If I was excited to see Episode 19 of Attack on Titan, then I was practically shaking with anticipation at the thought of seeing my favourite chapter, 121, “Memories of the Future”, adapted.
Directed by Koki Aoshima, the episode is another fantastic adaptation of the manga, making my favourite chapter also one of my favourite episodes.
All things considered, there are some things that keep it from definitley being my favourite but I will get to these issues later.
“Memories of the Future” picks up from where “Two Brothers” left off, with Zeke bringing Eren into their father Grisha’s memories to try and prove to him that their father brainwashed him.
They travel for years in his memory, with the opening scene of the episode adapting the rest of Chapter 120.
As Zeke and Eren view Grisha raising a baby Eren, Zeke takes a moment to deliver a snide comment about Grisha forgetting his first son, not realising that this couldn’t be further from the truth.
From here, the brothers continue to travel Grisha’s memories, until Zeke comes across a memory of Grisha trying to manipulate one of the nobles from the Uprising Arc into revealing the location of the Reiss family.
Zeke uses this as an example of Grisha’s cruelty, as this act endangered his family, but Eren only replies with some nicely handled sarcasm.
We then get small cameos from Hannes and Kenny, before we get the big moment where Grisha uncovers the Reiss family cavern, shocking Eren and Zeke because Grisha is not supposed to steal the Founding Titan for years to come.
It is at this moment that Zeke finally realizes his father did learn from his mistakes, as Grisha abandons his plan to steal the Founding Titan to go back and live with his family in Shiganshina.
On another note, I did like how the anime fixed a mistake from the manga here.
In the original Chapter 121, when Grisha is about to go steal the Founding Titan but changes his mind, he is not wearing glasses, when he was already shown wearing them by that point.
The anime adds these glasses.
It’s an admittedly small change but one that works better with the continuity of events.
Another cool addition that the anime adds, is a brief flash of memory from Zeke of Grisha looking disappointed in him from Chapter 114, once again showing how Grisha has changed, which Zekes admits in the next scene, down in Grisha’s basement.
However, Zeke then doubles down, stating that despite Eren not being brainwashed he is still not his true self because he is acting as Grisha wants him to, once again unaware of the painful reality.
This reality is hinted at when Grisha awakens and somehow sees Zeke, which should not even be possible because it is a memory.
Before Zeke can figure out what this means, Eren declares that they will go to the next memory, ending the adaptation of Chapter 120, and moving into the adaptation of my favourite chapter.
This adaptation begins with the exploration of who Eren is as a person, as when Zeke agaim demands to know why Eren betrayed him, Eren replies that he has always been this way, since birth, leading into Eren showing Zeke how he killed Mikasa’s kidnappers to rescue her.
It is here that my first minor criticism of the episode comes in and that is the censorship.
Eren and Mikasa killing the kidnappers was much bloodier in Season One and it was toned down here for some reason, which was disappointing because it really makes Eren’s statement that he will take away the freedom of those who try to take his have less impact.
In any case, Eren uses this statement to insult Zeke, pretty much calling him a slave to defying what Grisha wanted.
Zeke counters this by sarcastically replying that if that is the case then Grisha should be considered a hero for putting Zeke on the path of saving the world (that’s an odd way to say genocide, Zeke).
Eren, however, is not listening to this, instead watching the memory of himself wrapping Mikasa in his scarf all those years ago.
Following this, we get another cool anime addition, with a visual allusion to Zeke’s bond with Tom Ksaver, through a father playing ball with his son.
We also get the next showcase of how Grisha can somehow see Eren because he looks right at him when he is locking up the information about the outside world in his secret compartment.
We then get a Mappa recreation of the scene where Grisha leaves in Episode One of the series.
One detail I did find kind of funny in this part of the episode is Zeke’s face when he’s listening to Mikasa turn Eren in to his parents for wanting to join the Scouts.
He looks like he’s received some world shattering information but it’s a normal scene.
Made me chuckle a bit.
We then see that when Grisha told a young Eren that he would show him the basement, he was actually looking at future Eren when he said this.
However, I’m not entirely sure that these shots line up.
They do line up in the manga, but because the Season One adaptation of the scene was shot different it is not the case for this adaptation and, if you notice that, it can be a bit offputting.
The offputing stuff continues in the next scene, where Grisha finally confronts Freida and the rest of the Reiss family because Frieda’s character designs are quite inconsistent, with it looking like she transforms into a different character in between shots.
It is minor issues like these things that keep me from definitively stating that this is my favourite episode of the series, like the chapter it adapts is my favourite of the manga.
“Memories of the Future” is still among the best episodes despite these issues, with the rest of the adaptation being mostly stellar.
