Wow… just wow.
Okay, so I made it clear in my review for the final chapter of Attack on Titan, “Towards the Tree on that Hill”, that I thought the ending of the story was a mixed bag.
There was a lot to dislike about the chapter, from Ymir loving King Fritz, to Armin thanking Eren for committing mass genocide, to Eren killing his own mother and whining about Mikasa even though he just murdered billions of people, to Historia’s drawn out pregnancy subplot amounting to absolutley nothing.
However, there was also a lot to like about the ending, from Levi’s fantastic sendoff, the final panels mostly bringing a satisfying conclusion to the Alliance and Mikasa, and, of course, Titan powers coming to an end which meant that the characters had actually achieved something by the end.
So, overall, the final chapter had plenty of good things and plenty of bad things about it.
This made me excited for the volume release where Hajime Isayama would add additional pages to expand on the ending.
I hoped that these additions would work towards making the things I didn’t like about the ending easier to digest.
Well, Hajime Isayama just released this updated ending and, having read the new pages, I can confidently say that the characters achieved pretty much nothing.
Seriously, these eight pages take the things I actually liked about Attack on Titan’s ending and completley contradicts them.
Without this updated ending I would at least be able to say that the ending to my favourite story was decent, if a bit problematic.
Now that these pages have been added to the canon, though, I don’t like the ending.
I think it makes all the past sacrifices of the story meaningless in the long run.
This said, I won’t act like everything Isayama added here is bad.
There is one addition that I do like and it is Ymir actually getting a sendoff.
In the original chapter, she just disappeared completley, which was bizarre given how much she had been a focus in the final arc.
However, in the updated chapter, she is actually given an ending.
Right after Armin yells that he is the man who killed Eren Yeager, we see Mikasa walking away with Eren’s head and seeing the specter of Ymir, in adult form this time for some reason.
It is revealed that Ymir was the source of Mikasa’s headaches, and Mikasa thanks her for bringing her children into the world before Ymir fades away forever.
I was glad to see Ymir actually get a sendoff here as opposed to just vanishing, but there is still a lot about this scene that just does not make sense.
If Ymir was the one causing Mikasa’s headaches, then how the heck did she know that Mikasa would be key to freeing her?
Mikasa’s headaches have been happening for a long time so why was Ymir reaching out to her then?
Also, how does Mikasa even know what Ymir looks like to recognise her or know about her love for King Fritz?
Not to mention that Mikasa being the one to ultimately free Ymir still comes out of absolutley nowhere.
The most troubling thing about this though is that during this scene we get a flashback, which shows Ymir not saving King Fritz from the spear and then comforting her children.
There are two possibilities as to what this could mean.
Option number one is that Ymir really didn’t save King Fritz and everything we saw after she died in Chapter 122 was just some weird hallucination she was experiencing.
Option number two is that this is just Ymir wishing she had not saved Fritz and had instead lived on with her children.
If it’s option number one then Isayama retconned a massive part of the story’s history and lore, completley ruining Chapter 122.
This is why I am choosing to believe it’s option number two that he is depicting here because otherwise it completley ruins a chapter that I once loved.
No matter what the intended ending is, though, Isayama still made this really unclear, so he should have either been more clear about its intent or just removed it all togethor.
Now, we get to the part of the updated conclusion that made me go from thinking the ending was alright to that it was just downright bad.
Right after the original final scene, where Mikasa thanks Eren for wrapping the scarf around her, we get a series of panels showing different timeskips on Paradis.
The first of these shows Mikasa with an unknown man who she presumeably married and had a child with, visiting Eren’s grave.
I can’t believe Mikasa got the Historia treatment, marrying an unknown person.
As if that happening to one character wasn’t bad enough.
Still, this unknown man could be Jean since it does look like him from behind.
Even if the husband is Jean, though, it still feels forced because of how onesided their past interactions have been.
Much like Mikasa’s love for Eren being properly built up but not Eren’s for her, Jean’s feelings for Mikasa were built up but hers wasn’t for him.
From here, we see a progression of Mikasa’s life, with her continuously visiting Eren’s grave with her family, until she dies an old woman.
Then we get the kicker.
Paradis is destroyed in a war.
I’m sorry, what?
You’re telling me after all that build up in the original final chapter towards the future for Paradis being hopeful, despite the danger, it just gets destroyed?
Then what’s the point of the fantastic Levi scene where he tells his comrades that this is the outcome they sacrificed their lives for?
They didn’t sacrifice their lives just for the island to be destroyed.
This contradicts so much that was in the original final chapter.
In that first ending, it felt like Isayama keeping Paradis’ fate ambigious was him trying to stay consistent with one of Attack on Titan’s biggest themes, this being that the world is cruel but also beautiful.
There was danger on the horizon but Paradis had the Alliance as peace envoys, working to build a bridge between them and the outside world.
