The Cycle of Violence – Attack on Titan Final Season Anime Review

“Gabi Braun and Falco Grice have been training their entire lives to inherit one of the seven titans under Marley’s control and aid their nation in eradicating the Eldians on Paradis. However, just as all seems well for the two cadets, their peace is suddenly shaken by the arrival of Eren Yeager and the remaining members of the Survey Corps.

Having finally reached the Yeager family basement and learned about the dark history surrounding the titans, the Survey Corps has at long last found the answer they so desperately fought to uncover. With the truth now in their hands, the group set out for the world beyond the walls.” – MAL Synopsis

Episodes 16 – Dub/Sub – Aired – Finished – MAL Rating: 9.19 – Genres: ActionMilitaryMysterySuper PowerDramaFantasyShounen

Wow, how far this show has come. Who would’ve thought the show about killing giant skinless humanoid monsters could turn itself into a story about war, slavery to desire, and life. Attack on Titan has evolved into a masterpiece that tackles many heavy themes well. The “Final” Season has fallen victim to a lot of unnecessary criticism due to the circumstances revolving around the show’s production. But while it’s clear MAPPA couldn’t quite give this show the amount of love they gave Jujutsu Kaisen. They did their best (given the time constraints) and their best was really damn great.

Attack on Titan has become the story of parallels and heavy themes. I could go on for days pointing out the parallels that I spotted and that still wouldn’t come close to how many there actually are. With that being said, it’s a brave choice starting this new season with a whole new batch of characters after a long time skip. It works though and feeds heavily into all the parallels. The whole series we’ve focused on the people of Paradis with glimpses of what it’s like across the sea. Now we get to experience the life of Eldians in Marley. And man is it eye-opening. Like I said we got glimpses of that part of the world in season 3 but we get the full experience of just how brainwashed the Eldians are. They truly believe and accept that they should suffer for the actions of their ancestors. And that the people of Paradis are truly evil and need to be punished. It’s crazy. But it’s no different from how a good majority of the people of Paradis think about Marley. It’s genuinely a very complex situation where no one is fully in the right. That’s the name of the game really. Every situation and theme in this show is complex. Nothing has a simple answer and I can see why all sides and factions think the way they do. Isayama turned a simple story into a beautiful tale filled with complexities.

Honorary Marleians celebrating a victory

Then we get to see the political dilemma that Paradis is in on top of that. The island that used to be ignorant to the world is now thrust into it. Now it’s time for some tough decisions about their future to be made. It’s all very interesting and makes for some great dialogue and character moments all around. It’s not talked about enough that the events of the first 3 seasons (sans the flashbacks and prologue) all took place within about a year. So this time skip is massive. A lot happened in that year and we get a great feel for not only how those events shaped the characters we love but the Island of Paradis and even Marley. But the highlight of this season is definitely Eren and his actions.

The themes that come to a head this season are great. My favorites being the cycle of violence, freedom, and another that’s based around a line Kenny said to Levi back in season 3. That being: “everyone’s a slave to something.” The people of Paradis are slaves to the curse of Ymir. The Eldians on Marley are slaves to prejudice and self-hate. Marley is a slave to hate and the bloody history between them and Eldians. A good majority of characters not even in this but in prior you could say are slaves to violence and revenge. Then you have Eren who is a slave to freedom. It’s such a beautiful oxymoron and it makes his character so complex. There are questions raised about freedom throughout the season. The main one being are you free when you are born. Which also ties into another theme of birth and children being important. It’s a whole lot to ponder on and it’s done well.

Eren

Eren is one of the best characters ever written in my eyes. Seeing his transformation from the first 3 seasons to now, was shocking but in retrospect, it makes perfect sense. The fate of Paradis and Eldians looks grim no matter how you shake it. So he takes it upon himself to, in his own words, “keep moving forward.” All the actions that he takes are of a man who feels like he has no options left and must do what he has to for his people’s freedom. You can see the pain in his eyes throughout the season and it’s heartbreaking. At first glance, it feels like he’s changed, but no, Eren has always been like this since the beginning. It’s just that now he feels cornered with very few options moving forward. Which I love, this dude is very cutthroat this season. He grew up. Gone are the days where he’s screaming and shouting at enemies, constantly getting angry, and lashing out during a battle. Adult Eren is calm collected and ruthless. This is jarring at first, especially when this season we’re introduced to someone that feels familiar to a younger Eren.

Gabi & Falco

I love that that I can hate and also feel for Gabi. Gabi is who Eren was in season 1. The hate that she constantly exudes for the Eldians on Paradis is palpable. The same hate that Eren felt for titans in Season 1 and Reiner and Bert in season 2. She feels that hate for Paradis and Eren specifically. The cycle of hate is running its course through her. But she does get some well-deserved reality checks by characters that I thought I’d never see again. It felt great seeing her ideals of the Island get shattered repeatedly. It’s kind of crazy how real her brainwashing felt and how much her sense of identity has been warped and entangled in the idea that all Eldians should be punished for the actions that their ancestors. She has a great back and forth with Falco that basically boils down to “I didn’t see first hand what they went through and I can’t empathize with their pain.” Whichever beautifully gets turned on its head because the Eldians of today didn’t commit those atrocities. The current citizens of Marley weren’t subject to those atrocities. So why is what’s going on now right? It’s presented well. And the main thing that I took away from that is. It’s okay not to forget, but it’s also okay to forgive. Which given the circumstances I know is a pipe dream, the characters (Eren especially) know that as well.

