Attack on Titan Season Three Review: Proves Itself to be One of the Greatest Modern Anime.

5 stars
After I saw season two of Attack on Titan, I became convinced that this anime was going to be one of the the most deep and well thought out series of recent years.
Needless to say, when season three finally started last year, I was overjoyed at being proven right.
Directed by Tetsuro Araki, Attack on Titan‘s third season adapts the Uprising and Return to Shiganshina Arcs from Hajime Isayama’s original manga and does it gloriously.
Both arcs are very different in tone, the first arc being more political while the second is more action oriented, and both are fantastic.
Many people were complaining about how, in two seasons, Attack on Titan was not delivering any answers to many of the burning questions fans had.
Well, this season gave us plenty of answers, and then some, in what has to be among the best exposition sequences of all time.
The anime spent so much time building up the basement reveal, and finally shows the history of the Titans in one big episode, “That Day.”
A lot was riding on this episode so it had to deliver big time, and it somehow did that in spades.

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Grisha’s backstory in “That Day” is the perfect way to do an exposition episode.

“That Day” is basically one big exposition dump and yet it is one of my favourite, if not my absolute favourite, episode of the entire series.
Although, it is a close call between that and “Midnight Sun” because both are amazing for very different reasons.
There are just so many blind blowing episodes in this second arc, which makes sense since it is the best one of the series so far.
As for the first arc of the season, the Uprising Arc, it is heavily changed from the manga, where was a lot slower paced.
In the anime, many of the events in this arc were switched around or removed entirely to create a more natural flow, which I think worked out well.
Sure, it is a shame that some characters who got development in the manga did not get that here but the anime version is better paced for it, with great episodes like “Wish” delivering the perfect amount of action, exposition, and character drama.
That is another thing I especially love about this season: how it continues to develop its amazing cast of characters.
Armin, Erwin, Historia, Levi and Grisha are the definite standouts this season, with so much backstory and  amazing moments given to them.

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Characters like Historia get a lot of development this season, causing them to become some of my favourites.

This results in some gut wrenching moments when these characters are at their lowest points, and some crowd pleasing moments when they are at their highest.
Even characters with smaller roles in the overall story, like Kenny and those introduced in Grisha’s backstory, are memorable and well developed.
Then there is the animation and music, which are both stellar.
Episodes like “Pain” and “Hero” show off the best animation the anime has had to date with Levi’s impressive skills.
One of the few parts where I found that the animation faltered was with the CGI Colossal Titan but the rest of the animation is so jaw dropping that it more than makes up for it.
As for the music, once again I will be adding many of these OSTs to my Spotify so I can listen to them over and over again.
I have said before that Attack on Titan has my favourite soundtrack of any series and this season topped many of the already amazing songs seen in the previous seasons.
This fantastic usage of animation and music helps to build on the suspense and action that is happening on screen.
With this, the story builds to a contemplative conclusion in “The Other Side of the Wall” where Eren is put at a crossroads, which will lead him to a point of no return next season.

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The final episode of the season sees our main characters reach their goal, only to realize they are facing an entirely new threat.

Speaking of which, season four is confirmed to be the final season, and with the manga currently in its final arc, it looks like the anime and manga may be set to end around the same time.
I am very excited to see how Hajime Isayama will end his masterwork of a story.
However, It will be interesting to see if season four takes a break in between arcs, like season three did.
Actually, I think it will be more interesting to see whether of not we will be told, if it this happen.
This is my one big gripe with season three of Attack on Titan. 
We only found out about the six month hiatus when the first arc ended, displaying a sad lack of communication on Wit Studio’s part.
This does not affect my opinion of the season, since the wait was more than worth it, but I would appreciate more transparency if this does happen again.
I also hope Wit Studio can work on Attack on Titan’s final season because rumors are still floating around that they may hand it over to another studio.

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The fourth and final season of Attack on Titan airs in 2020, starting with the Marley Arc where new and interesting characters, and perspectives will be introduced.

Overall, though, many people are now rightly calling Attack on Titan one of the best anime in modern times, and I am glad to see it getting this well deserved recognition.
I cannot wait for the final season where the story will go to much darker places and, hopefully, end on a satisfying note.

Attack on Titan, Season 3, episode 18, Midnight Sun Review: New Greatest Episode.

5 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Well, it took a while but my favourite episode of Attack on Titan, “Warrior”, has finally been overtaken.
I was looking forward to this episode the moment I read the chapter of it last year, and Midnight Sun” does not disappoint.
The story picks up in the aftermath of the almost as amazing “Hero” from last week, and centers around what has to be one of the most difficult choices in anime history.
If Attack on Titan was an RPG, and I was playing Levi at that moment, I would have no idea what to do.
This choice makes for the most emotional moment of the entire series, with me crying not once but twice.
What makes these emotional scenes so great is the spectacular voice acting.
Literally every member of the cast brings their A game to this episode, especially Yûki Kaigi and Yui Ishikawa who give their best performances as Eren and Mikasa so far.
What makes their performances even more powerful is the almost complete lack of music, which is very striking because it allows the emotion behind the characters’ pain come through greatly.
As far as I can remember, there are only two instances of actual music being played and both are superb.
The episode does not even play the opening, which is how you know it means business going in.
Along with all this comes more hints to future episodes of the season, with me believing the next one could even top “Midnight Sun” because it will be adapting my favourite chapter from the manga.
We will have to wait and see though and, at least until then, Midnight Sun will remain my favourite Attack on Titan episode with its fantastic story, acting and emotionally gripping scenes.

