Attack on Titan or Shingeki No Kyoujin is a series highly regarded by many as a “modern masterpiece”, and a series that you’ve most likely heard of. The series follows Eren Jaeger on his journey to take revenge against the man eating titans after they kill his mother and destroy his hometown. Attack on Titan: The Final Season has just wrapped up after its 16 episode run, wrapping up weeks of thrilling fights, intense emotion, and a ridiculous amount of world building and characterization. Our eyes and minds have been widened like never before with the amount of knowledge we have gotten about the world of Attack on Titan this season, and even with The Final Season’s end, there are still so many questions left to be answered.
After the completion of Season 3 Part 2, which finished airing on July 1st, 2019, it was announced that Wit Studio, who had animated the entirety of the series thus far, would not animate anything further. MAPPA, an animation studio known for their work on Yuri!!! On Ice, Banana Fish, and Kakegurui, was the only company willing to take up the mantle of animating the series, and thus it was was announced that MAPPA would take over for Wit Studio and animate Shingeki No Kyoujin’s Final Season. The first trailer for the Final Season debuted on May 26th of 2020, and generated massive hype around the show’s upcoming season set to air in Fall 2020.
As someone who is considered an “anime only” or someone who watches the anime but does not read the manga, my hype was at an all time high for The Final Season coming off of Season 3 Part 2. The wait for December felt like forever, especially with MAPPA only releasing one trailer. It’s safe to say that I watched that trailer probably over 500 times. Watching Episode 60, The Other Side of the Sea, left me quite speechless for many, many reasons.
Warning: Spoilers through Episode 75 of Attack on Titan follow from this point on.
The opening scene of The Final Season was truly absolutely brilliant. It throws you headfirst with no warning into a scene that truly makes you say “Wait, am I watching the right show??”. Brand new faces, and seemingly a brand new world are shown off, with a young boy being ran off the battlefield with gunshots ricocheting everywhere across the screen. Soldiers are being shot, with countless falling in the background as blood is flying all around the battlefield. You as the watcher are incredibly lost with the brand new characters talking about the war with the “Mid-East Allied Forces” and “Marley”, yet at the same time might think back to the ending of Season 3 with the reveal that the world is completely fine and has progressed much past Paradis Island. All these thoughts are blown out of the water and worries are subsided when none other than the Armored Titan himself, Reiner Braun appears on screen.
The Final Season immediately differentiates itself from the show’s prior seasons is absolutely the OP. The opening right off the bat is unlike anything the show has offered prior, usually opting for high class animated action scenes. The Final Season’s OP, or Boku No Sensou [My War], features explosion after explosion, filled with vibrant colors as they pop off one after another. Soldiers march to a military style anthem, with the atmosphere set up being dark and ominous with the lyrics combined with visuals. At first, I personally found it to be a bit strange with how straightforward it was, just being explosions and all. However, as each week came and a new episode aired, it grew on me each week and now it is absolutely one of my favorite OPs in the entire series. The simplicity does such wonders to help set the tone of this season, yet at the same time does justice to the past OPs of Attack on Titan, offering a similar hype level even without Linked Horizon or those godly Arifumi Imai visuals we saw with Opening 3 & 4. My favorite shot of this opening has absolutely got to be that final frame, with Eren’s titan looking incredibly sinister as what sounds like “Monster! Monster! Monster! Monster!” is shouted in the background.
The first episode really just did an amazing job starting the arc and setting the tone for the episodes to follow. With this first episode, we were also introduced to MAPPA’s animation and art style for their take on Attack on Titan. Something that has been subject to mass criticism this season is MAPPA’s usage of CGI and in general animation this season.
Due to the incredibly short production style, MAPPA used CGI for the Titan Shifters, which resulted in a lot of outcry and disappointment from the fandom. While I do understand the disappointment of the thought of going from 2D hand drawn titans to CGI ones, I really do not mind this at all. MAPPA did an absolutely incredible job implementing the CGI, and I do think a good chunk of this season I have actually preferred the CGI ones over Wit’s hand drawn titans. This immediately hit me in Episode 1 of The Final Season, when we see Reiner’s Armored Titan with all of its intricate detailing. I was quite blown away with how detailed it looked, and it did not look out of place at all to me.
However, there have absolutely been times where the CGI definitely looked a bit off. A few frames from the Warhammer Titan fight looked a bit wonky, and there have been some other points this season where a shot or two looked a little “meh”. Honestly though, these couple lows really don’t do anything to my enjoyment or rating of the show. These shots in particular don’t look bad, the CGI just looks a bit out of place. This is truly due to the lighting on the models at times I believe, but this is just a theory of mine since I am not an expert in animation or anything of the sort, just a fan.
Going back to the detailing though, it is truly ridiculous on these models. We’ve seen the Armored Titan, Jaw Titan, Attack Titan, Warhammer Titan, and the Cart Titan in CGI, and they all have been really heavily detailed. As aforementioned, the Armored Titan in Episode 1 was truly amazing seeing how intricately detailed he was, but there are plenty of other examples too. The Jaw Titan’s CGI model has been incredibly consistent this season, being extremely fluid. It truly helps that MAPPA ties the CGI titans with 2D points to make the fluidity of the models seamless. The Warhammer Titan also looked phenomenal, with the shot above easily being my favorite one of the fight. The detailing on all parts of the body are amazing, and the inside of the blown out eye looks insane. The Beast Titan has had a few questionable shots this season, however his fight with Levi in Episode 14 was amazing, and he looked extremely good. Pieck looks the best she ever has as the Cart Titan, although she did not get much screentime in her titan form. Eren’s titan besides like 2-3 shots has looked amazing, and I love how scary MAPPA has made his titan form look now. There are times that he seriously looks like an absolute monster, and it is really fitting with the events that have unfolded over the course of this season. Overall, the CGI has truly been really well done with its intricate detailing, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.
