Attack on Titan, the Final Season, Episode 24, Pride Review: One of the Weakest Chapters Becomes One of the Weakest Episodes.

Coming into Episode 24 of Attack on Titan’s Final Season, “Pride”, directed by Kazuo Miyake I was very interested to see what the anime only viewers’ reaction to it would be.
This is because “Pride” is one of the most controversial chapters in the entire manga, being so divisive that it caused people to become concerned about the future ending’s quality.
Honestly, I’m on the side of the readers who found the chapter to have more negatives than positives.
Yet, despite this, I was still intrigued to see whether the anime only viewers would overall like this episode, be divided, or hate it.
From what I have seen so far, I can almost certainly state that most anime only viewers enjoyed this episode.
I have heard some concerns among them but, all in all, the reception does seem to be on the positive side, making my negative opinion on this episode’s writing in the minority.
It is my intent with this review to back up my own negative opinion, so that I can explain the issues I and others have with this episode to any anime only viewers who potentially stumble across this review.
Not to sway them over to a negative side, because I am glad they enjoyed an episode I could not, but to at least help them understand some of our criticisms.
With that out of the way, I will get into the review, however, on a positive note.
Yes, despite not liking “Pride”, it does still have some good moments and the opening scene is one of these.
It depicts the aftermath of Hange’s escape with Levi from Zeke, Floch and the Jeagerists.
Hange and Levi are being hunted by some of the Jeagerists but Hange manages to get the upper hand and kills the both of them, a tear falling from her eye as she does so.
That last detail is a fantastic showcase of the moral complexity of this whole situation, as Hange now has to kill her own people to protect herself and Levi.
Once this is done, she sets about tending to Levi’s wounds and building a transport for him, during which she and Levi see Eren’s message to all other Eldians about the destruction of the world.
At this moment, Levi wakes up and it is at this moment that I was disappointed to see a detail from the manga being left out, this being the explanation of how Levi survived the Thunder Spear explosion Zeke caused.
In the manga, we see in a flashback that, at the last moment, Levi jumped atop his sword to shield himself from the impact, causing shards of his sword to cut into his face.
However, this explanation is removed from the anime, with the only excuse for Levi’s survival being that he is an Ackerman, which was also in the manga but it makes a lot more sense when paired with the explanation of Levi covering himself with his sword.
Back to the scene at hand, Hange and Levi both realize they cannot just sit back on the sidelines, and it is then that the scene transitions to the two’s negotation with Magath and Pieck, as Levi tells them his main goal is to find and kill Zeke, who Hange speculates is with Eren.
At first, Magath threatens Levi and Hange, seeing Levi’s weakened state, but relents upon seeing Levi’s resolve.
Hange then offers an alliance with Magath and Pieck to stop Eren from destroying the world, and it is here that my issues start to come in.
For starters, we do not see what led Hange to come to the conclusion that they all needed to team up with the Warriors.
I’m not saying that it doesn’t make sense for her character because it does but a little explanation for how her thought process was going would have been nice.
Not only this but as soon as Hange offers this alliance the scene cuts.
What were Pieck and Magath’s reaction to her offer at first?
Did they agree quickly or need more convincing?
How does Levi feel about this whole thing?
These are questions that are not answered because the majority of the Alliance’s forming is left entirely off screen.
The Warriors and the Scouts have such a damaged relationship after killing one another for years, so any alliance formed between them would be wrought with tension that would have been great to see.
Too bad we just constantly cut away to bad subplots that feel like massive wastes of time.
Case and point, the Connie and Falco subplot, my second least favourite subplot in Attack on Titan. 
Aside from memers, did anyone really care about Connie’s quest to save his mother here?
The literal end of the world is happening, we have no time to focus on this pointless journey that was clearly never going to end in any way other than Connie changing his mind.
It’s clearly building to that right from the moment that Connie is having his own inner conflict on the matter, the night before he and Falco finally reach Ragako.
Then we just get an awkward joke about brushing Titan teeth before Armin and Gabi run in to save Falco and innevitably do when Armin takes a gamble inspired by Commander Erwin’s previous ones.
This makes Connie come to his senses and decide to become a soldier his mother would have been proud of.
Credit where it is due, this is some solid character development for Connie that ties into the title of the episode.
But, again, we really did not have time for this when the end of the world is happening.
This should have been time spent building up the alliance, which was sorely needed.
What makes it worse is that this was clearly one of the main points of the Connie subplot.
Isayama used it to move Connie and Armin to the right palce, where they could meet up with Annie again.
The issue with this is that such potential for alliance build up is squandered, when all we get from Annie reuniting with Armin and Connie is an out of place pie joke, before the scene once again cuts away.
All we are left with is a scene of Hitch reading a letter from Annie, saying that she has decided to go with Connie and Armin.
Sure would have been nice to see that happen.
Not to mention that Connie laughing at Annie eating a pie just feels weird.
I have heard some defend this moment, explaining that Connie has always laughed during tense situations, like when Bertholdt transformed into the Colossal Titan during the Return to Shiganshina Arc.
While that does make sense, what undermines this is the fact that Connie’s lax attitude towards Annie just does not match with Episode 17, “Judgement”, where he mentioned he was angry at her for betraying them.
It just does not add up.
Out of place comedy being used instead of actual character conflict is another massive issue I have with this episode.
At least there were a few minor details which improved this scene from the manga, like the fantastic transition to the scene from Floch cheering “Shinzou wo Sasageo”, and a cut from the manga I am actually supportive of, this being the cut moment of Gabi joking around with Falco.
The reason I am glad this was removed is because it makes no sense for this to happen when Falco is mourning the death of his brother.
Speaking of which, I am still disappointed that we do not get to see Falco wrestling with his feelings about Colt’s death since, you know, it was his own unwilling Titan transformation that killed him.
Unfortunately, the bad Connie subplot leading to the poorly handled Annie meet up is not the end of the episode’s problems because I now have to talk about the Mikasa and Louise scene, another moment that has caused an argument between those who like “Pride” and those who do not.
The scene in question sees Mikasa track down a dying Louise to find that it was her who took her scarf.
Louise talks about how she wanted to wear the scarf to feel close to Mikasa, saying that Eren wanted the scarf thrown away, only for Mikasa to not give a damn, demand the scarf back, then storm off when she has it.
To me, Mikasa is incredibly unlikeable in this scene, being so dismissive of the dying girl who looks up to her.
I have seen those who like the episode defend Mikasa’s actions, pointing out that Louise is part of an extremist group, stole the scarf, and Mikasa does not owe her anything.
While all of these things are true, I still cannot help but think that this scene does Mikasa’s character a disservice because of the very first scene Louise appeared in, all the way back in Season One.
In Louise’s first appearance, Mikasa saves her and her mother from a Titan, for which the two are grateful and this makes Mikasa happy, before reminding her of her own family.
So, you’re telling me that in Louise’s first scene Mikasa is glad to have saved her and is reminded of her family, only to then be so cruel to Louise when she is literally dying in front of her?
Another thing people have pointed out is that Louise’s devotion to Mikasa causes her to revaluate her devotion to Eren but I would like to ask where that is shown?
Honestly, I think the whole Louise subplot could be removed and nothing would have changed.
Remove the Connie subplot too while we’re at it because, if both of those subplots were gone, then it would have given the story much more time to develop the alliance properly.
Although, I will say that the scenes after these poor ones are much better in quality.
For starters, there is the best scene of the episode with the rescue of Jean, Yelena and Onyankopon from the Jeagerists.
Both Jean and Onyankopon’s characterization in this scene is excellent.
First there is Onyankopon, who rightly calls out the Jeagerists for their hypocrisy and expresses his own grief over his soon to be loss of his homeland and family.
Then there is Jean, who organizes the rescue operation, joining the Alliance to honour Marco’s memory.
Jean and Onyankopon are the best characters in an episode that does a lot of other ones no favours.
As the rescue plan of having Pieck retrieve Jean, Yelena and Onyankopon from the Jeagerists unfolds, we see that the rest of the Alliance is leaving Shiganshina, with Annie and Mikasa having reuinted off screen.
Again, I would have loved to have seen that, especially since the last time they saw one another they were trying to kill each other.
Well, at least the scene where they escape from Shiganshina does include the moment when Annie sees a mysterious figure watching them, the outcome to which I am eagerly anticipating to see play out over the next few episodes.
Then, we get the final scene of “Pride”, which is, without a doubt, the most controversial moment of the episode, when Reiner is awoken by the alliance and told they need to go save the world.
Que the Avengers music.
Personally, this scene has never really bothered me that much because I like how it ties into Reiner’s character arc.
His initial motivation was to save the world but it only lead to him comitting atrocities, causing him to have massive PTSD.
Now, he is being offered the chance to redeem himself by actually saving the world this time.
I think if the scene had focused on this rather than the cheesy avengers formation of the alliance, then it would have been much better received.
Overall, Episode 24 adapts one of the weakest chapters of the manga into what I think is one of the weakest episodes of the series.
It is not Mappa’s fault, since the writing is the problem here.
In fact, I think Mappa did quite a good job, with some great shots, like the reflecton of Connie and Falco in the sword, along with making me realize just how loud the Rumbling would be when we see the characters trying to sleep.
In conclusion, my biggest problem with this alliance formation episode is the constant cutting away from that formation in favour of poorly written subplots and out of place humor.
Although, I will say that the writing for the alliance does get much better going forward (a few questionable instances aside), especially in the next episode.
So, look forward to that.

