Attack on Titan, The Final Chapter, Toward the Tree on That Hill Review: A Conflicting Ending for My Favourite Story.

please fucking work
Well, it finally happened.
After well over a decade and only one break due to a pandemic, Hajime Isayama has brought his epic story of Attack on Titan to a close.
I can still remember entering this fandom when I watched the first season, all the way back in early 2018.
When I saw the second season, I knew that this story would become something special to me and, sure enough, it is now my favourite story of all time.
Chapters 119-123 especially are the best fiction I’ve ever read.
Now, it’s over.
Isayama concluded his story with Chapter 139, “Toward the Tree on That Hill.”
So, what did I think about the ending?
Well… it’s complicated.
Ever since I finished the chapter I’ve been constantly changing my opinion, going from liking to disliking the way it ended.
Eventually, I just sat down and carefully read the final chapter, trying to understand what Isayama was attempting to say with this ending.
This caused me to come to the conclusion that the ending is decent.
Not great but certainly not bad either.
There are both great and bad things in the chapter, though.
In fact, I think the perfect way to describe “Toward the Tree on That Hill” is as a mixed bag.
There’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike.
I’ll start from the very beginning.
Chapter 139 opens with a flashback to Chapter 131, where it is revealed that Eren actually spoke to Armin when he pulled him into the Paths Dimension.
It is here that Eren proves one of my past theories right, that he did the Rumbling to set up the Alliance as heroes to the world so he could protect them.
Is this a little too similar to Lelouch from Code Geass?
Yes but it certainly makes certain plot holes from prior chapters easier to solve, like why Eren didn’t have the Warhammer Titan remove the explosives.
As for the potential problem of Paradis being destroyed, Eren reveals that the Rumbling will kill 80% of humans outside the walls, giving the island a fighting chance.
The horrified look on Armin’s face following this declaration is really well drawn by Isayama.
From here, Isayama gives a great reflection of Eren and Armin’s friendship, as the two journey to lands they always dreamed of through Paths, which is something I really appreciated.
It is in these travels that Eren provides some more twists and it is here that my problems with the final chapter begin to pop up, and the first problem is by far the worst.
Eren tells Armin that the reason why Ymir didn’t go against King Fritz for 2000 years was because she was in love with him.
Yes, you heard right, Ymir was in love with the guy who killed her parents, enslaved her, used her as a weapon in war, raped her, and fed her dead body to their daughters.
I suspected Ymir was suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome, given that she sacrificed her life for King Fritz.
However, the problem is that the story does not seem to be classifying it as that.
Eren says that what Ymir felt for her abuser was actual love and then Isayama draws a parallel to Mikasa’s love for Eren by having Mikasa’s actions in Chapter 138 cause Ymir to be free from that burden of love, just like Mikasa freed herself.
The one thing you definitley don’t want to do is draw a parallel between your main couple and an incredibly abusive relationship, if you can even call Fritz using Ymir a relationship because I know I don’t.
Another reason I really don’t like this is because it makes me like Chapter 122 so much less to the point that I’m not sure that I can call it my favourite chapter anymore.
When I first read it, I interpreted Ymir following the King because of her stockholm syndrome, not of love but of enslavement.
Ymir had been a slave for so long that she didn’t know how to be anything else and so she continued to do as she was ordered for 2000 years until Eren freed her.
But, no, she did it because she apparently loved the guy who abused her for long, which still does not appear to be labeled as Stolkholm Syndrome, which it most certainly is.
Now, I’m not saying that Isayama actually believes that what Ymir had with Fritz is love, certainly not.
I’m just saying it was badly portrayed.
Also, what the heck even happened to Ymir anyway?
She was completley absent in this chapter.
Did she just disappear with the Titan realm?
It’s a shame because not only does all of this lessen my appreciation for “From You, 2000 Years Ago” but also because it is obviously quite problematic to portray Ymir’s feelings about King Fritz in this way.
Unfortunately, this is not the only problematic thing in this scene because later on Armin actually thanks Eren for becoming a mass murderer for their sake… yikes.
I’ll always defend Attack on Titan from those who claim that it is facist propaganda but if this is an accurate translation then Isayama really dropped the ball when considering the implications of this line.
It also seems quite out of character for Armin to thank Eren for killing potentially billions of innocent people.
Speaking of out of character, there’s also the reveal that Eren sent Dina to kill his mother to set them on this path.
Not only do I not believe Eren would do this but it is also brought up and then forgotten about in an instant.
You could completley remove this twist and nothing about the final chapter would change.
Then there’s Eren crying out about how he doesn’t want Mikasa to have any other man but him and how he wants her to be constantly thinking about him.
This scene seems like it’s being played for laughs but, given how it came after the reveal that Eren had murdered 80% of the human population and allowed Dina to kill his own mother, it feels really out of place.
Eren finally revealing his true feelings for Mikasa should have been played as serious rather than comedic.
We also get the teased final panel in this scene and it is actually not the final panel but rather a small flashback of Grisha telling Eren that he is free.
While I do like the symbolism of this, showing that Grisha changed his ways and also set Eren on his path to freedom, I do think that teasing this as one of the last panels was a mistake.
It led to too many fan theories and expectations, which naturally made a lot of people disappointed when their own theories didn’t turn out to be true.
In any case, following Eren’s goodbye to Armin, we then cut to the present where Eren being killed has caused the Hallucigenia to self destruct and turn all the Titans back into humans, including Jean, Connie and Gabi.
While this is quite convenient, I’m just personally glad that those three characters came back because I felt their goodbyes in Chapter 138 weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been.
Along with this, it’s revealed that Eren also sent most of the Alliance a goodbye, before erasing their memories of it.
This includes Mikasa, which doesn’t really make sense because she’s an Ackerman, so her memory shouldn’t have been able to be erased.
Although, maybe the memory she saw was the one Eren sent her right before she killed him in Chapter 138, so that would explain it.
Either way, this does lead to some pretty funny and moving moments, like Pieck comedically saying she wishes she could have spoke to Eren too and Falco running to reunite with Gabi, only for her to fling him in the air in excitement.
Following this, we get the absolute best moment of the final chapter.
The scene that actually made me tear up.
