Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Fifteen, Sole Salvation Review: A Cautionary Tale.

5 stars
Much like Chapters 112 and 113, Chapter 114 of Attack on Titan is one that I have slowly come to appreciate more in the years since it came out.
So, I was pretty excited to see it adapted in Episode 15 of the Final Season, “Sole Salvation”, which aired right alongside the delayed episode, “Savagery.”
I mention that episode here because while I think that “Savagery” could have been adapted a little better, I think that “Sole Salvation” is a perfect adaptation of its corresponding chapter that mostly improves on the source material, with its fantastic animation, voice acting, and soundtrack.
Directed by Mitsue Yamazaki, the episode is entirely devoted to Zeke’s backstory and explains his relationship with the mysterious man teased at the end of Episode 14, why he decided to turn on his parents, how he came to his ideology and what this ideology is.
That last point is foreshadowed right at the beginning of “Sole Salvation”, where it is shown how Grisha and Dina tried to indoctrinate Zeke in their cause to restart the Eldian Empire by taking Zeke to a tower and showing him the poor conditions Eldians are forced to live in compared with the rest of the world.
It is at this moment that a seemingly kind, old janitor walks in and apologises for interrupting, saying he can come back later.
Any niceties disappear, though, when he sees the armband on Grisha’s arm and throws his bucket full of dirty water at them in disgust, blaming them for the murder of millions of innocents, even though this happened centuries ago and none of them could possibly be responsible.
The old man even goes as far to scold them for “pumping out kids”, in reference to Zeke, an important line that will affect Zeke’s ideology going forward.
Grisha again uses this situation to try and instill a drive in Zeke to change the world, telling him that he will save everyone, however, this is clearly not helping Zeke, considering the poor kid is doing the worst at training because his heart is not set on being a Warrior.
Can you really blame Zeke, though?
The kid just wants to live with his parents and be seen as their son, not as their tool for reviving Eldia.
It is here that we get our first look at Zeke’s father figure, Tom Ksaver, the former Beast Titan who seems to take an immediate interest in Zeke.
Along with him, Zeke also has his grandparents who do actually care about him and what he wants, yet still try to indoctrinate him with Marleyan propaganda about how the Eldian Empire was pure evil and committed countless sins.
One interesting thing to note about this scene is how the illustrations in Mr and Mr Jaeger’s book on the different atrocities the Eldian Empire supposedly committed against Marley actually link back to the ED of the Second Season.
That ED was just full of spoilers and foreshadowing for future events, wasn’t it?
Back to the episode, we then get the opposite side of the indoctrination Zeke suffers, as Grisha attempts to teach him the exact opposite of what his grandparents said, that Eldia never committed the atrocities Marley claims because Ymir would never allow it.
As for the truth?
Well, it’s probably somewhere down the middle.
The Eldian Empire certainly did a lot of evil things but they also did some good.
It just depends on where you’re perspective falls, I suppose.
Once we see both of these scenes showing how Zeke’s parents and grandparents are trying to indoctrinate him, we then get his introduction to the one person who never tried to, Ksaver.
The two offically meet when Ksaver’s baseball rolls into Zeke’s path, seemingly by chance, although it is pretty clear by the end that Ksaver did this on purpose because Zeke reminded him of his dead son.
The two form an instant friendship, as Ksaver praises Zeke ernestly and not based on what he expects him to be, like Grisha and Dina do.
Speaking of which, we then get yet another showcase of how the two were not the best parents, as Zeke returns to find them arguing with Falco’s uncle, Grice, about Zeke’s low scores, which most likely means he won’t inherit a Titan.
Again, Grisha makes it clear what is expected of Zeke as his and Dina’s son and a child of royal blood but, again, Zeke just cannot live up to these expectations.
He still can’t keep up with the other kids and is horrified when Grisha storms off in disappointment.
Clearly not father of the year material.
At least Dina is kind enough to understand that Zeke is trying, attempting to tell a screaming Grisha this, while Zeke cries in the other room.
I also really have to give props to Grisha’s voice actor, Hiroshi Tsuchida, who did an absolutley amazing job this episode, especially with his screaming.
Again, in Zeke’s darkest moment, Ksaver is there to help him, lifting his spirts by telling him how it’s a good thing he won’t inherit a Titan and that they are both decent people.
However, Zeke’s newly lifted spirt is dashed upon the rocks when he hears Marleyan officers talking about how they are close to locating the Eldia Restorationists and their leaders.