I do think that MAPPA absolutely would have drawn the titans if they had more time, but the reality is they had 8 months to make this colossal final season. We saw MAPPA’s hand drawn Female Titan & Colossal Titan, and they seriously looked absolutely stunning. MAPPA also drew Eren in 2D for the Warhammer Titan’s transformation, as well as the very end of Episode 16 as he overlooked Marley’s invasion of Paradis. MAPPA’s depiction of the Attack Titan is seriously scary, the detailing on his face and teeth make him look more menacing than he ever has before. Just take a look at this shot of him just after he ate Willy Tybur, it honestly truly sells Eren as a devil.
It is completely understandable why they made the choice they did, and I compel them for offering incredibly high quality CG, some of the best I’ve seen in the industry. People will argue otherwise but I encourage you to take a look at other offerings in the industry with CGI and come back to The Final Season with an open mind. Even go back and watch Season 3 Part 2 of Attack on Titan, as Wit Studio even used CGI for the Colossal Titan. It is incredible unfortunate that they were given the horrible schedule they were, but there’s no point in dwelling on “what ifs”, we got what we got and I’m really happy with it.
Now as for animation, I thought it was really amazing this season. Something I really appreciate from MAPPA is their use of incredibly high details, everywhere on the screen. Simply put, the detailing this season has offered us has been absolutely incredible. There haven’t been many opportunities for crazy scout led action sequences this season, as it has mainly been focused on dialogue, story building, and the Warhammer Fight, but when there has been scout action it has been really well done. I know a lot of people were disappointed that Arifumi Imai, who did mostly all of the big action sequences for Season 1-3 (Beast Titan vs Levi, Levi chase scene, Levi v Female Titan, etc), was not working on The Final Season, but I think MAPPA did a good job for the action sequences he would have worked on (Levi vs Zeke & maybe Mikasa vs Warhammer). I am absolutely hoping that they bring him in for the second half of The Final Season for some of the crazy action.
For animation in general though, there is not a ton to really talk about. Simply put, it is absolutely at the level you would expect of Attack on Titan, however with this Season being mostly dialogue oriented, most of the animation is really a lot of conversating. This is a good thing though, as the long stretches of dialogue sequences found in the season are brilliantly done, with beautifully drawn backgrounds and characters. One of my favorite examples of this is easily the forestry behind Gabi and Falco as they walk aside the river in Episode 70. The scenery this season is simply incredible, with it being a key part in most of the dialogue scenes that take place.
Something I really appreciate about The Final Season is how seamless the transition in art is from Wit Studio to MAPPA. I personally know multiple first time viewers of the show who started watching mid-season, and all of them had no idea about the studio change thanks to how consistent it is. We’ve seen plenty of examples across the industry where another studio picks up a show for the next season, and a lot of the time there is a drastic departure from the prior art style, whether it be good or bad. MAPPA did an incredible job maintaining it and making the transition from Wit. However just because it is seamless, does not mean it is not different. Personally, I prefer the new art direction as it much more closely represents the manga.
As I aforementioned, MAPPA’s take on Attack on Titan is much, much closer to the manga’s art (almost really 1:1 to be quite frank), and at times it is seriously incredible taking a manga panel and slapping it on top of the anime to see it perfectly align. An amazing example of this was Episode 6, with shots of Mikasa & Eren as they talk to each other for the first time in years. This happens right after Mikasa storms in and saves Eren from The War Hammer Titan.
It is just seriously incredible having seen these manga panels overlaid perfectly over frames throughout the season, and I think MAPPA deserves a lot of credit for perfectly matching it. It’s not easy to pick up a show for its final season after one studio did the last three, and they did an amazing job staying true to the manga.
MAPPA’s use of shadow effects and line shadows in The Final Season truly blew me away and I was not expecting it at all. It’s just shadows, how much of a difference can it make? A huge one. These shadows frequently used around the character’s eyes and faces truly excel the emotion conveyed to the next level. It might be subtle, but it really does make the world of a difference in an incredibly emotion scene (which we had plenty, and I mean plenty, of those this season). As each episode aired, I became more and more impressed with MAPPA’s usage of these. Wit Studio absolutely used this technique at times, however it is infinitely more prominent with MAPPA’s work on The Final Season.
These are especially present with eye shots, which have been a frequent occurrence throughout the season. These eye shots specifically are used a lot of the time during heavy dialogue sequences to emphasize emotion, however we have had plenty of instances of them popping up while characters react to changing situations midbattle.
This season has truly been incredible with the building of characters, as truly on a level not like the other seasons this season has been very character driven. We are introduced to many brand new faces in addition to all of the familiar ones, and they are all beautifully characterized and crafted throughout the season. My favorite character of the season is absolutely either Reiner or Zeke. Both of these Honorary Marleyans received so much character development this season, and truly elevated both of them to some of the best characters in the series so far.
Reiner is immediately the focus as the season kicks off, and stays that way for the next 5 episodes. Once the scouts arrive though, he has been pretty quiet, however that does not discredit all of the development he received early season. We got to see his backstory, citing his struggles throughout the process of becoming a warrior, as well as his mental struggles and views on Paradis Island after spending years there in disguise to take back the Founding Titan. I really appreciated getting to learn about his past more, as we saw how he was not even meant to be a warrior in the first place, but was chosen to protect Porco’s life so he didn’t only have 13 years left to live.
His inner struggles and feelings are seriously masterfully shown off the most in Episode 5 through his talk with Eren in the basement. We see Reiner break down crying, begging for forgiveness from Eren. At the table with his family at dinner in Episode 2 was another development for his character, with him mentally realizing that the Eldians in Paradis Island are not devils like Marley propaganda has made them to believe, and that they’re the same as him. Eren further reinforces this and has a similar development in Episode 5, telling Reiner “Like I thought, I’m the same as you”.
