I was quite excited coming into Episode 25 of Attack on Titan‘s final season, “Night of the End.”
The reason for this is that I consider the chapter the episode adapts, Chapter 127, to be one of the best alliance chapters.
It certainly leaves a better impression after the weak coming togethor of the alliance in the previous episode.
So, imagine my disappointment when I saw the clear animation issues in “Night of the End.”
It was blantly obvious when watching this episode that there were problems with the budget, resulting in what I think is unfortunately one of the weakest adaptations of a chapter in the entire anime.
Directed by Mitsue Yamazaki, “Night of the End” begins with Jean imagining his future in a post Rumbling world, where he is married to a woman who appears to be Mikasa and has a child with her.
This high life in the interior with a family has been Jean’s dream from the beginning, however, he is naturally dragged away from it by his morals when Hange shows up and calls him outside to meet her and Mikasa.
Taking refuge in an abandoned house, Hange announces to Jean and Mikasa that she has joined up with the remaining Marleyans to stop Eren, asking for their support.
Mikasa is quick to agree, not wanting Eren to massacre the billions of people outside the walls, yet Jean is more cautious, understandably pointing out that if they stop Eren then the rest of the world will most likely destroy them.
This all leads to Hange recalling her dead comrades in a similar way to how Erwin did in the Return to Shiganshina Arc.
Here, Hange implies that characters like Erwin and Miche would have been against the Rumbling, a subject that still inspires debate among manga readers, even after the ending.
Whatever your thoughts are on this implication, though, the effect Hange’s words have on Jean is clear, as he also imagines seeing Marco looking at him with a reassuring look, convincing him to take a moral stance rather than a logical one.
This is who Jean is.
When push comes to shove, he has always put his own morals first, even if it impedes his goals of earning a nice life for himself.
He is such a great character and his development in this episode only gets better, which is why it is such a shame that the impact this beginning scene could have had is watered down significantly by the animation issues.
Instead of focusing on Jean, Hange and Mikasa’s expressions as they discuss stopping Eren, the shots focus on the walls and windows.
It is quite clear that they are trying to save the budget for future episodes, which is understandable, but it comes at the expence of this episode.
Once this scene is over, we then cut to the main focus of “Night of the End”, which is the campfire talks and arguments between the Scouts and the Warriors.
If you thought that there was not enough conflict during the formation of the alliance last episode, like I did, then this episode alleviates some of these issues by giving us that conflict.
It begins with Magath, who states that the Scouts have finally learned which side is standing for justice, an absurd statement given all that he has done, which Jean rightfully calls him out on, pointing out that if they had never attacked then Eren never would have started the Rumbling because his mother would not have been killed.
Hange eventually puts an end to this back and forth argument, only for Annie to ask an important question: can they kill Eren?
When Armin suggests talking to Eren first, this leads to Annie stating that if she or any of the other Warriors try to kill Eren, then they will just try to stop them, especially Mikasa.
Mikasa takes this as a threat, advancing towards Annie.
Although, advancing is probably the wrong word here.
In the manga she advances on Annie, here she just draws her sword because, again, it really feels like there were some budgetary issues at play.
To be fair, though, this is certainly not as bad as the other animation issues, it’s more of a minor thing.
The impact of this moment is still there, with Annie and Mikasa eventually coming to an understanding, as Annie explains she just wants to save her father and if Eren can be convinced to stop then it will be fine by her.
The reason this impact still holds is because we get clear shots of both of these characters’ faces while their conflict is playing out, which unfortunately cannot be said for the next scene, where Magath asks Yelena where Eren is.
What do we focus on this time?
An important discussion about the location of the protaganist turned antagonist is happening and we’re focusing on random trees instead of the characters we are following.
Thankfully, the shots quickly cut back to the characters when Yelena is called out for secretly being a Marleyan by Pieck, leading Yelena to calling out everyone at the campfire for their prior crimes.
Jean hits back by sarcastically mocking her, acting as though she said all of this just to clear the air.
This was a mistake on his part, though, because Yelena is certainly vindictive, using Jean’s sarcasm as an oppurtunity to create more conflict by bringing up Marco’s death, leading to Reiner finally revealing to Jean what really happened to his friend… while the shots focus on the trees once more.
