Eren.
Essentially, Gabi’s character curve in Attack on Titan Final Season from this point onwards is an upward journey, where she learns to embody more of Falco’s kindness and Reiner’s empathy.
Gabi is not absolved of her crimes by any stretch, but she becomes more understandable, and readers can see her for what she is: a child who was handed a gun and thrown into a war that was far beyond her capacity to navigate.
Note: This article is subjective and based on the writer's personal opinion.