I can still remember reading Chapter 118 of Attack on Titan for the first time and being quite impressed with all of the standout character moments.
Well, I am pleased to say that Mappa adapted this chapter amazingly, for the most part.
Directed by Jun Shishido, “Sneak Attack” begins by recapping the last few minutes of the previous episode, again showing us Armin tell everyone that Eren was probably lying about Mikasa, and that he is most likely just using Zeke and Yelena.
Last episode had a recap beginning as well and, honestly, I’m finding them to be a bit annoying.
It’s clear they’re just doing it to pad for time so they can adapt one chapter per episode.
Once the recap of the previous episode is over, the other characters quickly come to the conclusion that they have to help Eren, with Jean even admitting that he envied Eren because he found him to be “cool,” a great moment of growth for him.
Afterwards, the 104th go to suit up so they can help Eren fight off Marley and, while running, Mikasa questions Armin’s reasoning for Eren lying.
This causes Armin to remember Eren’s final line in the Season Three finale about destroying their enemies beyond the sea.
He realizes something because of this but chooses to stay quiet, instead focusing on how he and Eren both knew about Mikasa’s headaches so Eren used it to make his lie more convincing.
We then get another recap of Eren and Reiner’s fight, followed up by a kind of underwhelming moment when Porco attacks Eren, only for him to be punched away.
This, and Eren’s glare at Reiner when he is being held down, just had a lot more impact in the manga.
However, this worrying start then turns amazing when Eren begins to rip Reiner’s jaw apart.
Eren’s scream mixed with his Titan roar gave me goosebumps, as did Zeke arriving to save his little brother.
The Beast Titan was completely CGI in Part One of the Final Season but he appears to be mostly 2D in this episode and looks absolutely fantastic.
This animation only gets better when Zeke throws his crunched up boulders at Marley’s airships, causing them to crash into each other and explode.
As this is happening, Eren begins making his way towards Zeke, limping as he does so, which is a great showcase of the brain damage his Titan received from the constant heads shots from Pieck’s Anti-Titan Canon.
The Marleyan forces struggle to combat this, with Pieck and Magath forced to go on the defensive against Floch and the Jeagerists, and Colt and Gabi going to rescue Falco.
They don’t really have to though because the 104th set out to free everyone the Jeagerists are holding captive, including Falco and Nile.
Nile tries to comfort Falco before they are freed, saying this may be his chance to get home, while he may sadly never see his daughters again, even though there is so much he wants to tell them.
Along with Falco and Nile, Shadis and Pyxis are also freed, the latter of which prepares to lead his men who have drunk Zeke’s contaminated wine in the last ditch stand.
Mikasa also prepares for battle, Louise with her, and at that moment she decides to leave her scarf behind, something she has never done before.
Now, surely I am including this as one of the many great character growth moments in this episode, right?
Well, unfortunately, no, I’m not.
The reason for why though is manga spoilers so I’ll detail the reasons why I found this scene off putting in the manga section below.
Once the 104th are all geared up, they go outside, where we see two iconic Yelena panels adapted.
The first of these is her basking in the glory of Zeke’s destruction of the airships which is, again, fantastically animated.
The second of these is her troll face, when Armin tells everyone they don’t have time to focus on Levi and Hange’s status, as they should instead focus on helping Eren and Zeke.
Yelena’s threatening troll face that follows is great and a moment that I’m sure gave a lot of anime only viewers a few nervous chuckles.
As if these Yelena moments weren’t standout enough, we then get Nile, Floch and Gabi’s development in what is the best scene of the entire episode.
Colt and Gabi come across Nile, Falco and the other wine poisoned military police.
Falco sees Colt and tells Nile who, instead of attacking, takes Falco to his brother, freeing him.
Nile might not have much of a hope of seeing his daughters again but he made sure to help a little boy alone on the battlefield.
It is interesting how Isayama actually started Nile off like an antagonist, having him trying to get Eren taken in by the Military Police, where he probably would have been given to Rod Reiss to pass on his Titan.
Then, Isayama pulled back the layers to reveal Nile as a sympathetic character also fighting for humanity, all leading to this moment where he helps Falco.
Next, comes Gabi’s big moment of character development, as she stops Colt from attacking Nile and then, after overhearing Kya talk about how she wants to kill Gabi for killing Sasha, finally admits to herself that she was wrong about the people of Paradis being devils.
Her tearfully announcing this is her biggest moment and it is made better in the anime, through the new shots of open bird cages, showing how Gabi has just begun to free herself from the cycle of violence.
Falco also frees himself in a sense by finally confessing not just his involvement in the attack on Liberio, leading to Udo and Zofia’s deaths, but also his feelings for Gabi.
His awkward confession is genuinely sweet and leads to another excellent moment of growth for Gabi, as she tears off Falco’s black armband, just like he tore off her Eldian one before they meet Kya.
The three then go to warn Zeke about Falco ingesting the spinal fluid, in the hope that this will convince him not to scream.
They almost did not need to worry, though, because it is then we get the titular “Sneak Attack,” with Pieck and Magath showing off their intelligence by launching a near fatal attack on Zeke.
First, they have Pieck emerge from her Titan, causing it to disintegrate, making the Jeagerists think the have defeated her.
Then, the Marleyans ambush Floch and the other Jeagerists.
Finally, Magath fires the Anti-Titan Canon at Zeke in the hopes of killing Zeke.
Unfortunately for them, and Falco, Zeke is still alive so there is still a chance that he could scream if he is given the chance to recover on the ground wher he has fallen, ending the episode.
Overall, “Sneak Attack” is a fantastic adaptation of Chapter 118.
My only criticisms are that the recaps are slightly annoying and the Mikasa scarf scene loses a lot of impact for me with hindsight.
Otherwise, it’s a great episode, and I am even more excited for the next one because it will be adapting one of my favourite chapters of the entire series, Chapter 119, “Two Brothers.”
Now, I will talk about the issue I have with the Mikasa leaving her scarf behind scene.
This scene had me excited when I first read it in the manga because I thought it would be a turning point for her character.
Yes, I did think the scarf would work its way back to her through Louise based off her looking at it, but I at least thought this would all result in Mikasa potentially distancing herself from Eren.
Instead, Mikasa ends up doubling down on her Eren obsession, despite her ending up killing him in Chapter 138.
This whole thing of her leaving the scarf behind just seems pointless in retrospect.
Mikasa is a character who my opinion on really suffered when I reread the series for my Top Ten Chapters list.
I am not saying that she never develops, but she is a character with so many missed opportunities.
She could have developed so much through her Ackerman and Hizuru heritage, along with leaving the scarf behind and her connection to Louise but these chances for further development are never taken.
It makes me wonder how I will view future Mikasa scenes in the anime.
Is the hindsight of how her story ends also going to make those less impactful for me?
I certainly hope not.