Distraught, Zeke attempts to warn his parents, without explicitly telling them that they are close to being found out.
It is right before this moment that Grisha gives him such a look of disappointment that I’m sure it made all of us want to kick him.
If we didn’t know his own traumatic past then Grisha would be completley unlikeable here.
This past is hinted at in this scene  because Grisha only explodes into anger when Zeke brings up his aunt Faye, who was feed to dogs, not wanting to end up like her.
Grisha’s angry reaction results in Zeke breaking down to Ksaver and telling him everything about his parents.
He comforts his father figure, though, telling Ksaver that because of all the fun times they had togethor, he will remember him, even if he is turned into a Titan.
Clearly seeing Zeke as a son now, Ksaver begs Zeke to turn his parents in to save himself and his grandparents, stating that his parents used him as a tool and never loved him, something that is, for the most part, unfortunately true.
And so Zeke turns his parents in at the behest of Ksaver and many years pass, during which Zeke and Ksaver grow closer to being like an actual father and son.
Soon, Ksaver’s term is close to its end, meaning he will have to pass his Titan on.
However, he is thankful that he managed to finish his research, discovering that every single Subject of Ymir is connected to the Founding Titan, meaning that it could change their bodies at any moment, and it is here that Zeke’s ideology finally comes to its full fruition.
Remembering what the old janitor yelled at him and his parents all those years ago, Zeke wonders aloud if the Founding Titan could sterilize all Eldians so that no more Subjects of Ymir will be born, and the power of the Titans will eventually vanish entirely from the world.
In Zeke’s mind, this would also mean no Eldian would have to suffer.
This explains much of Zeke’s apathy when he murdered countless Scouts before.
He believes that he is saving them from the cruel world.
When this genocide by sterlization plan was revealed in the manga, a few people decided this was proof that Attack on Titan was facist propaganda but I think it’s obvious that this is not that at all but a cautionary tale.
Subjected to brainwashing attempts and racism all his life, Zeke came to the conclusion that it would be better if his entire race didn’t exist so seeks to commit genocide by sterilization with his Euthanization Plan, which he sees as saving the world.
It’s screwed up and shows what dangers can be created from such despicable things, like prejudice and indoctrination.
These two things have clearly affected Ksaver as well because his own experiences causes him to align with Zeke’s plan.
When he was young, Ksaver took off his armband and married a woman, who he had a child with.
However, when she found out that he was an Eldian, she killed their son and then herself in disgust.
This goes to show just how strong the hatred for Subjects of Ymir is in the outside world, because it both destroys the Eldians and those who hate them.
In this scene, there also appear to be a few hints through the toys of Ksaver’s son to future plot points but I won’t say what in case any anime only viewers happen to read this review.
Following the formation of Zeke and Ksaver’s Euthanization plan, Ksaver reveals to Zeke how he will need to find someone he can trust to give the Founding Titan to.
Not long after that, Zeke finally inherits Ksaver’s Titan and truly acknowledges him as his father.
Low and behold, who should Zeke learn about many years later who he thinks would be perfect for joining him in his plan to sterilize all Eldians?
Why, his half-brother Eren of course.
The two finally meet in Marley and Eren seems to quickly accept Zeke’s plan, claiming that there is no greater gift than to not be born into this world, warping his own catch phrase into something much more sinister.
Zeke tears up from Eren calling him brother, showing just how much he was longing for this familial love.
Even though Zeke has done monstrous things, you just can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.
Levi, however, is understandably not so sympathetic, as he continues to taunt Zeke in the present about how he will be feed to a Titan.
This was clearly not the best call, along with impailing a thunderspear in Zeke’s stomach because a delirious Zeke rips the pin off with a scream for Mr Ksaver to keep watching him.
Takehito Koyasu also does an excellent job voicing Zeke here, in all his delirious desperation.
Just as excellent is the animation, with the close up on the characters’ eyes and the rain drops falling in slow motion, right before the big bang of the Thunderspear exploding, blowing both Levi and Zeke away, leaving their fates uncertain.
A frusrating cliffhanger for the anime only viewers that is pure Attack on Titan. 
“Sole Salvation” is pretty much a perfect adaptation of its chapter counterpart.
With its amazing animation, voice acting, and soundtrack, it easily tops the manga in plenty of areas.
Now there’s just one more episode of Attack on Titan for me to review before we have to wait for the rest of the final season begins airing at the end of the year or in early 2022.

