Attack on Titan Season Four, Episode Five, Declaration of War Review: The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For.

5 stars
Chapter 100, “Declaration of War.”
Pretty much every Attack on Titan fan who has read the manga can easily recall this chapter.
I can still remember sitting in stunned silence after reading it because of what had just occurred.
So, needless to say, I was extremely excited to see one of my favorite chapters adapted in the anime.
Well, having seen it, I can say that Mappa and director Teruyuki Ōmine definitely pulled it off, providing a nail biting delivery for “Declaration of War.”
The episode starts off with a flashback to Reiner, Bertholdt and Annie’s time in the scouts, as was seen in Episode Three.
This time, we have a scene of Bertholdt wondering why the man who hung himself in the settlement chose to tell them his story before he did so,  believing it was because he wanted to be judged.
At this point, the scene perfectly transitions to Reiner about to be judged by Eren, as they meet for the first time in four years.
Falco, the sweet boy, has absolutely no idea about the absolute disaster he has unintentionally caused, completely unaware as Eren subtly threatens all the people in the building above them by showing his cut hand, threatening to transform if Reiner tries anything.
From here, we see the build up to Willy’s declaration, as he is visited by the mysterious Kiyomi Azumabito from last episode, who seems to know something, given that she leaves before the festival.
Another interesting scene is between Karina and Annie’s father, where Mr Leonhart insists that his daughter is still alive, which is basically just Isayama’s way of saying, yes, Annie’s in the story, even if she’s not important right now.
The final build up scene before the performance sees Zeke, Pieck and Porco being lured away by a mysterious guard who then traps Pieck and Porco in a hole to prevent them from transforming and trying to stop whatever is about to happen.
As a manga reader, it’s been pretty fun to see fan theories about who the mysterious soldier is.
I’ve heard theories about it being Jean, Connie, and, most often, Armin who has had an extreme growth spurt.
In any case, this trapping scene is very well done, building the tension up nicely, and even providing some humor when Pieck’s panzer unit get jealous over Pieck hugging only one of them.
With the threat of enemy Titan Shifters removed, Eren can now confront Reiner in temporary peace and Willy can begin his last speech.
Down in the basement, Reiner asks Eren why he came here and Eren chillingly replies “the same reason you did” and follows this up by telling Reiner multiple times that he is “the same as you.”
This shows just how much Eren has grown over the four year time skip, going from hot headed to calm, collective, and even reflective over his situation.
He is clearly not the same arrogant character who I couldn’t stand all the way back in season one, and Yuki Kaji does a fantastic job voicing this calmer version of Eren.
Another voice actor who deserves praise for their work this episode is Kazuhiko Inoue, who does a fantastic job with delivering Willy’s lines, during his epic speech.
This voice acting, accompanying the gruesome imagery of the performance, makes for a great use of exposition that keeps the viewer engaged while being fed information.
The information Willy conveys is that the Marleyan version of history is a lie (big shock), and that The Great Titan War was actually ended by King Fritz, who conspired with the Tyber family to make a Marleyan, Helos, a hero, and then fled to Paradis Island out of guilt for what his people had done.
Willy revealing this shows how masterfully he can manipulate a crowd because first he reveals the truth, before redirecting the crowd’s anger at a new threat, Eren Jaeger.
Speaking of, Eren knows full well how much of a threat he is, admitting that he might just end up destroying the world, like Willy fears, because of the millions of Colossal Titans in the walls, which he could potentially control.
Falco is horrified that someone he trusted would use him and becomes even more terrified when he realizes the letters Eren had him send were to his “comrades.”
For now though, Eren’s attention is entirely on Reiner as he proceeds to judge him just like the opening of the episode suggested that he would.
However, this judgement is not what we might expect.
Instead of condemning Reiner, like he did in earlier seasons, Eren is shown to have become more understanding of him, as showcased by Eren telling Reiner to forget his promise to make Reiner suffer, admitting that there is good and bad people on both sides of the conflict.
This is followed by the moment that breaks Reiner completely, Eren telling him that he did what he did because he was a brainwashed kid.
Reiner refutes this entirely, falling to his knees and tearfully admitting that he pushed on with the mission to attack Paradis because he wanted to be a hero and he is to blame for Eren’s mother’s death.
Reiner’s voice actor, Yoshimasa Hosaya, did such a great job with Reiner’s tearful repentance that it almost made me cry.
Reiner’s pleas for death are then juxtaposed by Willy saying he doesn’t want to die because “he was born into this world,” and this very line that Eren’s mother spoke years ago finally draws Eren’s attention away from Reiner, as shown by the subtle widening of his eyes.
Maybe Eren is experiencing some hope that he will not have to go through with his plan?
Unfortunately, any hope Eren might have for peace is shattered because Willy follows this up by proclaiming he wants everyone to help him fight the devils of Paradis.
Accepting what he must do and that he really is the same as Reiner, Eren pulls Reiner to his feet, as we get some anime original content of soldiers approaching the basement door, ready to attack Eren.
One might think upon hearing about this scene that it is a pointless attempt at diminishing Eren’s responsibility for what comes next but, thankfully, it comes across more as a way to build tension, rather than try to justify Eren’s horrific act of violence.
And horrific it is, as Eren transforms then and there, killing who knows how many civilians and even Willy Tyber himself, crushing him with massive his fist, before throwing him in the air to be devoured, like a piece of popcorn.
This scene is just fantastic with a great use of sound and music.
That said, some manga readers took issue with the OST in this scene, 2Volt.
Some took such a disliking to this OST usage that they even harassed director Teruyuki Ōmine over it, to the point that he felt depressed.
Critique a scene all you want but if you harass the people behind that scene, you’ve gone way too far.
Personally, I feel that the music worked great and the people who dislike the scene may have had their own preconceived ideas on how the it would go, making them be inevitably disappointed when it didn’t suit their envisioned scene.
Still, even though I thought this final scene was great, there is one issue I have with the episode but it is one I am not ready to deduct points for just yet.
This issue is that there is a cut scene between Willy and Magath that is crucial to understanding both their characters’ motivations.
There is a possibility that this scene could have been moved to episode six, so if we see the scene there then this won’t be an issue, however, if it’s not there, then I think we are missing some crucial development for both these characters.
Like I said though, I am not going to be deducting any points from the episode because there is always the chance of this scene appearing in the future.
Overall, “Declaration of War” is a fantastic adaptation of one of the manga’s best chapters, delivering the point of no return for Eren brilliantly.

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