Manga Spoilers:
The first thing I want to talk about in the manga spoilers section is the Mikasa and Louise subplot.
I gave some harsh criticism to this storyline back there and the reason for this is in large part due to my disappointment at the lost potential, something that I have noticed a lot in regards to Mikasa’s character in general.
One of the biggest missed oppurtunities with her character is definitley her connection with Louise.
Imagine if Mikasa actually cared about Louise and mentored her, eventually coming to feel like she is to blame for her joining the Jeagerists.
This could have created some great character development for her.
What’s more, imagine if, instead of Louise just dying because of a random Thunder Spear, she actually takes part in the upcoming port battle in a future episode and Mikasa either has to kill her to protect the plane or sees her die at someone else’s hand.
Wracked with guilt, she could then retrieve the scarf from Louise’s body, making her actually revaluate her devotion to Eren, having seen the lows this devoition brought Louise to.
But no, instead we just have Louise being devoted to Mikasa, who does not care at all, even when the poor girl is dying, and not having any realization surrounding her devotion to Eren, despite the similarities.
Coming back to the port battle though, we can expect to see that in Episode 27 because it has seemingly been confirmed that each of the following episodes for the second part of Attack on Titan‘s final season will only adapt a single chapter.
I have very mixed feelings about this because I just don’t think that some of these chapters are long enough to justify a single episode, like Episode 26 “Traitor” for example.
I fear they may try to pad these episodes out with large recaps, really slowing down the pacing.
Although, this concern may turn out to be false, so I will admit to that if it turns out to be the case.
It also does not like we will be getting Chapter 131 adapted in this part of the Final Season like I suspected either, so does that mean no Chapter 123 flashback as well?
Will we be seeing those in a movie or a Final Season Part 3?
Only time will tell.

