Anime Spotlight: Attack on Titan Final Season

Attack on Titan Final Season aired in Japan from December 7, 2020-March 29, 2021. This season saw WIT Studio turning production duties over to MAPPA, and it was directed by Jun Shishido. As of this writing, FUNimation Entertainment holds the North American license for the Attack on Titan franchise.

It’s established that four years have passed since the end of Attack on Titan Season 3 Part Two, and the focus of the first few episodes is on a region called Marley, which is where Reiner, Bertholdt, and Annie came from. Reiner has made it back to Marley, and we see him interacting with new characters who become important over the course of this season. The most important of these new characters are Falco Grice and Gabi Braun, who are two of the Warrior Candidates who are in the running to inherit the Armored Titan after Reiner.

These early episodes establish the civilization and social structure of Marley. While this was hinted at in a flashback in an earlier season, these episodes allow the viewer to truly understand what kind of a world Zeke, Reiner, Betholdt, and Annie lived in before we met them at Paradis. We see that Zeke is helping to plan an offensive against Paradis, which includes using the Tybur noble family and their War Hammer Titan to announce the offensive during a festival in Liberio.

Meanwhile, Falco befriends an injured soldier in a hospital named Kruger Their friendship gets to a point where Kruger asks Falco to send letters to his family for him, and Falco readily agrees. But on the night of the festival, Reiner and Falco end up in an area below the stage, and it’s revealed that Kruger is actually Eren. I had to feel for Falco when he discovers that Eren had been using him to send messages to his allies in Paradis. Right when Willy Tybur is making his grand speech, Eren transforms into a Titan and interrupts the proceedings. At the same time, the forces from Paradis come in to back him up. The chaos that’s created serves as an important plot point for Gabi and Falco. It leads to the two of them sneaking onto the Survey Corps’ airship, and Gabi killing Sasha. Zeke is also captured in the confusion, and it comes out that Zeke is in league with Eren. This is just one of several twists that show up over the course of Attack on Titan Final Season. Falco and Gabi are also taken prisoner.

Before the story progresses, we get a couple of episodes of flashbacks that establish some more characters who are important in the season. A Marleyan scout ship is captured by the Scouts, and among the crew are Yelena, Onyankopon, and Nicolo (who are Marleyan conscripted deserters who have come to help the Eldians and gain their backing for Zeke Jaeger’s plan to carry out the Rumbling to support Eldia against Marley). Nicolo, who is a chef, becomes friends with Sasha after she compliments his cooking. Nicolo becomes important to the plot after the Scouts return and news gets out of Sasha’s death.

Gabi kills a prison guard, and she and Falco make an escape into the wilderness. They meet a girl named Kaya, who offers them food and shelter at the Braus Stables, which is owned by Sasha’s family. At Sasha’s memorial service, Nicolo meets Sasha’s parents and invites them and their family to his restaurant for a meal on the house. Gabi and Falco end up being part of the group and try to make contact with Nicolo. But when Nicolo learns that Gabi is the one who killed Sasha, he takes it upon himself to reveal the truth about her and Falco to Sasha’s family. The scene here is intense, but I still like how Sasha’s father handled the situation. Instead of being angry and using the knife that Nicolo offers him to kill Gabi for revenge, he uses his words to express his wish that the young don’t have to be made to fight these battles that the adults have started. I thought his speech was very powerful.

The Jaegerists, along with Eren, come into the restaurant. The Scouts are there as well as Sasha’s family. Eren goes to talk with Mikasa and Armin, and he says some rather hurtful things to both of them. In the later episodes of the series, whenever I saw Eren with the Jaegerists, he came across thinking he was some kind of messiah or something. The Jaegerists seem to act like members of a cult, following orders simply because Eren gives them. Eren’s transformation in this season turned him into a character who no longer comes across as a protagonist. Previously, Eren may have been obnoxious, but the audience could still cheer him on as he tried to get to his family’s basement. But now, he comes across as an arrogant jerk.

I have to admit that when I started this season, the redesigns for the main characters to reflect the four-year timeskip took a lot of getting used to. However, as the season progressed, I was able to accept these new designs. I also feel I should give a lot of credit to MAPPA for how well they took over animation and production duties from WIT Studio. To be honest, I think WIT Studio’s style just wouldn’t have worked with the tone and feel of this season of Attack on Titan. MAPPA was able to give the series a little more of a “grittier” look, which I think works a lot better for the plot points and character changes that take place at this point in the story.

Even though this season is titled, Attack on Titan Final Season, the story didn’t end with the final episode. At the end of that episode, it was revealed that the series will return in Winter 2022. While the ending of Episode 16 was an OK cliffhanger, I still think the ending of the previous episode would have made a stronger cliffhanger to end the season on. I’m looking forward to seeing Attack on Titan return with its next season, and I suspect that the next season will truly be the final season. Are they going to call it Attack on Titan Final Season Part 2?

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