Attack on Titan Season Four Episode Four, From One Hand to Another Review: Calm Before the Storm.

4 and a half stars
Even though I liked Episode Three of Attack on Titan’s Final Season, “The Door of Hope”, the one issue I had with it was the cutting of some pretty great scenes from the manga, like Reiner’s struggles in the beginning, Annie’s role in destroying the wall, and Reiner deciding to infiltrate the military.
However, cut content is certainly not a problem I have with Episode Four, “From One Hand to Another”, which adapts the manga chapters it covers amazingly.
Directed by Tetsuaki Matsuda, it even adds in scenes from previous chapters that we thought weren’t going to be adapted, like Pieck’s crawling gag, a scene that was memed to death by the fandom, after its absence in Episode Two.   
This joke came after the opening, which followed the cliffhanger from the previous chapter, where Eren Jaeger himself was revealed to have infuriated Marley, disguised as a traumatized soldier and fittingly using the alias of Kruger. 
It is in this opening scene that Eren begins his manipulation of the good natured Falco, having him deliver letters to his “family.”
Following this sinister moment, the rest of “From One Hand to Another” definitely gives off a calm before the storm vibe, with the build up to Willy Tybur’s speech at the festival. 
Speaking of, we finally got to meet the Tybur’s, the family who holds the War Hammer Titan. 
The head of the family, Willy, is certainly an interesting character because, despite being an Eldian himself, he is the secret leader of Marley, who is widely respected by the world’s other leaders. 
It creates a striking juxtaposition when, at a dinner party, Willy is treated with respect, while Udo, a fellow Eldian, is treated like trash by almost all of the world’s leaders.
Willy’s introduction also sets Magath on the path towards being an interesting character, since it is revealed he is trying to get Marleyans to realize the errors of their ways, in being a warmongering nation, by forcing conscription to show them the true horrors of war, which the Eldians they force to fight for them experience.
Magath and Willy seem to have come to accord to save Marley, as Willy talks of how Marley is in need of a new hero, like the mysterious Helos. 
Another scene also highlights this need because, while speaking to Wily in code, Magath reveals that their “house” has already been infiltrated by “rats.” 
And, poetically, the scene then cuts to said infiltrator, Eren, who thanks Falco for sending his letters and now has a baseball from his “family.” 
Eren even talks about how he needs to go back to his “hometown.”
Oh, the irony. 
However, their conversation is interrupted by an approaching doctor who is revealed to be Eren’s grandfather. 
Dr Jaeger talks with Eren, unaware that he is his grandson, telling him to stop having Falco run errands for him because, if the Marleyans suspect something, Falco and his family could be punished. 
Eren retorts by bringing up the regrets Dr Jaeger must have, already knowing those regrets full well from Grisha’s memories. 
This causes Dr Jaeger to have a complete mental breakdown in a creepy moment that reveals he is not a doctor at this hospital but a patient, having broken down from the pain of losing his children, which he believes to be entirely his fault.   
As the real doctors lead a traumatized Jaeger away, Eren turns to the baseball and tosses it into the air. 
After this strange moment, we get the dinner party scene where, as I mentioned, Udo is looked down upon because of his Eldian blood. 
However, what I didn’t mention earlier is that there is at least one person who looks out for him, a mysterious, older Asian woman, who Gabi says is from the nation of Hizuru. 
Once the party scene has concluded, we then get our final calm before the storm moment, as Gabi and the other warrior candidates enjoy the wonders of the festival. 
This resulted in quite a few hilarious moments, primarily thanks to Gabi’s voice actress Ayane Sakura who, I have to say once again, was the best possible choice for Gabi. 
Her delivery is completely on point, much like Yuki Kaji’s somber Eren voice, which will make it interesting to see how Bryce Papenbrook follows him up in the English Dub.
Back to the festival scene, we get another funny moment with Reiner.
The man has been abused physically and emotionally and now the time has come for him to be abused financially, as his wallet is all used to pay for the kids’ food. 
This does make Reiner smile towards the end though so his financial pain is worth it. 
What also makes it worth it is Pieck and Porco being present in this scene, as they were not there to enjoy the food in the manga. 
Their scenes with the kids help make the two more relatable, especially Porco who, in the manga, is just a massive jerk. 
Seeing him encourage the kids in Episode Two, and now enjoy the festival in Episode Four, really makes me like him more than in the manga, by this point. 
It’s not all happiness though because Gabi just had to jinx it by hopefully stating that it felt like things were going to change, before the credits rolled.
Well, yes, Gabi, things are going to change, just not for the better as you had hoped. 
No, the end credits scene crushes these hopes because Falco is manipulated into bringing Reiner down into a basement for another confrontation with Eren, four years after their last meeting. 
With that, the episode left us off on a two week break until the epic episode that will be “Declaration of War.”
Still, I’m sure that the wait will be worth it and I am glad the animators got a small break because I’ve heard making the final season has been absolute hell for them.  
Fingers crossed that they can perfectly adapt “Declaration of War”, one of the best chapters of the manga and, potentially, one of the best episodes of the anime, if done right. 
Episode Five cannot come sooner. 

