Attack on Titan Season Four, Episode Sixteen, Above and Below Review: Part One Ending as it Began.

4 stars
Well, that’s a wrap people, at least for now. 
Part One of the Final Season of Attack on Titan has concluded with its sixteenth episode, “Above and Below”, with Part Two airing either later this year or in early 2022.
What a place to end Part One on as well, considering that what many people, including myself, consider to be the best part of the Manga is set to be adapted next. 
At least the wait will be worth it. 
I just hope that the Mappa animators don’t have to deal with such a hellish schedule this time around but, given what they’re going to have to animate, I unfortunately doubt it. 
As for the episode itself, “Above and Below” does a very good job of getting viewers excited for this second half. 
Directed by Teruyuki Ōmine, Tomoko Hiramuki, and Jun Shishido, the episode begins with a brief showcase of the aftermath of Zeke setting off the thunderspear at the end of “Sole Salvation.”
With his lower half completley gone, he lies dying in a field of flowers, when he recieves a brief and mysterious vision of a young girl with shaded eyes, who is carrying a bucket. 
Before this can be explained, one of Zeke’s Titans, who survived Levi’s purge last episode, crawls up to Zeke, rips open its stomach, and stuffs him inside, no doubt confusing many anime only viewers. 
This is the last time we see Zeke in the episode and Part One, creating a slight disappointment in me that a scene I expected to be adapted in “Above and Below” wasn’t. 
The scene that was cut is quite an amazing one from the manga, so I’m sad that we’re going to have to wait a while to get it but, hey, it’s not the end of the world. 
I know I’ll get to see this moment eventually, along with the plenty of other mind blowing moments from the manga that have yet to be adapted. 
Once this scene with Zeke is over, the episode cuts to Shiganshina, where Yelena is having her self prophecized dinner with Commander Pyxis, who notices that the Volunteers and the Yeagerists are using Marleyan tactics to take over the military, identifying people with armband. 
White means they’re a Jeagerist, red means they were blackmailed into working with them through the tainted wine, and black is for those who continued to drink the poisoned wine without realizing, like Pyxis. 
His bleak situation does not erase his sharpness, though, as he quickly picks up on Yelena commenting about a plan to “save the world.” 
This confuses Pyxis because he and many others thought the plan was to save just the island with a partial Rumbling, completly unaware of Zeke’s Euthanization Plan, which Yelena then brings to the locked up 104th. 
Yet, before she explains this plan to them, we get the fallout from Eren’s disastrous meeting with Armin and Mikasa, which ended with him telling Mikasa that he hated her and beating up Armin. 
Mikasa just seems dead inside about the whole thing and Armin appears to be more conflicted than ever. 
That leaves Jean to reassure them, unexpectedly saying Eren must have had a reason for what he did. 
This is some great development for Jean because, at the beginning of the story, he would never have spoken in Eren’s favour, yet here he actually does so, showing true growth. 
As for another character who gets more entertaining as the show goes on, we then get one of Yelena’s best scenes, as she enters to tell the 104th about the Euthanization Plan.
With her are Onyankopon, who seems to have betrayed them, and probably now one of the most hated characters Greiz.
I say this because he dared to mock and degrade Sasha in front of her possible boyfriend and family, long after she died. 
Seeing Yelena put a bullet in his head after he called her the W word pleased a lot of fans, I’m sure. 
It also shows just how enjoyably nuts Yelena is.
You never know if she’s just going to have a conversation with someone or stab them in the neck. 
Speaking of stabbing people in the neck, we then get Pieck’s epic entrance with the adaptation of one of her best scenes from the manga, as she manages to corner Eren when he goes to try and blackmail Gabi into helping him by using Falco.  
Marching into the room and stabbing Eren’s guard, Pieck seems to have the advantage, until Eren clearly points out she’s in no position to kill him, being under orders to capture the Founding Titan. 
It’s here that we end up seeing why Pieck is one of the smartest characters because she actually manages to fool Eren into thinking she wants to defect to save her father, or at least make him think that trusting her is worth the risk. 
Although, one criticism I do have that carries over from the manga about this scene is that I do feel that Pieck’s backstory is a little too similar to Annie’s but it’s not a massive problem. 
Also, the rest of the scene is pretty great, with Pieck ripping away the last shreds of Gabi’s indoctrination, explaining to her that the Marleyans will never free her, no matter how hard she tries.
Pieck then offers to prove herself to Eren by taking him up to the roof where she can point out her comrades. 
The scene then cuts to the reveal of another character who is a pretty great liar, that being Armin. 
As Yelena fanatically explains the Euthanization Plan, Armin appears to laugh but covers it up with tears, or maybe cries for a very different reason to what he claims to Yelena.
Either way, he’s certainly fooled Yelena into thinking that he is on board with the Euthanization Plan. 
Any way he can take this further is quickly interrupted by news of Pieck’s apparent defection, though, as Eren leads her to the top of the roof. 
It looks like many of the Yeagerists are ready to become Pieck simps when she smiles and waves at them.
Unfortunately for them, they are not long for this world, as you can see Porco hiding amongst the crowd, having seen the handcuffs that Eren had placed on Pieck and Gabi to prevent her from transforming.  
What follows is pretty much a full minute of Pieck basically rubbing it in Eren’s face about how smart she is and trying to worm any additional information out of him before the inevitable ambush happens. 
What an ambush it is too, as Eren is prepared to transform but completley unprepared for Porco’s attack from below and Marley’s attack from above. 
The build up to this moment is great with the lack of music up until Pieck points the finger at Eren when he asks where the enemy is, and her well animated smile of reassurance at Gabi. 
Once the tables turn and Porco attacks, biting off Eren’s legs, we get a great transformation scene of Eren, in which his Titan is 2D, most likely pleasing those who had a problem with the CGI this season. 
However, I do think some of the animation was lacking in this scene and also in a few others. 
For example, the shot of the airships coming down to assault Shiganshina does look quite a bit off. 
So, I suppose it’s a good thing that Mappa’s getting more time to animate Part Two.
Again, though, I hope the animators get treated way better than they did this time around with the really bad production schedule and tonnes of crunch. 
Aside from the couple of animation issues, this final scene is still incredibly hype, ending Part One of the season exactly as it began, with Reiner in an airship ready to attack. 
This parralel makes it a fitting place to end Part One of the Final Season. 
There was certainly a different part they could have ended it on, which would have frustrated anime only viewers even more, so it’s probably a good thing they ended it where they did. 
Overall, “Above and Below” is a pretty good episode, with a hype ending. 
It might not be the best episode of the season so far but it was a fitting way to end the first half. 
And, even though we may have to wait a while for Part Two, us manga readers still have the final chapter of the story to look forward to, which is supposed to be dropping on the ninth. 
It’ll be interesting to see how this story will end and how Mappa with adapt it when the next half of the Final Season starts, either in late 2021 or early 2022. 