Spoiler Review:

Rest in peace, Erwin Smith.
You were the best commander the Survey Corps ever had and you have the best death of the entire series.
Yes, we had to say goodbye to this great leader in “Midnight Sun”, and in a perfect way too.
Even with the manga long having passed Erwin’s death, his is still the best of Attack on Titan so far, with it resolving his character arc brilliantly and the impact of his death still being felt.
Erwin was a selfish person but, in his final moments, he threw his dreams away for the good of humanity, finally becoming what he had always pretended to be.
Coming into the episode, I thought this death would not hit me as hard because I had already read it in the manga but, boy, was I wrong.
Erwin’s death hit me like a tonne of bricks emotionally, just as the build-up to this event did with Levi’s big choice.
“Midnight Sun” finally shows those who only watch the anime what Eren and Mikasa’s fight with Levi in the season three part one cliffhanger was about.
Levi can only save one person by turning them into a Titan and feeding Bertholdt to them but he wants to save Erwin while Eren and Mikasa want to save Armin.
This leads to the serum bowl, with the three of them, and Floch, fighting over who should get it, before Hange and the others arrive to stop the chaos.
It is these scenes that deliver the most emotional gut punches of the episode, with Eren and Mikasa’s desperate attempt to save Armin leaving me on the verge of tears.
The dam eventually burst for me when Hange revealed Moblit had died saving her.
Moblit’s death will definitely be overlooked by fans because of Erwin and Bertholdt’s but he was still a great side character who died doing what he was doing the moment we met him, protecting Hange.
It is her speech about this that finally gets Mikasa to mournfully stop fighting, while Eren still struggles to save his friend.
Kaigi’s performance is the best it has ever been in this scene as he tries to convince Levi to save Armin by telling him about the ocean.
This appears to not work though because Levi demands everyone leaves so he can turn Erwin into a Titan.
With Eren being dragged away by Floch, Levi goes to inject Erwin and experiences a series of flashbacks from hearing Armin’s speech about the ocean, to Kenny giving him the serum, to him telling Erwin to die for them.
The integration of these flashbacks into the shot, with them overlapping Levi’s face is amazing.
The best one of all though comes when Erwin, in a dazed state, slaps Levi’s hand away and the shot quickly transitions to the moment Erwin raised his hand as a child to ask his father about if humanity could survive outside the walls.
It is through this that Levi realizes Erwin is a slave to his dreams and it would be cruel to bring him back into this hell so he saves Armin.
Bertholdt’s final moments as he is devoured by him is both gory and tragic, leaving me feeling sorry for him despite all he had done.
The big death of the episode still goes to Erwin though, with music finally coming into the scene when Hange announces his passing, bringing me to tears once more.
Erwin may have been a devil, like Floch said, but he was an inspirational one.
I am also personally glad that Armin is the one who was chosen because, again, he is my favourite character.
Now, he is also the Colossal Titan, which is sure to bring many exciting moments because the scouts now have two Titan Shifters on their side.
Along with these emotional scenes, there are also many hints to future episodes.
The first one comes when Eren meets Zeke for the first time and it is revealed Zeke knows Eren’s father, believing him to have brainwashed them.
How exactly he knows Grisha is not revealed because of Levi’s interruption but, as a manga reader, I can tell you that when it is revealed it will be shocking.
Then there is Reiner, who is rescued by Zeke shortly afterwards but, before this, he begs Hange to deliver Ymir’s letter to Historia.
This means a certain moment from the manga is coming soon and I am very curious to see how it will be changed because I think it needs to be.
Anyway, next episode is the one the entire series has been building to, “The Basement” where the truth will be uncovered.
I cannot wait to see if it will top my new favourite episode of “Midnight Sun.”

Barakamon Review: Slice of Life at its Best.

4 stars
Going to Anime Club at my university, I was not sure what to expect.
I was especially curious to see what kind of anime we would be watching, expecting to see some over the top action.
So, imagine my surprise when we started watching Barakamon, a slice of life anime that I found to be both heartwarming and hilarious.
Directed by Masaki Tachibana, and based off the manga by Satsuki Yoshino, The story follows calligrapher Seishu Handa (Daisuke Ono) who takes the idea of everybody hating critics more than a little too far when he punches an old curator who criticizes his work.
This results in Handa being sent to Goto Island to reflect on his actions and gain new inspiration for his calligraphy.

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Hana is surprisingly relatable, given one of the first things we see him do is punch an elderly man.

On the island, he meets a cast of equally colorful characters, including the young girl Naru (Suzuko Hara) who joyously annoys him with her admiration every chance she gets.
The bond that grows between her and Handa is great to see play out, surprisingly so considering Handa’s actions in the first episode.
Not only this but Barakamon is also incredibly funny from start to finish, with every episode being jam packed with laughs.
One recurring joke of the yaoi obsessed Tamako (Rumi Okubo) falsely believing a romance is going on between Handa and another character Hiro gets funnier every time.
I honestly cannot count how many times we all burst into laughter with the constant great jokes, as very few fell flat.

 

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the comedy of Barakamon is spot on, proving numerous laughs. Every episode you will be laughing at something.

The anime also has some great cases of music, especially with the opening “Rashisha” by Super Beaver, which is very catchy.
This combination of great characters, jokes and music made for a very fun experience over the span of twelve episodes.
My only criticism is that some characters were not as fleshed out as they could have been.
Otherwise, Barakamon is a hilarious, good time and I suggest you watch it, especially if you are a fan of the slice of life genre.

Attack on Titan, Season Three, Episode 13, The Town Where Everything Began Review: The Return to Shiganshina Arc Begins.