Attack on Titan Season Four, Episode One: The Other Side of the Sea Review – A Fantastic New Beginning.

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN MANGA SPOILERS.

4 and a half stars
It’s finally here!
After over a year of waiting, Mappa has delivered the first episode of Attack on Titan’s final season, “The Other Side of the Sea,” and, boy, is it a good one.
Honestly, coming into this episode, I had concerns.
There has been a number of leaks about production hell at Mappa with how complex the character designs are so I was worried the animation would suffer.
However, Mappa and directors  Yūichirō Hayashi and Jun Shishido thankfully pulled it off, delivering a fantastic first episode that gave me a new appreciation for Chapters 91 and 92 of the manga, which the episode adapts.
Directed by  Kaori Makita, “The Other Side of the Ocean” picks up four years after the defeat of the Warriors on Paradis, introducing us to a whole slew of new characters, starting with Falco (Hanae Natsuki), an Eldian warrior candidate caught in the middle of the final battle of a war.
The opening scene introducing him and his brother Colt (Masaya Matsukaze) is fantastic, with the ringing of Falco’s ears, the intense music, and the brutal imagery of the brothers’ fellow soldiers being cut down in a hail of bullets.
The war the two are involved in is Marley’s attempt to defeat the Mid-East Allied Forces by destroing their forces at Fort Salta; the Mid-East Allied Forces being a series of countries who banded together to attack Marley after they were defeated at Paradis four years ago.
This information is delivered to us in admittedly shoddy exposition, with the convenient excuse of Falco losing his memory due to a probable concussion.
Thankfully, it is a brief scene so it is not too much of a problem.
Also, this does give the episode time to introduce its other new characters, Gabi (Ayane Sakura), Udo (Ayumu Murase), Zofia (Yumi Kawashima), and Commander Magath (possibly Yukitoshi Hori), all of whom are greatly adapted from the manga.
Gabi is especially well done, with Ayane Sakura bringing the character to life perfectly because I already can’t imagine another voice actress playing her and I’m probably going to hear her voice whenever I read Gabi’s lines in the story.
Following these introductions, Gabi reveals she, Falco, Udo and Zofia are being considered by Magath for the role of the next Armoured Titan.
It is after this that we get the Final Season OP, “My War” by Shinsei Kamattechan.
Honestly, on my first listen, I was kind of unsure about it but, after repeat views, I think it’s a great opening for the Marley Arc, with amazing lyrics, and some chilling visuals towards the end.
I suppose my biggest criticism of it would be that it does occasionally use repeated shots of explosions and I think there should have been some variety.
Once the OP closes, we get the the beginning of the epic battle, with Gabi coming up with a plan to take down the Armoured Train, which is a threat to even the nine Titans, all by herself.
This plan goes off without a hitch, with Gabi destroying the Armoured Train before Falco dives in to protect her from machine gun fire.
He needn’t have tried though because the new Jaw Titan, Galliard, who has one of my favourite Titan designs, shows up to save them.
We also get a look at the Cart Titan, which has had its own upgrades in the four-year time skip, with machine guns mounted on its back to shoot at oncoming soldiers.
It is during this time that Falco saves an enemy soldier, only for him to call the Warrior candidates “devils,” showing how strong the hatred for Eldians is outside Paradis, even from their own people, as Gabi so obviously displays by how brainwashed she is into hating the Paradisian Eldians.
Then, we get the most epic moment of the episode as, in a perfect adaption, Eldians are parachuted down from an airship carrying Reiner  (Yoshimasa Hosoya) and Zeke (Takehito Koyasu).
