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Producers sometimes run into a tricky problem when picking voice actors to portray anime characters: In the case of a teen boy, is it better to cast a man or a woman to play the part?

Especially if the character isn’t a particularly macho lad, and if the production committee is thinking long-term, such roles are often given to women. The rationale is that an adult man would sound too old, and an adolescent actor’s voice will change once he hits puberty. In fact, some of anime’s most famous male characters, such as Dragon Ball Z’s Goku, Evangelion’s Shinji, and Rurouni Kenshin’s Kenshin are all played by women.

Until now we’d have been confident in adding Attack on Titan’s blond and gentle Armin to the list, as the supposedly male friend of protagonist Eren is voiced by Ms. Marina Inoue. But is Amrin actually a guy? Maybe not, and the source of the rumor looks to be none other than Attack on Titan creator Hajime Isayama himself.

A photo, originally attributed to Twitter user Futomayu, has been making the rounds online in Japan. The snapshot looks to be of a question-and-answer column in which fans could ask Isayama what they wanted to know about his hugely successful anime and manga franchise.

One question came from a Saitama Prefecture resident going by the name Hello Again, who was curious about the always professional Mikasa.

▼ Mikasa, ready to go to work killing Titans

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Mikasa isn’t just cool in the sense that she takes down her giant foes without showing a trace of fear, though. She’s also a bit standoffish and intimidating, which got Hello Again wondering about the kind of relationships she’d formed with her comrades in the 104th Training Corps graduating class. “Out of the girls in the 104th, who is Mikasa closest friends with?” the fan asked.

Isayama’s terse response?

“That’d be Armin.”

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Internet commenters had the following reactions:

“I knew it.”
“So, does this mean Eren and Armin can hook up?”
“The fujoshi must be crying.”
“Isn’t his gender ‘Armin?’”

Isayama didn’t go into any greater detail, and some fans aren’t sure whether he’s being serious or just showing off a deadpan sense of humor. Given how many other characters in Attack on Titan are harboring startling secrets and hidden identities, though, we can’t just dismiss the possibility outright that Armin is actually a woman.

For that matter, off the top of our heads, we can’t recall a point in the series when Armin directly refers to himself as a guy, although there’s a possibility we’ve just forgotten. Maybe it’s time to take on the solemn and difficult task of rewatching every episode of the hottest anime series in the last 20 years. You know, for research purposes.

Sources: Hamster Sokuho, Jin
Top image: Natalee
Insert images: Divine Gate, Imgur