Spoiler Free Review:
Exposition is notorious for being difficult to get the viewer invested in, without becoming bored.
This speaks to how brilliant of an episode “That Day” is because it is entirely exposition driven, and yet, every second of it is so investing.
The episode is essentially the true basement reveal.
No, “reveal” is not the right word.
What I should say is “reveals” because there are so many, and each and every single one of them is mind blowing.
I have viewed numerous people watching the episode online and their reactions to certain twists are priceless.
As I was watching the episode, I ended up jumping with excitement every time one of these twists was perfectly delivered, which was always.
“That Day” adapts Chapters 86 and 87 of the manga, the prior of which is my favourite chapter in the entire Attack on Titan manga so far.
So, I was almost praying that the episode would manage to adapt that material properly.
And you know what?
It did just that.
With this episode, Attack on Titan changes into a much more complex and deep story in which the lines between the good and bad guys are constantly blurred.
Watching Grisha’s tragic backstory is just as enthralling as it is in the manga, allowing the viewer to understand his motivations and sympathize with him all in a single episode.
Speaking of Grisha, his voice actor, Hiroshi Tsuchida, does an amazing job here, especially at the ending where his full range becomes apparent.
All of the newly introduced characters in this episode are great and interesting, even if we will not see many of them outside this flashback.
The music is once again fantastic, bringing back a track that was introduced in “Hero” for the climactic end.
If I had one criticism, it would be the censorship.
The violence of the manga chapters really highlights both the terror and themes in the manga so it as shame this is not adapted here.
Still, this does not affect the episode in any big way, and if you have not read the manga then you will not notice it.
In my review of “The Basement”, I predicted that “That Day” might actually beat “Midnight Sun” to become my new favourite episode of the series.
And does it achieve this?
Well, right now I am unsure of that.
Both episodes are amazing in very different ways.
“Midnight Sun” is amazing in the way that it hits you emotionally, and “That Day” is amazing in the way that it hits you with all of these exciting and epic twists that change the entire story.
Both are master piece episodes so it is a bit hard for me to judge which one is better without thinking really hard about it.
I will say this, though.
Even if “That Day” does not beat “Midnight Sun”, it comes incredibly close.
It is an amazing episode that needs to be watched twice in order to adsorb all of the colossal information.
Spoiler Review… Seriously, if you have not seen the episode then DO NOT READ THIS! Trust me, you do not want this spoiled for you.
I remember the complete and utter shock I felt at the massive twists of chapters 85 and 86 of Attack on Titan.
The death of Grisha’s sister, Zeke being Grisha’s son and Eren’s half-brother, Dina being the smiling Titan the entire time, and Kruger turning out to the the Owl.
All of these twists are masterfully adapted in “That Day” where Grisha narrates over his tragic life.
This said, you may have to watch the episode a couple of times before you understand everything because there is so much information but this does not stop the twists from being mind blowing.
Following the post-credits scene of “The Basement”, the beginning of the story sees Grisha take his sister Fay to see the airship.
They are caught by two soldiers, Kruger and the detestably, yet appropriately named, Gross.
Since their race, Eldians, are not allowed outside their internment zone, Grisha is punished by receiving a beating from Kruger.
Sadly, Fay receives a far worst punishment as Gross feeds her to his sons’ dogs.
This tragedy leads to Grisha’s father telling him why they are being oppressed.
Nearly 2000 years ago, a woman named Ymir Fritz made a deal with the devil to obtain the power of the Titans.
After her death, her soul was split into the nine Titan Shifters who build the empire of Eldia and began a worldwide ethnic cleansing, which lasted around 1700 years.
However, the defeated nation of Marley managed to incite a civil war and get seven of the nine Titans under their control.
King Fritz, the holder of the Founding Titan, fled to the island of Paradis and created three walls to protect his people.
Those Eldians who were left on the continent were then persecuted for their ancestors’ sins, forced to live in ghettos and wear armbands.
However, this story cannot be taken at face value because it comes from a biased viewpoint.
It is plausible that the story of Eldians being descendant from the devil is just propaganda for Marley to justify its persecution of the Eldian race.
It is also just as plausible that the ideology Grisha later develops, that the Eldian empire was uncompromisingly good, is false as well.
Watching Grisha come to this conclusion to justify his anger towards Marley is very investing, just as much as what follows this.
After joining a resistance group, Eldia Restorationists, their spy in the Marleyan army, the Owl, sends the last descendant of the royal family, Dina Fritz, to help.
She and Grisha fall in love and have a son, Zeke.
That’s right, the Beast Titan is not only Grisha’s son but Eren’s half brother as well.
This also adds context to what Zeke was talking about when he told Eren his father had brainwashed him.
Grisha tried to force Zeke to become a Marleyan Warrior in an effort to steal the Founding Titan, pushing his ideology onto him.
Zeke, however, had no way of knowing that Grisha actually allowed Eren to develop his own ideology before giving him a Titan power.
He was not brainwashed like his brother was, which ultimately led Zeke to betray his parents and the Restorationists to the Marleyan authorities.
After being tortured for information, Grisha and the others are taken to Paradis to receive their life sentence of being turned into a mindless Titan.
There, Grisha is forced to watch as his friends and wife are all turned into Titans, some of which will look familiar to the viewer.
This is because, not only are many of the Restorationists Titans we saw in the battle of Trost, but Dina is also the smiling Titan, the one who ate Eren’s mother and Hannes.
No wonder this nightmare makes Eren scream upon waking up, as he is now starting to experience his father’s memories after learning the truth.
Back to Grisha’s plight, he realizes Gross and Kruger are there and he accuses Gross of murdering Fay.
Gross sadistically decides that he will make Grisha “dance” by feeding him to a mindless Titan.
Attack on Titan is a show where there really are no good guys or bad guys but Gross is the one exception.
He is disgustingly evil and revels in this, which makes it all the more satisfying to see Kruger push him off the wall so he is fed to a Titan just like he fed Fay to the dogs in a great sense of poetic justice.
This is one of the scenes I was disappointed to see censored because watching Gross get eaten is satisfying both because it allows the viewer to cheer as this monster is killed, and because it also ties into what Gross said about humans enjoying violence, pointing the finger at the viewer.
Kruger then reveals himself to be the Owl, before transforming into a Titan that strongly resembles Eren’s and attacking the remaining Marleyan forces, bringing the episode to a shocking end.
“That Day” is a fantastic episode.
It has so many exciting twists and turns with its massive exposition dump, which the episode somehow keeps interesting throughout its runtime.
Sadly, not everyone sees it this way.
Some are suggesting, or outright stating, that the information about the Eldians shows that the write,r Hajime Isayama, is an antisemitic fascist.
You can see these concerns being raised in the Polygon article “The fascist subtext of Attack on Titan can’t go overlooked”, where the absolutely ridiculous suggestion that some Titan noses are made to resemble antisemitic Jewish stereotypes is made.
Honestly, I rolled my eyes upon seeing this was an actual article.
People who think Attack on Titan is fascist seem to be conventionally forgetting that the main characters took down a monarchy with fascist elements this very season.
Not only this but if Attack on Titan is antisemitic, like some claim, then why are the characters who represent the Jews the main characters who we root for?
It makes no sense for the series to be fascist with all of its themes about freedom and it saddens me every time I see someone misinterpreting this.
Attack on Titan is a thoughtful story that is creating a message about cycles of hatred and “That Day” proves this.
It is an amazing episode that may actually be my favourite episode of the entire anime.