|Relatives||Ms. Kirstein (Mother)|
|Former Affiliation||104th Trainees Squad|
|Anime|| Kishō Taniyama (Japanese)|
Mike McFarland (English)
|I just don't want those charred bones I saw to be disappointed in me. I... I know what I have to do now.|
|— Jean to Armin and Reiner|
Jean Kirstein (ジャン・キルシュタイン Jan Kirushutain?) is a graduate of the 104th Trainees Squad, among whom he ranked 6th best. Jean hails from Wall Rose's Trost District, and joined the military with hopes of obtaining a peaceful life as part of the Military Police Brigade, but would later find himself joining the Survey Corps.
AppearanceIn the anime Jean has short, light ash-brown hair with his sides and back trimmed shorter and of a darker hue. In the manga it is white on top and his undercut is black. After overthrowing the government, his hair appears slightly longer than before. He has small, intense light-brown eyes, and is said to have the same vicious look in them as Eren does. Jean is of average height and build, and has a scowl similar to Eren's but is said to have a long face (a "horse face"). He is often seen wearing the typical uniform of the Survey Corps worn with an olive grey button-up shirt.
Jean is a very honest man. He holds no restraint when it comes to speaking his mind, even when he knows it would not be wise to do so or when it could spark conflict. Jean is also pragmatic: he has a strong aversion to exposing himself to dangerous situations, and has openly admitted his desire to join the Military Police is due to wanting an easy and safe life.
During his time as a trainee, Jean was extremely hot-headed, easily becoming frustrated and quick to resort to violence when pushed. Jean was also very cynical about defeating the Titans, believing that humanity has no chance against them. He openly mocked more idealistic individuals like Eren, and saw resisting the Titans as a hopeless cause.
Despite his shortcomings, Marco describes Jean as a natural leader, being able to understand others and assess situations well because of his flaws. Indeed, during the Battle of Trost, Jean proves capable of leading his fellow soldiers when they are left confused and leaderless, and rallies Armin and Reiner in an attack on the Female Titan, knowing that not fighting her would endanger the rest of the Survey Corps.
Although he presents himself as self-centered, Jean places high value on the lives of his comrades, and is ashamed and horrified when he must leave helpless allies behind to save himself and others. He was also willing to risk his life even if just to slow down the Female Titan, as refusing to do so would have certainly resulted in countless more deaths. Jean later criticized Erwin's plan of withholding information from his subordinates out fear that there was a spy among them, feeling that the plan did not justify the lives lost because of it. In addition, Jean is greatly averse to taking human lives. Jean's moral principles initially prevented him from killing enemy soldiers, but he would reluctantly set aside his conscience for the sake of his friends.
Jean's first instinct is to always see life through cautious and doubtful eyes. He was hesitant to accept Armin and Reiner's plan of having the Rogue Titan fight for them, and immediately admitted to never having trusted Ymir when she seemingly kidnapped Krista. Despite this, following the second appearance of the Armored Titan, Jean was also the one to motivate Eren to continue fighting for humanity's victory, showing that he is slowly adopting the same idealistic outlooks he once criticized.
Jean hails from Wall Rose's peaceful town of Trost. Though he lived a relatively normal childhood under the loving care of his mother, Jean had always wished to live the comfortable life of a proud Military Police soldier in the inner district of Wall Sina.
After becoming of age, Jean enlisted into the military, joining what would be the 104th Trainees Squad. On the day of his enlistment, Jean admitted his desire of joining the Military Police, and received a headbutt from Keith Shadis for his troubles. That night, Jean would encounter Eren Yeager for the first time. The two immediately took a disliking towards each other and their respective ideals.
Jean would perform well during his training, motivated by his ambitious dream of ranking amongst the top 10 to join the Police Brigade and his desire to outdo Eren.
As part of the 104th, Jean succeeded in ranking in the top 10 of its graduates, placing just under Eren and coming in at sixth. After the graduation ceremony, Jean, proud of his accomplishment and eager to join the Military Police, got into an altercation with Eren. Fancying himself a realist, Jean's ideals brought him to blows with the more idealistic Eren, who criticized Jean as a coward.