Zeke has also received incredible development in his character, with a massive twist of him siding with Paradis Island instead of Marley that was revealed in Episode 8 after Levi had presumably killed him. His real development however comes in Episode 15, where Zeke’s backstory is revealed and the reasoning for his motives are found out. Zeke’s character is truly understood when we see how he struggled in warrior training, which resulted in his parents screaming and worrying that their restoration plan would not work. My favorite part of Zeke’s character we learned was absolutely his relationship with Tom Ksaver, and how Ksaver really felt for Zeke and pushed for him to turn his parents in to save himself. MAPPA’s frame of Ksaver covering Zeke’s eyes as Grisha and Dina are dragged away was beautifully done, and Ksaver really helped me understand Zeke’s motives and why he did what he did.
Ksaver in general is seriously an amazing character though, and I absolutely understand just how big of an influence he was on Zeke’s life. He became so much of a figure for Zeke that Zeke recognizes him as his father, referring to Grisha as “that” father. Over the course of their conversations and time playing catch, Ksaver reveals that his Marleyan wife killed herself and his son when she found out he was Eldian, not Marleyan as she previously thought. He tells Zeke that he sees his dead son in him, really connecting the two as a father and son of sorts. It’s really easy to see why Zeke conncected with Ksaver’s pain and suffering, as well as his motives to want to carry out the “Eldian Euthanization Plan”. Overall, I really loved Ksaver’s inclusion and how he was intertwined into Zeke’s past and motives for the future.
The Final Season introduces 2 characters that were incredibly prevalent throughout the season, those being Gabi Braun and Falco Grice. Both characters are introduced in the first episode of The Final Season, and are revealed to be warriors in training to inherit Reiner’s Armored Titan when his term is up (when his 13 years are over).
Gabi is Reiner’s cousin, who is shown to be a big shot as she singlehandedly takes out the armored train in Episode 1 to make way for the titans to drop on the base and attack. Gabi is, in a way, a younger parallel to Eren, with her hatred of the Eldians for no good reason other than her beliefs in the propaganda being fed to her by Marley. She reinforces her beliefs when Eren Yaeger invades and destroys Liberio, her hometown, in his rampage after he kills Willy Tybur. Gabi is hated by so many people after she killed Sasha, which absolutely broke me, but I do not think I can hate her character for it. You have to think about why she did it, being because of all of the propaganda that she has been believed her entire life, and this idea that she will be “freed” if she does enough for Marley. By her killing Sasha, she sees that she is doing service to Marley, by being an honorary warrior for them and cleansing herself of her “ancestor’s sins”. These beliefs are seriously down to her core, all the way to the last episode. We saw Pieck ask Gabi this weekend “Gabi. Are we Marleyan? Or are we Eldian?”. To which Gabi replied, “We are…. Honorary Marleyan…”. She still will not accept that she is an Eldian, to which Pieck points out and says “No, we’re the subjects of Ymir. That is our inescapable truth”. Regardless of the fact that Pieck used this as a lure to bring Eren to the roof, her point to Gabi absolutely stands.
The other main new character, Falco, is a very lighthearted and determined kid. He cares a lot for Gabi, the other warrior candidate running alongside him, and is in a race with her to try to claim the Armored Titan. I really appreciate Falco’s character especially for his determination. He talk with Reiner and tells him he wants to become the Armored Titan so Gabi does not have to cut her life short to only 13 years, which is honestly a huge motivation and drive for him over the season. Falco protects Gabi countless times this season, most recently and notably from Nicolo, who tries to swing a wine bottle to hit her once he learns that she killed Sasha, the girl he loved. Falco puts himself in the way of Gabi and the bottle, only to be cut open and to accidentally drink the wine, which happens to contain Zeke’s spinal fluid (but more on that later). Overall, I really liked Falco’s character and I am very curious to see where he goes in the second half of The Final Season. He seems extremely important considering the ED is literally about him and seemingly something to do with a bird.
More new characters such as the seemingly fan favorite Pieck are introduced, who is revealed to be the Cart Titan we saw at the end of the battle between the Beast Titan and Paradis in Season 3 Part 2. Porco Galliard is also a brand new character, carrier of the Jaw Titan, which we get to see in action and meet for the first time in the first episode. These new characters are all really amazing, and it was really nice to see their characterization built up especially while in Marley for the first 4 episodes, and even later on in the last half of the season. I really appreciate the fact that for both Pieck and Porco, we got actual character building with them, even if it was slight, so I grew to appreciate and like both of them. In summary, I just really appreciate being able to like them as actual characters, and not just “The person who is the Cart Titan”.
I have not forgotten about returning characters though, because wow did some of them (especially one in particular…) go through some serious changes. I’ll start with the big one, the man himself Eren Yaeger. Eren is nowhere to be seen until the very end of Episode 3 in a conversation with Falco, where the camera focuses on his face straight on to reveal his timeless green eyes (though he did appear in Episode 2, we just got no voice acting or close up so he went unnoticed for a lot of people). Eren has changed, a lot. At this point, all he cares about is getting freedom for himself and the people of Eldia, no matter how he has to obtain it. He’s no longer of at the point of caring how he acts, he just acts with a purpose and goal of freedom. We see Eren team up with Zeke, who was presumed to be an enemy (and really was one!) in Season 3 Part 2. Eren and Zeke are working together to carry out the “Elida Euthanization Plan”, which is a plan that would use the power of the Founding Titan to prevent Eldians from having children, therefore stopping their race from continuing and as a result stopping the titans. Eren’s actions in Marley caused his former comrades of the scout regiment to lock him up when they got back to Paradis Island, which as a result made many Eldians around Paradis revolt and form the “Jaegerists”. His best friends, Armin & Mikasa, try to conversate with him when he walks in on them later in the season, however he tells Mikasa that he has “always hated” her. As a result of this, Armin swings a punch at Eren, which causes Eren to beat the living hell out of him. It has not been clear this season whether Eren is acting upon his own intentions, or is being influenced by Zeke or someone we might not even know. Personally, I have a feeling he could be getting influenced by the previous Founding Titans or something like that, but I honestly no clue and that alone is a major stretch to be quite honest.