Usagi Drop Review: Wholesome Fun… Unless You’ve Read The Manga.

4 stars
With Covid-19 still at large, the university anime club that I belong to has been forced to meet on Discord to watch and discuss shows.
One of these anime was Usagi Drop, directed by Kanta Kamei and based off the manga by Yumi Unita, and, boy, is this a wholesome one.
Usagi Drop follows Daikichi Kawachi (Hiroshi Tsuchida), an everyday guy who, upon arriving at his grandfather’s funeral, learns, much to his surprise, that his grandfather had a six-year-old illegitimate daughter named Rin (Ayu Maatsura).
With most of his family scorning Rin and wanting nothing to with her, Daikichi decides to take care of her.
But, with little to no experience in handling children, he is in for one heck of a struggle.

daikichi has his work cut out for him
Daikichi had his work cut out for him with the adorable Rin. 

From here, the anime kicks off, expanding on the growing relationship between Rin and Daikichi.
Their bond is great and they grow so much from it that, at times, I wondered who exactly was supposed to be the parent here, Rin or Daikichi?
Like them, the other characters are also good, with Daikichi’s family slowly coming to love Rin, and the two befriending a mother, Yukari Nitana (Sayaka Ohara), and her son, Kouki (Noa Saki).
Daikichi and Yukari’s friendship is especially great, with the two having fantastic chemistry to the point that I actually wanted them to end up together.
Backing up these characters are the constant adorable and funny moments, along with the animation, which in every episode, before the opening, takes on a unique style.

kouki and rin
Adding to the hilarity is the use of animation, particularly on some of the faces Rin makes.

The music is also good, delivering many cheery and feel good moments for the anime.
Overall, Usagi Drop is a heartfelt show that any aspiring parent would enjoy watching… just don’t read the manga.
No, seriously, DON’T.
I heard about the manga a few episodes in and looked it up after finishing the anime.
It was the worst decision I could have made because it taints the entirety of Daikichi and Rin’s father-daughter relationship.
Spoilers for the manga (you shouldn’t read it though), but the story actually ends with Rin, now 16, admitting her feelings for Daikichi after the two learn they actually aren’t blood related and the two enter a romantic relationship.
That’s disgusting.
It makes Usagi Drop feel like a grooming story and I honestly don’t know what Yumi Unita was thinking.

daikichi yuralki
There was perfect set up for a romantic relationship between Daikichi and Yuraki so I have no idea why the author went with Daikichi and Rin.

Thank god the anime didn’t adapt the ending and left Daikichi and Rin’s relationship as a father-daughter one that we can all love.
It is because of this that the anime remains great, just so long as you don’t think of the manga’s ending while watching it.

Attack on Titan, Season Three Episode Twenty, That Day Review: The Exposition Dump to End all Exposition Dumps.

5 stars.png

Spoiler Free Review:

Exposition is notorious for being difficult to get the viewer invested in, without becoming bored.
This speaks to how brilliant of an episode “That Day” is because it is entirely exposition driven, and yet, every second of it is so investing.
The episode is essentially the true basement reveal.
No, “reveal” is not the right word.
What I should say is “reveals” because there are so many, and each and every single one of them is mind blowing.
I have viewed numerous people watching the episode online and their reactions to certain twists are priceless.
As I was watching the episode, I ended up jumping with excitement every time one of these twists was perfectly delivered, which was always.
“That Day” adapts Chapters 86 and 87 of the manga, the prior of which is my favourite chapter in the entire Attack on Titan manga so far.
So, I was almost praying that the episode would manage to adapt that material properly.
And you know what?
It did just that.
With this episode, Attack on Titan changes into a much more complex and deep story in which the lines between the good and bad guys are constantly blurred.
Watching Grisha’s tragic backstory is just as enthralling as it is in the manga, allowing the viewer to understand his motivations and sympathize with him all in a single episode.
Speaking of Grisha, his voice actor, Hiroshi Tsuchida, does an amazing job here, especially at the ending where his full range becomes apparent.
All of the newly introduced characters in this episode are great and interesting, even if we will not see many of them outside this flashback.
The music is once again fantastic, bringing back a track that was introduced in “Hero” for the climactic end.
If I had one criticism, it would be the censorship.
The violence of the manga chapters really highlights both the terror and themes in the manga so it as shame this is not adapted here.
Still, this does not affect the episode in any big way, and if you have not read the manga then you will not notice it.
In my review of “The Basement”, I predicted that “That Day” might actually beat “Midnight Sun” to become my new favourite episode of the series.
And does it achieve this?
Well, right now I am unsure of that.
Both episodes are amazing in very different ways.
“Midnight Sun” is amazing in the way that it hits you emotionally, and “That Day” is amazing in the way that it hits you with all of these exciting and epic twists that change the entire story.
Both are master piece episodes so it is a bit hard for me to judge which one is better without thinking really hard about it.
I will say this, though.
Even if  “That Day” does not beat “Midnight Sun”, it comes incredibly close.
It is an amazing episode that needs to be watched twice in order to adsorb all of the colossal information.

Spoiler Review… Seriously, if you have not seen the episode then DO NOT READ THIS! Trust me, you do not want this spoiled for you.