Attack on Titan, the Final Season, Episode 23, Sunset Review: A Great Set-Up Episode.

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.”
Harmless?
Hell, no.
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.”

Attack on Titan, the Final Season, Episode Twenty-Two, Thaw Review: Returning Character and OST.

With the Paths storyline of Chapters 119 to most of Chapter 123 coming to an end at Episode 21, Episode 23 of Attack on Titan’s final season, “Thaw”, kicks off with a cut to the present as our main characters and the world at large reacts to the Rumbling.
Directed by Hidekazu Hara and Kiō Igarashi, “Thaw” begins with the typical episode recap, before showing the reactions the Eldians in Liberio are having to Eren’s declaration about the Rumbling.
Among these Eldians is Annie’s father, a fitting choice concerning that the episode ends with the twist of her return.
Once we get these Eldians’ reactions, the scene then cuts to Reiner and Gabi, who are retreating from where Wall Maria used to be, as the Wall Titans are now marching.
Falco is nowhere to be seen and Reiner realizes that he was taken by Connie and Jean, before despairing that Eren will destroy the world, which hits him hard in particular because his original goal was to save it.
As Gabi leads him into a house to rest, Reiner suggests she finds Pieck and escape, telling her they have no hope of stopping Eren, before falling unconcious.
Gabi, however, is unwilling to accept this and, in a scene very similar to one where Eren told himself in the mirror to “fight”, Gabi also ties her hair up into a ponytail, followed by her declaring that she is coming for Falco.
The boy in question has indeed been captured by Jean, Connie, Mikasa and Armin, who are now all struggling with their conflicting thoughts about the Rumbling.
Jean states that he believes the people of the outside world brought this all upon themselves, yet his tone and wording highlight his confliction greatly.
Armin is much more forward with his doubts, declaring that Eren is going too far, which leads to Jean stating that Eren is committing this unprecedented genocide for them.
Before they can appropriately deal with the inner conflict this brings them, they notice that Zeke’s Titans are now on a rampage.
As they move to deal with them, Mikasa asks Jean what he intends to do with Falco.
Jean suggests feeding Falco to Commander Pyxis so he can come back as a Shifter but Connie interrupts, insisting his mother be the one who is saved, since there won’t need to be any fighting anymore because of the Rumbling.
An argument ensues when Armin suggests letting Falco live, so they can use him to negotiate with Reiner and the other Warriors, but they are again interrupted, this time by an attacking Titan, giving Connie the chance to kidnap Falco to save his mother.
And so begins what I think is one of the worst subplots in all of Attack on Titan, but the awful way that storyline unfolds is not for a few episodes at this point.
As Jean, Mikasa and Armin decide to focus on killing the Titans in Shiganshina, since there aren’t any walls left to contain them, the episode changes focus to Sasha’s family, who are fleeing from a Titanized Nile.
Kya ends up hitting her head and falling down some stairs, with Nile going right after her and no Sasha to save her this time.
It is at that moment that Gabi rushes in, freeing Nile from the misery of being a Titan, as she kills him with the anti-Titan rifle, saving Kya, who then sees her as Sasha.
This symbolic moment where Kya sees her sister in her killer is a controversial one in the fandom but one I like because of how it follows through on Gabi’s redemption.
Kya pays Gabi back in full for her rescue, covering for her when Jeagerists show up and recognize Gabi as the girl from Marley.
Niccolo and the rest of Sasha’s family also support Gabi, leading to the Jeagerists leading them to saftey.
During this time, Gabi and Kya have a heart to heart, where Gabi admits that she killed people for praise and that is her devil.
Niccolo follows this up by saying both he and Kya have devils within them as well, and the only way to escape them is to escape the forest, just like Mr Braus said.
Meanwhile, one of the soldiers who beat up Keith Shadis is about to be eaten by a Titan when who should come to rescue him but the man he beat up.
Shadis then heroically orders the trainees to follow him into battle, as the returning ost Barricades plays.
I was not expecting this theme to play this episode but I think it works fantastically.
As for Shadis, he is a character whose storyline I am excited to see play out in the final season because of how much I liked it in the manga.
One thing that I think is a downgrade from the manga, however, is the adaptation of the paneling in the next scene, where Mikasa kills a Titan that was going to eat Yelena.
In the manga, the shot cuts between Yelena’s horrified eyes and Mikasa’s determined ones, before revealing that Mikasa has killed the Titan that was about to kill Yelena, which then crashes into the building.
In the anime, however, the impact of this impressive paneling is lessened signficantly, with some of the shots being too quick, and new shots being placed in, like one of the Titan about to eat Yelena before Mikasa kills it.
We then see Jean leading the charge against the Titans in Shiganshina, with Shadis assisting as he and the trainees lead various Titans to where they will be easier to kill.
However, these are not just ordinary Titans but former comrades, a tragedy which becomes clear when Armin notices Commander Pyxis among the Titans and then puts him out of his misery, thanking him for helping them get this far and wishing that he rest in peace.
As the fight progresses, we see Mikasa save Louise, only for her admirer to be distracted by this and then get hit by a thunder spear explosion, her fate now unknown.
With the Titans in Shiganshina all killed, the survivors rest, with Onyankopon coming to Jean and reflecting on how his homeland will be destroyed.
Rubbing this painful moment in for him further is when everyone’s least favourite nationalist (or favourite depending on who you ask) Floch arrives with a smug look on his face to announce the Eldian Empire’s revival, placing Yelena, Onyankopon, and the rest of the volunteers under arrest.
As this is happening, Armin and Mikasa are led into a basement by Mr Braus and meet with Gabi, who begs them to give Falco back, only to be horrified when she learns what Connie plans to do with him.
She then begs further, asking if Eren can return Connie’s mother to normal on his own since he also removed Reiner’s Armour.
This causes Armin to realize that Eren removed all Titan hardening, meaning that Annie must be free.
Sure enough, the scene then cuts to Annie, now free from her crystal after 56 episodes, bringing an end to the episode.
Overall, “Thaw” is a great adaptation of Chapter 124, bringing back Annie well and depicting the fight in Shiganshina amazingly, with the return of the excellent ost Barricades.