Following the second attack of the Colossal Titan, Jean, along with the rest of the 104th trainees, were sent to the front lines to deal with the Titans that had begun entering the city. Only days away from joining the Military Police, Jean tries to take his frustrations out on Eren, but the latter commands him to pull himself together for the sake of their allies.Later, due to a shortage of maneuver gear fuel, Jean and his fellow soldiers are left unable to fight. Led by Mikasa, he and the rest of the group rush towards the HQ to resupply. When Mikasa runs out of gas, Jean takes the lead, but quickly loses faith in his ability to shoulder the lives of others. Soon after, a soldier runs out of fuel and the Titans swarm him. Seeing the opportunity, Jean commands everyone to take advantage of the distraction and make a break for the military HQ to refuel. Jean successfully leads the group to safety, but to his horror, several soldiers were left to die because of his command.
Finding the cowering resupply team, Jean strikes one in anger, telling them they are responsible for the soldiers who were killed. Soon after, Mikasa, Armin and Connie arrived with the help of the Rogue Titan. Still having to deal with the Titans in the headquarters, Jean is made part of the second group in Armin's plan to clear the supply room. Jean manages to slay his assigned Titan, and the plan succeeds.After resupplying, he stays back with Reiner and Annie. After Reiner suggests helping the Rogue Titan out, Jean is very hesitant, as they had just barely escaped with their lives, and he is unwilling to risk it again for a Titan. Fortunately, they do not have to because the Titan broke itself free in order to attack another Titan, collapsing soon after. Witnessing Eren emerge from the nape of the Rogue Titan's neck, Jean ends up being one of the first people to learn about Eren's Titan shifting ability.
In the aftermath of the Battle of Trost, Jean finds the body of his friend, Marco, whose unceremonious demise greatly disturbs Jean. Later, he and the rest of the 104th trainees burn the corpses of their fallen comrades in a bonfire. Watching the bones of his friends burn, Jean remembers Eren's speech and Marco's compliment about his strengths. Mourning Marco's death and internalizing his words of encouragement, Jean asks the other trainees which branch of the military they're planning to join. Against his own wishes and fears, Jean declares that he will join the Survey Corps. During graduation, despite fearing what might happen to him in the future as he would inevitably encounter more Titans, Jean joins the Survey Corps instead of the Military Police Brigade.
Not long into the expedition, Jean encounters the Female Titan. Cooperating with Armin and Reiner, Jean engages the Female Titan, believing that if he does not at least slow it down, it will continue to wipe out more and more soldiers. The three succeed in confronting the Titan, but are quickly overpowered and are nearly killed, though they all escape with their lives. Following the battle, Jean desperately tries to locate his lost horse. With only Reiner's horse present, someone would most certainly need to be left behind. Luckily, Krista arrives with Jean's horse in tow.
Making their way to Forest of Giant Trees, Jean and the others are ordered to perch among its tall branches to distract Titans from entering while Erwin and Eren handle the Female Titan. Jean is surprised to see how the Titans learn to climb the trees in order to reach them. While they wait, Armin confides to Jean his belief that their commander had suspected a spy amongst them but declined to reveal this knowledge. Jean questions the morality of such a decision, but Armin defends Erwin, stating that it was a necessary risk, and the lives it cost are justified if gambles are ever to succeed, though Jean has his doubts.
After the expedition fails, Jean returns safely to Wall Rose. Days later, due to both having similar eyes and demeanor, he is chosen to pose as Eren for his trial, leaving the real Eren free to help in the final attempt to capture the Female Titan.
Following the second appearance of the Female Titan, at Eren's bedside, Jean finally learns about Annie's true identity from Armin and how she encased herself in a crystal to avoid interrogation. He also finds out about the Titans similar to the Colossal Titan inside the Walls being used due to their hardening abilities. Jean and Armin head down to the meeting between Commander Erwin Smith and the head of the Military Police Brigade, Nile Dok.
Jean reappears as a member of the squad with Erwin, who have come to assist with the breach of Wall Rose. He is present when a exhausted Garrison member informs Dot Pixis that there is no breach and that three more Titan Shifters have been identified. He is shocked by the news and demands to know who they are before Erwin calms him down and the Garrison member tells the rest of the story. He is outraged at Reiner's and Bertolt's betrayal and their secret correspondence with Annie. He also learns about Ymir being a Titan Shifter and that both she and Eren have been taken hostage. Jean becomes determined to stop his traitorous teammates, readying himself to rescue Eren along with the combined might of the Survey Corps, Military Police Brigade and Garrison.