As Levi is resting up against a rock, he see his old comrades standing among the smoke, giving him the Survey Corps salute.
Levi says that this outcome is the result of their devoted hearts, before returning the salute and shedding a tear.
What an absolutley perfect way to conclude Levi’s arc.
It was beautiful and, in my opinion, the best conclusion of any character in this chapter.
Almost as beautiful was Jean and Connie seeing Sasha.
Following this heartfelt moment, Mikasa takes Eren’s head to bury it in the place the entire story began, just as Muller and the other Marleyan officers from Fort Salta arrive.
Muller is anxious about the Eldians, which is consistent from him seeing that they all transformed in Chapter 138.
I also like the line where he tells them to prove if they are humans or Titans, just like Eren was told to prove this when he transformed for the first time in the Trost Arc.
It is at this point that Armin strolls in and begins the peace negotiations, claiming that he was the one to kill Eren.
On this dramatic note, the chapter cuts to three years later and another one of my problems come in, this being Historia’s fate.
It is revealed that her pregancy went well and she now lives on her farm with her daughter and the farmer, who she married.
That’s right, those of us who thought Eren was the father looked too deep into it.
Now, I just want to say, this is not me criticizing Isayama’s choice to not make Eren the father.
That’s on me for looking too deep into it and getting invested in that theory.
More so, this is a criticism of Isayama pairing Historia up with the farmer of all people.
I just think it is poor writing to have a character, who was once so important, be completely sidelined and then married to an unamed character that no one cares about.
It is especially annoying when this is the replacement for a fantastic relationship, if Freckled Ymir and Historia really were supposed to be implied as romantic, which I like to think that they were.
Speaking of which, my headcanon is that Historia named her child after Ymir and I will not be accepting any arguments against that.
Jokes aside, I’m actually not going to hold the farmer being the father against this chapter.
No, that’s more a problem I have with its reveal in Chapters 107 and 108.
What I will hold against the chapter, though, is the completely baffling lack of importance surrounding the birth of Historia’s child.
With all of the themes about children, it seemed like Isayama wanted us to think there was going to be something important about this baby.
From Historia’s pregancy being the cliffhanger of the first chapter for the final arc, to her pregnancy constantly being brought up, despite her barely making an appearance, to her asking Eren what he would think about her having a child, to her being shown about to give birth right before the final battle.
All of this seemed like foreshadowing for the baby’s importance.
I thought it was going to be through a Founder Ymir reincarnation or, at the very least, a symbolic representation of freedom, with Historia’s child being the first Eldian born after the Titan curse had been removed.
Instead, her pregnancy was pointless and all of that build up and Historia being sidelined was for nothing.
It seems pretty clear now that Isayama had no idea what to do with Historia post time skip.
Oh, well, at least she seems happy and Isayama didn’t decide to just kill her off during childbirth.
Anyway, once this brief moment with Historia’s unimportant child is shown, we get another reveal that is controversial within the fandom but one that I actually like.
This is the reveal that the cycle of violence hasn’t truly ended because Paradis has formed an army to fight the remainder of the world if need be, with Eren being viewed as a martyr.
While many seem to think that this makes Eren’s actions pointless because the cycle isn’t over, I think it actually works well because Eren still gave the island a chance and it’s also representative of the real world.
Unfortunately, total unanimous peace just isn’t feasible.
There will always be violence, war and horrors throughout our history.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t good in the world, though, because as one of Attack on Titan‘s main themes states, “the world is cruel but it’s also beautiful.”
It is this world that the Alliance now seek to help make better, going on a diplomatic mission to Paradis where Historia and Kiyomi are waiting.
Speaking of Kiyomi, though, if she’s there then where’s Yelena?
Last we saw of her, she was on a boat in the ocean with Kiyomi and now she’s gone.
There’s another character Isayama didn’t know what to do with at the end but she wasn’t too much of an important character, so it’s thankfully not as bad as it is with Historia.
Back to the Alliance returning, we get one last goodbye with all these characters who we have come to know and love, with plenty of Isayama’s textbook humor on display, as the characters joke about Reiner’s crush on Historia and Jean looking like a horse.
The conversation then turns serious when Annie and Pieck wonder if they’ll really be welcomed as ambassadors to Paradis for the world but Connie says to trust in Historia and Armin tells them those on Paradis will want to know what they saw.
I wonder if this is implying that Armin’s narration throughout the story is actually him telling the people of Paradis what lead them all to this point.
That’s pretty cool if it’s true.
We also get a look at Levi, Gabi, Falco and Onyankopon living their lives in the outside world.
I’m really glad that all the surviving members of the Alliance got their own happy ending.
I’m pretty much satisfied with all of their conclusions.
The panel of Armin, Annie, Jean, Connie and Pieck looking up at the sky from their boat, right as Levi and the others do where they are, is striking.
We then get the final, touching scene of this fantastic story, as Mikasa rests at the titular tree on the hill where the story began, right next to Eren’s grave.
As she breaks down into tears about wanting to meet Eren once more, a bird flies down and wraps the rest of the scarf around her before taking off.
The manga ends with Mikasa looking up at this bird, thanking Eren for wrapping the scarf around her all those years ago.
Pretty fitting that the story ends with all of the characters looking up at the sky, at the freedom of birds and planes.
So, all in all, this final chapter is a mixed bag.
There is some really bad stuff about it, like the extremely problematic writing of the opening scene and Historia and her pregnancy’s treatment.
However, there is also some amazing stuff, like Levi’s tear jerking conclusion to his character arc and the final scenes with all the characters we love.
With this mixture of good and bad scenes, it creates a final chapter that I consider to be overall decent.
Not nearly as good as it could have been but still satisfying enough, nonetheless.
Yet, even though I am slightly disappointed with the ending, I still appreciate Hajime Isayama for gifting us with this amazing story that delivered some of the best characters and plot twists that I have experienced.
So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Hajime Isayama.
You have been hard at work on this story for over a decade and you should pat yourself on the back for all your hard work and the joy (and suffering) you brought to so many readers, myself included.
Attack on Titan will always remain as one of the greats for me and I can’t believe that it’s over.

