Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Thirteen, Children of the Forest Review: An Intense Adaptation for an Underated Chapter.

5 stars
I really loved Chapter 111 of Attack on Titan when I first read it and I think it is one of the most underated chapters in the entire manga.
So, imagine my excitement to see it so well adapted in the thirteenth episode of the final season, “Children of the Forest.”
Directed by Yasuhiro Geshi and Kōnosuke Uda, the episode picks up first with a scene from Chapter 110, which many feared was cut, that being Zeke’s flashback revealing what he did to Ragako village.
The scene opens with the village being consumed by gas, fanned in by Marleyan soldiers, with Zeke and Pieck in attendance.
Once the smoke hits them, all of the villagers, Connie’s family among them, collapse and are unable to move.
Zeke then Titanizes them with his roar, just like he did back in the first episode of this final season.
However, Zeke’s explanation of these events and how he supposedly did it to save Eldia clearly does not satisfy Levi, understandably.
Levi believes Zeke to have not a shred of guilt over his actions, which is not helped by Zeke’s good mood.
This does lead to a pretty humorous scene, though, where Zeke assumes Levi must not be very popular with the ladies.
Oh, Zeke, if only you knew the extent to which Levi fangirls will go.
This comedic and on the nose moment is quickly interrupted, though, as soldiers arrive to inform Levi of Zachary’s assasination at the hands of the Yeagerists.
With that, the episode transitions into the adaption of Chapter 111, as Gabi, Falco, Kaya, and the Braus family arrive to taste Niccolo’s excellent cooking in remembrance of Sasha.
It is here that Gabi and Falco plan to make contact with Niccolo based on Kaya’s advice, all of them still unaware that the woman Gabi killed was Sasha herself.
The tension of this reveal slowly builds as Falco begins to realize something is amiss, and Hange and the 104th arrive to question Niccolo.
However, the impending reveal to those characters close to Sasha that Gabi was the one who killed her is not the only case of growing tension here, because now the wine is coming into play.
I did criticize how easy it was to guess that there was something up with the wine in Episode Ten, when it was more subtle in the manga, but now I would like to rescind this criticism.
It being made fairly obvious that the wine was poisoned with something made the scene where Jean and Connie almost take a sip very nerve-racking.
Thank goodness Niccolo had the foresight, and the added kindness thanks to Sasha, to stop them from doing so, although he did end up using Marleyan racism to cover it up.
This leads to the big conflict of the episode, as Gabi and Falco follow Niccolo when he retreats with the wine and confront him, telling them that they are Warriors candidates who snuck aboard the airship when it was fleeing Marley.
This, of course, tips Niccolo off and he asks the big question: “Did you kill someone? A female soldier.”
Well, any smart person would find this question odd, considering Niccolo is a Marleyan, who have pretty much all been brainwashed into hating Eldians.
This is why Falco picks up on it.
Gabi, on the other hand, oh boy, her brainwashed brain cannot take a hint.
With every word out of her mouth she keeps digging her metaphorical grave deeper and deeper.
You can really see how indoctrinated Gabi is, as she almost seems to be seeking praise from Niccolo, a Marleyan, for killing Sasha.
However, praise is certainly what Niccolo has in mind.
No, he’d much rahter perfer a wine bottle smash to the skull for her.
It’s Falco who takes the blow, though, jumping in front of Gabi and taking the hit but also ingesting the wine.
The soundtrack during this scene is also straight up fire.
Niccolo is much more focused on Gabi than the injured Falco, delivering her a beating off screen, before throwing her before the Braus family and exposing her as Sasha’s killer.
