Review for Attack on Titan - The Final Season - Part 2
I’m not going to bother with the spoiler warnings any more. If you’ve gotten this far with Attack on Titan, you should know that we’re going headlong into the conclusion, where revelations and plot twists are to be expected. Besides, my cynical side has been provoked, and I feel I have a Titan sized bone to pick with this show. When you buy something called the Final Season, it has an air of... well finality about it. You don’t expect there to be a Final Season Part 2. Well, it turns out that there is a Part 3 as well. The spring of 2023 saw the release of the penultimate episode, an hour long piece, Part 1 of The Final Chapters, of The Final Season. After 10 years, Attack on Titan should finally conclude this autumn, with Part 2 of the Final Chapters. That’s if they don’t choose to milk it some more. There was a time when Attack on Titan was essential anime, watercooler content to say the least. When it takes this long to tell the story, the question remains, do you even care anymore? Whatever the answer to that is, all I know is that I’ve used the word “Final” or derivations of, far too many times in this paragraph.
Attack on Titan tells the story of Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlelt, three children who grew up under horrible circumstances, in a mediaeval culture existing in a triple walled land. The people there are terrorised by Titans, giant humanoid, mindless forms that hunt and consume them. The Titans existed on the outside, before a colossal Titan appeared and destroyed the outer wall, letting the Titans into the outer ring of the country, orphaning Eren in the progress. They fled to the safety of the second wall, and grew up to join the Scouts, a military force armed with astounding weaponry and the ability to “fly” through the air on steampunk cables, letting them attack and destroy the Titans.
But the nature of the world changed, when Eren learned that he too was a Titan, but unlike the mindless brutes outside the city, he could transform at will, and retain his consciousness. Now he had the strength and the form with which to exact his revenge. But if he could transform, then that would imply that other people could as well, and there was more to those figures like the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan than meets the eye. The answers could lie in the work of Grishka Jaeger, Eren’s father, a man with an enigmatic past. That work lay in the ruins of their house, deep in Titan territory. And so it was that the Scout Regiment took on the mission of retaking territory lost to the Titans, and finding out the truth to their world. It took them outside the third wall, and to the edge of their land, where their world turned upside down.
For they learned that that they weren’t the only humans left in the world, that their land was just an island, and the real threat lies across the sea. For there is the nation of Marley, a country whose people were once terrorised by Eldians, people with Titan powers. They defeated the Eldians, leaving the only ‘free’ Eldian land on the island of Paradis. Moreover, the Eldians became second class citizens in Marley, confined to ghettos. The Marley people also weaponised the Titans, and using that strength became a superpower. Undesirables were turned into mindless Titans and dumped on Paradis to keep the free Eldians in check. But now, four years later, the balance of power has shifted, and Marley’s foes have developed technology to counter the weaponised Titans. Their new plan is to turn their attention once more to Paradis, and recover the so-called Founding Titan, and use it to take a lead in this arms race once more.
Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2 offers 12 episodes across 2 Blu-ray discs from Crunchyroll.
77. Sneak Attack
78. Two Brothers
79. Memories of the Future
80. From You, 2000 Years Ago
84. Night of the End
87. The Dawn of Humanity
It’s all change behind the scenes for the Final Season of Attack on Titan, with a new studio in MAPPA taking the helm, and with a new director as well. There’s a time skip to deal with, so there some updated character designs and costumes also. Attack on Titan still gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer at 1080p resolution, on two dual layer discs. The image is clear and sharp throughout, with no visible aliasing or compression. Digital banding is a little more prevalent this time around however.
Attack on Titan’s visual aesthetic is astounding, and comes to life with impressive impact on Blu-ray. The character designs are typical anime, but are drawn with bold outlines and shadow detail to make them stand out against the backgrounds. Those backgrounds are detailed and stylish, evoking that pseudo-mediaeval feel with North and Central European architecture. The show also uses a diminished colour palette, eschewing the bright and primary (except for blood), and opting instead for autumnal, pastel shades. On top of that the animation is excellent, detailed, fluid, and atmospheric. The aerial action sequences have to be seen to be believed. The Spider-man movies should take a leaf from Attack on Titan. Although this time I did notice some compromises with conversation scenes seeming a little too static.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo Japanese and 5.1 Surround English, with translated subtitles locked during playback with the Japanese audio. There is no signs only track with this release, which explains why there are no song subtitles for the theme songs. I went with the Japanese audio as always, and was happy enough with original voice actor performances, suitably histrionic for such an over the top show. What I sampled of the English dub was acceptable enough, with the actors rising up to the dramatic challenge. Certainly the 5.1 up-mix from Crunchyroll really does enhance the show’s dynamic action sequences, and it’s a shame that the Japanese audio couldn’t have been mastered in surround for a change. Alas not a lot of Japanese television gets the surround treatment in Japan. The subtitles are accurately timed and are free of typos.
You get 2 discs in a BD Amaray style case, one on each inner face. The discs boot to static menus, and you get the Marathon Play option if you wish to forego credit sequences.
Disc 2 has the extras, with the most substantial, the Attack on Titan Final Season Part 2: Voice Actor Panel (43:27), a Zoom affair.