4 thoughts on “Attack on Titan, The Final Chapter, Toward the Tree on That Hill Review: A Conflicting Ending for My Favourite Story.

  1. I’m so baffled as a Hisu fan. I kept giving the benefit of doubt but no I don’t understand how he didn’t know for her post time skip role should be. Her pregnancy was pointless in ever sense and the weird undertone that she had a child for a plan goes against her character in relation to her mom. But what’s weird that in a arc name Ragnarok her child wasn’t named Ymir. In fact her name meaning history never meant anything! Ugh. She was done so dirty! and now she the but of so many sexist jokes ( she got farmed! Lol). He should got rid of her and never have made her get pregnant.

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  2. I don’t get it at all. If it were a Dbz can’t catch up thing I would understand but it seems to be just Historia that got this sidelining and then to make her a red herring is worse. I know people hate her Japan or people only like her when she paired with Ymir( Krista self too), but this seems like personal bias against her. I can only hope he seems some criticism and changes things like he did in uprising arc. Sorry for the vent.

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    1. Like thinking more about it, it does seem very strange. She was the biggest parallel to Ymir(both) but at the last minute that was dropped, The fact she can also get titan memories was dropped, the fact she said “ I’ll come to there recuse no matter where or when” was dropped even though it gave her huge relevance to save OG Ymir. It’s almost like he was told to change her role cause he clearly foreshadow her to at the very least be thematic important.

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