My Hero Academia, Season Four, Episode Sixteen, Win Those Kids’ Hearts Review: The Beginning of Endeavor’s Rise.

3 stars
In the sixteenth episode of My Hero Academia’s fourth season, Todoroki, Bakugo, Inasa and Cammie began their provisional licence course and came up against the most dangerous, manipulative and evil foe they have had to face yet… children!
In all seriousness though, “Win Those Kid’s Hearts” is an average episode of My Hero Academia because it serves as a clear example of when the manga is better than the anime.
This is evident through a lot of the humor, which were much funnier in the manga, like when Gang Orca throws Todoroki, Bakugo and Inasa away while screaming, “disciplinary action!”
On top of this, the character development is not as good as the manga because a minor flashback that helps Bakugo grow is left out entirely.
And then, there are the kids whose hearts they are trying to win over.
While their oddly very good psychological manipulation is very funny, the episode acting like they are some kind of big threat with intimidating music is very cringey.
The saving grace of “Win Those Kid’s Hearts” is definitely the humor and Endeavor.
Now, while I did say that the humor is a downgrade from the manga, a lot of it is still pretty funny and will honestly be hilarious for anime only viewers.
And then there is Endeavor, who has excitingly begun the character arc that has made him one of the manga’s best characters.
When I made my Top 10 My Hero Academia Characters list, Endeavor barely missed out but, with all that’s happened in the manga since then and looking back on prior chapters, he is clearly a better character than I gave him credit for and should have been on the list.
If you are an anime only, you may be confused about this since Endeavor is an abuser and are probably wondering how any character arc could make him likeable.
Well, to you, I say wait until the end of the season and then you will understand.
As for the current episode, Endeavor’s scenes are definitely the best because we get insight into his character, and already see how he has started to grow through seeking All Might’s help by asking him what it means to be the symbol of peace.
Endeavor asking All Might for advice is something he would never have done when he was first introduced, showing the pressure he is now under now with his new title as the number one hero.
This growth makes him the most interesting character of the episode.
Also, him constantly shouting “SSSSHHHOOOOOTTTOOOO!!!!!” is just really funny.
Overall, “With Those Kid’s Hearts” is an average episode of My Hero Academia.
It is definitely down there with “The Scoop on UA Class 1-A” as one of the weakest episodes of the season.
Still, it is a good episode what with the humor and Endeavor’s character development.