To be quite honest, a lot of the scouts we all have come to know and love have taken just a bit of a backseat role this season, with the story and character building focusing on Eren, Reiner, Zeke, and the two kids. That’s not to say they weren’t there though, just nowhere near the amount that they were present in seasons past. Mikasa made a flashy appearance fighting off the Warhammer Titan to save Eren in Episode 6, and Armin showed up to nuke the port as his Colossal Titan in Episode 7. Besides that, there are some good flashback scenes with the two in Episodes 9 & 10, and then of course the table scene with Eren in Episode 14. Levi is… Levi! Shredding through titans and destroying Zeke as always! Jean, Sasha, Connie, and others also follow the same pattern as Armin and Mikasa, mainly getting characterization through the flashback episodes, except for the incredibly emotional moment that was Sasha’s death.
To very briefly touch on the storytelling this season, it was simply incredibly. The Final Season had an incredible amount of heavy dialogue scenes, with whole episodes sometimes just being full of them. This is truly a great thing though, as they were done so well, with the conversations feeling alive through vivid environments, amazing voice acting, and great camera angles. The tools that MAPPA has used to tell this story have truly elevated it to the next level, with the pacing set perfectly and the devices used really well to draw the watcher in. A really great example of this is MAPPA’s way of cutting some chunks of a chapter to use in the next episode for more storytelling and emotional impact. The perfect example is absolutely the anime original scene with Willy and his whole family, saying goodbye to them before he leaves. MAPPA used this scene, then cut to the cut conversation between Willy and Magath, where Magath tells Willy he will absolutely die if he goes through with this. This is then followed by Eren eating Willy, which seriously just shows how amazing this storytelling is for The Final Season. It really has done wonders for the progression of the storytelling MAPPA has chose to use.
The Final Season’s Original Soundtrack (OST) absolutely lives up to its predecessors, and continues to easily be one of the most consistent things about Attack on Titan. In Seasons 1-3, Hiroyuki Sawano alone composed the entirety of the soundtrack each time, filled with epic clashes of brass, vocals, and strings. Sawano is highly regarded and widely recognized for his works on Attack on Titan, with them most definitely being his most notable works, so it came as a surprise to many when the trailer for The Final Season had ‘Music by KOHTA YAMAMOTO’ appear about halfway in. Fans were worried, unsure of who exactly Yamamoto was, but worries were subsided once it was revealed that he and Sawano would be teaming up for the OST. That isn’t to discredit Yamamoto though, as he himself is an incredible composer. He works incredibly close with Sawano, with him composing many soundtracks together with him in the past. Yamamoto actually had prior experience in composing music for Shingeki No Kyojin, composing Character Songs for Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Jean, Levi, Erwin, and Bertolt & Reiner. I highly recommend listening to these if you haven’t before, as they truly are quite great.
Yamamoto absolutely did not disappoint with the soundtrack, hitting it off incredibly strong with ‘Ashes on The Fire’, the theme that was used in The Final Season’s trailer. Currently since the soundtrack is not yet available to purchase, we do not have a track list so we do not know all of the new tracks and their composers. ‘Ashes on The Fire’ and the Hiroyuki Sawano songs that were used but composed in prior seasons. That does mean I will not talk about the OST though, the tracks will just be called by the event where it played.
First up, ‘Ashes on The Fire’. This has seriously got to be one of the best tracks used all season, as it really does its job so well. Slowly led in by synths, it slowly grows into a massive chord progression that seriously just screams power and might. Followed by this is the start of the melody, which is led by brass and accompanied strings in the background. It quiets down to just synths, just to rev back up to a massive motif that has been widely used this season in various different arrangements. This track is perfectly used in its first appearance, being played as titans barrage the Mid-East Allied Forces in the very first episode. The synth slowly creeps in as the Eldians are dropped off the blimp, with them then transforming right with the drop of the track. It continues on, with a huge impact hitting as the Armored Titan lands in the base, ready to destroy it. The theme screams destruction and power, and it just fits so well with the places it has been used.
The theme that played during the transformation of The War Hammer Titan in Episode 6 is easily another one of the best instances of new tracks and music execution this season. From the moment it kicks off with the lone trumpet, you absolutely feel the pain and emotion of Lara Tybur as she looks upon Eren after watching her brother get eaten. And yet in the same breath, you feel her pride she sees in her brother after his sacrifice. This then grows into such a beautiful blend of strings, electrifyingly exploding forth into the transformation. This soundtrack is seriously jaw dropping, perfectly matching so many emotions and buildup as the events unfold in the remains of the theatre. Another thing I absolutely loved about the track in particular was the use of acoustic guitar as Magath explained to the troops the mission at hand. This did such an amazing job showing a calm, determined presence within the force, yet a “calm before the storm” in a sense, with danger looming on the horizon. This climaxes into the Warhammer Titan standing up as the familiar ‘Ashes on The Fire’ theme plays once, and slowly fades out. Absolute perfection.