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

After a long wait, the much anticipated second half of Attack on Titan season three has arrived with its premiere episode, “The Town Where Everything Began.”
During the break in between season three’s first and second half, I read the manga out of fear of getting spoiled and I think that only heightened my excitement for the series to return.
This is because the arc that this half of the season is covering, The Return to Shiganshina Arc, is the best of the entire series so far.
I remember binge reading it in a few days because I just could not stop reading.
If you have not read the manga, I will say you are in for a treat with these ten episodes we are getting.
“The Town Where Everything Began” does not disappoint as the beginning of this new arc, delivering on great character development and action.
It may start out a little slow for some, but the explosive ending will get everyone hyped for the next episode.
The buildup to this ending is very well done, with the story picking up where it left of with the Scouts going to reclaim Wall Maria and visit Eren’s basement.
The mission is obviously not as simple as it sounds though because the location of Reiner, Bertholdt and the mysterious Beast Titan is unknown for most of the episode.
This adds a significant amount of tension, which is mostly voiced by Armin who is the standout of the episode by far.
His role and character development here, and the performance by his voice actor Marina Inoue, really reminded me of why he is one of my favourite characters.
Then there is Erwin who shines just as much with his plan to retake Shiganshina, and how he rolls with the punches that inevitably come at the end of the episode.
The excitement and dread of this ending is amplified by the amazing music, with a remix that improves on what is already one of the anime’s best OSTs, “Attack on Titan.”
The animation also continues to be solid, except for one instance, this being the opening.
I was eagerly anticipating what this opening for the new arc would be, and it is certainly appropriately named, the title being “The Path of Longing and Corpses.”
Performed my Link Horizon, the song is good and the mostly slow motion images are decent but have quite a few spoilers at times.
I will say, the final image of the opening is very powerful, with it reminding us of the big goal behind retaking Wall Maria, reaching the basement.
My main take away though, is sadly the god awful CGI on the Colossal Titan.
I really hope they spent a lot of the budget on making him look so good that they ran out of money for the opening, because if the Colossal Titan looks like this when he actually shows up then it might ruin the powerful scenes he features in.
As for the ending theme, titled “Name of Love” by Cinema Staff, there is nothing all that special about it.
Sure, it does do a good job of reminding us of how everyone has changed from their days in cadet training, but I feel this would have been a better opening for season two rather than three.
Overall, I am a little disappointing by both the opening and ending themes.
The same cannot be said for the episode though because, as I stated “The Town Where Everything Began” is a really good start to the best arc of the manga.

Spoiler Review:

“Humanity or Titans?! Which side will live?! Which side will perish?!”
With these dramatic words from Erwin, and a great performance from his voice actor, Daisuke Ono, the epic ending of “The Town Where Everything Began” comes to a close.
As I stated, this ending is the highlight of the episode, delivering much intensity that will get the viewer hyped for next week’s episode.
What makes it even better for anime only people though, is that every single shot from the trailer is in the first episode so they have no idea what is going to happen next.
This makes me envy them but I know I will still find watching this arc engaging, even though I know what will happen.
The Return to Shiganshina Arc is that good.
It certainly has got off to a good start as well, reminding us all of what the characters had to go through to get this point and what these characters represent.
Eren being anger, Mikasa being pride, and Armin being hope.
The main theme of the episode though, and a major theme of the entire series as well, is that of freedom, with Eren recounting how Armin talking about the sea made him realise he was not free and fueled his desire to go outside the walls.
Eren’s character development in the opening minutes of the episode is very well done, with him showing his fears and weaknesses.
I wish he had this vulnerability in the first season because it might have helped me relate to him more.
After this, the Scouts finally reach Shiganshina and we get numerous glorious shots of them swinging around on their ODM gear, preparing to initiate Erwin’s plan to retake Shiganshina, which is shown in a well done transition shot.
But the best shot of the entire episode is still the amazingly expansive one of Eren as he shoots up above Shiganshina, about to transform so he can plug up Wall Maria.
And plug up the wall he does, with the first part of the plan going surprisingly easily… only for it to naturally fall apart by the end.
Still, it would have been much worse if Armin had not realised Reiner was hiding in the wall.
This scene really shows Armin’s growing inner strength because he starts out hesitant when giving orders to the other soldiers but comes across as a confident leader by the end.
Reiner does not go down easily after being discovered, however, with him brutally murdering the soldier who finds him.
Levi is quick to act though, rushing to stab Reiner, only for an odd case of censorship to block our view a few times.
I call this odd because there are multiple shots of Reiner bleeding heavily in this scene and yet the anime blocks him getting stabbed from view for some reason.
But this censorship did not lessen the scene’s intensity too much, with Reiner transforming and the Beast Titan then appearing behind Erwin with his army of Titans to back him up.
The Beast Titan is especially creepy in this episode.
There is a shot of him smiling in anticipation for the coming battle with glowing red eyes, which is quite scary, and a massive improvement on the already good manga panel.
With Eren set to face off against Reiner in round two next episode, The Return to Shiganshina Arc is off to a really good start and, if all goes well, it will only get better from here.

The Promised Neverland Season One Review: I am Hooked.