I remember the complete and utter shock I felt at the massive twists of chapters 85 and 86 of Attack on Titan.
The death of Grisha’s sister, Zeke being Grisha’s son and Eren’s half-brother, Dina being the smiling Titan the entire time, and Kruger turning out to the the Owl.
All of these twists are masterfully adapted in “That Day” where Grisha narrates over his tragic life.
This said, you may have to watch the episode a couple of times before you understand everything because there is so much information but this does not stop the twists from being mind blowing.
Following the post-credits scene of “The Basement”, the beginning of the story sees Grisha take his sister Fay to see the airship.
They are caught by two soldiers, Kruger and the detestably, yet appropriately named, Gross.
Since their race, Eldians, are not allowed outside their internment zone, Grisha is punished by receiving a beating from Kruger.
Sadly, Fay receives a far worst punishment as Gross feeds her to his sons’ dogs.
This tragedy leads to Grisha’s father telling him why they are being oppressed.
Nearly 2000 years ago, a woman named Ymir Fritz made a deal with the devil to obtain the power of the Titans.
After her death, her soul was split into the nine Titan Shifters who build the empire of Eldia and began a worldwide ethnic cleansing, which lasted around 1700 years.
However, the defeated nation of Marley managed to incite a civil war and get seven of the nine Titans under their control.
King Fritz, the holder of the Founding Titan, fled to the island of Paradis and created three walls to protect his people.
Those Eldians who were left on the continent were then persecuted for their ancestors’ sins, forced to live in ghettos and wear armbands.
However, this story cannot be taken at face value because it comes from a biased viewpoint.
It is plausible that the story of Eldians being descendant from the devil is just propaganda for Marley to justify its persecution of the Eldian race.
It is also just as plausible that the ideology Grisha later develops, that the Eldian empire was uncompromisingly good, is false as well.
Watching Grisha come to this conclusion to justify his anger towards Marley is very investing, just as much as what follows this.
After joining a resistance group, Eldia Restorationists, their spy in the Marleyan army, the Owl, sends the last descendant of the royal family, Dina Fritz, to help.
She and Grisha fall in love and have a son, Zeke.
That’s right, the Beast Titan is not only Grisha’s son but Eren’s half brother as well.
This also adds context to what Zeke was talking about when he told Eren his father had brainwashed him.
Grisha tried to force Zeke to become a Marleyan Warrior in an effort to steal the Founding Titan, pushing his ideology onto him.
Zeke, however, had no way of knowing that Grisha actually allowed Eren to develop his own ideology before giving him a Titan power.
He was not brainwashed like his brother was, which ultimately led Zeke to betray his parents and the Restorationists to the Marleyan authorities.
After being tortured for information, Grisha and the others are taken to Paradis to receive their life sentence of being turned into a mindless Titan.
There, Grisha is forced to watch as his friends and wife are all turned into Titans, some of which will look familiar to the viewer.
This is because, not only are many of the Restorationists Titans we saw in the battle of Trost, but Dina is also the smiling Titan, the one who ate Eren’s mother and Hannes.
No wonder this nightmare makes Eren scream upon waking up, as he is now starting to experience his father’s memories after learning the truth.
Back to Grisha’s plight, he realizes Gross and Kruger are there and he accuses Gross of murdering Fay.
Gross sadistically decides that he will make Grisha “dance” by feeding him to a mindless Titan.
Attack on Titan is a show where there really are no good guys or bad guys but Gross is the one exception.
He is disgustingly evil and revels in this, which makes it all the more satisfying to see Kruger push him off the wall so he is fed to a Titan just like he fed Fay to the dogs in a great sense of poetic justice.
This is one of the scenes I was disappointed to see censored because watching Gross get eaten is satisfying both because it allows the viewer to cheer as this monster is killed, and because it also ties into what Gross said about humans enjoying violence, pointing the finger at the viewer.
Kruger then reveals himself to be the Owl, before transforming into a Titan that strongly resembles Eren’s and attacking the remaining Marleyan forces, bringing the episode to a shocking end.
“That Day” is a fantastic episode.
It has so many exciting twists and turns with its massive exposition dump, which the episode somehow keeps interesting throughout its runtime.
Sadly, not everyone sees it this way.
Some are suggesting, or outright stating, that the information about the Eldians shows that the write,r Hajime Isayama, is an antisemitic fascist.
You can see these concerns being raised in the Polygon article “The fascist subtext of Attack on Titan can’t go overlooked”, where the absolutely ridiculous suggestion that some Titan noses are made to resemble antisemitic Jewish stereotypes is made.
Honestly, I rolled my eyes upon seeing this was an actual article.
People who think Attack on Titan is fascist seem to be conventionally forgetting that the main characters took down a monarchy with fascist elements this very season.
Not only this but if Attack on Titan is antisemitic, like some claim, then why are the characters who represent the Jews the main characters who we root for?
It makes no sense for the series to be fascist with all of its themes about freedom and it saddens me every time I see someone misinterpreting this.
Attack on Titan is a thoughtful story that is creating a message about cycles of hatred and “That Day” proves this.
It is an amazing episode that may actually be my favourite episode of the entire anime.