Used at the end of Episode 6 and beginning of Episode 7, the ‘Devils of Paradis’ theme as YouTube likes to call it is another standout for me. As Levi slices the Jaw Titan’s jaw by surprise, we are greeted to lower strings bringing a sense of surprise and anticipation. This is then followed by an amazing impact as Eren rams the Jaw Titan into the wall. This track is absolutely one of my favorites used this season, signifying a turning point in the battle each time it is used. In Episode 7, the track is different than before, showing off parts that were not heard in the previous episode. It starts off creeping in, with a sense of faint hope on the horizon. When we see Pieck in her titan, we are greeted to a triumphant sense of hopefulness in the brass, which then grows into the big impact of battle as the Beast Titan himself enters the battlefield. The impact of this track is seriously something else, continuing to still fill me to the brim with excitement as the action unfolds on screen. There is also another rendition of the theme that plays at the very end of Episode 12 as Hange and crew rush off with their horses. This version feels much more like a “hopeful battle ahead” kind of track, with lots of bright strings leading into a more bright melody as the brass enter.
I could seriously make an entire piece just about the music this season, it is seriously that good. Each episode has brought us amazing new and perfectly fitting music, and I am seriously impressed with Yamamoto’s work on this Season. I cannot wait for the OST to be officially released so track titles can be officially revealed, and also so we can see who composed what track (though I do have a feeling Yamamoto composed almost all of the new tracks that have played throughout the season). As soon as it is available to purchase, I will be there frame one.
And on the topic of music, let’s seriously dive into the amazing sound selection by Sound Director Masafumi Mima throughout this season. Above I’ve mentioned some of my favorite new tracks we’ve heard, but there are plenty of instances where Mima has opted to use some of Sawano’s older compositions this season. Those instances where the older soundtracks are used are just as perfect as the new tracks, fitting right in with the tone and emotion this season carries, while still offering excitement and hype at the same time. An amazing example of this is easily the use of K21 in the battle between Zeke and Levi in Episode 14. This was something I was absolutely not expecting to play, but man does it fit so well. It is a song you wouldn’t expect in Attack on Titan, with it first playing in the second battle between Levi and Kenny in Season 3 Part 1. K21 is literally a rap song, and doesn’t fit with any of Attack on Titan’s other tracks, but in reality it fits in there so well. The use of it in this fight was pure genius, with the lyrics really lining up well. I love how the sound team actually cut out of K21 and into the instrumental version midway through the fight to focus on Levi talking, as it seriously hits you when David Whitaker (Yes, THE David Whitaker. The legendary man behind Black Tar, Before my body is dry, and plenty of others) comes back in with blazing speed as Levi hurls four Thunder Spears at Zeke’s hardened nape.
Another great example of Mima’s sound selection is absolutely Eren’s transformation at the end of Episode 5. Mima opted to use 2Volt, which also happens to be the same theme used in Beast Titan vs Levi (Round 1, Season 3 Part 2). This perfectly fit the tone of what was happening, and was so beautifully disguised as it did not start playing until Eren shook Reiner’s hand the began to transform as lightning formed. Not surprisingly, the western fans of the show took to complain about this selection, since it was not “hype”, suggesting ‘YOUSEEBIGGIRL/T:T’ or Apple Seed should have been used instead. I really did not understand this from the beginning, but what made 2Volt so good was the surprise element. We had no idea Eren was going to transform and destroy the building to eat Willy Tybur. If Mima had decided to build up a hype song to this moment, it would have given it away and ruined the moment. 2Volt perfectly fit the atmosphere of what was going on, as well as complementing the surprise element. Overall, Mima did an incredible job mixing the uses of music both new and old. I was happy to see the variety of tracks, as well as the return of underused ones from seasons past.
I also want to commend the sound team for their glorious work this season lining up sound effects with music. This was not something I expected, seriously, but the team have lined up gun shots and various other sounds to the music and it is just ridiculously good, seriously take a listen to this.
This type of sound design pops up really throughout the whole season, mainly during fights. It is something that a lot of people while watching probably wouldn’t notice, but it really just makes for an incredible audio experience while watching the epic fight that is the Warhammer Titan vs Eren.
And while we are still talking about audio, I seriously need to mention the insane voice acting that was present this season. This season has seriously had some of the best voice acting I’ve seen in a show in so long. Every end of the spectrum here, from roaring screams of war to characters crying of loss. Takehito Koyasu’s Zeke blew me the hell away the whole season, but especially in Episode 14 in Zeke’s fight with Levi Ackermann. His “What the hell, dammit?! Again?!” was seriously incredible, not to mention his fantastic scream to turn the scout regiment into titans just earlier in the episode.
Hiroshi Kamiya’s Levi was also absolutely amazing as always, and another incredibly impressive performance was Yui Ishikawa’s Mikasa and her emotion at the table scene with Eren. The new characters all have amazing voice actors as well, with Ayane Sakura’s screams as Gabi being seriously chilling to the bone. Falco, Magath, Pieck, and Porco’s voice actors are also standouts to me, as well as Yelena, who is introduced later into the season. Also huge props to Kazuhiko Inoue, who gave a seriously incredible speech as Willy Tybur.
Although incredibly brief, I still really want to mention how incredible Hiroshi Tsuchida’s voice acting was as Grisha Yaegar in Episode 15 surrounding Zeke’s backstory. His screams in the room with Dina and Grice were seriously incredible and menacing, and with Grisha seemingly playing a role later on if the trailer for The Final Season is anything to go by, I cannot wait to see more of Tsuchida’s incredible work as Grisha.
The real star of the season for me is absolutely Yuki Kaji as Eren. Kaji has been absolutely ridiculous with his passive talk turned to casual screams, I applaud him for how amazing and seamless his transition from Season 3 to Season 4 has been. I just want to take the time to thank and appreciate every single voice actor this season, because they were all seriously just incredible, an all star cast. Attack on Titan has always had amazing voice acting each season, but honestly I think this season definitely takes the cake for the best so far, it is too good.