4 and a half stars
There has been a lot of buzz surrounding The Promised Neverland, both during and since its release.
I heard so much hype surrounding it that I started watching the anime half way through the season and I was not disappointed.
The series instantly hooked me with its gripping concept, characters and direction, resulting in an incredibly intense first season.
Based off the manga of the same name by Kaiu Shirai, and directed by Mamoru Kanbe, The Promised Neverland is set on an orphanage where 38 children live with their “mom” Isabella (Yuko Kaida), until they are eventually adopted.
Our three main characters are the energetic Emma (Sumire Morohoshi), the intuitive Norman (Maaya Uchida), and the sly Ray (Mariya Uchida), who are the smartest of all the children.
However, their happy life is completely shattered when they learn a dark truth about the orphanage and their so called mom.
The three then begin to plan an escape with some of their siblings, all while evading the ever watchful eye of Isabella, who will do anything to stop them getting away.

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Watching Emma, Norman and Ray desperately attempt to outsmart Isabella makes for a very intense viewing.

All twelve episodes are great and full of many intense moments.
Even something as simple as tag is made scary in this series.
What amplifies the tension is how much you grow to care for these children.
Emma, Norman and Ray are all very relatable and well performed by their voice actors.
As for the other children, their adorableness makes you feel instant horror at the thought of them staying at the orphanage with the manipulative Isabella.
Speaking of which, she is a very intimidating character, being able to switch between the personalities of a loving mother to a cruel warden in an instant.
As for the secondary antagonist Sister Krone (Nao Fujita), her nightmare inducing facial expressions will keep you up at night.

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Good luck getting this terrifying image of Sister Krone’s demented face out of your head when you sleep. Sweet dreams!

But what is most interesting about these two antagonists is also how relatable they become.
They are certainly twisted individuals, but are made much more sympathetic by the conclusions of their stories.
Their sympathetic sides do not make you forget the plight of these kids though, as you will be routing for them to escape every cruel step of the way.
Watching the effect the trauma of their experiences has on them is touching and makes you relate to them further.
This is also helped by the expert direction, with well thought out shots that both amplify the horror and make you care for the characters by placing you right in the middle of their plight.

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The cinematography of The Promised Neverland often places you right in the kids’ perspective, making the horror much more personal.

Combine all this with a great amount of twists and turns, it makes for a stellar season with only a few problems.
These problems are minor and, for the most part, do not hinder the experience.
For example, there was a scene in the first episode with a bit of bad editing, but the rest of the direction was so good that it more than made up for it.
Then there are the episode titles, which, while having no impact the story, are not memorable because they are just a representation of the date.
The final issue has to do with the intelligence of some of these kids, which does seem a bit outlandish at times, but I was able to push my suspension of disbelief above this.
The Promised Neverland is a fantastic anime that looks set to be one of the greats.
Season two has already been greenlit and I will be excitedly watching when it comes out in 2020.

 

Psycho-Pass Season One Review: Criminal Commentary at its Best.

4 and a half stars
Crime Dramas are some of the most loved and successful shows on television so it was natural for anime to take a stab at it.
But with Psycho-Pass, the genre is taken a step further with Science Fiction, Cyberpunk elements incorporated to make for a great piece of commentary on criminality and justice.
Directed by Naoyoshi Shiotani and Katsuyuki Motohiro, The series is set in a future where Japan is ruled by the Sibyl System, which scans people’s mental states to see if they could potentially become a criminal.
If a person registers as a latent criminal through the System’s scanners, they will either be arrested or killed, depending on the situation.
Those who are not killed are either confined or given the chance to join the MWPSB as Enforcers to work under the detectives and hunt down their fellow latent criminals with high Psycho-Pass readings.
One detective, Akane Tsunemori (Kana Hanazawa), is new on the job and thrust into a world of extreme violence where the system pulls the trigger.

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Akane taking on a job as a detective forces her to change, from a naive newbie, to a hardened detective in some great character development.

For this review, I will be solely focusing on season one rather than the entire series.
This is because I have heard season two is disappointing in comparison with the first, and since I love season one so much, I do not want it to reflect too negatively on my review of it.
Season one of Psycho-Pass is nothing short of a powerhouse season, with an amazing story, characters and commentary.
The story is absolutely enthralling with its various violent and disturbing cases that push the main characters to their very limits.
However, this also makes Psycho-Pass not for the faint of heart because of the messed up things in this series.
For example, episodes six to eight focus on a teenage serial killer at a girl’s school and this provides some of the most disturbing things I have seen on screen in a long time.

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The serial killer episodes from six to eight are the scariest in Psycho-Pass for me, with one of the darkest female characters I have ever seen.

With these constant moments of human depravity, it is no wonder the characters struggle so much, especially Akane, who changes from a naive girl to one of the strongest characters in the series, over the 22 episode season.
We can also see how the cases have affected her fellow detectives and enforcers, with Shinya Kogami (Tomokazu Seki) being a particular focus on how these cases changes a person.
The series even shows how the criminals are affected by the laws, with destroying the system being the main villain of season one Shogo Mikishima’s (Takahiro Sakurai) goal.
Mikishima is a great villain, with a scene between him and Akane in episode 11, “Saint’s Supper,” making him one of the most interesting characters in the series.

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Not only is Mikishima a fantastic villain, but his conflict with Kogami is set up and executed perfectly.

Both those on the side of the law and those against it come together in Psycho-Pass to create some truly great commentary on criminality and the justice system.
We see the extreme flaws of the Sibyl System and what it pushes people to commit, and yet, it is the only thing keeping order in Japan.
This commentary makes Psycho-Pass a very thoughtful series.
The season is so good that I only have one problem with it, and that is episode 12, “Crossroad of the Devil.”
This episode focuses on the backstory of a side character Yayoi Kunizuka (Shizuka Ito), who I never found to be all that interesting.
On top of this, her backstory does not serve much of a point in the series.
I felt it would have been better giving a backstory episode to Mikishima, or, better yet, Shuesi Kagari (Akira Ishida), who could have used one, considering where the writers take his character.
Still, even though I did have problems with “Crossroad of the Devil”, it is just a single episode so it does not completely damage my opinion of the anime.
Psycho-Pass is a great anime with some excellent commentary on criminality and the justice system.
It just might be too extreme for some people.
Enjoy it… if you have the stomach to.