Manga Spoilers:
“Thaw” saw the beginning of the Connie and Falco subplot, the storyline where Connie attempts to feed Falco to his mother to turn her back into a human.
As I said in the spoiler free section, this is one of my least favourite subplots of the entire series. The only one I can think of that is worse is the atrocious pregnancy subplot Historia recieved (if you can even call that degrading treatment of her character a subplot, since it never amounted to anything).
One of the big reasons for my dislike of the Connie subplot is how pointless it seems in the grand scheme of things.
The end of the world is literally happening and we are wasting time on Connie’s mother.
This has me hoping that the anime might make some changes to improve this subplot but I wouldn’t hold my breath, since this episode adapted a single chapter with no significant alterations.
The only slightly significant change I could find in this episode was that we actually see Louise get injured during the fight with the Titans in Shiganshina.
This was a nice addition because in the manga we don’t see her get injured, just the aftermath, so this bridges the gap well.
Unfortunately, at the end of that gap is another scene I do not like, the one where Mikasa completley ignores Louise dying in front of her and just wants her scarf back, making her extremely unlikeable.
Yeah, it’s safe to say I’m not looking forward to seeing the adaptation of Chapter 126, which is in my top five least favourite chapters of the series.
Oh, well, at least the adaptation of Chapter 125 “Sunset” was really good, and I will be sure to review that before Episode 24 is released.

Vinland Saga Anime Review: A Brutal, Viking Epic.

So, I’d been wanting to watch Vinland Saga for a long time but had a hard time finding it online.
Then, when I got Amazon Prime to watch the adaptation for Wheel of Time, I was delighted to see that the anime was there, so I could finally watch it.
And it did not disappoint.
Adapted from the manga by Makoto Yukimura, directed by Shūhei Yabuta, and developed by the great Wit Studio, Vinland Saga tells the tale of Thorfinn (Yūto Uemura), a young man from Iceland, looking to avenge the murder of his father, the former Jomsvikings warrior, Thors (Kenichiro Matsuda).

The first season of Vinland Saga follows Thorfinn’s journey to avenge his father.

However, this is not your typical revenge story because, while most stories of this nature would have the main character tracking down the antagonist to get their revenge, Thorfinn does not do this.
No, instead Vinland Saga goes in a completley different direction from any revenge story I have seen, with Thorfinn actually accompanying the man who killed his father, Askeladd (Naoya Uchida), in the hopes of dueling him to the death one day.
This makes none of our central characters good people, as they’re all the type to do the raiding and murdering commonly associated with the Vikings of history.
Speaking of that history, it’s interesting to note how many of these characters are interpretations of real people, with creative liberties taken.
The best example of this is Askeladd, who is based off a folk tale character, and is also by far the best character in the show.    

Askeladd is fascinating from the beginning of the season to the end.

He is whitty and charming, despite being an absolutley terrible person, and how his backstory is woven in and expanded upon is excellent, especially with how it ties into his actions at the beginning of the story.
Even the conclusion of his character for this season is amazing, making his overall character seem like both an antagonist and an anti-hero, while being neither at the same time.
Make no mistake, though, Askeladd still regularly commits atrocities, despite him being the best character in the show.
Thankfully, his horrific actions and those of the other characters are never glorified.

This leads to some pretty bleak episodes, like Episode 14, “The Light of Dawn.”

Episode 14 is a real gut punch, reminding us just how cruel our main characters can be.

I am going to remember many scenes from Vinland Saga, both the uplifting and the bleak, with many of the stories’ characters developing from these scenes, not just Thorfinn and Askeladd.
Most notably we have Canute (Kensho Ono) and Thorkell (Akio Ōtsuka), both historical figures who have great importance to the story, especially Canute, who goes on to serve as a fantastic parallel to Thorfinn in the manga.

Caunute is my favourite character of the season, next to Askeladd.

Speaking of the manga, the section that the anime adapts is actually a prologue to the true story of Vinland Saga, with the final episode literally being titled “End of the Prologue.”
The manga then goes in a direction that I honestly was not expecting, yet still quite enjoyed.
I do perfer the story telling of the first season, though, primarily because of Askeladd’s excellent development as a character.
The entire story of Season One is also aided with some fantastic animation and music from Wit Studio and composer Yutaka Yamada, tying everything together into an excellent adaptation of the manga.
Vinland Saga is an amazing anime, and I will soon be reviewing the manga and then Season Two, whenever that releases. 

Attack on Titan, the Final Season, Episode 18, Sneak Attack Review: Mappa Continues to do the Manga Justice.

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.”

Manga Spoilers:

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. 

Attack on Titan, The Final Season, Episode 17, Judgement Review: Second Battle of Shiganshina.

