Original Run: December 7, 2020 - March 29, 2021 Number of Episodes: 16 Genre: Action, Fantasy Based on the Series Created By: Hajime Isayama
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Attack on Titan Final Season. Reader discretion is advised.***
The Marley Empire has just won its current war. It can now focus its attention on its ultimate goal – the domination of Paradis Island and the eradication of the Titan threat.
Marley’s last attempt ended in utter failure. To better the odds, the Empire reasons it must get the entire world to aid in the invasion. But Paradis Island will not wait; they strike first.
Eren Jeager (voiced by Yuki Kaji) drags the entire Survey Corps into a full-on attack on Marely soil. This action signals the start of the battle that might finally bring an end to Titans, for better or worse.
Everything is at risk, and before the smoke clears, once strong alliances will be tested and many people will die.
So, we have come to this.
Well, okay, we haven’t made it to the end quite yet. This is Attack on Titan Final Season (Final Season) Part 1. Part 2, as of this review going live (April 2021), is scheduled for a winter 2021/2022 release. And if you think it’s BS we need to wait a full nine months before we get our long-anticipated conclusion, remember, we had to wait five years to get season two.
Nine months is nothing.
Or, at least, that’s what I keep telling myself. I can’t even begin to describe the frustration I felt when I got to this season’s last episode.
And to be clear, that frustration was a good frustration. To say Final Season had my attention would be a gross understatement. In terms of story, Attack on Titan has only gotten better. We have come a long way from season one, that much I can tell you.
Final Season was under pressure to deliver; this is the endgame. Nearly a decade’s worth of Attack on Titan – one of the most popular, well-made, and most iconic anime ever (fight me on this) –is coming to a close. A stumble here would have been catastrophic.
Therefore, Final Season needed to land. Unfortunately, with Part 2 still to come, we can’t claim mission accomplished just yet. Still, damn, the goal is so tantalizingly close.
Or in other words, Final Season could not have done its job any better.
From episode one, the first thing you will notice is the feel of this installment. I am not talking about the animation or the visuals (WE WILL GET TO THAT). No, I am referring to the atmosphere.
Up to this point, the lines were always there. We knew who to root for; we knew who to root against. I use these following words hesitantly, but there were the good guys and the bad guys. Granted, Attack on Titan has never been that blatantly black and white; there have been hints of grey. However, something like Final Season was entirely new territory.
On more than one occasion, I caught myself thinking, “Should I be cheering for this?”
The thing that made Final Season fascinating – there was no correct answer. I will try to explain myself without giving away any spoilers, but to do that, I must say this:
Eren Jeager was responsible for many deaths.
I don’t want to give the impression that there was a swap in alignments. That would imply everything which occurred before this season followed a strict night-and-day balance. Nevertheless, Final Season called into question many of the moments we had applauded for in the past.
All we had left to cling on to was the Survey Corps we have come to know and love. Mikasa, Armin, Connie, Jean, and Sasha were caught in the middle of a war they had no control over. They did the best they could in the situation they found themselves in. Thus, no matter what, we could rally around them when things went south.
And trust me; things went south. I have a feeling Part 2 is going to get pretty darn rough.
Other than the Survey Corps, Final Season introduced a whole new breed of characters to follow – the Marley Warriors Unit. This is the organization Reiner Braun (voiced by Yoshimasa Hosoya) came from, but don’t let that form your opinion about them.
We know Reiner; we know what he has done. His comrades, though, most of whom were not involved in the previous seasons’ events, were something else. Two of the unit, Gabi Braun and Falco Grice (voiced respectively by Ayane Sakura and Natsuki Hanae), were just kids (who were also trained soldiers). Gabi, in particular, was fully indoctrinated into the Warriors’ mission. And yet, from their point of view, it was like a replay of the horrors from season one.
Can you really blame the Warriors for the actions they took in the latter half of Final Season? I know I can’t.
I don’t think I can stress enough how tense this installment was. Whatever the actual finale will be, I don’t see how we can get to a “happy ending.” Then again, at this point, that’s not what we should be hoping for.
Part 2 has the chance to bring to a close a significant chapter in anime history. It will not be easy, and I would encourage people to wait and see what happens instead of crafting hardline predictions. Misplaced expectations have tainted plenty of otherwise decent endings before.
Still, if this installment was any indication, it will be sad to say goodbye. But I cannot be more excited.
A founding principle of Anime Hajime is:
Animation is not what makes a series great. Story, characters, and atmosphere do that.
For seasons one, two, and three (both parts), the Attack on Titan series was in the capable hands of Wit Studios. Due to reasons I am not aware of, Final Season was done by MAPPA. Not only that, many of the core staff that brought us the previous four installments did not make a return.
Whenever an anime changes hands, there is always a risk of something being lost in the transition. Thankfully, the story, the characters, and the bits of Attack on Titan that genuinely matter didn’t take a hit for Final Season.
THE SAME CANNOT BE SAID FOR THE ANIMATION.
In all fairness, Final Season’s visuals were good. However, they weren’t anywhere close to Attack on Titan good. Thank god everything else was rock solid because this broke my heart to see. Especially coming off the marvels that were Season 3 Part 1 and Part 2, this installment did not match up.
If I had to guess, MAPPA must have put all its animation budget into Jujutsu Kaisen (to great effect, I will add).
Attack on Titan’s raw power came from its visuals. Yeah, the story and characters are memorable as hell, but the adrenalin rush has been something special. Although Final Season was quite exciting on its own, seeing such a blatant dip in quality was frustrating.
This is all superficial; I recognize that.
Be that as it may, for every installment in this series, I have praised the visuals. They were something so fundamental to Attack on Titan. And to mention them here in the Series Negatives for the last season, how can I not be annoyed?
Yes, I had a phenomenal time with Final Season; it will be hard to wait nine months for the conclusion. I just had to get this off my chest.
With expectations as high as they could be, crashing and burning was a very real possibility. A possibility that, thankfully, never came to pass. On the contrary, I don’t think you could have asked for more.
This story is quickly coming to a close, and I cannot be more excited. We can only wait to see if this series sticks the landing.
Until then, Attack on Titan Final Season has earned a recommendation.
But these were just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Attack on Titan Final Season? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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