This updated ending changes the entire feeling of the conclusion from hopeful to just plain cynical.
Not that a depressing ending couldn’t have worked but, as I said, this just contradicts so much of what was in the original chapter, and this was stuff about that chapter which I actually liked so it makes it way worse for me.
Then we get the big slap in the face.
After Paradis has been destroyed, we see a young boy, who looks like Mikasa’s descendent and has shaded in eyes, meaning that he is a slave to something as the symbolism of this story dictates.
The boy and his dog head towards the tree where Eren’s head is buried, which has now grown to look exactly like the tree Ymir fell into where she was infected with the Hallucigenia and became the first Titan 2000 years ago.
Therefore, it is heavily implied that the power of the Titans will be coming back.
Are you freaking kidding me?
What the heck was the point then?
It was all for nothing!
In the original ending, Titan powers disappearing was an incredibly big deal.
It was one of the biggest achievements the characters made.
Even if the cycle of violence did continue, at least they could say they achieved ending the cycle of Titans, something which Eren sought to end right at the beginning of the story.
Now, that meaning is completley taken away.
Eren ensuring a long life for his friends is the only thing any character achieved with this ending.
Other than this, there was nothing else achieved in the long run.
Paradis is destroyed and the Alliance and Historia’s descendents are all dead, making their attempts to try for peace meaningless, and the Titan powers are hinted to be coming back, making one of the biggest goals of the story go absolutley nowhere.
This ruins the ending for me.
Before, it was okay.
It had big problems but I felt that it was at least somewhat satisfying.
Now, with this updated ending, I can say that Attack on Titan‘s ending is just straight up bad.
The updated ending keeps the things I didn’t like, rather than expanding on them in ways that could make them good.
It also adds worse things that make the good parts of the final chapter completley meaningless.
Ymir getting a sendoff is the only good addition in this updated ending.
Otherwise, it’s a complete disaster.
I still love Attack on Titan because it’s a story where I really connected with its world, themes, characters, and plot twists.
The ending, though?
Not so much now.
Well, it finally happened.
After well over a decade and only one break due to a pandemic, Hajime Isayama has brought his epic story of Attack on Titan to a close.
I can still remember entering this fandom when I watched the first season, all the way back in early 2018.
When I saw the second season, I knew that this story would become something special to me and, sure enough, it is now my favourite story of all time.
Chapters 119-123 especially are the best fiction I’ve ever read.
Now, it’s over.
Isayama concluded his story with Chapter 139, “Toward the Tree on That Hill.”
So, what did I think about the ending?
Well… it’s complicated.
Ever since I finished the chapter I’ve been constantly changing my opinion, going from liking to disliking the way it ended.
Eventually, I just sat down and carefully read the final chapter, trying to understand what Isayama was attempting to say with this ending.
This caused me to come to the conclusion that the ending is decent.
Not great but certainly not bad either.
There are both great and bad things in the chapter, though.
In fact, I think the perfect way to describe “Toward the Tree on That Hill” is as a mixed bag.
There’s a lot to like and a lot to dislike.
I’ll start from the very beginning.
Chapter 139 opens with a flashback to Chapter 131, where it is revealed that Eren actually spoke to Armin when he pulled him into the Paths Dimension.
It is here that Eren proves one of my past theories right, that he did the Rumbling to set up the Alliance as heroes to the world so he could protect them.
Is this a little too similar to Lelouch from Code Geass?
Yes but it certainly makes certain plot holes from prior chapters easier to solve, like why Eren didn’t have the Warhammer Titan remove the explosives.
As for the potential problem of Paradis being destroyed, Eren reveals that the Rumbling will kill 80% of humans outside the walls, giving the island a fighting chance.
The horrified look on Armin’s face following this declaration is really well drawn by Isayama.
From here, Isayama gives a great reflection of Eren and Armin’s friendship, as the two journey to lands they always dreamed of through Paths, which is something I really appreciated.
It is in these travels that Eren provides some more twists and it is here that my problems with the final chapter begin to pop up, and the first problem is by far the worst.
Eren tells Armin that the reason why Ymir didn’t go against King Fritz for 2000 years was because she was in love with him.
Yes, you heard right, Ymir was in love with the guy who killed her parents, enslaved her, used her as a weapon in war, raped her, and fed her dead body to their daughters.
I suspected Ymir was suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome, given that she sacrificed her life for King Fritz.
However, the problem is that the story does not seem to be classifying it as that.
Eren says that what Ymir felt for her abuser was actual love and then Isayama draws a parallel to Mikasa’s love for Eren by having Mikasa’s actions in Chapter 138 cause Ymir to be free from that burden of love, just like Mikasa freed herself.