Along the journey past Wall Rose, Jean observes a Military Police soldier be devoured by surrounding Titans, seeing how poorly prepared they are for battle. The troops enter the Forest of Giant Trees in pursuit of the traitors where Jean's squad encounters Ymir in her Titan form. When she suddenly attacks and kidnaps Historia Reiss by swallowing her, Jean is the one to rally the other soldiers and order them to pursue Ymir into the forest, Jean stating that he never trusted her to begin with.Jean watches as Ymir, Bertolt, Eren, and Historia flee on the Armored Titan's back. He joins Hannes in pursuing them and assists Mikasa in the assault on the Armored Titan. After realizing that he cannot use force to save Eren, he attempts to talk to Bertolt and Reiner, recalling their time during training camp and questioning if everything they shared was a lie.Unfortunately, the encounter is cut short when Jean is forced to jump off the Armored Titan once Hannes warns him about the oncoming Titan hoard led by Erwin in order to stop the Armored Titan. Joining Erwin in the charge, he saves Mikasa after she is grabbed by a Titan, stabbing it in the eye. After Eren is rescued, Jean and the others attempt to flee but he is knocked off his horse by one of the Titans thrown in desperation by the Armored Titan. Wounded and unconscious, Jean is defended from the remaining Titans only by a helpless Armin which has lost his horse too. With the situation appearing hopeless, Jean and the others are narrowly saved when Eren uses a mysterious power to order all the Titans in the area to attack first the Smiling Titan and then the Armored Titan. Seizing the opportunity, the troops flee from the battlefield with Jean carried to safety.
Jean survives the retreat back to Wall Rose and estimates that 60% of the soldiers who went to retrieve Eren perished and another 20% are critically wounded. He notes that what Eren does will decide if the sacrifices were worth it. He also says that he has saved Mikasa. Instead of getting angry, this revelation convinces Eren to not hold back and do everything he can to retake Wall Maria. Jean later appears as a new member of Squad Levi, carrying supplies with Sasha and Armin.
Jean sits in silence as Levi, Armin, and Hange reveal their plan to use Eren to seal Wall Maria by hardening his skin like The Female Titan. He is also present when Historia reveals the truth about her past and when Hange reveals the murder of Pastor Nick by the Military Police First Interior Squad. He and Sasha are later assigned to stand guard outside the hut.
He stands guard again during Hange's Titan experiments with Eren, and is bothered when he is informed that the experiments did not work.
Later, the group receives some mysterious instructions from Erwin that leave them in shock, and they abandon the hut to follow the plan. Shortly after, they watch from the distance the hut being stormed by the Military Police Brigade First Interior Squad.As they walk through the city, they are surrounded by angry citizens who accuse them of wasting their taxes without giving results, and in the commotion, Eren and Historia are seemingly kidnapped by a rushing wagon. However, it is later revealed that they are Jean and Armin posing as the formers, with Jean visibly annoyed for having to impersonate Eren again.
At their new base, Jean expresses worry over who their enemies really are, and theorizes that they will be hung if their revolution to replace the king with Historia fails. He hears Erwin's plan from Nifa to hand over Eren and Historia to the Military Police so that they can find Rod Reiss. He is shocked when Levi starts attacking Historia and tells him that such action is unnecessary.After the Survey Corps is accused of the murder of Dimo Reeves, Jean is among the members that remain in hiding. He passes unnoticed among the crowds gathered to hand out flyers and discuss the fugitives, wearing a hat and cloak to disguise himself. Upon rejoining the others at a stable, he passes out the flyers detailing Levi's appearance and crimes, and expresses doubt about their circumstances. He states he expected to be killed by a Titan, not forced to become a hated fugitive from the law. Disheartened, he expresses doubts about Levi and their current situation, stating that he would refuse to kill another human even if ordered to do so. His doubts are echoed by Connie and Sasha, who both express anger and misgivings about Levi. Armin and Mikasa rebuke them, stating that they need to make their decision immediately.After Levi is attacked by the Military Police Brigade, Levi's squad stars moving in order to follow Eren and Historia. They are surprised when they see the Anti-Personnel Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear and even more when Levi kills a soldier cutting him in half. Levi regroups with his squad and tells them to stop chasing Eren and Historia because the Military Police is using them as feed so that they can kill them. Levi orders Jean to stay in the wagon and to be prepared for a firefight. Jean stays in the wagon armed with a rifle and grieving their situation. He manages to restrain an enemy soldier with his rifle, but when he hesitates to kill her she slaps the gun out of his hand. However, Jean is saved by Armin.