Attack on Titan: Season Three, Part Two. Trailer Thoughts.

When the second part of Attack on Titan season three was delayed for six months, I was not happy about it.
I found the lack of communication surrounding this information to be quite unprofessional.
Still, this does not change the fact that I am incredibly excited for the second half, and the recently released trailer has only served to increase my excitement.
I have read the manga since the first part of season three ended so I know where a lot of the shots in the trailer are from and what they mean.
I will not spoil these things but I will say that all of the shots look like they are from the first couple of episodes, just like the trailer for the Uprising Arc.
This makes me even more excited for this arc because of the excellent ways the panels of the manga have been adapted to the anime, which can be seen just by looking at this trailer.
Shots like Eren using his O.D.M Gear to rise above Shiganshina and bite his hand are amazing expansions of manga events, and look absolutely beautiful animation-wise.
We even get a few shots that I do not think were in the manga, like the one where Levi draws his swords while standing on his advancing horse.
This makes me interested in what other additions and changes will be made for the anime.
However, I know that not all of these changes will be for the better, based on the trailer.
This is clear from the shot where Levi stabs Reiner in the neck.
In the manga, the depiction of this scene is brutal and bloody, but in the trailer a sword blocks our view of this violence.
Reading the manga version of the Uprising Arc, it is easy to see how the series has been censored in the anime version and, unfortunately, this censorship looks set to continue in the Shiganshina Arc.
Granted, censorship will not completely destroy the impact of these scenes but it will certainly lessen them.
Although, if there is one thing that has not lessened in this trailer, it is, without a doubt, Attack on Titan’s excellent soundtrack.
Accompanying the trailer is a new variation of the song “Attack on Titan”, which was prevalent in season one and one of my favourite OSTs of the series.
I am very excited to hear its return and look forward to what new songs we will hear in this part of the season.
Overall, this trailer only added to my excitement levels for this arc.
In my opinion, The Shiganshina Arc is the greatest arc of Attack on Titan so far and I cannot wait to see how it is adapted.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Review

4 and a half stars
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 
is one of those anime that I have heard tonnes of praise for.
I have seen many people name it their favourite anime so I had to check it out to see if it lived up to the hype that was being presented.
For those of you who do not know, Brotherhood is actually a remake of the earlier Fullmetal Alchemist anime.
Both are based off the manga written by Hiromi Arakawa (also known by her pen name Hiromu Arakawa), but the first Fullmetal Alchemist came out while the manga was still in its early stages so had to take various liberties with the story.
Brotherhood was made years later and aimed to adapt the source material more faithfully.
Based on this and the fact that, as I said, many people consider this their favourite anime, I decided to watch Brotherhood rather than the first adaptation.
Brotherhood is set in a world where alchemy, a form of magic that relies on the law of equivalent exchange, is an established fact.
The story follows the adventures of Edward and Alphonse Elric, two brothers trying to get their bodies back, which they lost (Al fully, Ed partially) after attempting the forbidden act of human transmutation.

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Ed and Al trying to get their bodies back was one of the main driving forces of the series, and one of the reasons it worked so well was because of their great bond.

In regards to the quality of the show, I will say it is a bit of a slow burn… but when it gets going it grabs on tight and never lets you go until the very end.
I was quite surprised how engaged I became with this anime considering how I thought the first few episodes were nothing special.
This is not to say these episodes were bad but they were not really drawing me in to the point that I felt I had to watch the next episode.
The first episode especially left much to be desired.
It went by way too fast, introducing us to so many characters and attempted to start a political theme right from the get go, when I barely knew how its political system worked.
I do understand why this first episode felt rushed though, because the makers of this obviously knew that people who watched the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime would be watching and already knew this stuff, so they decided to go through it quickly.
Like I said, these initial episodes are not bad and they do have the occasional gem shining through.
The fourth episode, An Alchemist’s Anguish, has one of the most disturbing things I have ever seen in an anime and needs to be seen to be believed.
Then there is episode ten, Separate Destinations, which is a real tear-jerker.
After this, it is not long before Brotherhood quickly becomes a very engaging anime with great story telling, pacing and character development.
I was especially blown away with the character development, as my two favourite characters, Greed and Hohenheim, originally felt very one note but by the end of the series they were some of the most well developed characters of the series.

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Greed was one of the most surprising characters with his brilliant character arc.

Then there are the plot twists, with one in between episodes 30 and 40 leaving me very surprised.
When I first started watching the anime I alternated between the sub and dub but the dub was so great that I changed to just watching that.
The sub was still great and well acted but I enjoyed the dub a whole lot more.
The animation and music are likewise great and the episodes also got better and better as the show went on, my favourite of the bunch probably being episode 40, Homunculus (The Dwarf in the Flask).
After all of this, it was not long before I was binge watching the entire anime.
After every episode I wanted to know what would happen next.
This all builds to an absolutely incredible final act of the series, with brilliant episode after brilliant episode, the final five of which had me glued to the screen.
These five episodes made me cry at least three or four times both out of sadness and happiness.

Fullmetal Alchemist ending
The final episodes of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood were very engaging with plenty of emotional moments.