Attack on Titan is back for the second part of its final season and, boy, am I excited to see some of my favourite chapters of the story animated.
Directed by Yūichirō Hayashi, Episode 17, “Judgement” is not an adaptation of one of my favourite chapters but it is still a pretty great episode nonetheless, starting off this series of episodes quite well.
“Judgement” begins by showing the scene I was disappointed not to see in the first half of the final season.
However, this scene’s adaptation certainly did not disappoint, presenting some excellent animation right off the bat.
The episode begins with the captive Hange and the Jeagerists discovering the aftermath of the explosion Zeke caused, after which both his and Levi’s fates were left uncertain.
Well, Levi’s status is still unknown, even after this episode, because it is not entirely clear if he is alive or dead.
That said, I was quite impressed with the amount of detail that went into the gore for what happened to Levi.
Heck, I was surprised with how uncensored this episode was in general.
Back to the scene at hand, Floch and the Jeagerists want to put a bullet in Levi’s head, to which Hange responds that he is already dead, only for her to flee with him when Zeke is revived.
The animation during Zeke’s revival is fantastic and it raises a great mystery with the question of who the girl who revived him in the “paths” was.
Then, we get the opening, “The Rumbling” by SiM, which is another banger, with some great symbolism for future events.
From here, the episode continues with Marley’s attack on Shiganshina, beginning the battle with an unexpectedly comedic moment, when Porco cuts off Pieck’s hand, so she can escape with Gabi.
The hand falls right into Gabi’s hands and the two scream as Pieck throws herself off the building to transform, leaving me chuckling.
In the end, both Titan Shifters escape, Pieck taking Gabi with her, later allowing Gabi to disclose her newfound theory to Magath that Zeke has royal blood, meaning they cannot allow the Jaeger brothers to come into contact.
As for Eren himself, he disregards Yelena’s advice to use the power of the Warhammer Titan to escape.
Instead, Eren goes to face Reiner, who lifts his bloody hand up to Eren before transforming, much like Eren did when he confronted Reiner in Marley.
This was a great callback.
It’s just a shame for Reiner that his fight with Eren goes as well as all of his previous fights with him.
Eren pummels him pretty easy, and Reiner only stands a chance with Porco’s help.
This is also when Eren is not using the Warhammer Titan’s powers.
When he does use them, the battle goes back to being incredibly one sided again.
But then, the Titan that is always exactly right enters the battlefield, as Magath uses Pieck’s Anti-Titan Gun to blow multiple holes in Eren’s Titan head.
This gives Marley plenty of time to deal with many of the Jeagerists, gunning them down with ease.
In Marley, the Scouts had the advantage, yet here it is clearly the reverse.
Much like many scenes in the first half of the Final Season, Mappa added a lot of combat scenes, like when the Jeagerist is chocking the Marley soldier, only to be stabbed with a bayonet from behind.
These are great additions that show off the brutality of war.
As well as Marley gaining the upper hand on the Jeagerists, Reiner also does on Eren, impaling him with one of his own Titan crystals.
While this is happening, Onyankopon rushes to free the 104th from their cell, not having been able to do so earlier out of fear of what Yelena would do to him.
However, he receives a less than warm welcome, with Connie outraged at his perceieved betrayal, revealing how the betrayals or Reiner, Bertholdt, Annie, and now Eren hurt him.
Armin wants to hear Onyankopon out, though, and the volunteer expresses how he is against Yelena and Zeke’s plan to sterilize the Eldians because he believes Paradis has a future and children are that future.
This causes Armin to remember Onyankopon’s comment about how an interesting mix of people makes the world more interesting, realizing he truly is on their side.
Armin also goes on to say he thinks Eren was lying about Mikasa only protecting Eren because she is an Ackerman and being on Zeke’s side, because him carrying out the Euthanization Plan would go directly against his character, beleiving he is only playing along with Zeke and Yelena.
The voice acting of this scene is really great, with Connie, Armin and Onyankopon’s voice actors doing a really good job.
Once this scene is done, we get the cliffhanger, which is Eren still being impaled with his crystal by Reiner, leaving him in a rather precarious position at the end of the episode.
We then get the ED, “Akuma no Ko” by Ai Higuchi, which I think is just as good as the OP.
It reminds me a lot of the OP from the first season and I think this is clearly intentional.
So, overall the second half of the Final Season is off to a good start with “Judgement.”
I am quite excited to see my favourite chapter, 121, get adapted eventually as well.

Manga Spoilers:
Since I’m a manga reader, I decided to leave a little section at the end of every review where I can talk about spoilers.
The main thing I want to talk about here is the OP, “The Rumbling.”
Along with it having some great symbolism, like the trampled butterfly at the end representing Ramzi, I was quite surprised by how many spoilers were packed in, like the actual Rumbling happening and Eren’s Founding Titan form.
I think some of these things probably should have been kept vague for anime only viewers.
Another interesting part of not just the OP but the ED as well is how they both refrence the final chapter.
In the OP we see Eren, Mikasa and Armin running towards the tree on the hill, which is important to the ending as it is where Eren is buried when he dies, and in the ED we see Paradis destroyed and overtaken by nature, much like how it is in the updated ending.
Because of this, it’s pretty obvious that we aren’t getting an anime original ending.
Not that I thought we would, but I have been seeing some insane conspiracy theories out there about how an anime original ending was always part of the plan.
People have literally been saying that a supposedly different coloured scarf means the ending will be completley changed.
With the OP and ED putting these anime ending theories to rest, I think the best we can hope for is maybe a couple of changes, rather than a completley different ending.
Personally, I’m just hoping the a few of the last minute twists of the ending will be reworked to make them more digestible.
Hopefully, some dialogue will be changed as well.
For example, please change Armin saying “thank you for becoming a mass muderer,” to, “I’m sorry you became a mass murderer.”
The “thank you” part really sends a bad message, although I know that is unintentional.
But, whatever ending we do get, we probably won’t be getting it for a while if the leaks about a movie turn out to be true.
Either way, I’m just looking forward to seeing fantastic chapters like 119, 121, 122, 123, 129, 130 and 131 adapted with the rest of Part Two.