The squad manages to escape and they hide in a barn. Jean seems to feel very sad and ashamed because Armin had to kill in order to save him. He then apologizes to Levi and admits that he was mistaken and that he will not hesitate next time he has to pull the trigger. Jean takes part in the group to take care of Hitch and Marlo and listen carefully at the conversation between them and Levi, which thinks that Marlo is an idiot. Jean ask Levi to take care of Hitch and Marlo himself. He takes them away from the squad and decides to kill them, but fails. Marlo take the chance to pick up the knife but Jean immobilizes him again. Jean then makes a deal: if Marlo gives him the knife and risk his life, he will believe in them sincerely. Marlo accepts and thrown the knife, saying that he was mistaken when he entered the Military Police. Jean, after being hit by Hitch, reveals that it was all a test and that Levi will accept them.
Thanks to Marlo and Hitch, Levi's Squad manages to infiltrate a Military Police base. Jean helps the infiltration by disabling the enemies with his rifle. The squad takes an hostage and Jean watches while Levi interrogates him. A group of Military Police comes looking for the Levi's Squad. This group later informs that the Survey Corps have been cleared of treason, which makes Levi's squad to rejoice. After Levi's squad figures out that Eren and Historia might be in the Reiss's Chapel, they head over there, stopping in the road for indications.
Jean takes part in the assault of the Reiss's Chapel against the Military Police. He first shoots flares in order to keep Levi and Mikasa hidden, he then jumps into action with his 3D Maneuver Gear. During battle, Jean kills his first person by cutting his adversary's neck. However the battle is suddenly interrupted by the flash and sound of a Titan's transformation from deep within the cave. Instead of running, Levi's squad comes to the deep part where Eren and Historia are, which is starting to fall down due to the transformation of a gigantic Titan. The squad finds Eren chained up, so Jean and the others manage to free Eren while trying to explain the current situation to him. Just as Eren is freed, Jean and Levi pull Eren out of the way of a falling boulder. As they contemplate their options, Eren begins apologizing and doubting himself. Jean to jokingly questions his abilities, but like the others, he waits for Eren to decide what action to take. Eren finally decides to transform into a Titan and believe in himself in order to save his friends.
After Eren transforms and hardens his body to hold the falling rocks, Jean helps Mikasa get Eren out of his hardened Titan body. Then Jean and Squad Levi start following the now Deviant Titan Rod Reiss, which is heading to the Orvud District attracted by the dense population. Jean is present when Erwin and Hange explain their plan to the Garrison soldiers to fight Rod outside the city. He is then seen at sunrise on top of the Wall with the rest of the Squad where he explains to Eren that they had to kill people and they have had a long and stressful day. Their conversation is interrupted when Rod Reiss finally arrives at the city. The Garrison soldiers bombard Rod with cannon fire, but their attempt is futile and Rod manages to scale the wall. As Rod's Titan loomed over Wall Sina, Jean and the rest of the squad cover themselves in water to resist the Titan's intense heat. After destroying the Titan's hands to make him crumble, Eren, in his Titan form, obliterates its head using concentrated gunpowder. Jean and his squad mates target chunks of the destroyed Titan's body, hoping to destroy Rod's human body within. Ultimately, Historia succeeds in destroying the correct chunk, killing Rod and putting an end to his threat.
Sometime later, following Historia's coronation as queen, Jean and the rest of Squad Levi follow Historia as she talks about punching Levi. Eren advises her against it, but Jean cheers Historia on. He's stunned when she actually punches Levi, but even more so when Levi smiles softly and thanks them.
Two months later, Jean, Armin and Eren are talking on a farm that Historia uses as an orphanage. He comments on how it's funny that she worries more about the orphanage than about the kingdom. Armin replies that she is beloved by the people, and goes on about how she's a goddess. Jean sarcastically jokes that everybody will have forgotten about the boy that sealed Trost, but Eren ignores him and tells them why Historia wanted to become queen. When Historia sees them, Jean tries to convince her to give them a break. she orders them to continue carrying boxes inside, causing him to compare her to his mother.
Days later he is in the barracks eating with other soldiers. He talks with Marlo about how happy he seems about transferring to the Survey Corps even though he's never seen a Titan, just like other soldiers that did the same, and that the new Titan Guillotine works, allowing the soldiers to retake Wall Maria. The conversation changes to Eren's memories and the nature of the Titans, remembering Ymir and Connie's mother. Jean tells Eren that he has to focus in remembering the man that is father met years ago. He again jokes with Eren, saying that he should be head-butted by the instructor, giving Eren the answer.
In the morning, Jean goes with Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi, Hange and Sasha to see the instructor. Jean sits inside a small house along the rest of the team except Sasha. He listens the story about Grisha Yeager and Keith Shadis without saying a word. Finally, after telling the whole story, Keith admits that he has no power and that he is just a bystander.