However, even though I loved the way the series ended, I do have to say, I was a little bit disappointed by it as well.
There were quite a few minor plot points about certain characters that were never fully resolved by the end and I really wanted to see what would happen with those.
It may have been because they had a limited time frame with the episode lengths and, if so, I wish they had extended the final episodes so we could see those plot points resolved.
Otherwise, I loved Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. 
It might be slow a slow burn at first but once the story really gets going you will be hooked.
I would recommend this to anyone who has not seen it, even if they typically do not watch anime.

Attack on Titan: Season three, episode five, Reply – Spoiler free and spoiler review: Viva la uprising!

4 stars

Spoiler Free Review:

This week’s Attack on Titan episode, Reply, had many interesting and great moments, in an episode that I feel is building up to a shocking revelation next week.
This episode primarily dealt with Erwin’s storyline in the wake of last week’s episode’s worrisome cliffhanger.
This storyline was very important for the episode but it did make me wonder how long the Uprising Arc has left.
From what I have heard, there are supposed to be 24 episodes this season and Reply makes it look like we are already in the endgame of this arc.
If it ends soon, then I wonder how long the next arc will be and if this really will be a 24 episode season.
Another thing, while I did enjoy this storyline with Erwin, it was a very predictable one.
As soon as a character arrived to announce some distressing news I knew what was going to happen.
That did not change that I still found this storyline to be engaging but it did lessen its impact somewhat.
The real meat of this episode lies in what happens after Erwin’s storyline.
So many hints are given and it looks like the dark theory I have concerning Eren’s Titan ability is correct.
Along with giving plenty of hints to numerous revelations, this scene also had a touching moment from Levi.
As a whole, this episode also had great animation and music.
There is a shot of Erwin’s eye that reminded me very much of a similar shot in season two, episode five, Historia, where I have praised its animation.
Well, this animation certainly tops that.
One thing that did surprise me as well was how funny this episode was.
There were a lot of times where I laughed and I honestly did not expect that coming in to this episode.
Overall, Reply was a really good episode that looks to be setting up some dramatic reveals.

Spoiler Review:

Thankfully my concern for Erwin’s safety was all for nothing because he came out on top this episode.
With help from Pyxis, Nile and Dhalis Zachary, he was able to successfully overthrow those in power.
However, this is where my problem with how predictable this storyline was lies.
Pyxis’ aid bursts into the room and declares that Wall Rose has been breached and I immediately realised this was a ploy from Pyxis and Erwin to get the nobles to break the Charter of Humanity, Clause Six, by having them put themselves before humanity.
Sure enough, this is exactly what the nobles did and it resulted in them being overthrown.
This was very easy to guess based on how the Charter of Humanity was being used to convict Erwin so it was natural that he would turn the tables on them using this.
Still this scene did have a lot of great moments as their “coup d’etat” succeeded.
Indeed, this seems like more of a coup than an uprising but maybe we will get that later.
After Erwin’s storyline, the perspective switched to that of the Levi Squad, where Hange informed them of what had happened.
This led to them highlighting all those who had worked towards overthrowing those in power and, after this, Levi apologized for getting Hange’s soldiers killed, which was a very nice moment.
However, all the niceties leave when Hange points out an incident in the Reiss family history, where all of Rod’s family were killed by someone the day before Historia’s mother was murdered.
Whatever is happening here, it obviously has a huge connection to the fall of Wall Maria and how Eren got his Titan abilities.
Then there is Eren himself, who finally wakes up after being captured… again.
Seriously, how many times has Eren been captured?
It is basically its own cliche at this point.
You might as well call Eren the damsel in distress of Attack on Titan… only he is the main character!
The episode ends with him waking up in a strange crystallized room with Historia walking towards him.
On another note, as I said in my spoiler free review, this episode was surprisingly hilarious.
The funniest moments came when Zachary declared why he helped remove the military police, going on a rant about how much he hated them,  and when the Levi Squad reacted to their names being cleared.
In this specific shot everyone is jumping for joy and Sasha wraps her arms around Mikasa who is not having it.
Mikasa’s reaction to Sasha’s hug, even if it was brief, was very funny.
Reply was another really good episode for the third season and has me eagerly anticipating next week’s episode, Sin. 

Predictions:

  1. One of the big shots we get in a preview is of Kenny, who looks significantly younger than he does now. Will his backstory be revealed and his Ackermann connection?
  2.  I think it is safe to say that Eren is the “power” and Historia is the “vessel” that was mentioned. This means that Rod is planning on having Historia eat Eren. How can she do this though? Does this mean they have the shots they gave Ymir when her backstory was revealed in Children? If this is the case, hopefully Historia will not go through with this.
  3. Eren dreams about a women in this episode, who I speculated was this Marie person that was mentioned last episode. However, based on this episode and the preview for Sin, she looks more like Freida, Rod’s daughter who was supposedly killed with the rest of her family. This would make her Historia’s half-sister and it appears she knew her, based on what we see in the preview. But why is Eren dreaming about her if he never meet her?
  4. Warning: Potentially major spoilers for the next few episodes here: After everything I have seen in this episode and the previous ones, I am certain that Eren ate his own father, Grisha. This makes sense because Grisha injected Eren and we know from Children that the injections turn people into Titans, not Titan Shifters. In order to become a Titan Shifter you need to eat one and unless Grisha just had a Shifter lying around it seems highly likely that he was the Shifter and Eren ate him and got his powers. However, there is a shot of Grisha in the preview for next episode and it looks like he is in the exact same strange room as Eren so I may be wrong. Although, this could also be a flashback. Then there is the “unforgivable sin” Grisha committed, mentioned in the preview. I am willing to bet that he had some hand in the deaths of Rod’s family. How ever Grisha connects to the story, next episode looks to be full of reveals about him.

