Attack on Titan: The Final Chapters (Part One) is split into two chapters that run about half in hour in length, bringing the total runtime of this special to an hour.

The first chapter is titled, “The Rumbling.” It opens with Eren having a memory of when he and the others first came to Marley. As Eren is wandering around the port town, he thinks about how he already knows through the memories he’s seen that he’s going to be destroying this town with The Rumbling, and his thoughts are interrupted by seeing a young pickpocket being beaten up by a group of men. Eren knows from his visions that this boy will be among those killed, but he saves him from the men anyway. We then see Eren with the boy he rescued, where be begins crying and apologizing.

The scene shifts to the boy Eren saved in the current time as The Rumbling hits the port town and the surrounding area. The special spends a bit of time showing the Titans as they stomp through the area, destroying everything in their path. Compared to what we’d seen in Attack on Titan previously, this section is the goriest we’ve seen the series get. We actually see the boy that Eren saved in the flashback being stomped to death by a Titan. There’s also a shot of a man shooting himself in the head as the Titans approach, as well as several shots featuring blood.

Meanwhile, on the ship carrying the Scouts and the others, Annie starts talking to Armin about all the time he came to talk to her while she was frozen. This becomes an important conversation, because Armin makes it clear he’s no longer the “good guy” that he once was, and that he’s just as much of a monster as Annie since being turned into a Titan. It’s also an important milestone, because it’s clear that these two have feelings for each other. After arriving at Odiha, Annie says she’s pulling out of the operation in order to have even a small chance to live a peaceful life, and it’s clear that this is due in part to her realizing she has feelings for Armin.

The others are getting ready to take off in the flying boat in order to stop Eren. Pieck insists that Gabi and Falco stay behind with Annie to keep them out of the conflict. Before they can fuel up the boat, Floch arrives and starts shooting. Floch is stopped, but his bullets have shot holes into the fuel tank. When they discover the damage, they can tell that The Rumbling is approaching. The engineers at Odhiha can weld the holes, but it’s going to take time.

After a bit of debate, Hange insists on being the one to delay the Titans in order for the group to take off in the flying boat. Hange appoints Armin as the commander of the division before leaving, which is followed by an interaction with Levi that makes it clear that Hange is heading on a suicide mission. Fortunately, Hange’s sacrifice isn’t in vain, and the Scouts get away in the flying boat while Annie and the others use the boat they came to Odiha in to leave the port.

Even though I could tell from how the scene played out that Hange was heading on a suicide mission, it still hit when it became clear that Hange wouldn’t make it. While I was trying to take this in as an audience member, I was seeing Levi and the other Scouts wrestling with their emotions about Hange. Seeing the Scouts grieving added to the emotional weight of this plot beat.

The second chapter, “Sinners,” opens with Levi and the Scouts grappling with the actions they’ve had to take up to this point to try to save humanity. But through this commiseration, Jean realizes that he’s just as guilty as Reiner for the actions that Jean held against him. We see that these shared circumstances help the process of repairing the rifts that had grown between some of the characters.

At the same time, Armin is trying to come up with a plan on how to deal with Eren, with the hope that there’s a chance that they can talk Eren out of what he’s doing. During the planning, it hits Armin that even though Eren has the ability to control all Titans and Eldians, he has left them the ability to turn into Titans and act on their own free will. It’s theorized that Eren is testing them, and Reiner says that if he was in Eren’s situation, he’d hope that someone would stop him by killing him.

Just then, the Scouts are transported into the realm where Eren can talk to them. Everyone calls out to him and says what’s on their minds. Most of them express remorse, but Mikasa says she wants to shoulder Eren’s sins with him, and Levi says that if he stops now that he’ll only kick Eren’s ass. In the end, Eren responds to all of this by saying that talking isn’t going to change anything and that The Rumbling isn’t going to stop. After saying his piece, Eren sends the Scouts back to the flying boat.

Meanwhile, on the boat that’s sailing on the sea, Falco tells Annie that he’s been starting to see Zeke’s memories, since he was turned into a Titan by Zeke’s spinal fluid. With this memory, Falco believes that his Titan might have the ability to fly. We don’t see anything more with these characters after this point in this special, but I suspect that this revelation is going to become an important plot point in the second special.

At this point in the second chapter, it had focused more on the drama than on the action. When the scene shifts to refugees fleeing from Liberio, including the Warriors’ families, the action starts picking up again. They’re heading to Fort Salta, in the hopes of taking the airships and escaping from The Rumbling. When they get to the fort, they find the airships have taken off just as The Rumbling is seen approaching their location. The airships have been sent as humanity’s last hope against The Titans, and as the mission is getting underway, the commander at the fort broadcasts his thoughts to everyone assembled. He admits that Marley’s fear of the Eldians is ultimately the cause for what’s happening now, and that The Rumbling is their fear and hate marching back to them. We also see Reiner’s mother regretting how she treated her soon like a tool for hate and lamenting that she never did a motherly thing for him.

Of course, the airships aren’t able to put a stop to The Rumbling. But just as all hope seems lost, the flying boat appears and the Scouts jump out and land on top of the Founding Titan. The story is just setting up the final conflict when the special ends.

Wow, this special was quite intense. In the first chapter, much of the intensity comes from the opening sequences of The Rumbling. Most of the rest of the first chapter is calmer until Floch shoots the ship and The Rumbling approaches. Hange’s attempt to buy time for the rest of the Scouts to get away was very intense. Hange’s end was quite dramatic, literally going out in a “blaze of glory.” But the reunion Hange has with the Scouts’ fallen comrades was a touching moment to cap off the first chapter.

For the second chapter, much of its intensity came from the emotional drama in its early part. You can see how the Scouts are both physically and mentally exhausted, yet still carrying the burden of trying to save humanity from Eren. Right near the end, there’s a mixture of action and drama as the refugees from Liberio think that all hope is lost after the airships are destroyed.

This special also sets up Levi’s desire to take on the Beast Titan, but as we see here, his hand can’t use the gear as well as he used to. He claims he only needs two fingers to do it, but I’m wondering if this a foreshadowing for what’s going to happen to him in the next special.

When it comes to how the special ended, this was the best place to pause the action. The final stage is set, but we’re not being cut off in the middle of a skirmish. At the same time, though, I had gotten so invested in the story that I was frustrated that it was stopping… especially since I know it’s going to be at least six months before the second special airs.

After watching Attack on Titan: The Final Chapters (Part One), I wish this had been done as one two hour film rather than being split into two one hour specials. Hopefully the second half will be worth having to wait several months in order to see how this ends.

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