The Final Season has brought some of my all time favorite scenes and episodes over the course of the past 17 weeks, from action packed fights to heartfelt moments between the characters. Taking a look back at this season, MAPPA seriously delivered some incredibly moments and episodes.
Declaration of War was seriously one of the worst waits of my life. Due to the new year, we waited 2 weeks in between episodes, just as Episode 4 ended with Eren meeting Reiner in the basement. It is safe to say that the wait for this episode was absolutely worth it, as it is seriously one of my favorite episodes of the season. The slow buildup to the ending was beautifully done, switching seamlessly between Reiner & Eren conversating and Willy Tybur’s speech to declare war on Paradis Island and the ‘Devils’. The ending was amazing with Eren shaking Reiner’s hand, telling him “I keep moving forward until I destroy my enemies.”, as he transforms to break through the stage and kill Willy Tybur.
Seeing the conversation unfold between Reiner and Eren was truly something and absolutely kept me on the edge of my seat. The tension that was created by Yuki Kaji, Eren’s voice actor, and especially Yoshimasa Hosoya, who voices Reiner was truly phenomenal. The transitioning between the speech and the conversation was brilliantly done, and the OST used was seriously chilling and perfect. This scene alone is absolutely one of my favorites of the season.
There was quite a bit of complaints about the OST selected for Eren’s transformation, however personally I thought 2Volt was an absolutely amazing choice. Something like Apple Seed or anything else that is what I would consider “consistent hype music” would have ruined the scene, 2Volt kept the anticipation as it only started playing right as Eren began to transform. It was totally unexpected and is easily one of the best moments of the season for me. Declaration of War is seriously an amazing example of how the tension in dialogue heavy narrative sections can be just as impactful as an action heavy sequence.
Directly following Declaration of War was Episode 66, The War Hammer Titan. This episode was filled to the brim with action, as Eren fought off the War Hammer Titan, only to be saved by the scouts midway in one of the most badass entrances I have seen. The episode started off giving us a bit of backstory on Tybur’s decision to go forth with the event, only to transition to a live shot of Eren swallowing him. It was then that the Warhammer Titan was revealed to be Lara Tybur, or the maid. The amount of pain in her eyes as the lone trumpets played was truly astounding, and you could truly feel her grief as she stood there alone ready to confront Eren. As she is transforming, Eren beats the living hell out of here completely unexpectedly, while Magath gives a speech to the soldiers as an acoustic guitar plays (again, amazing sound design). The Warhammer begins to fight back, with the sickest CGI summoning of her hammer. Honestly in general, all of the weapons that the Warhammer Titan summoned looked incredibly cool. Just as things look quite dire, Eren calls on Mikasa and she saves the day as she whips around and shoots a whopping 8 Thunder Spears into the Warhammer’s nape.
The shot of Mikasa falling as flames engulf the background is easily one of my favorites of the entire season. Amazing job by MAPPA for capturing this, especially with the hair waving in the wind as the background is just getting blown to shreds by her thunder spears. This combined with the use of 進撃st-hrn-egt20130629巨人 as the thunder spears lined up with it was seriously godly, easily one of the best uses of music & sound design of the season. That heroic brass based melody when Mikasa lands on Eren really hits too, I was standing up losing my mind this whole scene. Easily one of the best entrances in the entire series from a sheer hype perspective.
Finally, that ending sequence was really something else. Eren pulling the Warhammer Titan out of the ground was seriously amazing, especially with that electric guitar ripping graciously as he holds it high in the air for all to see. Just before he can try to eat it, Porco comes out of nowhere with the Jaw Titan, ready to clamp down on Eren’s nape, but just before he could Levi swoops in to cut the jaw. This could not have been done better, I loved the camera angle they did teasing Levi before Porco appeared, and his reveal was perfect. Also, this was the first time we got to hear the godly unfortunately unnamed theme, with that amazing shot of Levi’s eyes ending off the episode.
Assault, or Episode 67 was truly one the best episodes of Attack on Titan ever, no contest. It is one of three episodes that have a perfect 10.0/10.0 score on IMDB, standing mighty with Attack on Titan’s Hero, and Breaking Bad’s Ozymandias. It absolutely deserves to be here too, this episode was seriously 21 minutes of straight fighting. The episode picks up right where 66 left off, as the scouts move in on Porco, but he is saved by Pieck and her Cart Titan machine gun weaponry. This scene was seriously amazing, with scouts flying all over the screen on all angles, bullets killing some of them while the animation was all crazed up. Zeke walking in with the OST used at the end of the previous episode was amazing, as it was incredibly excited and perfectly executed.
Easily one of the best parts about this episode was definitely Armin’s appearance and transformation. He was chilling in a little fishing boat by the fleet of ships preparing to dock at the harbor, and when he flipped his hood you could see the fear in his eyes. The OST used was an amazing remix of XL-TT, which was perfectly fitting with the heavy synth intro. Armin’s Colossal Titan looked amazing, and it was really cool to see it be drawn in 2D, as we have not seen a Colossal Titan from afar drawn like that before. The shot of his titan standing from afar with the red scenery left from the explosion aftermath was seriously chilling. His titan up close looked amazing and incredibly detailed, yet extremely sad in the same sense. When he emerged, you could feel the pain and sadness he felt as he said “So this is…. the view you saw… Bertolt”, and frowned as he attached to the airship above him.
Ah yes, the jacket scene. Eren walks up onto a mountain just after having escaped from prison to meet Floch and the rest of the Yaegerists. Floch hands him the jacket, and he flies it in the wind while slipping it onto his arm. This scene was seriously amazing, and despite all the crying about the angle Eren put his jacket on, I absolutely loved it. The gorgeous scenery in the back was truly magnificent, blending colors of blue, purple, orange, and yellow as the sun set across the horizon. All of this while an incredible track is playing in the background, incredibly synth heavy, yet perfectly matching the tone of the event playing on screen.