It’s here that the best voice acting of the episode is showcased.
Ayane Sakura again does a magnificent job as Gabi but Eji Hanawa steals the show as Niccolo, who mournfully and furiously explains how Sasha saved him from this war and taught him that he was supposed to make people happy with his food.
Gabi hits back by telling him of the people Sasha killed, claiming that it is actually she who brainwashed him, ironic coming from her.
Mr Braus understandably looks sickened to hear such a despicable thing about his daughter and requests the knife from Niccolo.
The terrified eye movements of Gabi and Mr Braus’ contemplative face here, almost as if he is considering actually killing Gabi in an act of revenge, are animated incredibly well.
However, revenge is not what Mr Braus ultimately wants, as he shows exceptional maturity for a mere side character, giving one of the best speeches of the series about how, as adults, it is their burden to carry and move on from their sins to get the children out of the forest.
The forest, in this instance, being a metaphor for the cruel world and cycle of violence that our characters struggle with daily.
With this, Mr and Mrs Braus convince Niccolo to let Falco go, followed by Mr Braus asking if Gabi is alright.
This shocks Gabi right to the core of her being, as she sees these supposed devils concerned for the very person who killed their daughter.
Well, not all of them are concerned because Kaya is already moving head first into the forest, as she attempts to stab Gabi with a knife for the death of Sasha.
Only Mikasa’s Ackerman insticts save Gabi from a knife to the head.
The animation of Kaya being tackled to the ground and comforted by Mr and Mrs Braus is just great, as well.
Mappa did a really good job with the animation this episode.
With Mikasa and Armin moving Gabi to a safer place, we then get the big reveal of the episode from Niccolo.
Zeke’s spinal fluid is in the wine, and potentially hundreds of military officers among the Military Police and Garrison are currently infected.
Zeke lied at the beginning of the episode when he said that Eldians freeze when they ingest his spinal fluid, and this lie has caused those infected to be entirely unaware of their dangerous position.
The Scouts have absolutley no time to warn everyone, though, because who else should show up but Eren and the Yeagerists, and in a much more abrupt way than in the manga.
Rather than seeing Eren enter the room that Mikasa and Armin are talking to Gabi in, like in the manga, we just hear the door close and see him casually walk up to them, bloodly hand raised in a threatening manner.
It honestly reminded me of the abrupt Reiner and Bertholdt reveal from Season Two, it’s that great.
Just as entertaining is Floch’s arrival with the Yeagerists and Hange’s slow realization that they all knew about the poisoned wine.
Floch grinning at Hange and shushing her is a real improvement on the manga, making Floch look much more sinister than he does in the original source material.
Following this, we get the naturally frustrating cliffhanger of Eren saying he wants to talk to Armin and Mikasa, only for the episode to cut off there.
Well, at least the wait might just be more than worth it because tomorrow’s episodes is about to adapt two fantastic chapters which, with time, I have come to look incredibly favourably on.
If done right, the next episode could easily be in the top ten best episodes of the series.
As for “Children of the Forest”, in my opinion, it is a near perfect adaptation.
Great shots, animation, voice acting and music, it has it all.
I do wish a couple of manga panels, like a particular flashback shot of Sasha, had been included but these are not major things and did not decrease my enjoyment of the episode.
“Children of the Forest” is a fantastic episode and I have my fingers crossed that “Savagery” can be adapted to near perfection as well.

