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The journey through Attack on Titan has been, if nothing else, exciting. It started with a re-ignited spark of interest in the series and has turned into a strong change in opinion about its quality. Whereas my original opinion of AOT was positive but not all that passionate, it has now become one of my favorite series, if not top 10, then at worst top 20.
It is a series like no other and has really proved that over the course of the last season, from its strong political drama and allegorical elements to the production side of the equation which remained equally strong even after swapping studios. So, the ending, at least for now, has finally come. How was it?
Not like this will be much of a surprise, but it was amazing. I was honestly kind of surprised just how many compelling stories beats the show was able to fit into the season’s last eight episodes. There is of course the Rumbling and its initial devastation on Paradis, which transitions pretty smoothly into Gabi’s redemption arc. There is also Armin stopping Coney from killing Falco, and Annie meeting up with Hitch just in time for the Apocolypse, after which they join together with Reiner, Levi, Hange, Piecke, and the Marleyian general.
This would be a lot for a normal 10-12 episode anime, but to fit into the final third of an already reveal filled-season while still remaining totally coherent is an incredible feat. Bubble had about the same time to accomplish that and could barely manage 1-2 engaging plotlines.
As for particular highlights, Coney and Armin’s interaction right before meeting up with the others felt the most compelling. It serves as a reminder that desperation can make people do anything. Coney’s mom is the only one who has a chance of being alive, and so he takes that chance, even despite part of him knowing it was wrong. The final fight at the harbor was also really cool as well. One thing that Attack on Titan is consistently good at is showing both the ease and difficulty of throwing away one’s humanity at the drop of a hat. Again, we see Coney making a difficult choice in order to save Armin.
Speaking of choices, might be worth addressing the founding titan in the room, Eren. It was not much of a surprise to see Eren take back the founding Titan from Zeke (The opening of this half is literally called The Rumbling), but that does not make it any less dramatic. Finding out about Eren’s ability to see the future and therefore have everything already planned down to the second was wild. The screenshot of him staring down Grisha while right next to him is funny, but also indicative of Eren’s willingness to do anything for Paradis.
All of that ignores the fact that Eren has become a genocidal maniac. However, hindsight is always 2020, and I think what a lot of initial discussions about AOT’s ideology missed is that Eren is rarely the good guy. The only time he is ever cast in a sympathetic light is during the first few episodes. After that, Eren’s reckless and homicidal attitude is very often framed as at best concerning and at worst actively putting others in danger.
The show has always been about ideology. I mean, they live in a post-apocalyptic military state. However, it has never, up to this point at least, actively glorified these repressive beliefs and systems. This could change in the last part, and if it does then we should be having a different conversation, but since I am definitely not reading the manga, we will have to wait and see.
I know I have mentioned it a ton of times already, but man the action scenes in this show are amazing. There is the inherent appeal of Godzilla like battles against two monsters just beating the shit out of each other, or the David and Goliath style battles of man versus titans. Besides those two, the show also takes care to make sure that the human-level conflict is engaging as well. Going back to Coney and Armin, their meeting in Coney’s hometown felt genuinely nerve-wracking in a way that the outcome was unclear until the last second.
Good CGI also helps its case. There are very few anime that can actually claim to have good 3D animation, with Beastars being one of the only ones that I personally have seen. However, the titans and heavy machinery that is rendered in 3D still fit seamlessly into the world.
Ok, but where does the series go from here? Well, ideally up. The reality is that Mappa is working on a number of projects over the next year, including the upcoming Chainsaw Man adaptation that also has a large number of eyes on it. This means that, while it would be awesome to see the last of Attack on Titan go off without any problems, there is a non-zero chance that an extremely overworked production team will inevitably let some things slip through the cracks.
Still, this last season was arguably the best so far. On top of that, Mappa at this point has established itself as one of the best Studios in the industry, employing a lot of talent throughout the years. Hopefully, that means good things to come.
Now that I am officially done with all of Attack on Titan‘s anime available story, what are your thoughts on the series? Let me know down in the comments.
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