The latter lets out a vicious roar, turning all of the falling Eldians into Titans, who crash down onto Fort Slava to a great soundtrack, which we saw a hint of in the final season trailer.
Reiner jumping down and wiping out the Mid-East Allied Forces’ soldiers with the help of Galliard, then protecting Zeke from a navy bombardment, followed by Zeke destroying that navy, were all moments that left my jaw on the floor, in terms of their quality.
One slight criticism I do have about sequence is the CGI.
Basically, almost all of the Titans in this episode are CGI and, while this looks great on some Titans like Galliard and Reiner, it looks a little off for the Beast Titan in certain shots.
However, this CGI is certainly nowhere as bad as WIT’s CGI Colossal Titan and it did not lessen my enjoyment of the events so, even if the quality of the Titans remains the same throughout the rest of the anime, I will be completely fine with that.
Following the end of the battle, we get the ED, “Shock” by Yuko Ando, which is another banger and has plenty of cool symbolism for upcoming events.
An intriguing anime only scene accompanies this song, which appears to show Jean having infiltrated Marley, hyping up a future battle that I hope is done justice with the adaptation.
This was not the only anime only scene in this episode though because there were multiple ones and, in my opinion, almost all of them improved the adaptation.
There were the anime original portrayals of the horrors of war, like traumatized Eldian soldiers, including one kissing a locket supposedly containing a photo of his loved ones, a squad of what appeared to be forced suicide bombers, and a single soldier climbing atop countless corpses.
Then there’s the added set pieces, like when Reiner has to destroy a second Armoured Train, which he then used to destroy the enemy canons, when in the manga there was no second train and Reiner used a radio tower to destroy the canons.
Another interesting change is the character redesign for Koslow.
In the manga, he looks like a normal guy but they adapted the design in the adaptation, making him pudgy and ugly, probably to make him seem like an evil caricature.
Thankfully, Koslow is a minor character with no importance in the plot so this character design change is not one I particularly mind.
What is definitely the most interesting deviation from the manga, though, is Falco, while concussed, saying that he dreamed he was flying around with a sword, fighting Titans.
This is quite a shocking change because it seems to be heavily implying that Falco is seeing the memories of one of the Scouts, most likely Eren’s.
If this is true, then this anime only scene may be crucial to predicting the manga’s ending, which I will discuss in my predictions for Chapter 136.
Overall, “The Other Side of the Sea” is a fantastic start to the final season that I actually think surpassed the manga, with its great adaptation of the source material and brilliant anime original scenes.
I was a bit worried about the adaptation going in but Mappa definitely proved themselves here and I hope they can keep up the quality in the 16 episodes to come.
Yes, I did say 16, because that seems to be how many episodes we will get, based off leaks, at least for now.
Since this is nowhere enough chapters to fully adapt the story without it being rushed and thus poorly adapted, this would spell certain doom for the final season were it not leaked that the pacing of this season will be around two chapters an episode.
Given this, the pacing will most likely be fine and we will probably get a second part of the season months from now, or maybe a movie or two to finish the adaptation.
No matter what happens though, I hope Mappa can keep up to the standard they have set with this episode and deliver a fitting final season to my favourite story of all time.