Attack on Titan Chapters 111 to 113 Review: Zeke’s Grand Master Plan.

Chapter 111: Children of the Forest.

4 and a half stars
Chapter 111’s title, “Children of the Forest”, is one of my favourites in all of Attack on Titan.
It goes incredibly well with the events of the chapter, tying into a fantastic speech given by Sasha’s father, after he learns it was Gabi who killed his daughter.
In this tense scene, Sasha’s father explains how he sent Sasha out of the forest only for her to end up in a bigger one where it was kill or be killed.
He finishes by stating they have to stop sending their children into the forest or the bloodshed will never end,
These lines brilliantly tie into the chapter’s title and, hopefully, move towards establishing Gabi’s first step into realizing how she was brainwashed and not all those on Paradis are evil.
Not everyone is so forgiving of her though, with both Nicolo and Kaya attempting to kill Gabi upon learning the truth.
Both of these moments were heartbreaking, especially Nicolo’s because Kaya tells Gabi and Falco she believes he and Sasha were in love, which adds another layer of tragedy to Sasha’s death.
This and Gabi’s boasting about killing Sasha (unaware of Nicolo’s involvement with her) made Nicolo’s attack on her pretty satisfying.
Sadly, Falco also got caught up in this attack, leading to the shocking cliffhanger of this chapter, which we will get to later.
As for Kaya’s attack on Gabi, this is also incredibly sad because we see someone who trusted Gabi, (for some reason) and wanted to be friends with her, turn on her in an instant after learning the truth.
Again, hopefully the combination of Sasha’s father’s forgiveness and Kaya’s condemnation will lead Gabi down the right path.
Thankfully, the 104th scouts look set to carry her along that path since they arrive at the restaurant to talk to Nicolo in the chapter.
Their story began in a military meeting to discuss Eren’s faction of rogue soldiers, now dubbed the Yeagerists.
Many of the Military Police, including an incredibly unlikable one named Rouge, suspect that some of the scouts may secretly be Yeagerists.
Pyxis arrives to break up the argument and begins planning to use Armin as their main line of defense against Eren and his faction.
Even though it would be tragic to see these close friends become enemies on the battlefield I would still love to see a fight between them.
Pyxis also has a very funny moment when Armin asks if he has a plan and Pyxis just states they should surrender because the Yeagerists have them beat.
While funny, Pyxis’ abrupt declaration that they should let Eren do his thing also makes a lot of sense since they are now number one on Marley’s hit list after the invasion.
More fighting will just lead to less of a chance of them succeeding and, thus, surviving so Pyxis has the right of this.
He is one of the smartest leaders in the series and I hope he is given the chance to step up further.
After this, we have Kyomi telling Mikasa she should prepare to leave with them if things go bad but Mikasa wants to stay and protect her home.
Mikasa also comes to the realization that if Paradis loses then Kyomi’s family is finished, giving her more reason not to rely on her.
However, Kyomi seems devoted to protecting her nonetheless.
Only time will tell if Kyomi really does have Mikasa’s best interests at heart.
Then we have the big cliffhanger of “Children of the Forest”, which sees Nicolo admit that all the wine given to the military higher ups has been contaminated with Zeke’s spinal fluid.
This means Nile, Rogue, Pyxis, many other members of the Military Police, and even Falco will turn into Titans if Zeke so much as screams in their vicinity.
The twist blew my mind when I heard Nicolo reveal it and, as the chapters have gone on, it all adds up to show how smart Zeke is, with this grand master plan of his being played out for years.
It is only now that all the pieces are coming together and Zeke is acting.
He is the smartest character of Attack on Titan, along with Hange and I would love to see the two of them fight in a battle of brains.
“Children of the Forest” was a fantastic chapter for Attack on Titan.
It advanced Gabi’s character development, dealt with other’s characters’ grief over Sasha’s death, and delivers one of the most mind blowing twists of the manga.

Chapter 112: Ignorance.

