After a brief break, we’re back with Attack on Titan: The Final Season, and this time, I’m looking at episode 4 to 6. This was a satisfying trio of episodes that, when taken as one piece, built up well. So far this season, we’ve seen a lot more of Reiner, and he’s been built up as a hero for his people. The parallels between his and Eren’s roles are really clear, and it’s easy to see them as having the same goals, but coming in from opposite angles.
To that end, when Kruger is revealed to be Eren and Falco sets up a meeting between him and Reiner, we get to see that laid bare. Eren acknowledges that Reiner had no choice but to do what he did, as he believed he was saving the world. He even outright states that they’re, in some ways, the same.
For me, that was the most effective part of the character work in these episodes. The concept that Reiner and his comrades were not straight-up villains but instead had their own complexities has been set out so well, and that makes it a little harder to want to see them outright fail.
That’s not to say that other characters didn’t get their moments in the sun though. While he was only introduced recently, Willy Tybur’s plan to martyr himself for the greater ‘good’ was executed beautifully and gave him an air of sacrificial intelligence that will have no doubt succeeded in painting Paradis Island as monsters. He was also important in giving us a little bit of subtle development for Magath. Their conversation where Magath has his doubts about sacrificing people, only for Willy to point out that he already has several times over was a nicely done section.
The thing that I’m sure most will remember from these episodes was the chaos that played out during the final of the three. Here, we finally saw many of our regulars return to the screens. Mikasa had an excellent entrance and is no less badass than before, and the same can be said for Levi. Meanwhile, Jean, Connie, and Sasha also got to play their part as the Survey Corps regulars began their siege on the city.
The centrepiece was, of course, Eren’s Attack Titan taking on the War Hammer Titan. This was a decent scrap, and the twist about where the human behind the Titan is situated was nicely done. Most importantly though, it showed that not only is there a Titan that can keep up with Eren, but that Eren can adapt his strategy when needed, and even pay attention to the clues around him. Interestingly, this battle also led to another parallel between Eren and Reiner’s arcs. Mikasa points out to Eren that his actions here led to the deaths of innocent people, including children, and he simply can’t take that back. In essence, Eren has now committed the same atrocities that Reiner has.
Now, I’ve been a little critical of the animation quality so far this season. Unfortunately, the same criticisms still apply in these episodes. There are times that the human characters just seem ‘off’ in how they’re animated. Not only that, but the scene with Jean, Connie, and Sasha held that same feeling, with the ODM Gear use seeming to be a step behind the quality of previous seasons. What makes this so frustrating is that the studio is clearly capable of doing things well. There are some nice little touches that creep in, like reflections in eyes. Mikasa and Levi’s ODM scenes were great. And the Titans themselves looked great. This inconsistency makes the lower quality stuff stand out more than it should for me.
This wasn’t enough to ruin the experience though. As I said at the start, this was a satisfying trio of episodes that, when taken as one piece, built up well. So far, the final season has featured some of the best storytelling in the franchise, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.
Note: I wanted to add an additional message here to clarify something. I have been critical of some of the technical aspects of this season so far. Honestly, while I continue to place more focus on the positives (that is what this site is about, after all), it would feel wrong to not acknowledge the things that bother me. However, I do appreciate the work Mappa has done to bring us this season. Assuming the staff are able to work in a safe environment, their efforts to create the series during a global pandemic deserve praise.
I do not condone the way some fans have attacked the studio. Frankly, the targetted messages were unnecessary. Have your opinions on the production – we all do – but don’t harass those who are working hard to entertain us in extraordinary circumstances.
So, thank you Mappa. Even when I’m critical of parts of the episodes, you have my respect, and my appreciation.