The Eyecatch Gallery offers translations for the ad bumper images.
Finally you get the textless credits.
You might be wondering where the Chibi Theater is. I know I was...
I have the oddest experience with Attack on Titan’s final season, especially this Part 2 release. The creator has takes the story down a route that I’m not at all happy with; essentially turning the series protagonist into the antagonist. You’re asking a lot of the audience if you want them to stay on board, as the character they spent 50 odd episodes rooting for, and investing in, now becomes the villain that must be stopped at any cost. But Attack on Titan still manages to pull that transition off. It’s had more than enough foreshadowing over its run to make it work, it’s laid enough pipe over its story for there still to be jaw dropping revelations, and captivating plot twists even at this late juncture. And I am still ‘one-episode-more-ing’ my way through the discs, as the story seems to be getting better and better. Something it has managed to do for over eighty episodes, ten years now.
The good thing is that the change in Eren Jaeger’s character is natural, and more importantly believable. Attack on Titan introduced Eren as a dreamer who wanted to see what lay beyond the walls in the outer world. Rage was added to the dream, when the outer wall fell, and his mother was killed by a Titan. All of that was complicated when it turned out that Eren was a Titan himself, and he started to use his abilities to fight the mindless Titans that preyed on humans on the island, and more tellingly, started to uncover the secrets behind his world.
Idealism, rage and self-loathing are not a good combination to begin with. So when he finally attained his dream, broke out of the walls, and made it to the outer world, and more importantly learned the truth about the Titans, it’s not a shock when his disillusionment becomes complete. The Final Season in general and this Part 2 in particular, is about Eren redressing the imbalance in the world, and the persecution of the Subjects of Ymir (Titans). His solution is to annihilate everyone but the Eldians (and whoever else is on the island and submits) with The Rumbling. He wants a whole new world for the survivors on the island to inherit.
We’ve learned before that the three walls containing the islanders were made of Titans, millions of them petrified into place. One of the powers that Eren now has as the Founding Titan is the ability to undo that petrifaction, and the plan is to unleash those wall Titans on the world, destroying everything in their path. By this point, Eren Jaeger has become more of a force of nature, and a figure head for those few who support him, and especially those who want to ride his coattails to make the Eldian people supreme again, flipping the status quo on its head once more.
There are plenty of cool story developments in this collection of episodes, a whole lot of plot twists, and so many revelations that I could spoil, but I won’t. At this point, Attack on Titan is less about Eren Jaeger and more about the people around him, his former team mates in particular. There are some like Floch who are all in with Eren, but his closest friends, Armin and Mikasa, as well as Jean are a lot more conflicted about Eren’s crusade. They aren’t on board with global genocide, and they have to decide whether to do something about it, even if it means standing against their friend. As you might imagine, it’s a bigger dilemma for Mikasa and Armin, who have always been Eren’s fast friends. Given the way the story develops, the challenges they face, unexpected alliances are formed, and there is a whole lot of bad blood to be dealt with as well. There is a whole lot of drama and action on the way to the penultimate episode in this collection, where those who will ultimately stand against Eren and his plan, put their plans into motion.
The final episode is a flashback episode which fills in a whole lot of motivation and back-story. It’s set not too long after the point where the Scouts got out of the walls and came to the island’s coast, discovering the outside world. In this episode, Eren and the Scouts make it to the mainland, essentially to scout and get a lay of the land. They are naturally shocked and amazed at the diversity of people, and the technology. It’s also interesting to see how the same world affects the people so differently, and where the majority find something to be hopeful about, this is where Eren’s disillusionment is complete, where he goes missing to reappear later in the Marley veteran’s hospital, and where this Final Season arc began.
I can’t believe that it’s taken this long for the penny to drop for me, but along with the complete change in the story with the Final Season, Attack on Titan has become quite the allegory as well. It’s only when the Rumbling began, and hordes of Titans were unleashed on the world, that I realised that it’s a metaphor for nuclear Armageddon. When the story began, we only got the one side of it, the inhabitants of Paradis, terrorised by the man-eating Titans that surround their three walls. But once we got to this Final Season, saw the world outside, the history of the Titans and how they are effectively used as WMDs by these nations, it should have been obvious that the Titans are effectively nuclear bombs, albeit smart bombs with consciences and a degree of free will. Eren Jaeger is the ‘smartest’ bomb of them all, and he doesn’t need a Skynet to decide that humanity is the enemy, and unleash the end of the world.
This is where you really have to take your hats off to the storytellers. The story isn’t going in a way that I’m happy with. The main character development has disappointed me. And even still, I can’t stop watching. I need to know how Attack on Titan will end. I have to admit that the way this final season has unfolded has annoyed me. At times it feels like it will never end. But at this point there are just two double length episodes left to my knowledge. The so called Final Season Part 3, comprising The Final Chapters is being broadcast this year. The first already aired in Spring, and the second, and I hope conclusion will air in Autumn. I hope MangaFuniRoll won’t take too long in bringing it to disc.
Attack on Titan - The Final Season - Part 2 can be had from Anime Online, United Publications, and Anime Limited and mainstream retailers. It's also available on standard DVD and Limited Edition Blu-ray with all manner of extra physical goodies.