Everyone is absolutely free to think what they want about anything, but I seriously thought the scene was perfect. I know that in the trailer Eren put the jacket on like he did in the manga panel, but it really does not make sense in context. The trailer first off was all completely 1-1 shots of the manga, with of course some animation put into action for some scenes, and it was pre-animated just to show off the season. The completely straight pose looks amazing, but in reality no one is putting a jacket on like that. It would have been super awkward to have him put it on for 6 seconds like that while talking, making it seem slow motion in a sense. Overall though, amazing scene and with the music and scenery it really turned out to be one of my favorites this season.
This fight. The fight that we waited two weeks for. Levi vs Zeke Round 3 is seriously one of my favorite fights in the entire series. Between the music, the tension, and the environment, this one takes the cake as my favorite Levi vs Beast Titan fight.
The pain you see in Levi’s eyes are real and you absolutely feel it. As he cuts up a titan’s fingers, he flips around to see that the titan is Varis, asking “Are you somewhere in there… you guys?”, as he flips around to the middle of the forest. A closeup on his face is shown, as he closes his eyes tighter, falling towards the ground as a group of 30 titans approach him from all angles. The last shot of just his eyes was seriously masterfully done, and it is all thanks to those lines used that I mentioned above. They seriously have done wonders in every single major scene this entire season. And on top of all of this, Mima chose to have APETITAN playing, which reaches the melody right as Levi cuts off Varis’ fingers. This was masterfully done, absolutely the best possible OST choice for this scene.
This then followed by Zeke’s escort of three titans carrying him out of the forest was amazing, as Zeke explained that even if his true intentions were shown no one would understand. And of course, Zeke was stupid to expect Levi to fall against a measly 30 titans, as Levi cuts open one of the titan’s necks and whips by. Zeke’s eyes are shown full of fear, and I straight up laughed because of the amount of free present in this man’s eyes. He’s seriously been scarred between his first battle with Levi and now. Levi slashes up the second titan’s arm in a beautifully animated fashion, as he whips around at attaches to the titan carrying Zeke. Zeke’s scream of “What the hell, dammit?! Again?!” was seriously amazing, like the voice acting was straight up ridiculous at this point.
When Levi rushes in, K21 plays and this seriously got me out of my seat, as K21 was easily the OST I expected the least, but boy oh boy is it the most amazing thing ever for this fight. Zeke transforms and starts ripping the titan that was carrying him to shreds, throwing all sorts of chunks of its body up in the air trying to hit Levi. Levi dodges all of these of course, and starts to cut off branches to hide his position and distract Zeke. The sound design MAPPA did here with Hiroshi Kamiya’s voice was incredible, having an echo effect with Zeke looking around trying to pinpoint his location. We see an amazing angle of Levi looking down towards Zeke with all of the branches falling, as Zeke roars and throws titan chunks up at Levi. Levi dodges them all, and at the same time the lyrical version of K21 kicks in, as he throws 4 Thunder Spears right at Zeke’s hardened nape to blow him up and out of his titan.
This is 100% one of my favorite fights in the whole series considering the music, environment, and voice acting. Animation was great, but this was not an intensely animated fight with both opponents rushing each other like some in the past have been. Crazily animated fights are amazing of course, but there are plenty of things that go into a fight between characters, setting, OST, voice acting, and more.
The final scene of Episode 15 (and truly the whole episode in general) was simply summed up – a masterpiece. As Levi was driving the cart, Zeke began to mumble to himself about the plan, and then as Levi turned around screamed “Mr. Ksaver! I hope you’re watching!”. We then go into a slow motion sequence, as we see Zeke slowly yank his head back as the water droplets begin to fall in the rainy weather. The Thunder Spear’s pin is pulled, and water droplets clash against the side of the cart as Levi’s eyes look incredibly fierce and tense up. I have to commend MAPPA for this scene because I was seriously blown away with their usage of the slow motion, especially the water droplets. Combined with the close up shots of both Levi and Zeke’s eyes, it seriously made for an incredibly tense scene.
Out of everything that’s coming next, I am most excited for the Attack on Titan: The Final Season Blu-ray. For those who are unfamiliar with Blu-rays and why they matter, Blu-rays include the final version of the episodes, which means touch ups to the visuals, behind the scenes footage, and uncensoring in AoT’s case. This is going to be really interesting to see how much MAPPA touches it up, because in Wit’s case they touched up Season 1 a ton on the Blu-ray side. Especially looking at Season 4, there is a lot of censorship that looks pretty easy to remove. Two great examples being the Attack Titan’s blown off head being covered in smoke during the Warhammer Titan fight, and Zeke’s ribs covered by smoke after he got blown up. Also even in Episode 1, where the titan that comes to happily greet the soldiers has his left eye covered in smoke. These I think will be lifted if previous seasons are anything to go off of, as they definitely had to be put in place to make sure The Final Season fit airing restrictions and guidelines for NHK. Visual wise, MAPPA will definitely make some touch ups here. There are some shots in regular animation that will get much more detailed on the Blu-ray, and I think this will definitely be noticeable when it comes out.
