Spoiler Free Review:
After a long wait, the much anticipated second half of Attack on Titan season three has arrived with its premiere episode, “The Town Where Everything Began.”
During the break in between season three’s first and second half, I read the manga out of fear of getting spoiled and I think that only heightened my excitement for the series to return.
This is because the arc that this half of the season is covering, The Return to Shiganshina Arc, is the best of the entire series so far.
I remember binge reading it in a few days because I just could not stop reading.
If you have not read the manga, I will say you are in for a treat with these ten episodes we are getting.
“The Town Where Everything Began” does not disappoint as the beginning of this new arc, delivering on great character development and action.
It may start out a little slow for some, but the explosive ending will get everyone hyped for the next episode.
The buildup to this ending is very well done, with the story picking up where it left of with the Scouts going to reclaim Wall Maria and visit Eren’s basement.
The mission is obviously not as simple as it sounds though because the location of Reiner, Bertholdt and the mysterious Beast Titan is unknown for most of the episode.
This adds a significant amount of tension, which is mostly voiced by Armin who is the standout of the episode by far.
His role and character development here, and the performance by his voice actor Marina Inoue, really reminded me of why he is one of my favourite characters.
Then there is Erwin who shines just as much with his plan to retake Shiganshina, and how he rolls with the punches that inevitably come at the end of the episode.
The excitement and dread of this ending is amplified by the amazing music, with a remix that improves on what is already one of the anime’s best OSTs, “Attack on Titan.”
The animation also continues to be solid, except for one instance, this being the opening.
I was eagerly anticipating what this opening for the new arc would be, and it is certainly appropriately named, the title being “The Path of Longing and Corpses.”
Performed my Link Horizon, the song is good and the mostly slow motion images are decent but have quite a few spoilers at times.
I will say, the final image of the opening is very powerful, with it reminding us of the big goal behind retaking Wall Maria, reaching the basement.
My main take away though, is sadly the god awful CGI on the Colossal Titan.
I really hope they spent a lot of the budget on making him look so good that they ran out of money for the opening, because if the Colossal Titan looks like this when he actually shows up then it might ruin the powerful scenes he features in.
As for the ending theme, titled “Name of Love” by Cinema Staff, there is nothing all that special about it.
Sure, it does do a good job of reminding us of how everyone has changed from their days in cadet training, but I feel this would have been a better opening for season two rather than three.
Overall, I am a little disappointing by both the opening and ending themes.
The same cannot be said for the episode though because, as I stated “The Town Where Everything Began” is a really good start to the best arc of the manga.
“Humanity or Titans?! Which side will live?! Which side will perish?!”
With these dramatic words from Erwin, and a great performance from his voice actor, Daisuke Ono, the epic ending of “The Town Where Everything Began” comes to a close.
As I stated, this ending is the highlight of the episode, delivering much intensity that will get the viewer hyped for next week’s episode.
What makes it even better for anime only people though, is that every single shot from the trailer is in the first episode so they have no idea what is going to happen next.
This makes me envy them but I know I will still find watching this arc engaging, even though I know what will happen.
The Return to Shiganshina Arc is that good.
It certainly has got off to a good start as well, reminding us all of what the characters had to go through to get this point and what these characters represent.
Eren being anger, Mikasa being pride, and Armin being hope.
The main theme of the episode though, and a major theme of the entire series as well, is that of freedom, with Eren recounting how Armin talking about the sea made him realise he was not free and fueled his desire to go outside the walls.
Eren’s character development in the opening minutes of the episode is very well done, with him showing his fears and weaknesses.
I wish he had this vulnerability in the first season because it might have helped me relate to him more.
After this, the Scouts finally reach Shiganshina and we get numerous glorious shots of them swinging around on their ODM gear, preparing to initiate Erwin’s plan to retake Shiganshina, which is shown in a well done transition shot.
But the best shot of the entire episode is still the amazingly expansive one of Eren as he shoots up above Shiganshina, about to transform so he can plug up Wall Maria.
And plug up the wall he does, with the first part of the plan going surprisingly easily… only for it to naturally fall apart by the end.
Still, it would have been much worse if Armin had not realised Reiner was hiding in the wall.
This scene really shows Armin’s growing inner strength because he starts out hesitant when giving orders to the other soldiers but comes across as a confident leader by the end.
Reiner does not go down easily after being discovered, however, with him brutally murdering the soldier who finds him.
Levi is quick to act though, rushing to stab Reiner, only for an odd case of censorship to block our view a few times.
I call this odd because there are multiple shots of Reiner bleeding heavily in this scene and yet the anime blocks him getting stabbed from view for some reason.
But this censorship did not lessen the scene’s intensity too much, with Reiner transforming and the Beast Titan then appearing behind Erwin with his army of Titans to back him up.
The Beast Titan is especially creepy in this episode.
There is a shot of him smiling in anticipation for the coming battle with glowing red eyes, which is quite scary, and a massive improvement on the already good manga panel.
With Eren set to face off against Reiner in round two next episode, The Return to Shiganshina Arc is off to a really good start and, if all goes well, it will only get better from here.