Again, we should be focusing on the characters’ inner turmoil through their facial expressions, not random bits of the environment that have no meaning.
Oh, I have heard some state that the extensive focus on the trees was actually symbolism for the escaping the forest theme but this theory rings hollow for me.
If the shots of the trees were quick and we spent most of the time on the characters, I could buy it.
What I can’t buy is the person who storyboarded the episode deciding to mostly focus on trees during an entire complex conversation for the sake of symbolism that would have only taken a few shots to convey.
Not to mention that the random shots of the wall in the opening scene undermine this.
If the trees were supposed to convey the escaping the forest theme, then what the heck was the point of the wall and window shots, that the characters were confined but had a window out or something?
Thankfully, we actually focus on the characters when Jean snaps and attacks Reiner after he expresses his guilt for killing Marco and aplogizes.
I can also praise this scene for how well Jean’s beatdown of Reiner is animated.
What stops Jean from beating Reiner further is Gabi, who jumps in front of one of his kicks, before she and Falco beg Jean and the rest of the 104th to help them stop the Rumbling, as Gabi profusely apologises for her prior hatred of them, completing her redemption arc in my mind.
Jean is still understandably conflicted and marches off, while Levi sits up and complains that the group is being too noisy.
While this is a good gag, I am disappointed that we did not see Levi call Annie out for killing his Squad all the way back in the Female Titan Arc.
I’m not saying he would deliberately endanger the mission to get revenge on her but I think he should have at least mentioned Petra’s father coming to him after Annie killed her.
This could have lead to some interesting development for Annie, who is trying to get back to her father and is now forced to contemplate how many parents she robbed of ever seeing their children again.
It could have been a fantastic moment of self reflection for her and I think it was a real missed oppurtunity.
What is not a missed oppurtunity, however, is Magath’s development because, despite showing his Marleyan racism earlier in the episode, he now reaches out to comfort Gabi, before pulling back as he realizes what he is doing, the conflict in him clear.
Where this conflict goes I will not spoil but I am looking forward to it.
The next morning Gabi is awoken by Jean who says he will still help them stop the Rumbling, once again proving himself as a moral person, before he humorously yanks Reiner awake, stating that his injuries should have healed by now.
Jean is definitley the highlight of this episode.
Following this, the alliance head off to the port to try and find Kiyomi Azumabito’s plane, which they hope will help them reach Eren.
During this time, Jean apologizes to Gabi for kicking her but tells Reiner he will not be getting an apology to which Reiner accepts.
However, there is a cut here that quite damages this scene, in my opinion.
This is the following line from the manga where Jean says he cannot forgive Reiner, to which he also accepts.
Annie then interjects by asking if she could ever be forgiven.
The forgiveness lines are cut from the anime, so when Annie asks “and me?” it appears that she is asking Jean if he will apologize to her, to which I say, “for what?”
Annie was rightfully called out for her part to play in Marco’s murder.
She is the one who should be apologising, not Jean.
The anime really damaged this moment because it makes Annie look uncaring and selfish, rather than seeking forgiveness for Marco’s death.
Unfortunately, this is not the only cut scene that involves Annie because, when Reiner is beat unconcious by Jean, we see Annie caring for him in the manga but not in the anime.
This is not a huge detail but it was a nice moment of showing Annie’s sympathy and I wish it was kept.
Back to the final scene, as the alliance approach the port, Pieck arrives to announce that the Jeagerists have taken control of it, and we see that Kiyomi is a hostage of Floch, bringing an end to the episode.
Overall, despite having better writing than the previous episode, I would still say that “Night of the End” is one of the weakest adaptations of the manga because of the obvious animation issues that plague it, such as randomly focusing on walls, windows and trees.
Having seen the quality of the animation for Episode 26 “Traitor”, I understand that the animation for certain scenes in “Night of the End” had to be so limited in order to make the action scenes of the coming episodes look better, most likely due to budgetary problems.
Still, it is disappointing to me that the anime adaptation of one of my favourite alliance chapters is so watered down.
I’m not saying it’s a bad episode but it is definitley disappointing.
The writing is still top notch, though, with Jean’s character arc being a standout, proving why he is one of Attack on Titan‘s best characters.
I was quite excited coming into Episode 25 of Attack on Titan‘s final season, “Night of the End.”