Parasyte: The Maxim, Review: Are You Really Izumi Shinichi?

I remember when I first got into anime years ago and one of the shows I considered watching because of the praise it recieved was Parasyte: The Maxim.
I intended to watch it but I got so caught up watching other anime that I eventually forgot all about it, until it was chosen at the anime club I go to.
It was not long ago that we finished the final episode and I have a lot of thoughts about the whole series.
Parasyte: The Maxim is directed by Kenichi Shimizu, and is a modern adaptation of the manga Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwakka, which ran from 1988 to 1995.
The story follows high school student Izumi Shinichi (Nobunaga Shimazaki), who wakes up one night to discover a strange alien-like worm burrowing its way into his arm and moving towards his head.
In a panic, he cuts off the circulation in his arm, causing the worm to settle there and eat it, taking its place as the Parasite Shinichi names Migi (Arya Hirano).
However, Shinichi has very little time to deal with the new guest in his body before Migi makes him aware of other Parasites, ones who successfully took over their hosts’ brains and are now regularly feasting on humans.
Viewing the two as a threat, the Parasites go on the attack, forcing Shinichi and Migi to work togethor in a tense partnership that draws many of the people Shinichi cares about into the bloody crossfire.

Shinichi and Migi battle multiple Parasites across the series, each more dangerous than the last.

This reluctant alliance between the human and Parasite grows magnificently across the story, with both Shinichi and Migi getting some excellent development, as Migi becomes more human and Shinichi less so, much of which ties into the themes of the story about what being human is and the effect we have as a species on the planet.
It is not just Shinichi and Migi who are interesting though, because there are also a plethora of interesting supporting characters, like the Parasite Reiko Tamura (Atsuko Tanaka) who’s growing humanity was engaging to see progress.
Of course, with quite a few characters in such a bloody series, it is inevitable that many of them do end up meeting tragic ends, creating numerous emotional and gut wrenching scenes… unless the character is being stupid.
I say this because Parasite is a show where a few of its supporting cast make excellent candidates for receiving the Darwin Award.
Seriously, the decisions some of these characters make are the most idiotic I have seen in a show. 

Yes, I agree Shinichi. Yuko really is an idiot.

Thankfully, these instances of stupidity, although extreme when they do happen, are few and far between and it do not come from Shinichi or Migi.
No, these two remain consistent in their intelligence and development, as they take on their opposing Parasites in many well done fight scenes, accompanied by a good score and animation.
This quality extends to the OP as well, Let Me Hear by Fear, And Loathing in Las Vegas, which was such a great choice because the lyrics coincide perfectly with the events and themes of the show all the way to the end.
Speaking of that ending, there is one aspect of it I am still a bit unsure of and this is the resolution to Shinichi and Migi’s relationship.
It just felt a little abrupt to me and I think it could have used a bit more time.
Otherwise, I actually loved this ending.
The final conflict Shinichi has was one I did not expect but I think it made perfect sense with the story’s themes about human nature.

I don’t think the final conflict of the story could have been done better to be honest.

Overall, all of this adds up to anime which does live up to the hype behind it.
There are some issues, like characters occasionally making absurdly stupid decisions and part of the ending feeling a bit rushed. 
However, the rest of it more than makes up for these minor problems, presenting an anime that has intriguing themes and a compelling dynamic between its two main characters.

My Hero Academia Season Five, Episode Twenty-Four, Tomura Shigaraki: Origin Review: Rise of the Demon King.

