In its final season, Attack on Titan has flipped the script on its heroes and villains. Our once righteously vengeful protagonist stopped toeing the line in pursuit of his ideals, leaving the audience to ponder exactly who is the villain here?
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Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.
Nicky, I don’t know about you but this month has been a pretty rough one. So I think we need give ourselves a break and cover something nice and simple. How’s about a current big shonen anime? Those are usually pretty straightforward and easy to to joke about, right?
Well Nick, there’s Nothing I love more than something big, dumb, – oh and lots of teeth. Perfect for crunching some popcorn! Everyone, take cover as we’re about to drop-in with Attack on Titan The Final Season!!
But yeah, we’re delving into the supposed Final Season of Attack on Titan, a series that’s been running more or less since I first started watching seasonal anime. So it feels almost nostalgic to be back with all the characters we’ve come to know and love over the last 8 years. Like, uh…actually wait who are these bozos?
Attack on Titan: Now with Even MORE children committing war crimes!!
Though, the biggest war crime might be the one committed against Reiner’s wallet there. (no it’s not)
Oh hey, right, that’s Reiner in the back. I didn’t recognize him with the new beard and the faint glimmer of life in his eyes.
Now, some may chafe at the idea of following what is, quite literally, a quirky ragtag band of child soldiers. But those people also stopped watching 7 years ago so it’s all cool now, yeah?
It takes some massive creative cajones to make your fantasy show’s relationship with militarism and nationalist propaganda MORE emotionally complicated.
At the very least, I appreciate it for being as in-your-face as it is. If you didn’t link the titan’s to images to weapons of mass destruction as before, well you certainly do now.
And as the series goes on, I feel like there’s even less room for nuance about it.
Though I’m not sure if bringing Mads into this was necessary.
Oh yeah, I’ve definitely had my reservations about the series since the basement chapter came out and everyone started talking about it. I’m not really sure how to feel about how a story from Japan appropriates history and Imagery of others to navigate Japan’s own history of being oppressors and being oppressed. At best It feels inappropriate and in bad taste and at worse it’s downright offensive. For better or for worse, though, it’s very provocative. Something most series just aren’t.
Honestly this is neither the place nor time to get into the gnarled mass of bleeding entrails that constitutes AoT‘s attempts at allusion and allegory. But if nothing else I do appreciate how this show is approaching its subject with some degree of humanity and empathy. Plenty of stories try for the “war is hell” angle but few manage to make that hell feel as personal as this one.
Speaking of personal, the one character from this new cast we DO know is Reiner. And boy is it reassuring to see a familiar face and– hey wait Reiner, uh…doesn’t seem to be doing so hot.
Even the adults admit it’s a bit nuts to believe that children could wreak so much destruction just because they’ve been emotionally backed in a corner their whole lives.
“Damn, if only our child soldiers could fly.”
Pretty much every adult in this series has been awful so far, but, damn do they keep finding ways to get worse.
Meanwhile, he’s got a lot of the same motifs as Eren and the scouts, particularly “Falco -> Falcon” being in line with the whole “Wings of Freedom” bits and this is heavily highlighted in both the OP and ED.
I’ve seen some folks feel wary about this turn for Eren, and I get it: he’s been our protagonist for years and we have been routinely invited to sympathize with his anger and damage. But the moment Season 3 ended with him staring dead-eyed across the ocean, asking nobody in particular if killing everyone on the other side would finally make them free, I’ve been expecting him to do basically exactly what he does here.
He also got literally injected with a big dose of his dad’s revisionist juice changing his character completely and sucking out any hope he had for the world like he had before.
Yeahhhhhhhh there’s that. Personally, I choose to believe Eren’s breaking point was just witnessing the cyclical nihilism of warfare in those memories and just shattering until he accepted his place in it. Just a way more compelling take than magic dad juice brainwashing or whatever.
TBH this is where Titan has started losing me a bit. I get that you want to make this whole thing as complex as possible, with both sides ultimately being corrupt and violent yet still ultimately human, but by god do I not care about all this exposition to explain the mystery boxes surrounding the Walls.
I choose to believe that’s the real origin for Santa Clause. And instead of Elves he just has an army of goofy-faced titans who make toys in the north pole.
Titan Clause is coming to town!!
Hammer Space Titan’s pretty cool too though.
Also they’re all here to commit a whole lot of war crimes. Yayyyyyyyy.
And you can be a war criminal! And You can be a war criminal! Everyone gets to be a war criminal today!!
It’s a little hard to know who we should be rooting for when every character just seems downright awful and yet the show consistently manages to make them look cool while doing it.
Like even the rest of the cast don’t want to be here, and you get the impression this is something Eren basically railroaded them into.
Yeah and we don’t really have a full explanation for whats up with them yet, or what the solution to any of this would be, so I guess we just have to wait and see. Hope you like looking directly at explosions and walking backwards into hell, folks.
It’s a lot, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel fatigued from what feels like two straight seasons of despair. But maybe that’s to Titan’s credit that I also feel as exhausted as every single person on screen.
Nothing at all.