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.