Review: Attack on Titan – The Final Season

The psychological, dark fantasy anime of Attack on Titan took the world by storm following its anime debut on April 7, 2013. Despite the title being an anime, the show was able to enter the mainstream after accumulating immense popularity, as audiences found the unique and shocking nature of the show intriguing, impossible to compare to any other at the time.

In the first season, audiences were introduced to Paradis, a society existing within three layers of protective walls (Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sina respectively) with man-eating giants known as titans living beyond said walls. The story follows Eren Jaeger, a young boy living within wall Maria, and his journey to liberate the world from titans after the tragic loss of his mother during a titan invasion caused by a breach within Wall Maria. He and the rest of the cast are introduced during their training to enter a military group dedicated to exterminating titans known as the Scout Regimine. 

However, in tune with the first season’s focus on shocking the audience, Eren is eaten only moments after entering the battlefield for the first time. It is in his moments of near-death where he discovers a power residing within him, which would be the driving force of the show, for he had the ability to transform into a titan, giving humanity what seemed like their first fighting chance against the colossal threat of titans. 

The season progressed as Eren attempted to learn to control and understand the power he possessed, only to find out that he was not the only one with such an ability. In fact, the twist to end the first season was that a member of his very own 104th Cadet Corps, Annie Leonhart, was a titan shifter as well, who meant harm to Paradis and it’s people, though she was neutralized by Eren himself who was finally able to fully control his ability with a sound mind. 

With the series achieving unrivaled popularity it was expected the second season would be realized but a few seasons later. However, the second season of Attack on Titan wouldn’t air for another four years. Following this hiatus, it was clear that the second season was a far cry from the style of the first, as the show was far less focused on grandiose shocking moments and significantly more focused on painting a brilliant story. 

To say the goal was met would be a gross understatement, as the character development and world-building was nothing less than genius in the two seasons that would follow it’s original debut. Not only that, but with the airing of season two, as well as season three, questions regarding the origins of titans, Eren’s ability, and the mysterious absence of humanity outside of the walls of Paradis were all answered. The long-awaited identity of the Colossal and Armored Titans who destroyed Wall Maria all those years ago was as well made clear (who were, like Annie, members of the 104th Cadet Corps, Riener Braun and Bertolt Hoover). 

Season three would end with the death of Bertolt and the defeat of Reiner causing a retreat to a nation known as Marley, as it was revealed Paradis was but an island of an ancient people known as Eldians, and titans were the by-product of Marlian assault. In order to achieve the freedom he had sought after his entire life, Eren would make a proclamation at the end of season three, as he said “If we did cross the sea, and we killed our enemies, after that…would we finally be free.”

Finally, on December 6, 2020, audiences were met with Attack on Titan: The final season. This season, unlike every other we’ve come to know, would not take place inside the walls of Paradis, but in Marley as, true to his word, Eren was seeking to kill his enemies. Regarding the season itself being a mere six episodes in, it would not be an understatement to claim it as one of the best seasons by far. With a unique new art style and a vastly different tone, the show feels less like humanity fighting against extinction and more like an all-out war for the sake of freedom, with Eren Jaeger spearheading an assault on the people who had done Paradis wrong for centuries. 

Where the series as a whole shines is, without a doubt, interestingly within the protagonist Eren Jaeger himself, and his quest for his freedom and the liberation of Paradis. Contrary to many Shonen series to date, Eren changes drastically from the bright-eyed boy controlled by his wrath for titans into almost an unrecognizable version of himself by season four. Being able to see a new Eren, driven not by anger but purpose, exterminating men, women, and children in a foreign land for the sake of personal freedom is something vastly unique to the show and creates an impossibly captivating scene. 

The series is able to create extreme scenarios to tackle difficult thematic allusions and controversies of moral and ethical philosophy. Any show that introduces a man on a quest of absolute global genocide as the protagonist will inevitably raise these questions, and Attack on Titan is doing little to avoid prompting the audience to think. 

So far, this fourth and final season has brought countless positive elements to the anime adaptation, featuring a breathtaking new opening and ending, as well as a new art style as a result of the change in animation studios. These changes do a brilliant job at complementing the show’s themes and appeal and work well with the storytelling.

Without a doubt, the final season is becoming something undeniably special. As the episodes continue to air, and the series marches on toward the finale that has been over a decade in the making, even those who follow the manga series by which the anime is based have something to enjoy with the newly produced art that has graced the anime scene. 


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