Jun 30, 2019
papsoshea (All reviews)
I will never forget the day that Attack on Titan premiered in 2013, the post-apocalyptic fantasy adventure was almost immediately a breakthrough hit and took the anime community by storm. Not only that, but one of the very few modern anime series to cross over to the mainstream. But sadly, the painfully long wait between seasons 1 and 2 hindered the colossal momentum the anime series once had, leading to a drop-off in interest. But for those that have stuck around such as myself, and have continued to eat up new episodes as ravenously as the Titans in the show, I feel as if we have received a rich reward for our loyalty.

While live-action television's biggest fantasy series such as “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” have tested their audience's goodwill to breaking point, Attack On Titan's quality in all categories has barely wavered. It’s already among the five best-selling manga franchises ever by volume, and the adaptation of the second cour to season 3 has seen a return of that “colossal” momentum. Director Tetsurou Araki and his team at Wit Studio are back to deliver Hajame Isayama’s manga through some of its strongest material yet, and more importantly, the biggest moment that fans have been waiting and craving for. The anticipation for the “Basement” reveal was at an all-time high—and by all accounts, this cour is pure excellence. The last cour was the series most measured and thoughtful—this one was always thought to be the one that was more balls-to-the-wall action.

To continue off the last sentence, I am glad to say, that this cour is both well measured, thoughtful and action packed. We are heading into one of the big climatic points of the story—of Eren with his past, of the story with the secrets in his basement, and of former allies now turned enemies. It is another pivotal moment in the story of, as it makes us question the morality of our characters, mainly our main protagonists and who is in the right. It’s a testament to the show’s pacing that they can cram as much information as they do without it being overwhelming. There is an incredible amount of world-building that changes the entire dynamic of the series going forward. Attack on Titan started as a brutal fantasy show about giant monsters, yet this season (both cours) introduced enough backstory and political intrigue to make us reconsider who the real monster is. All within 10 episodes while retaining electrifying action and a thrilling conspiracy. Very few anime is capable of such.

The story resumes with Episode 50, "The Town Where It All Began." The town in question is, of course, Eren, Mikasa and Armin's home, Shinganshina, which was evacuated when the Colossal Titan breached Wall Maria in the series back in season 1. This is known as “The Battle of Shinganshina.” Along with our main trio, this arc features fan favorites only: Levi, Erwin, Hange, Jean, Conny, and Sasha, as they go against Reiner, Bertholdt and the Beast Titan in a fight for survival. Which means that every potential casualty in this climatic chapter will really sting. Without spoiling, this part really pulled at the heartstrings, while still delivering some of the show's best action sequences ever. Wit Studio clearly saved a lot of man-hours for this chapter, and the animation looked as good as it has all season—just a little bit more added spice. There was plenty of drama, suspense and action to satisfy most anyone I imagine.

If anything, the second cour to season 3 proved more than anything how much of a genius Isayama is when it comes to storytelling. You could clearly see how this whole story was thought out and planned from the beginning. All the captivating mysteries and conspiracies, all the complex worldbuilding themes, and the engaging plots are starting to be tied—and it has left fans with plenty of answers to long-asked questions and just enough material to theorize about the future. The revelations shown here are satisfying as much as they are shocking while all in line of what was previously foreshadowed. Even the characters took another step forward, from Eren to Erwin, from Levi to Hanje. But for me, Armin—he is easily the most introspective and self-aware person in the main cast. And his character, after a significant moment, becomes all the more interesting with the added dynamic and inner-conflict that this “significant moment” adds to him.

Wit Studio is rumored to finish up with the series after this season, which if true, is a shame since they have delivered one of the best anime series in both story and visually. Araki’s directing is impeccable, the production team really made a lot of moments a lot more grandiose compared to the manga (well for me anyway), the cinematography and animation were absolutely crazy—check Levi vs the Beast Titan for one of many examples. Shot composition is stunningly gorgeous. The color palette reflected the bleakness of the world and the characters will to survive—moments of darkness, moments of vigorous energy, and splashes of blood. The CGI really started to become an issue when the Colossal Titan started going “in-and-out” between CGI and 2D which is probably the only fault in terms of consistency. Voice acting is superb, notably Daisuke Oto’s Erwin Smith in the scene where he delivers a bone-chilling and earth-moving speech. Lastly, Hiroyuki Sawano delivers once again with his masterful soundtrack that always hit their cues perfectly.

Once more, the answers that we get out of these episodes, especially the secrets that Grisha left for Eren in the basement are all extremely satisfying. Attack on Titan knows how to properly balance its emotion and plotting. It’s a tall task to fill in hundreds of years of backstory while also playing around with a cast of characters that’s almost entirely new, but this is something that Isayama makes look all too easy. Without spoiling with details, we get information about the world outside the walls, the history of the Titans, and the real history of the world inside the walls. It is the perfect mix of emotional catharsis and suspenseful action. The regular themes of freedom, regret, and generational fate are present here as Shiganshina District gets torn to shreds. It helps to see the show connect this story's beats to deeper topics so this is as much of a philosophical battle as it is a physical one. It closes the book on a number of long-running conflicts but also throws a whole lot more into the fire. While many cards are revealed, Isayama is still holding on to some trump cards.

The hype is real right now, with the announcement of the Final season for Fall 2020. It is going to be interesting how Isayama wraps things up and how it will be adapted. This season of Attack on Titan was like no other, especially the second cour. I like to think of it as an invitation. An invitation to witness greatness. An invitation to witness the extraordinary. And it was an invitation to witness one of the absolute best of what the anime industry has to offer. And I would like to extend this invitation to each and every one of my fellow viewers of anime, to pick up this series. It is one of a very select few that is near masterful in all categories. One of the select few that leaves you absolutely mesmerized by its sheer brilliance. And one of the select few that rewards you for your patience. Will you accept my invitation?