Thankfully picking up without a recap of what happened in the last episode, Episode 23 of Attack on Titan‘s final season, “Sunset” is great set-up for what is to come.
Directed by Mitsue Yamazaki, the episode begins in Trost District, displaying the horrific side effect Eren’s Rumbling has on the people of Paradis.
With all of the walls crumbling, many houses have collapsed, a lot them with people still inside.
Hundreds are probably dead from this, and we see Hitch helping care for the survivors, only to have to go and gather riot gear when fanatical Jeagerist citizens get into an argument with those who have lost family members in the Rumbling by saying their sacrifices were worth it.
It just goes to show that even if Eren does destroy the world, infighting on Paradis will not end.
As for Hitch, when she goes to gather the riot gear, she notices wet footprints coming from the basement where Annie’s crystal was stashed.
Realizing the warrior is now free, Hitch goes after her, only to find herself remarkably out of her depth as the awakened Annie holds her hostage easily.
But maybe not because Annie is still in a weakened state, allowing Hitch to throw her to the floor, comparing her to a grandma.
However, as Hitch is calling for help, Annie reveals she has cut herself, leaving Hitch no choice but to help her out of fear of the warrior transforming.
Hitch takes this as well as she can, joking that she won’t have to see Annie’s face anymore, to which Annie hits back by saying she won’t have to listen to Hitch complaining about men, revealing she was concious the entire time.
This is a nice way of justifying not needing to explain to Annie all that has happened since she entered the crystal.
The two of them then take off on the horse, looking up at the advancing Rumbling as they go, which looks absolutley incredible.
Seriously, I’m amazed at how well Mappa has done at animating the Rumbling so far.
They have honestly done a better job with the CGI Colossal Titans than WIT.
Not to say that Mappa is better than WIT, no, the two studios just both have things they are better at than the other.
Back to Annie and Hitch, this is the moment where we finally get Annie’s full backstory.
It’s revealed that her birth was the result of an affair between an Eldian and a Marleyan.
She was then raised by an Eldian man with a similar situation to her, who trained her to become a warrior, all so that he could live a better life.
This resulted in Annie eventually breaking the man’s leg and then gaining a complete indifference to human life, including her own.
But then, on the day she left, the man who raised her broke down, begging her to come back home to him, now loving her as his daughter.
This is why she fought so hard to get home and why, if it ends with her seeing her father one more time, she would do it all again.
I like this motivation for Annie.
It is certainly cold, saying she would do the horrific things she did again, but it has understandable reasoning, since she did it all to get back to a loved one.
There is also some great humor here as well, with Hitch interrupting Annie by asking her if this is her life story or something.
Of course it all turns serious when Hitch states that Annie will most likely only find a corpse when she gets home.
Que the perfect cut to Annie’s father and the rest of the Eldians in Liberio arguing with their guards about the Rumbling being started, which they learned when Eren alerted them through the Paths.
The guards, however, do not believe them and place them under arrest, leading to Annie’s father starting a revolt when he remembers Annie’s tearful face when she promised him she would come home.
Back on Paradis, Shadis hears a gunshot before telling the trainees to wait for their moment to take on the Jeagerists, while Armin prepares to go and stop Connie from feeding Falco to his mother.
Armin tells Mikasa they need Gabi’s help to convince Reiner and Pieck to stop the fighting, which means they need Falco too, so he will tell Connie his mother should just stay a Titan for peace.
Mikasa then asks Armin what she should do and Armin says to help Jean.
This is a curious line from Armin because it appears to be changed from the manga, where Armin tells her to think for herself, not to think of how she should help Jean.
Unless this is not a translation error on either the manga or the anime’s part, this is a pretty odd change to make, since it goes from Armin seemingly pointing out how Mikasa often struggles to think for herself, to him just advising her to help Jean.
Either way, what follows is the same as the manga, with Mikasa predictably asking about Eren, leading to Armin exploding at her, ending with him saying that Erwin should have been chosen over him, before departing.
This was a sad moment for Armin, although I did find it humorous how Historia is just randomly thrown into the conversation.
It really is a shame how little screen time she is getting.
Back to the scene at hand, once Armin leaves, Mikasa notices that her scarf is missing.
I am not looking forward to the answer of where it is in the next episode.
Armin then goes outside, where Gabi is saying her goodbyes to the Braus family, telling Kya her real name, before she and Armin depart to save Falco.
Back inside the building, Floch has shot a volunteer who resisted as a fear tactic against the rest of them.
In answer to Jean’s demand of who made him king, Floch responds that Eren came to him with his plan for the Rumbling ten months ago, going on a rant about how the volunteers’ only hope is to side with the Eldian Empire now that their homelands will be destroyed and their family’s butchered.
Floch really is a great antagonist.
He is a perfect example of how nationalism can twist a person.
Case and point, when he brutally executes the volunteer he shot when he resists further, which, by the way, is much more brutal in the manga.
As Mikasa arrives, Floch then speaks to Jean, telling him to go back to the way he was in Season One, shocking Jean who is then struck with guilt upon seeing Onyankopon staring at him.
On another note, the ost during this scene is, once again, incredible.
It gives Floch this villanous theme, one that is further established when he lies about Zeke killing Hange and Levi.
The credits then role, while showing Connie taking Falco to his village.
Connie has used Falco’s memory loss to his advantage but still feels guilty about what he plans to do to Falco, since he is a good kid, even though sacrificing him would bring back his mother.
Much like the resolution to the scarf scene though, I am not excited to see this subplot play out next episode.
With the credits coming to an end, the post credits scene then sees Pieck and Magath being approached by Hange for unknown purposes.
Levi is with her, alive but horribly injured, and Hange calls him a “harmless fellow who refuses to die.”
Refuses to die?
Oh, most definitley.
Overall, “Sunset” is a pretty great set-up episode, with some excellent animation and visuals.
As for the end result of this set-up… well, let’s just say I’m interested to see the anime only reactions to it and leave it at that for the spoiler free section.
Manga Spoiler Section:
Okay, so I can’t be the only one really intrigued to see how anime only viewers will interpret the next episode, right?
Chapter 126, “Pride”, is one of Attack on Titan‘s most controversial chapters.
It is the point that many manga readers began to become concerned about where the direction the ending was heading because of the way the chapter was written.
While I do think that the chapters following “Pride” are a million times better, and am looking forward to the adaptations of them, I am still dreading the next episode because “Pride” is definitley in my top five least favourite chapters of the series.
It is an extremely rushed chapter, with numerous scene gaps, unearned comedy, and one of the worst subplots of the entire series as a key focus, this being the Connie and Falco subplot.
Still, there are moments I am looking forward to, like the beginning scene with Hange and Levi, and Jean and Onyankopon’s development.
Plus, I think we can count on Mappa to make the episode visually interesting, at least.
But, no matter what my thoughts on the next episode are, I can still say that it had some pretty great set-up with “Sunset.”