My Hero Academia Season One Review: Plus Ultra!

4 stars
Have you ever had an experience where, after hearing common place references on multiple occasions, you coincidentally watch the show with those references and you go, “Oh, so that’s where that came from?”
Well, this pretty much encapsulates my experience with the My Hero Academia anime.
I had seen so many memes and quotes from this anime but I never knew where they came from so it was a joy to see them when I started watching it.
Based off the manga of the same name by Kohei Hirikoshi, My Hero Academia is set in a world where 80% of the population are born with super powers, called quirks.
This leads to being a super hero becoming an actual job, with many hoping to become one.
One of these people is Izuku Midoriya (Daiki Yamashita), nicknamed Deku, who is unfortunately born quirkless, making him unable to accomplish his dream.
However, he then meets his idol and the greatest hero of all time, All Might (Kenta Miyake), who, after seeing Deku’s heroic qualities, decides to train him and have him inherit his quirk, One For All.

Deku and All Might.jpg
Deku and All Might are both great characters, with Deku being the underdog hero and All Might being the over the top hero. 

From here, Deku begins his quest to become a hero.
My Hero Academia is a very inspirational story with Deku being a very likeable underdog.
Likewise, All Might is a great teacher for him, being both heroic, sympathetic, and hilarious.
Both the voice actors for these characters do a great job with their characters.
The same can be said for many of the other characters, who are just as memorable.
There is the strict rule follower Tenya Iida (Kaito Ishikawa), and the two characters desperately fighting for the title of Best Girl, Ochaco Uraraka (Ayane Sakura) and Tsuyu Asui (Aoi Yuki).
Sadly, not every character is as great because there are few who did get on my nerves, most notably the bully, Katsuki Bakugo (Nobuhiko Okamoto), who I found myself constantly wanting to punch.

Bakugo.png
Even though I would like the punch Bakugo in the face that would definitely not be a good idea because he would most likely kill me. 

Strangely enough, he seems to be a lot of people’s favourite character, which makes me hope he will be developed in later seasons.
On top of this, there are so many characters introduced in this 13 episode first season that quite a few slip under the rug.
Honestly, if you asked me, I would be hard pressed to remember even half of the characters’ names.
Another issue is the flashbacks which, rather than showing something new, often show scenes we have already seen.
Still these did not diminish my enjoyment of My Hero Academia because it is still funny, inspirational, and has great action sequences.
This is helped by the good animation and music that helped put me on the edge of my seat.
Overall, My Hero Academia is a great start to a series and I am interested to see where it will go.

Psycho-Pass 2 Review: I Think my Hue Just got Clouded.

two-and-a-half-stars
Oh boy, where do I begin with Psycho-Pass 2?
Coming into the second season of this series I was quite concerned, given what I had heard about it previously.
I hoped that what people had told me about this season would not be the case and I would find it just as fantastic as the first Psycho-Pass.
Unfortunately, this did not happen for me because, in this case, the general consensus about Psycho-Pass 2 is absolutely right.
The second season features Akane Tsunemori (Kana Hanazawa) and the MWPSB as they attempt to track down a criminal mastermind, and his large amount of followers, who is, for some reason, able to bypass the Sybil System.
What’s that?
That synopsis sounds almost exactly like the plot of the first season?
Well, you are certainly right because Psycho-Pass 2 has almost the same beat for beat story structure as season one, only in a much more condensed format, and almost anything new added ultimately fails.

Kamui
The story of Psycho-Pass 2 is very similar to the first season. This time with a very watered down villain.

It is incredibly obvious that there was a different team working on this season than the first one, with Kiyotaka Suzuki stepping in as director.
Right from the get go everything feels different, from the way shots are composed, to the lighting, which just makes something seem off.
There are a few great shots here and there, but these are few and far between.
Getting down to the story of Psycho-Pass 2, along with replicating much of the story from the first season, it is also full of massive plot holes and inconsistencies.
The backstory of the villain, Kirito Kamui (Ryohei Kimura), is so ridiculous that it requires a massive suspension of disbelief that I just could not muster, no matter how hard I tried.
Speaking of Kamui, he is also a terrible villain with unclear motivations, and an incredibly bland design you would expect to see in a background character.
He is not the worst character of the season though.
No, that award goes to Mika Shimotsuki (Ayane Sakura), a detective working with Akane who is one of the most aggravating characters I have seen in an anime in a while.
She is arrogant, hypocritical, and her actions by the end of the season make her completely unlikable in every way.

Mika.png
Mika is the worst character in the entirety of Psycho-Pass. She makes a terrible first impression and only gets worse as the season goes on.

Psycho-Pass 2 feels like it has no idea what it wants to do with its characters from the first season as well.
Akane’s arc is a replica of hers in season one, Nobuchika Ginoza (Kenji Nojima) has no arc to speak of, and, apart from some brief instances, Shinya Kogami (Tomakuza Seki) is not even mentioned.
Thankfully, not every character is badly handled because there are a few new ones I actually found myself enjoying, like Sho Hinawaka (Takahiro Sakurai), and I did appreciate the way the series brought back Joji Saiga (Kazuhiro Yamaji).
So, there are some good things about Psycho-Pass 2, with how it handles some of its characters and a few scenes and specific shots.
However, the negative far outweighs the positives for the season with its plot hole fueled story that just seems like a retread of the first season, mostly boring and sometimes terrible characters, and a less striking cinematic feel.
Psycho-Pass 2 is a very underwhelming experience compared to the first season and I would recommend skipping it.