If I’m honest, The My Villain Academia Arc has not exactly been handled well in this fifth season of My Hero Academia. 
It’s pretty obvious that Studio Bones just prioritized the heroes development over the villains here, with them rearranging the arc and giving it less time to be fleshed out because of filler episodes and moments beforehand, most of which were to hype up a non-canon movie.
This has made the My Villain Academia storyline a disappointing adaptation, which is extremely unfortunate when you compare it to the greatness of the manga.
You know something went wrong when plenty of people think that the Joint Training Arc was adapted better than the My Villain Academia Arc.
Well, at least I can say that Studio Bones finished the arc well.
The last half of Tenko Shimura: Origin did a fantastic job of adapting Shigaraki’s backstory and, now, Tomoura Shigaraki: Origin has continued this by ending the storyline with even better quality.
I wish the rest of the My Villain Academia Arc had been adapted as well as it was in this episode.
Picking up from the reveal of how Tenko Shimura “accidentally” murdered his family in the previous episode, we see the poor boy walking the crowded streets, filthy and bloody.
Surely someone helps him, right?
Wrong, because as soon as anyone gets a good look at his frightening face they naturally assume a hero can deal with it and abandon the child.
This perfectly points out the flaws in My Hero Academia’s hero society.
The civilian population is so complacent with the system that they full-heartedly believe a hero can solve any problem, and they don’t need to do anything, so they leave a child begging to be saved alone.
Unfortunately for Tenko, and the world at large, the only one with an interest in saving him, for undoubtedly nefarious reasons, is All For One, who stretches out a hand to Tenko, just as All Might did for Izuku at the beginning of the story.
The parralels between our hero and villain are greatly portrayed here.
While Izuku had someone to help him down the path to be a hero, Tenko had someone to manipulate him down the path of a villain.
Tenko did not spend a long time in All For One’s care before the criminal mastermind had convinced him to kill two street thugs who he had restrained himself from killing previously after they harassed him.
This leads to All For One also convincing Tenko to wear the hands of his dead family, now dubbing him Tomura Shigaraki, Tomoura meaning mourning, and Shigaraki being All For One’s own last name.
Now remembering everything about his past, in his present fight with Redestro, Shigaraki reflects on how, in his eyes, what happened was no tragedy.
All of this leads to his awakening, as he crushes the supposed last hand of his dead family, declaring he doesn’t need it anymore, before unlocking his Quirk’s full potential, just as Gigantomachia arrives on the scene.
Redestro’s efforts in using a mecha suit to up his stress does no good, as Shigaraki unleashes a seemingly unending wave of decay in some fantastic animation that really highlights the danger he will pose going forward.
Destroying much of Deika city, Shigaraki leaves Redestro crippled, after the Meta Liberation Army commander is forced to amputate his own legs to stop the decay from killing him when his feet touched the ground.
Although this clearly has an effect on Shigaraki himself, given how his own skin cracks and his hair turns almost a glowing white.
Yet, this destruction is still enough to leave Gigantomachia in a state of shock and cause him to finally submit after seeing how Shigaraki’s liberated and terryifying strength then causes Redestro to sign over leadership of the Meta Liberation Army.
It is here where one of my issues of the episode comes in because, when Redestro submits to Shigaraki’s leadership, Shigaraki says that because he is the CEO of Deternat he must have money to give them, since the League was down on their luck before this moment.
However, because the anime adaptation cut out the beginning of the My Villain Academia Arc, including Redestro’s entire introduction, this information feels very forced and shoved in.
Oh, and Spinner also gets more of his character arc cut.
Seriously, you really have to feel bad for Spinner since this is the arc that turned him from a very forgettable character into a relatable and somewhat interesting one.
Along with this, his character arc shows Shigaraki’s growth through how Spinner starts off questioning his leadership of the League yet by the end of the storyline he is fully devoted to Shigaraki.
Cutting all of this not only makes Spinner a much weaker character, but will also make his actions in the next arc when we get Season Six mean a lot less.
But, hey, not like I expected this episode to actually give Spinner anything, given how much they cut from him before.
Other than these issues though, Tomura Shigaraki: Origin is still a great episode.
Following Redestro’s surrender, we then cut to the League and Shigaraki being touted as the new leaders of the Meta Liberation Army, now named the Paranormal Liberation Front.
Redestro is now fully devoted to Shigaraki, along with Gigantomachia, there is a funny gag about Toga’s clone, Twice’s split personality is still in place, Shigaraki has one of the dead hands left, and Dr Ujiko prepares to experiment on Shigaraki to give him an even bigger upgrade.
And all of this is happening while Izuku is definitley beginning to unlock his own Quirk’s potential, through learning how he will inherit all of the Quirk’s from the previous holders of One For All.
This should make for an interesting fight between Deku and Shigaraki when the two finally face off.
I just hope that such a fight will not get the same treatment as the My Villain Academia Arc.
While I can say that this storyline has been good in the anime, there were so many cuts and it went by so fast that it just does not have the same impact as the manga.
I just hope the next season takes the arc following this seriously because it is by far the best storyline in the entire manga, in my own personal opinion.
Despite my feelings about the My Villain Academia Arc as a whole though, I cannot deny that Studio Bones at least ended it well, with Tomura Shigaraki: Origin being a great finisher for it.

My Hero Academia, Season Five, Episode Twenty-Two, Sadman’s Parade Review: I am Pleasantly Surprised.

In my review for the previous episode of My Hero Academia I said that I would be pleasantly surprised to see Episdoe Twenty-Two of Season Five, “Sadman’s Parade,” adapt the manga in a way that does it justice. 
Well, thankfully, I was indeed pleasantly surprised because “Sadman’s Parade” is a very well done depiction of the chapters it adapts, bringing Twice’s development and the beginning of the fight with Redestro to the screen in various exciting scenes. 
The episode picks up from where “Revival Party” left off, with Toga about to be killed by clones of Twice created by one of the leading members of the Meta Liberation Army, Skeptic. 
Having been unmasked, Twice is undergoing a mental breakdown, horrified because he thinks he is seeing himself trying to kill Toga, and this causes him to recall his past. 
We already knew from previous flashbacks that Twice used his Double Quirk to create clones of himself so he could have friends, only for them to all declare they were the real one and kill each other, making Jin himself wonder if he was the real one at all or just another double. 
This lead to him developing a split personality and eventually joining the Legaue of Villains as Twice. 
However, in this episode we get even more great details. 
We see how, before he resorted to using his doubles for friends, he accidentally hit someone with his bike because they ran out in front of him. 
While not entirely his fault, the man he hit unfotunately had connections to Twice’s workplace, causing his boss to assault and fire him, eventually pushing Twice into his life of crime with his doubles until they caused his mental breakdown.
This is where his saviour, Giran, came in. 
The information broker brought Twice into the League, giving him the family he never had, and it is this motivation for his newfound family that gets Twice moving to save Toga, only for Skeptic’s puppets to break both his arms. 
This was a bad move on Skeptic’s part though because the pain causes Twice to realize that he really is the original Jin Babaigawarwa because he has not melted away like one of his doubles would.
It is this relization, which allows him to unlock the full potential of his quirk, like Toga did last episode, unleashing inifinte doubles in his new ultimate move, the titular Sadman’s Parade, to fight off the Liberation Army, having overcome his trauma. 
“Learn to fear my Quirk,” indeed. 
The animation for Sadman’s Parade is actually quite good, bringing this powerful moment home. 
Before watching the episode, I was afraid that this moment would be composed of entirely still images but there was a fair amount of animation to these infinite Twices. 
Another piece of animation which I was pleased with was the Dabi fight with Geten. 
Like the evolution of Twice’s Quirk, Dabi’s battle with the ice user is quite well animated. 
It also leads to the revelation that Dabi’s own flames eat away at him, meaning that the scars he has across his face and body are likely self inflicted. 
Before this, we also get a closer look at the Meta Libertation Army’s ideology through Geten, showing how deporable they are. 
Geten says that the world they strive to create is one where only those with strong Quirks can prosper above all. 
Kind of creepy to think about what would have happened to Deku if he had remained Quirkless and such a world had come about. 
Dabi seems to share the sentiment of this world view being a terrible idea, calling it a sad ideology and the two begin to fight again.
While this is happening, Shigaraki and Spinner push forward with the help of the army of Twices, only for one double to reach the tower first, confronting Redestro with a double version of the League.
It is a shame that Redestro is much too powerful, laying waste to all of the doubles, with the exception of one Twice clone who runs to Giran’s side, tearfully saying he has nothing to apologise for. 
This is interrupted when the double version of Shigaraki is revealed to have survived, attacking Redestro in a well animated fight scene, where Redestro reveals the origins of Destro and the Liberation Army. 
It is revealed that the term Quirk came from a mother who begged a prejudice crowd to accept her son’s “Quirk”, only for the crowd to kill her. 
Her child was the original Destro, Redestro’s father, and now Redestro believes he has inherited his will, which should allow him to defeat Shigaraki.
This seems to be the case, until the real Shigaraki shows up at the bottom of the tower and disintergrates it with a mere touch. 
As Redestro emerges from the rubble, his Quirk fully acitivated, Shigaraki recognizes him as the boss of the Liberation Army because his strength allowed him to surive the fall, ending the episode. 
On another note, I was a bit disappointed to see Shigaraki not mention that he recognized Redestro from the Detnerat commericals, like in the manga, but Redestro’s introduction was cut so it makes sense why this line was removed. 
In any case, next episode looks to be a great one, what with Gigantomachia now approaching, since the Dr woke him up early this episode, and Shigaraki’s full backstory fast approaching. 
I hope we get this backstory adapted brilliantly in all of its horrific glory because, if it is, it could be one of My Hero Academia’s best episodes.  