Reiner

Reiner is such a top-notch character. In terms of characters suffering (in any show), Reiner has to be close at the top of anyone’s list. This season shows us firsthand just how broken this guy has been since he was a kid and how being on Paradis broke him even more. He genuinely cared, and probably still does care, for his comrades on Paradis. But he also cares about his family and loyalty to Marley. No wonder dude ended up with a split personality after all the time he spent on the island. The glimpse into his past and by proxy some of the past of the previous warriors (i.e. Annie, Bert, and Marco) did wonders for his character. He was a stand-out this season and Eren and his conversation will go down as one of the greatest moments in media period.

Zeke

Zeke also got a lot of screen time and development this season. We get to see his perspective when he was growing up. And boy was it rough. Grisha was a horrible father to him and seeing how he was treated was rough. Being brainwashed by your grandparents and your parents was so sad to see. One wants him to be loyal to Marley, the latter wants him to be the savior of Eldians and become a titan shifter. And when they see him failing at that, the treatment of him was not ideal parenting. Which makes it even more satisfying and sad when he eventually rats them out, but he did what he had to do. I would have never thought I could actually sympathize with the monke, but here we are.

The scouts

The rest of the cast is stellar too this season. There are too many to talk about honestly but the highlights of this season (outside of the 4 I just named) are Floch, Hange, Falco, Levi, Sasha, and Yelena. Floch in particular steals the show whenever he’s on-screen. It’s funny to think that outside of the main cast that Floch was the only surviving member of the Shinsangami Return arc. And I love his character this season. Nothing has changed for him mentality-wise. He stated back in season 3 that the scouts need a devil to lead them forward, that’s why he wanted Erwin revived, and that belief of his is very much still intact. As he fully backs Eren in everything that he does and is basically his right-hand man this whole season. His voice actor kills it and MAPPA nailed every scene he was in. He just owns it. Then you have Hange and Levi carrying the burdens of Erwin and the scouts. Hange in particular has a lot of struggles between keeping her promises to the people with being more transparent about government affairs and the changing political landscape of Paradis. Then you have Sasha who has a gigantic impact on this season. I’ve never seen a character have such a huge impact in the way that her’s does. Just flat-out great writing. Then one of the new characters introduced, Yelena, is just something. She worships Zeke and Eren like their gods. And is the primary driving factor behind a lot of events this season. While her motives come off as sinister, she truly believes in the brothers (Zeke especially) and their vision for saving the world. Also, she’s ruthless as hell, killing people (friend or foe) on a whim if need be.

The scenes on the trees was such a good choice

Another beautiful thing about AoT is the use of minor characters. Characters that you think are one-off and would never be seen again. They get some good screen time on here and have some impact on the story. Like it was clear after s3 that Floch was going to have some role in the future. But this season we the girl that Mikasa saved in Trost (all the way back in the first half of season 1). We see the girl Sasha saved in season 2 and a few more. It’s nice to see that no character goes to waste in this story.

So the biggest elephant in the room is this season’s animation. To me it was great. In terms of character designs, MAPPA nails it. The characters are lifted off of the manga panels. I can see some people finding it jarring because we got 3 seasons of WIT and their bold outlines, but it looks really good. There are some moments, particularly after the Marley arc (which would be after episode 8ish) where there were some moments of downright bad animation and this the frame rate this season is very inconsistent. But it’s so far and few between and it’s surrounded by multiple instances of just gorgeous moments, that I can personally look past it. The biggest gripe the fan base has with this season is the CGI Titans. Now I understand that WIT’s hand-drawn titans looked stellar, but I liked the titans this season. The CGI, for the most part, looked great. MAPPA blended them well, the models and movements looked good and felt weighty. The only exception to this is the Beast Titan. In the first episode, he looked good. During the Marley arc, he looked good as well. But in episode 14 the blending was off and he just really stood out. So yeah overall I didn’t mind the CGI titans and the titan scenes still looked dope as hell. It’s funny because WIT would always CGI the Colossal Titan (which looked horrible) but MAPPA decided to hand draw him this season and he looks amazing. What I will say is. Even though I still liked the CGI titans, MAPPA’s hand-drawn titans rival WIT at its best. Hopefully, we see more of that in the second half of the season. I won’t hold my breathe for it, but I hope they iron out all the animation issues for the blu-ray release.

The music this season is great. The opening slaps. I could charge headfirst into war if that song was blasting. Other than that the whole soundtrack is beautiful and the use of it is great too. Another complaint I see from the fandom is the song choice during key moments in the season. To that, I just roll my eyes. MAPPA nails these key moments both visually and with the perfect song to match the scene. I touched on voice actors A little bit above, but man seriously gives this whole cast an Oscar. Eren, Reiner and Grisha were stand outs to me. Man their voice actors deserve all the praise in the world for the scenes that they’re in. Episode 5 was one of, if not the best, episode of this series (and maybe even any other series that I’ve watched), and a big factor of that was Eren and Reiner’s performances. Then Grisha in episode 15 was just phenomenal. All of the VA’s killed it though which is to be expected because they’ve been killing it for almost 8 years now. Goat stuff.

The final season of Attack on Titan continues to propel this once simple story in a complex masterpiece. While the one blemish on this otherwise great season is its animation at times. I, for one, can look past the few bad moments and even like the CGI. And everything else surrounding those moments. Whether it be the: character designs, plot, dialogue, soundtrack, etc. All of that without a doubt continues to be stellar this season. Attack on Titan is still one of the best pieces of media to ever be made. And with more time to work on it. I’m confident that MAPPA will deliver fully for the home stretch of this series in the Winter.

Attack on Tian: Final Season – 10/10


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