The one thing you definitley don’t want to do is draw a parallel between your main couple and an incredibly abusive relationship, if you can even call Fritz using Ymir a relationship because I know I don’t.
Another reason I really don’t like this is because it makes me like Chapter 122 so much less to the point that I’m not sure that I can call it my favourite chapter anymore.
When I first read it, I interpreted Ymir following the King because of her stockholm syndrome, not of love but of enslavement.
Ymir had been a slave for so long that she didn’t know how to be anything else and so she continued to do as she was ordered for 2000 years until Eren freed her.
But, no, she did it because she apparently loved the guy who abused her for long, which still does not appear to be labeled as Stolkholm Syndrome, which it most certainly is.
Now, I’m not saying that Isayama actually believes that what Ymir had with Fritz is love, certainly not.
I’m just saying it was badly portrayed.
Also, what the heck even happened to Ymir anyway?
She was completley absent in this chapter.
Did she just disappear with the Titan realm?
It’s a shame because not only does all of this lessen my appreciation for “From You, 2000 Years Ago” but also because it is obviously quite problematic to portray Ymir’s feelings about King Fritz in this way.
Unfortunately, this is not the only problematic thing in this scene because later on Armin actually thanks Eren for becoming a mass murderer for their sake… yikes.
I’ll always defend Attack on Titan from those who claim that it is facist propaganda but if this is an accurate translation then Isayama really dropped the ball when considering the implications of this line.
It also seems quite out of character for Armin to thank Eren for killing potentially billions of innocent people.
Speaking of out of character, there’s also the reveal that Eren sent Dina to kill his mother to set them on this path.
Not only do I not believe Eren would do this but it is also brought up and then forgotten about in an instant.
You could completley remove this twist and nothing about the final chapter would change.
Then there’s Eren crying out about how he doesn’t want Mikasa to have any other man but him and how he wants her to be constantly thinking about him.
This scene seems like it’s being played for laughs but, given how it came after the reveal that Eren had murdered 80% of the human population and allowed Dina to kill his own mother, it feels really out of place.
Eren finally revealing his true feelings for Mikasa should have been played as serious rather than comedic.
We also get the teased final panel in this scene and it is actually not the final panel but rather a small flashback of Grisha telling Eren that he is free.
While I do like the symbolism of this, showing that Grisha changed his ways and also set Eren on his path to freedom, I do think that teasing this as one of the last panels was a mistake.
It led to too many fan theories and expectations, which naturally made a lot of people disappointed when their own theories didn’t turn out to be true.
In any case, following Eren’s goodbye to Armin, we then cut to the present where Eren being killed has caused the Hallucigenia to self destruct and turn all the Titans back into humans, including Jean, Connie and Gabi.
While this is quite convenient, I’m just personally glad that those three characters came back because I felt their goodbyes in Chapter 138 weren’t as fleshed out as they could have been.
Along with this, it’s revealed that Eren also sent most of the Alliance a goodbye, before erasing their memories of it.
This includes Mikasa, which doesn’t really make sense because she’s an Ackerman, so her memory shouldn’t have been able to be erased.
Although, maybe the memory she saw was the one Eren sent her right before she killed him in Chapter 138, so that would explain it.
Either way, this does lead to some pretty funny and moving moments, like Pieck comedically saying she wishes she could have spoke to Eren too and Falco running to reunite with Gabi, only for her to fling him in the air in excitement.
Following this, we get the absolute best moment of the final chapter.
The scene that actually made me tear up.
As Levi is resting up against a rock, he see his old comrades standing among the smoke, giving him the Survey Corps salute.
Levi says that this outcome is the result of their devoted hearts, before returning the salute and shedding a tear.
What an absolutley perfect way to conclude Levi’s arc.
It was beautiful and, in my opinion, the best conclusion of any character in this chapter.
Almost as beautiful was Jean and Connie seeing Sasha.
Following this heartfelt moment, Mikasa takes Eren’s head to bury it in the place the entire story began, just as Muller and the other Marleyan officers from Fort Salta arrive.
Muller is anxious about the Eldians, which is consistent from him seeing that they all transformed in Chapter 138.
I also like the line where he tells them to prove if they are humans or Titans, just like Eren was told to prove this when he transformed for the first time in the Trost Arc.
It is at this point that Armin strolls in and begins the peace negotiations, claiming that he was the one to kill Eren.
On this dramatic note, the chapter cuts to three years later and another one of my problems come in, this being Historia’s fate.
It is revealed that her pregancy went well and she now lives on her farm with her daughter and the farmer, who she married.
That’s right, those of us who thought Eren was the father looked too deep into it.
Now, I just want to say, this is not me criticizing Isayama’s choice to not make Eren the father.
That’s on me for looking too deep into it and getting invested in that theory.
More so, this is a criticism of Isayama pairing Historia up with the farmer of all people.