Another area that I am curious if it will be touched up is CGI, as there are definitely some instances where I would like it to be messed with a bit. Overall, this CGI has been amazing and MAPPA did a wonderful job implementing it. There are a few rough shots here and there, and that is what I am referencing when I say “touched up”, as I think they can definitely be fixed with better lighting on the models themselves. I have seen a lot of people seem to think that MAPPA is going to replace all of the CGI titans with 2D ones, like we saw at the end of the season with Eren, but I highly doubt this to be the case. They are already on an incredibly tight (but much better) time schedule for Part 2 this time around, and now that Part 1 is out of the way, they will absolutely fully devote all of their available resources over to working on Part 2. There will definitely be a good chunk of work done on tidying up the Blu-rays, but do not go in expecting them to completely remake the season with 2D Titans, it is completely unnecessary and a waste of time to be quite frank. As an owner of every Attack on Titan season on Blu-ray so far, I am ecstatic to get my hands on Season 4 and have it in the collection, as well as watch through it again and see the season in all of its glory as it is meant to be seen.
There has been much discussion over the past few months regarding how – and even if The Final Season would continue, but thankfully after the ending of Episode 75, MAPPA confirmed that Episode 76 will air in Winter 2022. NHK lists this as Winter, whereas they listed The Final Season in Fall, which aired in December, so we can assume this will indeed air in 2022, not December. The key visual that was released has Eren and Reiner squared up ready to fight, and I cannot wait to see this happen in the season. Judging off of that ending, I bet that will be Episode 17, and the thought of the season starting off like that has me so incredibly hyped. You can check out the announcement for Part 2 right here.
While on the topic of Part 2, I just would like to say I am extremely happy that this is indeed the route The Final Season Production Committee and MAPPA decided to go, as some rumors did indeed have me a bit nervous considering talks of a movie were involved. A movie for Attack on Titan is not something I’d be too happy about, and that is based off of a lot of things. First off, release date. Generally, all anime movies air in Japan and take anywhere from 4-6 months to come over to the West. Take Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train as an example. The film released in Japan on October 18th, while we just got an announcement for the film’s release in the West, which will be April 23rd, two weeks ago. After having gone through 75 episodes simulcasted, a potential 6 month wait for a canon movie would seriously be the worst, and is easily the reason I didn’t want a movie the most. Also with a movie, we lose the potential of clifhangers, which Attack on Titan is notoriously known for. Overall, I am extremely happy with the decision to continue with episodes, and am greatly anticipating Part 2.
Also with the announcement of Part 2, we can finally speculate on what will happen next. Of course, the story is already out there, and will be completed on April 9th when the final chapter (Chapter 139) is released, but as someone who does not (and will not) read, I am absolutely blind in this department. I cannot believe they left us off like that, with a seemingly massive war waiting to begin next episode. There are so many questions left to answer this next season, and one of the most prevalent ones on my mind is easily what happened to Levi. Levi was blown up out of the cart at the end of Episode 15, yet in Episode 16 we only got to see what happened to Zeke. What happened to Zeke is extremely interesting however, as the sound goes completely blank and we just hear his inner thoughts, asking himself if he is dying. As he is doing this, he sees a vision of a blonde haired girl with a basket turn around, and then we see what I believe to be the titan he previously ripped to shreds to throw at Levi come around perfectly fine. The titan rips open his stomach and shoves Zeke inside. I really do not know what to think of this, but as of right now my theory is that the girl he saw was Ymir, and the whole titan situation was her doing.
On top of all this, we have the cliffhanger ending we were left on. Eren and Reiner are absolutely fighting, but will Armin and the others join in? They seemed to think that The Rumbling was happening, as Armin said “The titans have began to move” when the ground above the shook because of Galliard. I am also not quite sure why Colt was shown next to Reiner in the airship, as he does not currently have a titan. Sure, he is lined up to become the next Beast Titan, but at the moment he is pretty much rendered useless against a titan. Also, the possibility of the other airships having Eldians injected with Spinal Fluid is out the window, because…. well Zeke. It is impossible to pull off without him and his royal blood, so it must just be troops. Speaking of Zeke though, I do expect him to appear all healed somehow in this battle and fight with Eren against Marley. I hope there will not be deaths on either side, but this is Attack on Titan, so someone or multiple people are definitely going to die here. The location could not be more perfect though, with the being where the show and truly everything began, Shiganshina.
And finally, the Part 2 teaser. MAPPA used clips from The Final Season‘s trailer, which feature a bunch of people pointing a girl with torn up clothing, said girl falling with a blue spine growing behind her, and presumably Eren standing in front of this giant tree that is glowing. Honestly, I really have zero clue what any of this is. I am sure that it is going to be massive, but my only guess is that the little girl is Ymir. Whatever the case may be, it sure does seem that Part 2 is going to be absolutely ridiculous, and I cannot wait to watch it this next Winter. Until then, I will be hoping and waiting for a trailer, but if we do not get one I am fine with that too for hype buildup.
From the moment the first episode aired on December 7th, there has been nothing but hype as each episode has dropped each Sunday at 2:45PM. There is nothing quite like Attack on Titan hype, and it is absolutely something that I am going to miss as this brilliant Final Season comes to a close. After each episode airs, it takes over Twitter and every social media platform with a storm, as fans rush to gush excitement or pour tears at what just happened. I am absolutely just blown away with what we got in these sixteen episodes, and I cannot wait to see what comes next this Winter.
Whether or not you agree with my opinions and thoughts surrounding the first part of The Final Season of Attack on Titan, I think that we can all agree that it was absolutely an experience. It is an experience that will be remembered for years to come, as Attack on Titan has and will continue to go on to be one of the all time greats in anime history. The story we have experienced and the characters are some of the most memorable across the entire medium, and combining that with amazing animation, voice acting, and music gives you a series that will absolutely stand the test of time.
The Final Season has truly been an incredible time, and I am more than happy with what we got. Despite the insane time constraints MAPPA was presented with, they managed to present an incredible action packed Final Season in incredibly high quality. With the studio receiving much more time to work on Part 2, I am incredibly hopeful and excited to see how it turns out when it airs this Winter. It will be a long wait dodging spoilers, but it will all be worth it when Attack on Titan returns, better than ever.