4 stars
After the shocking cliffhanger of the previous chapter, “Ignorance” brings Zeke’s grand master plan together for another shocking ending.
Before this though, we get the aftermath of  Nicolo revealing the wine has been poisoned with Zeke’s spinal fluid.
He goes on to explain that the wine was brought on the first ships to Paradis and Yelena has been instructing him to feed it to the higher ups in the military.
Connie points out that anyone who consumes Zeke’s spinal fluid freezes up but Hange counter this by stating Zeke could have easily lied.
She also states the magnitude of the impact this lie has, which, again, is proven at the end of the chapter.
However, before anything can be done who should enter?
None other than Eren and his Yeagerists, here to capture his friends so they can led him to Zeke, while dropping a few bombshells along the way.
This is the chapter that essentially destroys the friendship Mikasa and Armin had with Eren.
We have seen the cracks in their friendship grow in more recent chapters but Eren’s actions in “Ignorance” take them past the point of no return.
After threatening Armin and Mikasa with his bloody hand, he tells them he is free and whatever decision he makes it is of his own free will.
In a disheartening turn of events, he then turns on Armin and Mikasa.
First, he berates Armin, saying he is being controlled by Bertholdt’s memories, which have made him gain feelings for Annie, so he is useless.
This not only confirms the theory of Armin’s feelings for Annie being motivated by Bertholdt but it also opens up intriguing questions about how other Titan Shifters are being influenced by their predecessors.
For example, maybe part of the reason Ymir went to save Reiner and Bertholdt was because she was partially influenced by Marcel’s memories.
However, while this did potentially open up many storylines for the future, it also made Eren look like a massive hypocrite.
He tells Armin he is being controlled by his predecessors’ memories, yet he has the memories of three past Titan Shifters in his head and still has the audacity to claim he is free.
If what Eren says about Armin is true, which I think to a certain extent it is, then Eren needs to take a good long look in the mirror.
The biggest bombshell Eren drops, however, is the one where he reveals that the Ackermans were created to protect someone who they recognized as a host to their fullest extent.
So, the only reason Mikasa has protected Eren is because she recognized him as a host when he rescued her from her kidnappers.
Eren goes as far to say that Mikasa is basically a slave and that he has always hated her.
The real question here, though, is whether Eren is telling the truth of not?
Well, the answer is both yes and no, I think.
Eren is almost certainly telling the truth about Mikasa protecting him because of her Ackerman bloodline.
This is supported by Mikasa subconsciously protecting Eren when Armin lunges at him and the symptoms Eren mentions, which includes headaches.
We have seen Mikasa experience these headaches when doubting Eren only a few chapters earlier and have even seen it all the way back in the Clash of the Titans Arc.
However, even so, I still believe Mikasa does care for him, despite her Ackerman programming.
Either way, I think Hajime Isayama needs to be very careful about how he plays this because he is at serious risk of undermining everything Mikasa has done for Eren.
It is not close to Historia levels of undermining character development but it could easily change depending of where Isayama takes this.
I will just have to see where this new plot point goes before I decide if I like it.
As for Eren saying he has always hated Mikasa, I am certain this is a lie.
Eren has been shown to care for her numerous times, most notably when he protects her from Dina, which is the only time he has used his Coordinate ability.
But if so, why is Eren lying?
I think it is to protect Mikasa with Eren maybe trying to use this as motivation for her to flee with Kyomi when things get bad.
And they certainly will because it appears Eren and the Yeagerists have been working with Zeke and Yelena because Floch knows about the poisoned wine.
This is also supported by Eren’s desire to find his brother, which he states after beating up Armin in another great moment.
Watching Armin attempt to attack Eren after he says he hates Mikasa, only to be brutally pummeled by Eren, shows the destruction of their friendship.
This also leads to Armin accusing Eren of being a slave, gaining the only reaction out of him in the entire chapter.
After all this, we get the next big shocking cliffhanger with Zeke using his screaming ability to turn all of Levi’s comrades into Titans after they drunk the contaminated wine.
The build up to this scene is excellent with Levi deciding to put an end to Zeke, orders be damned.
We then get an interesting look into Levi’s thoughts, which seems to suggest that, like Mikasa, he has also identified Eren as a host to protect.
During this time we see Zeke over Levi’s shoulder, taking a big yawn, preparing.
Levi then promises to finally fulfill his promise to Erwin by killing Zeke… only to turn around to see Zeke running away, full sprint, unleashing his deadly scream.
The chapter ends with Levi’s comrades transforming, in terrifying panels, before crashing to the ground, surrounding Levi.
However, even though Levi is surrounded at the end, I came out of “Ignorance” not particularly concerned for him.
This is because it did not feel like it would be the right time for him to die, narratively speaking, and Levi has got out of worse situations than this.
Not to mention his rabid fans who would probably riot if he died here.
If Levi is going to die before Attack on Titan ends, it will be in a much more fitting moment than this.
Chapter 112, “Ignorance” is another good chapter of Attack on Titan. 
I am concerned where some of the plot points started by this chapter may go but, overall, it is still a good read.
Watching Eren, Mikasa and Armin’s friendship fall apart is a tragic highlight.

Chapter 113: Violence.