Time passes, and the preparations for the Shiganshina District operation are ready. The night before the operation, the soldiers are having a special dinner in order to celebrate and prepare them for the operation. The dinner becomes crazier and crazier because of various reasons: first, Sasha gets mad after seeing all the meat, trying to eat it all, even biting Jean and punching Marlo.
After this, Jean explains Marlo why, as a rookie, he should be on the rear instead on the front line, saying that he needs it in order to learn and survive long enough to train other soldiers. Jean uses Eren as a example of a bad soldiers, who jumps at action without thinking, risking his life. This enrages Eren and they start fighting and insulting with nobody stopping them. Jean confesses that Eren would have died without his Titan power and Mikasa would has save him many times. The fight continues until Levi stops in and knocks them both, stopping the fight.
The next morning, Jean takes part in the operation to retake Wall Maria. After hearing the cheers of the civilians, he is one of the first that screams in joy. When the operation starts, he is with the Levi Squad, riding towards Wall Maria.
On the way to Singanshina, the soldiers are walking tat night for a small road. Jean scolds Connie for calling Eren for his name, as that is an important part of their plan.
When they arrive to Shiganshina, Jean switches to his 3D Maneuver Gear at the order of Erwin. He is covered in a hood and a cloak just like the others soldiers, so Reiner and Bertolt could not discover which of the soldiers is Eren. The whole operation runs without Titans and enemies, but Reiner and Bertolt are watching carefully the operation.
"Highly competent and skilled at the three dimensional gear and good at assessing his situation at any given time, but is too prompt to unsheathe his sword and can spark conflict with his team members.-Instructor Keith Shadis
Jean is highly adept at using Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear, being able to maneuver well even on open terrain, which is considered extremely difficult. Jean is also an exceptionally level-headed individual, able to see the big picture and make tactically wise decisions when it counts. It were these traits that earned Jean his rank as 6th best amongst the 104th squad.
He also seems to be proficient with firearms, at least with rifles, as he is seen using one during the persecution of the Survey Corps. He is capable of shooting people with no intention to kill them, just to incapacitate them, with great accuracy.
Jean Kirstein's Statistics :
- Marco Bott – Since their days as trainees, Marco has been Jean’s closest friend and confidant. Jean would occasionally mock Marco for his idealistic reasons for joining the Military Police, insisting that the only reason anyone would join would be for the safety and comfort. Despite this, it was Marco who encouraged him to accept his abilities as a leader, and his death at Trost had a life-altering impact on Jean.
- Eren Yeager – Jean and Eren initially share a fierce rivalry which stems from their differing view points: while Jean sees Eren’s eagerness to join the Survey Corps as suicidal and foolish, Eren sees Jean’s desire of joining the Military Police as cowardly and selfish. It was actually Jean’s desire to outdo Eren that would push him to improve himself during training. Despite their bitter rivalry, which would occasionally turn violent, Jean also respects Eren to a certain degree, admitting that he lacks the latter’s courage. Upon realizing Eren’s potential as a Titan Shifter and the hope he represents for mankind, Jean sets aside his enmity for Eren.
- Mikasa Ackerman –Jean has had a huge crush on Mikasa ever since he met her, and admires her beautiful black hair, although Mikasa has more or less remained indifferent to Jean. During casual conversation, Jean tends to blush and stutter around Mikasa, and immediately jumped to her rescue when a Titan threatened her. Despite his crush, Jean does not sympathize with Mikasa’s devotion to Eren, stating that most people do not share her willingness to throw their lives away for him. It was this same devotion that partially fueled Jean’s resentment of Eren.
- Armin Arlert – Although Jean was initially put off by Armin’s dedication to Eren, the two eventually manage to find common ground in their similarly rational natures. Jean and Armin often share complex conversations of morality, strategy, and the problems at hand. While Jean usually takes a more humanistic stand, Armin will often defend a more pragmatic point of view. Despite their differences, Jean and Armin gradually become friends.
- Hajime Isayama has said his favourite character is Jean.
- "Jean" is the French variant of "John", meaning "Blessed by God."
- When feeling great confliction, Jean has a habit of tightly clenching his fist and staring at it intently.
- In the first anime opening, a soldier can be seen doing a flip with their manuever gear. However, many people were convinced that this was Jean, so much so, that the production staff acknowledged it to be true and even had him do the same manuever when fighting the Female Titan.