First, we have the argument between Grisha and the possessed Freida Reiss, who advocates for the Eldians of Paradis’ extermination by the Marleyans, so no one outside the walls will die.
Grisha then cuts Frieda off when she tries to explain that he could not use the Founding Titan power if he had it, explaining that he knows this.
When Freida questions how he could, we get the big reveal that the Attack Titan can see the memories of its future successors.
This is why Grisha has been able to see Eren and Zeke when they entered his memories.
In the past, Grisha was seeing Eren’s future memories of this moment, allowing a two way communication between the past and the future, all through memories.
It is one of the most brilliant uses of time travel I have ever had the pleasure of reading and witnessing, and Hajime Isayama deserves all the praise for it.
He deserves even more praise for it because of what comes next, as it is revealed that Grisha could not bring himself to kill the Reiss family at first, until Eren manipulated him into doing it through the future memories by repeating Kruger’s words to him.
I was interested to see what ost would be played during this shocking scene but it was completley silent, which I actually liked.
It reminded me a lot of the “Midnight Sun” episode, where they had no music to let the power of the voice acting have more impact.
However, the impact of this shocking moment is again lessened somewhat by the censorship.
At least the excitement picks up in quality right after, with one of the best scenes in all of Attack on Titan.
After Grisha has killed the Reiss family, and left their destroyed chapel, he stumbles from his Titan form and begins to scream in despair over how he killed them all, including the children.
This scene is even massively improved from the manga, something I did not think was possible, as the animation for Grisha’s movement is absolutely stellar.
And it is here that I must praise Hiroshi Tsuchida, Grisha’s voice actor.
He did an absolutely incredible job this episode, delivering what is honestly one of the greatest performances in the entirety of the anime so far.
It only gets better from here, as Grisha begins talking to Zeke, telling him of how he knows Eren will get what he wants because of his future memories but that it will be horrible.
Grisha then looks up and sees Zeke through the future memories of Eren, which causes him to leap to his feet and sob as he apologises to Zeke for how terribly he treated him as a child, embracing him and telling him that he loves him.
The reconciliation of Zeke and Grisha made me tear up when I first read it in the manga and it made me tear up when I saw it adapted in the anime.
It also speaks to the greatness of Isayama’s writing, that he can make us cry over two characters who have done horrible things.
Grisha just killed an entire family, and Zeke just killed Colt and Titanized Pyxis, Nile and countless others in the previous episode, and yet I still cried for them here.
As he hugs his son, Grisha begs Zeke to stop Eren, who Zeke jumps away from, throwing him out of the memories and back into Paths, as Eren looks down at him determined, the younger brother now having the upper hand.
And so ends the adaptation of my favourite chapter of Attack on Titan.
Aside from some censorship and character design issues, this was an absolutey fantastic episode that is among Attack on Titan’s best.
One interesting change from the manga that I wanted to talk about is a brief shot that we get before the scene cuts to the aftermath of Eren killing Mikasa’s kidnappers.
This addition is a brief glimpse of the “you aree free” panel from the final chapter, serving as yet another nail in the coffin of the anime original ending theory, a coffin which is already six feet under at this point.
Another change is that we see young Eren’s face when he wraps Mikasa in the scarf and, if you look close, you can see that he blushing.
This is kind of morbidly funny considering that Eren killed a bunch of people before this point.
On the other hand, it is some new foreshadowing for Eremika, which was sorely needed in the manga.
Not to say there was no buildup for their relationship, as Mikasa received plenty of it, however there were only really three prior moments before the ending where I thought that Eren might feel the same.
Other than that, he just did not appear to like her romantically to me, so new additions like the blush are a good thing, even if they are subtle.
Finally, let’s talk about the next episode, which will adapt what used to be my favourite chapter, “From You, 2000 Years Ago.”
I say “used to be” because the ending recontextualized the chapter in such a negative way for me, that it got kicked from my number one spot to all the way out of my top ten.
The reveal that Ymir was in love with her abuser the whole time, despite having absolutley zero reason to love him, and the reveal that she was waiting for Mikasa to free her, despite them having little to no similarities before the final chapter, really polluted my view of the Ymir backstory chapter.
So, now that we’re finally going to see that chapter adapted, I’m wondering if I’ll feel the same way when watching it.
Hopefully, I’ll be able to get into the mindset I had when I first read the chapter, which should allow me to enjoy it.
If I can’t, though, then I think I’ll finish the episode with a bitter feeling, since it could have remained my favourite part of the story if Ymir character had not been botched at the end.
Well, at least I can say that “Memories of the Future” is still amazing, with one of the most creative time travel mechanics in fiction, which Isayama should be very proud of achieving.