4 stars
About a week before Chapter 113, “Violence”, came out, I heard a spoiler that Levi would kill Zeke.
After reading this chapter, I can say that I have never been more happy for a spoiler to be wrong.
Hajime Isayama killing Zeke off at this point would be terrible storytelling because we do not know Zeke’s true motives yet and we have barely got any interaction between him and Eren.
Thankfully, instead of Levi killing Zeke, he only captures him… after completely
eviscerating him that is.
Seriously, I have no idea how Zeke survived Levi shooting those thunder spears at him because his guts were hanging out and he was severely burned.
Still, I am glad he did survive and the fight between him and Levi is great.
I said in my review of Chapter 112 that I was not concerned for Levi when Zeke turned all of his comrades into Titans and, while this continues with this chapter, I did like the level of intensity Isayama brought to the fight.
The Titans here are a lot faster because of Zeke’s spinal fluid and Levi is also hesitant to kill his former comrades.
So, even though I knew Levi was not going to die, it made the battle have a lot more impact, especially when Levi caught up with Zeke.
Zeke kills the remaining Titan and throws it at Levi, again showing his brains by killing the only Titan Levi can feed him to and then using it as a weapon.
His desperate tactics do not save him though, with Levi capturing him and making it impossible for him to escape on his own.
He does by sticking the thunder spear into Zeke’s stomach and then placing the wire to its detonator around his neck so, if Zeke moves in the slightest, he will be blown to bits.
I have heard a few people wondering why Levi did not just feed Zeke to one of the Titans to stop the threat but I think there is an answer to this in the chapter.
It is possible that Levi intended to feed Zeke to the last Titan standing but Zeke killed it before he could do so.
Whatever the case, there is the question of where Levi is now taking Zeke.
In my opinion, the place that would make the most sense it to Historia, where she can inherit Zeke’s powers.
However, there is a problem with this.
It has been stated multiple times that Historia turning into a Titan could kill her unborn child so this could be a real dilemma about what will happen with the baby.
Personally, I am just hopeful that we will we get to see some kind of explanation about what all the foreshadowing with this baby means?
Is Eren the father, or is the baby fake, or, god forbid, is everything as it seems and Historia has gone completely against her character?
I need to know!
Answers for this, however, will probably not come in the next chapter because, based on the cliffhanger, it looks like the focus of that one will be a flashback that finally explains Zeke’s true motivations.
The cliffhanger itself shows Zeke as a child, playing baseball with a mysterious man, who was seen all the way back in Grisha’s flashbacks comforting Zeke.
His name is Xaver but we do not know anything else about him.
A lot of people are speculating he is the previous Beast Titan, which would be very interesting.
He obviously holds some importance to Zeke because he is shown to be wearing the glasses Zeke now wears (or wore because they were most likely obliterated by Levi in this chapter).
All of this set-up has me very excited for the next chapter but not everything about “Violence” is good.
There is one scene that feels out of touch with the rest of the chapter and this is when Floch goes to recruit some fresh cadets to the Yeagerist cause, with Hange in attendance.
This scene did not make much sense to me because Floch appears to have been sent by Eren to find Zeke, which, based on how dire the situation is, is of the utmost importance.
So why is Floch going to recruit soldiers when he has a much more crucial role to play?
Could he have not got someone else to do this?
On top of this, there is a joke that really flats for me and that is when Keith Shadis is beaten up by the cadets who decide to join Floch.
This joke is very similar to an earlier one where Annie beats up Reiner but, this time, the joke just does not mesh with the chapter’s darker moments.
The scene just felt very unnecessary and, unless these cadets that got recruited play some sort of vital role in the future, it will probably not change.
Other than this though, the rest of “Violence” is really good.
It does a fantastic job of setting up the endgame for the series, with Zeke mentioning how the world’s forces will soon be converging on Paradis.
It will be interesting to see how Hajime Isayama will wrap up the series with this final arc.

 

On another note, I have now caught up with the entirety of the Attack on Titan manga so will now be reviewing each individual chapter as they come out.