Attack on Titan, Season Three, Episode Sixteen, Perfect Game Review. The Final Advance.

4 and a half stars

Spoiler Free Review:

Worst. Baseball match. Ever.
If you have seen the sixteenth episode of Attack on Titan‘s third season, “Perfect Game”, you will understand why I am referencing baseball.
The episode probably gave us what has to be the most horrifying interpretation of the game in, well, ever.
And the characters suffered for it.
This is easily the most desperate we have ever seen them, with sacrifices having to be made.
Erwin in particular has to make a decision that shapes his entire character arc in a brilliant moment from him.
Armin also got more time to shine when he and the other Scouts started to face off against Bertholdt’s Colossal Titan.
Speaking of, thankfully there are some shots of him in “Perfect Game” that are not CGI, and make him actually fit in with the environment.
There are still times when he is completely CGI, and sticks out like a sour thumb, but I am personally glad he looked realistic to the world some of the time rather than none of it.
In any case, the fight between him and the scouts is investing, especially when Eren gets involved, where something happens that I think will shock a lot of people.
The biggest shocks of the episode, though, easily come with Erwin and Levi’s story.
These scenes are full of horrifying moments that actually improved on the manga, which is great because, other than a few scenes, I personally think the last few episodes have been falling under the bar in comparison with the source material.
That said, there are a few nitpicky problems I do have but, as the word suggests, these are minor.
The opening scene reworks the ending from the last episode, which makes it feels out of order somewhat, and a particular scene concerning Mikasa felt a bit watered down in comparison with the manga.
Other than this, “Perfect Game” is a great episode full of character growth, sacrifice, and one hell of a cliffhanger to keep you watching.
Next week’s episode is “Hero” and I am incredibly excited for it because, when I reviewed the manga chapters the episode will cover I game them five stars.
So, I have my fingers crossed it can live up to the fantastic source material.
One interesting thing to note, however, is that there have been rumors that Wit Studio, the ones who make Attack on Titan, will be cancelling the series after this arc.
If this is true, then it means the series will have to be picked up by another studio, which means we will have to wait a while before getting the next season.
While this would be sad, I have to say this is only a rumor.

Spoiler Review:

Who knew that baseball could get so violent?
In all seriousness, the scene where the Beast Titan started throwing crushed rocks at the scouts is somehow made more horrifying here than in the manga for me.
The shot of the rocks crashing into buildings with dust and splashes of blood rising up, along with the agonized screams of dying scouts, is very disturbing.
The manga panels of this scene always felt a little stiff to me so to see it animated with such horrifying ferocity is great.
On top of this, the development that came from Erwin here is fantastic.
Erwin is a selfish person who has manipulated others into giving their lives for humanity, while he alone had personal dreams.
Yet in this episode, he finally sheds this.
He gives up on his dream and finally lives up to the ideals he sprouted, giving his life and the lives of his soldiers so that Levi can have a shot at killing the Beast Titan.
The build up to this moment is well done with Erwin voicing his flaws to Levi, who ultimately convinces him to do the right thing.
The big cliffhanger of the episode sees a rock ripping right through his stomach as he urges his soldiers to fight as they run straight to death’s door.
Along with this, we also get to see how the scouts are dealing with the Colossal Titan.
Unsure of what to do next, Armin passes on leadership to Jean, who initiates a plan of attack to stop Bertholdt reaching the wall.
This leads to Eren attacking Bertholdt but, while appearing to work at first, everything goes wrong when Bertholdt kicks him to the top of the wall, knocking him unconscious and forcing the Scouts to fight the Colossal Titan themselves.
This is where my issue for “Perfect Game” came in.
While Jean, Sasha and Connie attempt to distract Bertholdt, Mikasa launches the Thunder Spears at him from behind, only for him to use his steam to launch them back at her.
In the manga, the explosion clearly hurts her, and it looks like you can see shrapnel marks on her back, detailing how hard this fight is on her and everyone else.
However, in the anime this is watered down.
Mikasa says she took shrapnel but it does not look that bad by comparison, lessening the impact.
Another minor problem I have is Connie’s “eavesdropping” joke, which now does feel a bit out of place.
Not only that but it rearranges some of the parts of the previous episode, making it feel a bit disjointed.
However, as I said in my spoiler free review, these problems are only minor.
The rest of “Perfect Game” is great with its themes of sacrifice, epitomized by Erwin’s final advance.
Well, that is four episodes down and six to go and, I have to say, I cannot wait for the rest of them.
If you are an anime only, then those next six episodes will surely blow your mind.