This week saw the release of Koei Tecmo’s Attack on Titan game. It’s pretty dang great, especially if you’re already a fan of the series and want to play out some of the coolest bits for yourself.
However, I lay awake last night with my mind dominated by a single thought about it. Once I saw it, I couldn’t see anything else, and I’ve been sleepwalking through today as my brain tries to come to terms with the realisation: Clifford the Big Red Dog is a Titan.
In Attack on Titan, Titans are a race of gigantic, seemingly immortal beings that live to eat humans for no other reason than because they can. Humanity doesn’t know how they came to be, they just sort of… happened. Big ol’ people.
An important part of the Titan ecology are abnormal Titans, those that look and behave differently to the standard horde. Abnormal Titans might have intelligence, be a different colour to standard types, move on all fours, and ignore all humans except its chosen target.
Just like Clifford.
Clifford the Big Red Dog isn’t just big by normal dog standards. He isn’t a Saint Bernard or a Leonberger, he’s the size of a house. Nobody really knows why Clifford is as big as he is, he just one day suddenly grew to a colossal size and the people around him find his size a mystery.
Titans come in all shapes and sizes. The smallest known types are around three metres tall, while the biggest on record is around 120. They can be fat, they can have muscle, they can be masculine and feminine-bodied, they can have no skin, they can have fur, and most importantly there have been numerous Titans shown that are quadrupedal.
Who’s to say Clifford isn’t a particularly mutated type of Titan that is both furry and quadrupedal? I don’t see how Titans like the Gluttonous Titan can look as bizarre as it does, yet one that looks like a dog is too much? Every single aspect of Clifford’s physical form is already accounted for by at least one other Titan, so these traits all coming together to make a big, red dog isn’t as outlandish as it might seem.
Clifford is functionally immortal. The first Clifford the Big Red Dog book was published in 1963, which in dog years (one human year is seven dog years, thanks to how quickly they age compared to us) would make Clifford himself almost 400 years old. The average Labrador (which is probably the closest thing to Clifford we could identify) has a lifespan of 10-12 human years (70-84 dog years), and Clifford has lived for five times that already. He’s also never been shown being injured in any cartoon or book he’s ever been in, probably because Titans can regenerate themselves incredibly quickly.
While Titans will hunt down and attack humans, they are never shown to intentionally injure non-human and non-Titan lifeforms. Animals live peacefully and safely alongside them with zero fear of being consumed. The cartoon adaptation of Clifford the Big Red Dog shows him live peacefully with Cleo, T-Bone and Mac, three dogs who never came to any major harm in any episode. Once again, it fits in with our understanding of Titan behaviour.
Working with the evidence we have discussed, it’s plain to see that Clifford the Big Red Dog is a type of Abnormal Titan. Fur and quadrupedal movement have both been seen in other Titans, his longevity proves he can’t possibly be a real dog, and his total indifference to anything but humans matches the behaviour of a Titan.
The reason he’s abnormal, though, lies in one crucial part of his behaviour: he hasn’t eaten Emily Elizabeth, his loving “owner”. At least, not yet. Is he toying with her? Waiting for her to grow up and be a more substantial meal? Maybe Emily Elizabeth isn’t his chosen target and he’s just biding his time for the unlucky victim to appear? Who knows, but maybe her parents should invest in some Omni-directional Mobility Gear, just in case.
Clifford the Big Red Dog? More like Clifford the Big Red Titan. I rest my case.