Coming into the final season of Attack on Titan, I wondered if Mappa would cut or rearrange certain scenes from the Manga, like Wit did with the Uprising Arc, in order to make the story flow better.
Well, this question has been confirmed with the season’s second episode, “Midnight Train”, which adapts Chapters 93 and some of 94 and 95, skipping over Reiner’s flashback, leaving that for next week.
Whether this rearranging of scenes will be problematic or not remains to be seen with future episodes but, so far, it appears to be working well if “Midnight Train” is any indication.
Directed by Daisuke Tokudo, the episode starts off by adapting Chapter 93, although having various cuts throughout.
Beginning with the meeting between the Marleyan generals, the first scene highlights once again how Marley is falling behind other countries technologically because of their reliance on Titans in warfare.
This leads to Zeke suggesting they attempt to retake the Founding Titan to buy Marley time to catch up, saying that he will do so because he should be the one to bring an end to the plans of Grisha Jeager, as his former son.
While also revealing that Zeke has one year left in his term, this scene also unfortunately highlighted my main criticism with the episode, it’s animation.
While certainly not bad, it did have a few questionable moments, like with Zeke in this scene where his face looks oddly emotionless, with only his mouth being animated to move.
This odd animation continued in the following scene when Zeke and Colt are walking up some stairs and when Udo starts talking about the threats Eldians face.
Apparently, these two moments were made using rotoscoping, which is an animation technique.
It is used during other scenes in the episode and those all look great.
However, these two scenes with Colt and Zeke, and Udo look a little janky compared to the rest of “Midnight Train’s” animation and they pulled me out of the story for a brief moment.
Still, these are only small instances and the technique usually looks good.
Besides, the Colt and Zeke, and Udo scenes are both well done in their own right, providing great humor with Zeke’s ass wiping technique gag, and also tragically revealing the full extent of Reiner’s PTSD when he imagines Gabi, Falco, Udo and Zofia as Bertholdt, Annie, Marvel and Porco from his training days.
Speaking of Porco (Toshiki Masuda), we finally got to meet him and Pieck (Manami Numakura) this episode.
Both of their voice actors do great jobs as the characters, with Pieck being the Cart Titan and one of my favourite new characters introduced during the Marley Arc, and Porco being Marcel’s brother and the new Jaw Titan, meaning he ate Freckled Ymir to get her power.
That’s right, Freckled Ymir still dies off screen.
It’s disappointing that we still don’t have a death scene for her but it’s not like I expected anything better for her character at this point anyway.
Following these scenes, we get the titular train the episode title is referencing as we see the Eldian Warriors on one, returning to their home internment zone of Liberio, resulting in the humorous scene of Colt lifting up Gabi so everyone, including Gabi herself, can cheer for her.
Yet, there also comes a serious scene here, as Falco criticizes Reiner for apparently allowing his cousin to inherit his Armoured Titan, thus shortening her life span.
Reiner uses this moment to test Falco, resulting in two interesting reveals.
One, being that Falco’s last name is actually Grice, the same name of the man who was with Grisha in the Eldia Restorationists.
And two, that Reiner wants Falco to surpass Gabi and inherit his Armoured Titan so he can protect her from the dark future they face.
With this, the adaption of Chapter 93 comes to an end and we get a merged adaptation of parts from Chapters 94 and 95.
Starting with the Warriors reaching Liberio, we get some interesting new scenes of Porco and Pieck interacting with Gabi and Falco, acting as older siblings looking out for them.
I really liked this addition because it helps make their characters more sympathetic, also helped by all of the shots of all the Warriors reuniting with their families.
We have Zeke greeting his grandparents, Gabi hugging her parents, Reiner awkwardly reuniting with his mother, and an anime original scene of Pieck’s father coughing as he welcomes her, which introduces his illness a lot earlier than the manga does, which is a pretty cool addition.
Along with this heat warming scene, however, we also get a reminder of how war is constantly on the horizon, as the Marleyan, Koslow, scares a bunch of traumatized Eldian soldiers suffering from PTSD.
This also allows us to see Falco’s good side because he is kind enough to help one of these soldiers, whose armband has been placed on the wrong arm.