 

Top 10 Attack on Titan Anime Moments

Warning: Major spoilers for the anime. 

10. Eren vs the Armoured Titan – Season two, episode seven, Close Combat.

Eren vs Reiner

After the shocking reveal of Reiner and Bertholdt being Titans (more on that later) Eren faced off against Reiner, The Armoured Titan, in an epic showdown that is probably the best fight in the series.
The thing that makes this fight so good is how much thinking goes into it.
For example, when Eren fought the Female Titan there was not a big focus on the tactics of the fighting, just Eren being motivated by the deaths of his squad mates.
Here, however, Eren plans out his attack process and we get to see how this leads to him defeating the Armoured Titan… before Bertholdt jumps in of course.
Another thing that makes this fight so great is how Eren expresses his feelings about the Armoured Titan being Reiner, someone he thought of as an older brother.
This fight showed us Eren’s feelings of anger and betrayal, which go nicely with the fight itself.
The combined elements of fighting tactics and Eren’s inner thoughts turn this fight into the best of the series.

9. First appearance of the Beast Titan – Season two, episode one, Beast Titan.

Beast Titan

Probably my biggest question after watching season two was, “who is the Beast Titan?”
Unfortunately, us anime watchers do not have an answer yet but, based on this Titan’s introduction, he looks to be a very important character and a formidable foe for the main cast.
His introduction is the best the series has given us so far as it opens up many interesting questions about the series.
What is probably most interesting about him though is that he can speak without difficulty and can also control Titan’s, although to a lesser extent than Eren I think.
We also got to see how cruel whoever is controlling the Beast Titan is because of the subsequent death of Miche Zacharius, the most gruesome death in Attack on Titan so far.
The Beast Titan just allowed the other Titans to rip him apart while he screamed for mercy and his only reaction to this was an acknowledgement that Miche could talk.
The first time I saw this scene it left me sick to my stomach.
Both gruesome and intriguing, the introduction of the Beast Titan is the best introduction of Attack on Titan.

8. Historia and Ymir’s promise – Season two, episode five, Historia.

The Promise

One of the things I liked the most about season two of Attack on Titan was how it took forgettable characters from the first season and turned them into some of the best in the series.
Case and point Ymir and Historia.
I will talk about Ymir later but Historia had a great moment of character development in the fifth episode of the second season, where everything we knew about her was turned on its head.
In this flashback it is revealed that not only is her name not Christa but her entire personality has been an act.
Every time she risked her life for someone it was so she could die and be remembered as a hero.
Remember when she went to save Armin, Jean and Reiner in the Female Titan episode?
She went to help them because she wanted to die.
In the first season I saw Historia, or Christa as she was called then, as nothing more than a one note character who was just cannon fodder for the Titans.
This flashback to her and Ymir’s promise changed my entire perception of her and made her much more interesting, which, I am happy to say, it looks like they will be expanding upon in season three.
On top of this the animation in this scene is stellar and some of the best the series has given us.
This moment changed my entire perception of Historia, turning her from someone I did not care for into one of the most interesting characters.

7. Jean decides to join the Scouts – Season one, episode sixteen, What Needs to be Done Now: Eve of the Counterattack, Part 3.

Jean joins the scouts

I loved Jean in season one.
His character arc in that season was my favourite out of everyone’s.
He went from a coward who only wanted to join the Military Police so he could live safely in the interior, to the guy who joined the Survey Corps because it was the right thing to do.
His defining moment of the season though came in the 16th episode when he actually decided to join the Scouts.
After learning of his friend Marco’s death in the 13th episode, Jean was at a crossroads being unsure of what to do.
However, at the cremation of all the soldiers who lost their lives during the Titan invasion, Jean remembered Marco telling him he is a good leader because he knows what needs to be done.
This inspired Jean and in a heartfelt moment he declared to the other cadets that he intended to join the scouts before bursting into tears.
This is a very powerful moment for his character because we can see he is scared through how he had to grasp his shaking hand and repeat himself a few times before he could bring himself to tell the others his decision.
This moment showed that, despite his fear, Jean was willing to risk his life to do the right thing.
Jean was my favourite character of the first season and this scene really highlights why.

6. Advance!!! – Season two, episode 11, Charge.

advance.jpg

I can distinctly remember screaming in horror when a Titan came out of nowhere and dragged Commander Erwin Smith away by the arm.
However, this screaming soon turned to cheering with one word: “ADVANCE!!!”
With a single word Erwin Smith became one of my favourite characters because he showed he was willing to sacrifice everything in order to save humanity.
I could not believe that he was putting the mission ahead of his own life like that but I thought it was an incredible way for him to die… only for him to survive.
Because a few minutes later Erwin was back fighting, with only one arm.
The he saved Eren’s life, once again, with only one arm.
If there is any moment of Attack on Titan that highlights Erwin’s character it is this one. It is one of the most awesome character moments of the entire series.

