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In Attack on Titan, the blades used with the 3D Manuever Gear have notches in them similar to those found on craft knives:

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Certain knives like the one above come with snap-off points so that when the blade dulls, it can be removed and replaced by a fresh and sharp piece. However, a utility like this seems redundant on the 3DMG blades as a shortened blade would be extremely ineffective at removing a Titan's neck, not to mention that the blades seem to be used and discarded as a whole piece.
Additionally, The wiki page on the blades themselves gives no mention of the notches.

So is there any reason for the notches to exist aside from looking cool?

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    I always assumed they were designed exactly like those office paper knives − to easily snap at the desired length to produce a sharp tip. Aside from this functionality which rarely (if ever) is used, it makes the blade look less boring and makes for flashy "oh snap" moments when the blade accidentally breaks into pieces.
    – Hakase
    Nov 4, 2015 at 14:28
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    You sometimes see movies/cartoons, where someone cuts with a knife, hits a tree or something and gets stuck, so I always assumed the notches would be to prevent them from getting stuck, by just breaking off the blade. But I don't think anything was mentioned in the comics. Nov 5, 2015 at 16:59

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The blades were very prone to breakage [picture needed]. The vertical maneuver gear has even a spare blade storage built-in [picture needed], and on at least one occasion one soldier was left without blades [chapter ref needed] and a companion had to share blades with him.

The notches make sense since the blades break so often that even a short and less effective blade had a chance of scoring a kill and you could make the most out of a blade before it becomes completely useless.

Also, the resources inside the walls are scarce. Making the most out of the metal available also made sense.


*I have no access to Crunchyroll manga at the moment, and cannot search for manga images.

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The artist just thought it looked cool. Let's examine some of the other potential answers:

  • To prevent the blades from getting stuck. Nope. When the blades get stuck, they eject the blade and load a new one. Struggling to break a stuck blade could easily turn someone into titan chow, so this is sensible.
  • Because the blades break frequently. Nope. If the blades break frequently, it's because of the notches and the generally flimsy construction.
  • To capitalize on scarce resources. Nope. Making the swords less breakable would use less resources.
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  • Please include relevant sources/references.
    – W. Are
    May 1, 2019 at 0:57
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It's mostly just to look cool, as many have said. What I don't think anyone has pointed out though is that the snap-off blade utility knife was invented in Japan by Olfa and it's a bit of a point of national pride (rightfully so, in my opinion, they make the best blades on the market to this day).

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When a section of the ODM blades snaps off, it is still sharp. They would continue to use these blades until it snaps off again, but they would keep doing it to the point until the blades are too short, just as stated in Mindwin's answer,

The notches make sense since the blades break so often that even a short and less effective blade had a chance of scoring a kill and you could make the most out of a blade before it becomes completely useless.

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Due to the momentum reached as pilots swing around, attacking a Titan could break a pilots arm if their angle is off. More realistically it would hurt, cause strain or cause the sword handle to fly out of your hand. It's not actually a saftey feature to have the blade break instead. It's so that the attacker doesn't hesitate to hit as hard as they can. Broken blades are recovered and recycled when possible. Very skilled attackers will snap off a tip when it's too blunt, as the tip starts the attack (due to the shape of a neck it's best to lead with the tip of the sword) The loss of a little length isn't a problem. The swords are plenty long enough. Such a skilled fighter would become a leader and will be most likely to give a blade to someone lucky enough to run out.

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