My Hero Academia, Season Five, Episode 20, My Villain Academia Review: It Begins… Without Really Beginning.

So, the fifth season of My Hero Academia has been interesting to say the least.
The problems fans are having with the anime have been made clear by them since season four, a season I was quite forgiving of and praised highly (although I have not rewatched it since so that could change if I chose to do so).
However, I am not as forgiving with Season Five because these problems have been bothering me.
The adaptation of the first arc, Class 1-A vs 1-B, was adapted quite well apart from a few too many flashbacks.
However, the rest of the season has not been adapted nearly as well.
The Endeavor Agency Arc was put ahead of the highly anticipated My Villain Academia Arc, which will undoubtedly make some scenes in future episodes not very tense because we know which characters will live.
Not only this but some of the episodes in the Endeavor Agency Arc were slowed down to a snail’s pace and there was even a filler episode put in.
Why was all this done?
Well, supposedly it was all for the new My Hero Academia movie, since it has characters from the agency arc and they had to move it forward to have the movie make sense to the viewer.
If this is true, it is a real shame that one of the best storylines from the manga has been pushed to the side for that.
Well, we recently got the begining of this highly praised arc with Episode Twenty of Season Five, “My Villain Academia”, and the problems with the pacing of prior episodes really affects the beginning of said arc which… is not even a beginning at all really.
Directed by Ikurō Satō and Takanori Yano, the episode skips over the first chapter of the My Villain Academia Arc entirely, which is a vital chapter because it sets up key events towards the end of the arc.
Even worse, by removing this chapter, Spinner’s entire character arc is effectively gone now.
This really makes me concerned for how this storyline will continue to be handled.
At least the scenes that were actually adapted from the manga are pretty good.
“My Villain Academia” begins with the League of Villains being attacked by Gigantomachia, All For One’s bodyguard, who wants to test Shigaraki to see if he is fit to be his new master.
Alas, Shigaraki is unworthy in Gigantomachia’s eyes, leading to the League being brought in to meet the creator of the Nomu, Daruma Ujiko, who is the Dr who told Izuku that he didn’t have a Quirk at the beginning of the story.
It is here we get our first peak into Shigaraki’s dark past, as we see how he was rescued by All For One in a flashback who then tells the young boy how he accidentally killed his entire family with his Quirk, presenting him with their hands, which are the hands he wears to this day.
Ujiko then tasks Shigaraki with gaining Gigantomachia’s loyalty in order to achieve his full support, leading to the League returning to Gigantomachia, lead by Shigaraki, who tells the giant bodyguard that his future king is back in a scene that gave me goosebumps.
We then cut to a month and a half later where Shigaraki is still struggling to beat Gigantomachia.
Spinner finally gets some spotlight, narrating about their struggles and how Toga got a new coat, however this detail now feels irrelvant because we didn’t see how much the League was struggling financially at the beginning of the arc, since this was also cut.
Speaking of things being removed, the introduction of Redestro is gone as well, so him calling on the League of Villains to fight his Meta Liberation Army feels kind of abrupt.
He lures the League in by using Giran as bait and threatening to call the heroes down on them if they don’t come to him.
Unfortunately for Redestro, he doesn’t know about Gigantomachia, and Shigaraki plans to use this to his advantage by eventually leading the giant to crush the Meta Liberation Army, planning to get him to submit after he is done.
This brings an end to a good episode, but one that is quite disappointing from a manga reader’s perspective.
There are so many cuts of relevant parts to the story that it feels like the My Villain Academia Arc will probably be nowhere near as impactful as it was in the manga.
I am still excited to see the rest of it and hope it is adapted well.
But, if it is not, I think many of us will be quite bitter that one of the best arcs in My Hero Academia was not done justice because the studio wanted to focus on a movie that isn’t even canon.