The next scene proves as a great contrast to the horrors of war because, while the traumatized soldiers screamed and fall when Koslow yells “Boom!” at them, Gabi yells “Boom!” with glee to her family, showing the extent of her indoctrination in Marleyan propaganda.
This indoctrination is shown further by Reiner having to act like the Eldians on Paradis Island are devils, comedically turning something as innocent as Sasha eating a potato into something monstrous.
On an unfortunate note, many anime only viewers seem to have misinterpreted this scene as Reiner trying to fool himself into believing this, when he is actually trying to subtly tell his family that those on Paradis are no different from them.
This may have been lost in translation because of the removal of Reiner smiling under his hand, so I wish they had kept that.
One great addition is the a brief moment that comes after this scene, as one of the traumatized soldiers is shown killing themselves, again showing the harm the Marleyans are doing by forcing the Eldians to fight their battles for them.
I love how Mappa is adding all of these scenes to show the horrors of war.
From here, the episode goes into adapting parts of Chapter 95, with the meeting between Zeke and the other Warriors, as Zeke explains their plan to take the Founding Titan with help from the Tyber family, the holders of the Warhammer Titan.
Here, we get another indication that Reiner is now fully aware of the Marleyan propaganda and indoctrination, as he realizes Zeke is hinting that the room is bugged and saves Porco, who is voicing his dissent, from endangering himself by interupting him.
With this moment, the episode ends as Reiner wonders if he really has to go back to Paradis, setting up the next episode to adapt all of his flashbacks, which is kind of worrying.
I have heard leaks about the pacing of this next episode and it makes me scared the writers could cut a lot of pivotal moments for Reiner’s character.
Fingers crossed they can do these chapters justice with just a single episode.
Back to the episode itself, “Midnight Train” is a solid adaptation that is brought down slightly by its occasionally janky animation and cut content.
Still a good episode though and I hope everything turns out alight for the next one.
Chapter 91: The Other Side of the Ocean.
Volume 23 takes Attack on Titan in a brand new direction, kicking off with chapter 91, which picks up four years after the battle of Shiganshina.
I had been spoiled that there would be this time skip but even I was surprised by it because I thought the story would pick up with Eren and the others but it does not.
Instead, the story focuses on Reiner, Zeke and a bunch of brand new characters who are on the opposing side to our protagonists.
From what I have read so far, this seems like an interesting way to explore the other side’s perspective but, depending on how long our main characters stay out of the story, this could be a problem.
Still, it seems to be off to a good start because this chapter delivers some already intriguing characters.
One who quickly caught my attention was Gabi, Reiner’s cousin, who actually reminds me a lot of Eren from the first few chapters of the manga.
She wants to defeat all of those against them without knowing the bigger picture just like Eren and I think it will be interesting to see how she could potentially grow from this.
Chapter 91 also provides other interesting characters like Falco, Colt and Magath.
We also get name drops for two of the Titans we have seen before the Cart Titan and Jaw Titan.
The Cart Titan is the one who helped Zeke during the Shiganshina arc and the Jaw Titan is actually Ymir’s one, although controlled by a different user now, which we will get to later.
We get a look at the new Jaw Titan in this chapter and, I have to say, it has a very cool design.
I am a little confused though as to why it looks completely different from when Ymir had the power.
Is it because they gave the controller a new power like Eren got in the Uprising Arc?
Whatever the case, I still like the design choice.
However, what I did not like about this chapter was the exposition.
Hajime Isayama is usually great at delivering it but in this chapter the way he explains the four year time skip feels very unnatural and more like the characters were filling in the reader, rather than each other.
Still, this is a promising start and I am interested in these new characters we have been given.
Chapter 92: Marley’s Soldiers.
The second chapter of Volume 23, “Marley’s Soldiers” is primarily an action one and, as a result, there is not that much to talk about.
It is still an entertaining chapter though that will look great when season four gets animated, whenever that will be.
We got a better look at the Jaw Titan in action and the Cart Titan arrived as well with operated machine guns on its back.
I like this idea a lot because it shows just how far technology has come in the time skip.
Another thing that showed this was how Reiner is so easily defeated by human weaponry when he jumps in front of Zeke to shield him from battleship fire.
