Attack of Titan is the prime example of how a story –no matter how good it is– can get completely and absolutely ruined in an amount of just a few chapters.
That is, if you try hard enough, of course.
Attack of Titan doesn’t need any introduction, ever since the anime debut in 2013 it has been one of the most popular and recognizable franchises out there, but in the end, it all boils down to one simple question: is it good? To avoid you all the trouble, the answer is simply no.
I have to admit that I used to like Attack on Titan, and even
for a while it was one of my favorite series, and it was for a good reason. What Hajime Isayama initially presented in Attack on Titan wasn’t a run-of-the-mill shounen, but a superb story accompanied with intricate mysteries and world-building, and while Attack on Titan has never been without its issues, those could be overlooked as the good had far outweighed the bad. But what are we seeing now, however, it’s nothing but a hollow, lame and plain uninspired imitation of what AoT used to be.
What happened in Attack on Titan couldn’t be described as anything other than a huge downgrade in writing, showing signs of this as early as chapter 124, but becoming much more apparent in the last 6 chapters, culminating in what in my opinion is one of the worst end of any story I've seen so far. It’s completely nonsensical and contrived without any thematic weight, throwing away any previous build-up or foreshadowing, which it’s not only bad for itself, but also retroactively makes a lot of previous scenes as basically worthless. And not to mention how almost every character in the cast has been replaced by watered-down version of themselves, Eren being one of the worst offenders. While initially not the most developed character (though this is up to debate), Eren had one of the best character arcs in the series, just to be absolutely ruined in the exact amount of two chapters (which also are the last two), making his entire character feel like a bad joke. It's actually quite an accomplishment how much of Eren's character has been destroyed in such a short amount of time. The worst thing about this is that it doesn't only happen to Eren, but to most of the cast.
Armin, for example, is another victim of bad writing. After RtS, he remains completely stagnant and even regresses as a character, as he’s shown without any of the determination or development that took place during that arc, but rather appears as a very passive character, reminiscent of earlier parts of the story. Despite that being bad writing, that wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for how much the story loves his character, despite doing nothing to deserve that. He’s always shown as some kind of messiah that every character loves for no real reason and paradoxically has the most screen time (at the expense of other characters) but the least development. It's insane how much Isayama constantly tries to portray Armin as a genius and a hero just to fails so terribly at it.
Then there’s Mikasa, who doesn’t even has any development or remarkable trait other than "Ereh" (and acting cool I guess), and has been like that for pretty much the entirety of the series. Thankfully though, she finally gets some development... but it’s only in the final two chapters. Which of course means that said development is completely rushed and contrived.
As for the other characters, they are underdeveloped by the lack of screen time due to the sheer amount of characters in the story, so just a few characters get some significant development. Another problem is how the story (and thus its characters) loves Armin, even going as far as ruining characters that aren’t even alive to begin with for the sake of Armin. The only characters that are an exception to this are the character who dares to oppose Armin, who are pretty much next to none outside of Floch (best character) and some non-characters that no one actually bothers to remember.
Anyways, I could go on with the rest of the cast, like how Levi, despite being one of the few decent character remaining, gets very few development or any moment to shine in the final arc due barely having any screen time with his character reduced to muh promise (still like I said before he’s one of better ones), or how Gabi’s characters serves no thematic purpose other than to tell us the exact same thing that Reiner’s character already did just a few chapters ago.
Story-wise, things aren’t much better. Due to what happens in the final arc, a lot (if not all) of the themes that the story initially presented are rendered as worthless. While the earlier parts of the story had been of mostly respectable quality, with a clear foreshadowing of future events and a solid theming, there’s no a reason to care about that now as Isayama didn’t seem to care either when he wrote this ending. It was as if after chapter 123 he was replaced with another writer as there is a clear lack of foresight in the following chapters regarding the development of the plot, especially in comparison with the earlier chapters. However, the worst part of this is the number of possible directions the series could have gone, only to ultimately pick the laziest and most predictable story development that the story could have gone. Laziness in particular is a recurrence during the final arc. The characters face no real threat despite the situation they’re in due to how protected they are by the plot, resulting in a lot of situations devoid of any logic no matter how unlikely these situations are and any tension being basically non-existent. Not much can be said about the ending without getting into some major spoilers, but it did its job of ruining whatever foundation the story previously had.
It’s also worth noting how unsubtle the symbolism and the """"themes""" are during the final arc. I cannot count the number of times a character has said "I am free" or also whenever a bird appears for the gorillionth time representing freedom (such deep symbolism). Like, it’s ok, we get it, but don't shove it in my face for the tenth time in a row, it's exhausting.
As for the art, it’s a mixed bag. The art initially was very mediocre and inconsistent, but with the time it got better and there was a clear improvement, it wasn’t the best of the best, but it was decent. However after a certain point the art got much more inconsistent again with a lack of effort compared to the previous improvements. Said lack of effort coincidentally happens to be reflected in the story, as the best chapters are also those with the best art, while the poorest written chapters have a mediocre art.
To say that the final arc is bad would be an understatement. Other than two chapters, there is little good to see. Any share of consistency or logic is completely erased and the attempt of making something of actual substance is left as an afterthought. It makes any previous emotional investment I had with this manga purposeless and I just can't care about anything related to it now. I think it's obvious by now, but I don't recommend Attack on Titan. If you still plan on reading Attack on Titan, then I recommend to read it until 123, then drop it and make up your own ending, as it would be much more satisfying than the ending we got, otherwise don't bother.