Spoiler Free Review:
I came into “The Basement” expecting it to be one of my favourite episodes of Attack on Titan.
This is because I thought it would be adapting my favourite chapter of the manga, Chapter 86 “That Day.”
However, this episode instead chose to add new scenes and lengthen the remaining ones, causing it to only go so far as to adapt the first few pages of that chapter.
While this was a little disheartening, I still cannot deny that “The Basement” is a great episode of Attack on Titan that changes the entire direction of the show, finally revealing what the anime has been building up to all these years.
The reveal itself was phenomenally adapted, with it paying off all the build-up, especially in its fantastic post credits scene.
As for the rest of the episode, it is good but has nothing on the ending.
We get to see the aftermath of “Midnight Sun” with Armin grappling to understand the reasoning behind Levi’s choice.
Armin, Levi and Hange all stand out in this scene with their interpretations and reasonings behind the events of the previous episodes.
Before all this, however, there is a creepy scene that Armin experience, which, even as a manga reader, I have no idea what it means.
Whether it is real or just a dream will be interesting to find out as the series progresses.
For the music of the episode, I will say, it is once again amazing.
Most of the episode reuses many musical tracks from the first season in its nostalgic scenes, which was very welcome.
Then there is the music of the post credits scene, which almost brought me to tears with its hopeful notes because I knew the disturbing things this hope would bring.
As for the animation, it went up and down a bit in terms of quality.
The beginning of the episode has animation that looks like it is from season one but I cannot tell if that is an intentional callback or because of the budget.
Despite this and few other limitations though, “The Basement” is still a great episode with a phenomenal ending that changes everything.
And in the end, I am actually happy this episode did not fully adapt “That Day” because I can tell from the preview that, not only will the next episode do that, but it will also mostly adapt the following chapter “Borderline”, which is fantastic as well.
That means, if all of this is adapted well, then the next episode will have a very good chance of toppling “Midnight Sun” as my favourite episode.
“I come from a place outside the walls where humanity lives in elegance. Humanity had not perished.”
With these words, the entire story of Attack on Titan changes forever.
I remember first reading this in the manga and being in complete shock.
I thought the basement would hold a cure or something cliche like that but, no, instead it holds what is my favourite twist of all time.
Grisha left a series of books revealing that the entire world outside the walls is completely fine.
Well, fine is not really the right word to describe it, as will be shown in the next episode, but you get the idea.
And not only is the outside world intact but it also incredibly technologically advanced compared to life inside the Walls.
In the post-credits scene, where we get a brief look at Grisha’s childhood, we see an airship, a clear sign of the 1940s setting the rest of the world is in.
It only gets better though because the twist is not over yet.
I consider the entirety of Grisha’s backstory to be one giant collective twist, and the reveals we will get in the following episodes will leave everyone’s jaws on the floor.
The set-up for this, with the opening part of the twist, is phenomenally handled.
At first, we are fooled into thinking the basement is a misdirect.
Twice in fact because Eren’s key will not fit in the door and, when they eventually break in and open the cabinet the key unlocks, there is nothing inside.
Thankfully, this is just Isayama messing with us because Levi quickly discovers a secret compartment where the books containing the truth are held.
The slow reveal that follows is masterful, with Eren and Mikasa both opening the book in a touching moment, before it cuts to a flashback that reveals what question Erwin asked his father all those years ago.
Him asking how they could really be sure that all humans had been eaten outside the walls was foreshadowed in the previous episode, with Erwin deliriously asking that question in his dying state.
“The Basement” then cuts to the others learning Erwin’s theory was correct, and humanity is thriving outside the walls.
Eren also finds a photograph, another technological achievement they knew nothing about, and on it is a picture of Grisha with a mysterious woman and child.
It is important to take note of this for the next episode.
Then comes the post-credits scene where we meet a young Grisha and his little sister Fay.
It is is severely hinted at by the armbands they are wearing, which are reminiscent of what the Nazi’s forced Jewish people to wear in World War Two, that they are living under oppression.
Grisha then grabs Fay’s hand and runs outside the wall so she can see the airship which, despite the happy music, will have disastrous consequences.
This first part of the reveal was an amazing ending and I cannot wait to see it continued.
As for the rest of “The Basement”, it mostly expands on things from the manga to stall for time.
Despite knowing this, the scenes are still very nostalgic and do serve a point with Eren and Mikasa remembering their life in Shiganshina before it was invaded.
Aside from the ending, the beginning is the most interesting part of the episode though because it has a scene that is still not explained in the manga.
Upon waking up, Armin sees briefly sees the Colossal Titan with a half skeleton face that has Bertholdt’s voice.
So, what is this?
The Colossal Titan power transferring to Armin, a dream or a hallucination?
We will just have to wait and find out.
Overall, “The Basement” seems like a standard episode at first until that phenomenal ending happens and starts the twist that will change this series forever.