5. Eren’s reaction to Hannes’ death, Mikasa’s confession and the Coordinate reveal – Season two, episode twelve, Scream.

Eren cries

This scene marks a pretty huge achievement in my eyes.
I hated Eren in the first season of the show and yet this moment actually made me cry for him.
Watching Eren break down into a hysterical fit of tears and laughter, after the death of Hannes, was heartbreaking to watch and it only got better from here.
This is because, after Eren’s breakdown, Mikasa chose to confess her feelings for him.
I have never really been a fan of the idea of Eren and Mikasa getting together because Eren often acts like a jerk towards her and Mikasa seems to be obsessed with Eren rather than in love with him.
Just like the Historia scene though, this moment changed my perception of their relationship as this was a beautiful moment portrayed with great voice acting from both Yuki Kaiji and Yui Ishikawa.
If we get more scenes like this between the two of them in season three I might actually get on board with their relationship, although if they act like it never happened I will not.
Finally there is Eren’s Coordinate abilities being revealed right after Mikasa’s confession, which brings new hope to the series and combines with everything else to make this all a truly memorable moment.

4. Deaths of the Levi Squad – Season one, episode 21, Crushing Blow.

Petra dies

This was the first time I actually shouted at my TV screen when watching Attack on Titan. 
Prior to this I had felt sad about some of the deaths in the show but none had made me feel like I had been punched in the gut afterwards.
The deaths of the Levi Squad, consisting of Oruo, Petra, Eld and Gunther, changed that with three of them dying in the span of two minutes.
First there is Gunther, killed during the ending moments of episode 20 by Annie in human form.
In the very next episode the remaining Levi Squad tried to kill the Female Titan only for her to kill Eld, Petra and Oruo in quick succession thus putting an end to the Levi Squad.
This moment had me screaming at the screen for the characters to get out of there as they were quickly killed one by one and left me feeling emotionally drained.
Their deaths were not quickly forgotten either, with the very next episode dealing with the effects their deaths would have as we got to see all of their families wait for their arrival, some with a feeling of dread and others with no idea their loved ones had been killed.
The deaths of the Levi Squad are the most gut wrenching of the series so far, but this is Attack on Titan so sadly I think we will get more of these kinds of deaths in season three.

3. Eren transforms into a Titan to fight Annie – Season one, episode 24, Mercy.

Eren transforms

Attack on Titan has a lot of transformations but this is one of my favourites.
Everything in this scene just combines to make a truly epic moment.
In this scene, Eren was struggling to accept Annie’s identity as the Female Titan and this lead to him being crushed and impaled by rubble as Annie desperately tried to capture him.
However, remembering the deaths of his mother and the Levi Squad and Mikasa’s words to him about “a cruel world”, Eren was able to accept what needed to be done and impaled himself further on the rubble to begin his transformation.
This emotional moment lead into the epic transformation where the music exploded into a grand crescendo with the OST Attack on Titan.
The use of this OST really sold the scene and the visuals work all the better because it did not actually show the transformation, just the lightening generated by it, along with how the characters reacted to the transformation.
All of this built up and up until Eren rushed at Annie in his Titan form and punched her through a church.
This scene is the very definition of epic and never fails to get me excited every time I watch it.

2. Ymir’s backstory flashback – Season two, episode ten, Children.

ymir-call-of-silence.jpg

I mentioned earlier, that season two did a fantastic job of turning forgettable characters into some of my favourites and a prime example of this is Ymir.
In season one she was not even a character but a trope of the typical mean girl who insults everyone.
So I was absolutely blown away with her character development in the second season and I think there could be a reasonable argument that this second second is her story.
The scene that really established her as one of my favourite characters was the flashback that revealed her backstory in episode ten, Children. 
This is the greatest flashback I have ever seen.
Not only does it tell you almost everything you need to know about Ymir but it also gives major hints as to what is really going on.
I think I have actually figured out some of the things that are going to be revealed in the future of the show because of the hints given here.
I see more hints in this flashback every time I watch it.
Best of all though is what this flashback does for Ymir.
The moment when Ymir turns back into a human and realizes that she is now free to live the life she wants is the most powerful moment of the entire series and was the first time I cried during Attack on Titan. 
This is helped once again by the fantastic music, with the OST Call of Silence, which is not just an amazing song but the lyrics also say a lot about Ymir as well.
This flashback made Ymir one of my favourite characters.
I am so glad it was added as this stage in the anime as I have been told this flashback comes much later in the manga.

1. Bertholdt and Reiner are revealed as the Colossal and Armoured Titans – Season two, episode six, Warrior.

Reiner and Bertolt

If number two was my favourite flashback of all time then number one is one of my favourite, if not my absolute favourite, twist of all time.
The reveal that Reiner had been the Armoured Titan and Bertholdt was the Colossal Titan the entire time was not only shocking but incredibly handled as well.
The way it is revealed has to be the most nonchalant twist reveal of all time.
Out of the blue Reiner just confesses to Eren that they are the Titans who started all this like it is no big deal.
I had to watch this scene a second time to make sure I had not misread the subtitles.
It completely subverts expectations but in the best of ways.
The moments following this confession are also stellar as in a flashback the show pieces together all the hints of Reiner and Bertholdt being Titans from prior episodes.
What follows is the best transformation of the entire series as one of the flags atop the wall is blown away, prompting the two’s transformation.
Did I  mention that Attack on Titan had some incredible OSTs?
Well, I will say it again because the OST they chose for this transformation, YouSeeBIGGIRL/T:T, is absolutely perfect for the moment.
This is not only because it is a great song but also because it is a different version of the song played when Eren’s mother was killed in the very first episode and, given that Reiner and Bertholdt are responsible for her death, this makes the placement of this OST here absolutely brilliant.
The reveal also left an amazing cliffhanger for the audience as to what would happen in episode seven.
I consider this to be the best moment in all of Attack on Titan because of how brilliantly the twist is revealed, the insane things that happen following the reveal, and the genius use of music.
The Reiner and Bertholdt twist really highlights why I love Attack on Titan.