I just think it is poor writing to have a character, who was once so important, be completely sidelined and then married to an unamed character that no one cares about.
It is especially annoying when this is the replacement for a fantastic relationship, if Freckled Ymir and Historia really were supposed to be implied as romantic, which I like to think that they were.
Speaking of which, my headcanon is that Historia named her child after Ymir and I will not be accepting any arguments against that.
Jokes aside, I’m actually not going to hold the farmer being the father against this chapter.
No, that’s more a problem I have with its reveal in Chapters 107 and 108.
What I will hold against the chapter, though, is the completely baffling lack of importance surrounding the birth of Historia’s child.
With all of the themes about children, it seemed like Isayama wanted us to think there was going to be something important about this baby.
From Historia’s pregancy being the cliffhanger of the first chapter for the final arc, to her pregnancy constantly being brought up, despite her barely making an appearance, to her asking Eren what he would think about her having a child, to her being shown about to give birth right before the final battle.
All of this seemed like foreshadowing for the baby’s importance.
I thought it was going to be through a Founder Ymir reincarnation or, at the very least, a symbolic representation of freedom, with Historia’s child being the first Eldian born after the Titan curse had been removed.
Instead, her pregnancy was pointless and all of that build up and Historia being sidelined was for nothing.
It seems pretty clear now that Isayama had no idea what to do with Historia post time skip.
Oh, well, at least she seems happy and Isayama didn’t decide to just kill her off during childbirth.
Anyway, once this brief moment with Historia’s unimportant child is shown, we get another reveal that is controversial within the fandom but one that I actually like.
This is the reveal that the cycle of violence hasn’t truly ended because Paradis has formed an army to fight the remainder of the world if need be, with Eren being viewed as a martyr.
While many seem to think that this makes Eren’s actions pointless because the cycle isn’t over, I think it actually works well because Eren still gave the island a chance and it’s also representative of the real world.
Unfortunately, total unanimous peace just isn’t feasible.
There will always be violence, war and horrors throughout our history.
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t good in the world, though, because as one of Attack on Titan‘s main themes states, “the world is cruel but it’s also beautiful.”
It is this world that the Alliance now seek to help make better, going on a diplomatic mission to Paradis where Historia and Kiyomi are waiting.
Speaking of Kiyomi, though, if she’s there then where’s Yelena?
Last we saw of her, she was on a boat in the ocean with Kiyomi and now she’s gone.
There’s another character Isayama didn’t know what to do with at the end but she wasn’t too much of an important character, so it’s thankfully not as bad as it is with Historia.
Back to the Alliance returning, we get one last goodbye with all these characters who we have come to know and love, with plenty of Isayama’s textbook humor on display, as the characters joke about Reiner’s crush on Historia and Jean looking like a horse.
The conversation then turns serious when Annie and Pieck wonder if they’ll really be welcomed as ambassadors to Paradis for the world but Connie says to trust in Historia and Armin tells them those on Paradis will want to know what they saw.
I wonder if this is implying that Armin’s narration throughout the story is actually him telling the people of Paradis what lead them all to this point.
That’s pretty cool if it’s true.
We also get a look at Levi, Gabi, Falco and Onyankopon living their lives in the outside world.
I’m really glad that all the surviving members of the Alliance got their own happy ending.
I’m pretty much satisfied with all of their conclusions.
The panel of Armin, Annie, Jean, Connie and Pieck looking up at the sky from their boat, right as Levi and the others do where they are, is striking.
We then get the final, touching scene of this fantastic story, as Mikasa rests at the titular tree on the hill where the story began, right next to Eren’s grave.
As she breaks down into tears about wanting to meet Eren once more, a bird flies down and wraps the rest of the scarf around her before taking off.
The manga ends with Mikasa looking up at this bird, thanking Eren for wrapping the scarf around her all those years ago.
Pretty fitting that the story ends with all of the characters looking up at the sky, at the freedom of birds and planes.
So, all in all, this final chapter is a mixed bag.
There is some really bad stuff about it, like the extremely problematic writing of the opening scene and Historia and her pregnancy’s treatment.
However, there is also some amazing stuff, like Levi’s tear jerking conclusion to his character arc and the final scenes with all the characters we love.
With this mixture of good and bad scenes, it creates a final chapter that I consider to be overall decent.
Not nearly as good as it could have been but still satisfying enough, nonetheless.
Yet, even though I am slightly disappointed with the ending, I still appreciate Hajime Isayama for gifting us with this amazing story that delivered some of the best characters and plot twists that I have experienced.
So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, Hajime Isayama.
You have been hard at work on this story for over a decade and you should pat yourself on the back for all your hard work and the joy (and suffering) you brought to so many readers, myself included.
Attack on Titan will always remain as one of the greats for me and I can’t believe that it’s over.