All of this new technology on display shows why the Marleyans are so eager to get the Founding Titan back, because this technology is quickly surpassing them and they need the Founding Titan to stop this.
Along with the action in this chapter, we also get a small amount of character development for Reiner and a first hint at a major reveal.
Reiner flashing back to his time behind the walls and then stating that “walls disgust me” shows just how much his time on Paradis affected him.
Then the best moment of the chapter came when Zeke turns a whole bunch of comatose people into Titans just by screaming.
This explains why all those Titans suddenly appeared at the beginning of the Shiganshina arc.
Overall, Chapter 92 was another good one that added small bits of character growth and a hint at a huge reveal to go along with the exciting action.
Chapter 93: Midnight Train.
Even though I will admit Chapter 93, “Midnight Train” is a good chapter, when I was reading it I was absolutely infuriated.
The reason for this was because we got the death of Ymir in this chapter and it is the worst death of the entire series by a wide margin.
It is revealed that when Ymir went with Reiner and Bertholdt she was eaten by the brother of the Shifter she ate, Porco Galliard, who became the new Jaw Titan.
Personally, I think killing Ymir at this point was a huge mistake.
There are still things we do not know about her, like what the language she read at Utgard Castle was.
Also, Ymir is probably the character most connected to the first Titan Shifter, Ymir Fritz, because she pretended to be her reincarnation.
This gave her a lot of potential to reveal some game changing stuff and now that potential is gone.
This is not why I was angered though.
The real reason for this is because she dies off screen.
All we get is Galliard saying he inherited her power and a still image of Ymir chained up, about to be eaten by him.
That is it.
Isayama is amazing at giving even the most minor of characters amazing deaths but he did not even bother with Ymir and, as a fan of her character, this felt like a huge slap in the face.
The rest of the chapter is admittedly good, with numerous interesting reveals like the one where it is revealed it is Zeke’s royal blood that allows him to control the Titans he transforms.
We also got to officially meet Galliard and the controller of the Cart Titan, Pieck, for the first time.
Then there is Reiner, whose PTSD is treated brilliantly and it all concludes with a fantastic ending where Reiner aims to protect Gabi by urging Falco to inherit the Armoured Titan.
This was all great stuff and redeemed the chapter.
However, even though this was good, the main takeaway of this this chapter for me is still the absolutely terrible death Ymir was given.
I hope they fix this in the anime by giving her an actual death scene.
Chapter 94: The Boy Inside the Walls.
Attack on Titan finally started to give us the backstory of Reiner Braun in this chapter and I was honestly surprised by it.
Seeing Reiner at the beginning of the manga I thought he was always a qualified leader. However, after seeing his backstory, this is clearly not the case.
In this chapter Reiner is actually revealed to have initially been the weakest of the Warriors, with various other recruits, like Galliard, calling him useless.
Seeing this hopeless side to Reiner was great because it adds further complexities to him and, just like with Gabi in Chapter 91, reminds me a lot of Eren.
Both had big goals as children, Eren wanting to explore the outside world and Reiner wanting to save it, but they did not know the full story.
This is perfectly shown with the amazing end to the chapter, which sees Reiner training to be a warrior who will attack the walls before transitioning to a bored Eren inside the walls wondering when something interesting will happen.
It is stuff like this that makes me eager to see Eren and Reiner reunite, hopefully sometime soon.
In this flashback we also got a look at Bertholdt and Annie again, which is good for some nostalgia as Bertholdt died in the Shiganshina arc and Annie is… well, who knows?
Along with this, we finally got to see the infamous “home town” Reiner and Bertholdt kept mentioning, which is an internment zone for Eldians reminiscent of Jewish internment camps in World War Two.
It is here we see to the fullest extent how successfully the Marleyans have brainwashed the Eldians into believing those on Paradis are devils.
It was very disheartening to see these people brainwashed into believing they are right to be persecuted.
This is shown not only through how everyone at Reiner’s dinner table talk about those on Paradis but also with how Reiner talks about them.
It was honestly kind of funny but also sad to see Reiner warping innocent things he saw on Paradis, like Sasha stealing a potato, into something monstrous.
“The Boy Behind the Walls” was a great way to end the volume and makes me hope we get more of Reiner’s backstory soon.