In my review for Episode 25 of Attack on Titan‘s Final Season, “Night of the End”, I heavily criticized the animation issues, where it was obvious Mappa was trying to save the budget by constantly focusing on walls and trees, rather than the characters’ faces.
However, through this criticism, I pointed out that this could ultimately result in future episodes looking much better, especially episodes 27 and 28.
Well, after watching Episode 27, “Retrospective”, I am happy to see that this suspision was proven correct.
Directed by Jun Shishido, this episode is a phenominal adaption of Chapter 129, delivering some of the best animation Mappa has gifted us with in Attack on Titan so far.
It begins with the aftermath of Connie having to shoot Samuel and Daz to protect both Armin and the flying boat.
The two are clearly traumatised from this but have little time to focus on it because the fight with the Jeagerists is still ongoing, as Reiner and Annie continue to do battle in their Titan forms.
Meanwhile, on the basement steps in one of the buildings, Hange, Jean, and Magath are informed by the flying boat’s engineers that it will take half a day to service it for flight, time they do not have because Jeagerist reinforcements will be arriving soon.
More than that, Hange realizes that even by the time the flying boat is ready, Liberio will have been destroyed, with millions probably already dead.
Jean, in particular, is horrified by this, remembering himself and Connie getting drunk togethor with an old man in a flashback the anime has not revealed yet but hopefully will soon.
It is at this moment of hopelessness, that Kiyomi suggests using a ship to take the flying boat to the port city of Odiha, where they might just have enough time to service the flying boat before the Rumbling arrives.
Kiyomi admits that this is a gamble but this seems to spur Hange on, potentially reminding her of Erwin, and she goes to warn Mikasa who then warns Annie.
There is a moment of internal dialogue from Annie that is cut here, where she wonders if she will still be able to find her father, but this is not too important of a cut considering what happens at the end of the episode.
As the fight continues, Magath leads Kiyomi and the flying boats’ engineers towards the ship that will take them out of the port, leading to Reiner and Annie having to defend them from Jaegerist bullets and thunder spears, with Reiner even taking some of the hits for Annie.
Realizing that the alliance is trying to take the flying boat away on a ship to stop Eren, Floch rallies his troops, telling them that if they don’t stop the alliance then the world will take revenge on Paradis, killing all of them and their families.
This logic is hard to argue with, even though the Rumbling is a morally horrible thing, making it understandable why the Jeagerists are fighting so hard.
After Floch’s speech, we cut to Pieck carrying Levi, Gabi, Falco, Yelena and Onyankopon to the ship.
Seeing how battered Annie and Reiner are getting by the thunder spears, Falco runs in, deciding to transform into the Jaw Titan, since if Galliard were alive then he would not just sit on the sidelines.
Before Pieck can reach the ship, Magath gets there first and orders the engineers to get the ship running, before carrying an injured Armin onboard, allowing Connie to go and fight.
The alliance’s efforts may have been for nothing, however, if a train carrying Jeagerist reinforcements had arrived.
Luckily for them, it is destroyed before it can reach the port, most likely by a thunder spear.
We then get the first excellent tracking shot of the episode, as Connie flies in to save Annie and Reiner, taking out multiple Jaegerists, with Mikasa and Jean aiding him.
It is here that we get another change from the manga, with the changing of Mikasa and Jean’s internal monologue.
In the manga, their line was, “hesitate and your comrades die.”
In the anime, it’s, “hesitate and we’ll never stop the Rumbling.”
Personally, I like this change because they are killing former comrades in this battle, even if it is to save the world, so I think the “stop the Rumbling” line works better.
The fight only gets worse for the Jeagerists as Pieck and Falco get involved, with Falco transforming into the Jaw Titan for the first time, looking absolutley incredible.
I think his Jaw Titan looked a little off at times in the manga, with it seemingly changing appearance between panels, but in this episode his design is consistant and excellently animated.
As someone who likes freckled Ymir’s character, I also quite enjoyed how Falco’s first transformation in the anime seems to mirror hers all the way back in Season Two.
With the Jeagerists now breaking formation, we get our second excellent tracking shot of the episode, with Floch fighting through Falco, Hange and Pieck to get in range to shoot the ship.
Along with looking incredible, this moment is once again different from the manga where Floch actually looks quite pathetic as he screams when Pieck lunges at him.
In the anime, however, he looks nothing but determined to complete his goal.
Say what you will about Floch as a person but he has had quite the character arc going from a cowardly soldier to one willing to take on multiple Titan Shifters to protect Paradis Island.
Unfortunately for him, it does not end well, as Gabi shoots him in the shoulder, causing him to miss the ship and fall into the sea.
As the Jeagerists’ react to Floch’s fall, they notice something horrifying: Mikasa cutting through multiple people, brutally decapitating one of them and stabbing another through an already dead body.
This is another anime only moment but, unlike the others, it is not one I like, specifically because of what Mikasa does after she kills these Jeagerists.
Does she fly off to continue the fight?
Well, yes, but before that she makes sure to activate an already dead Jeagerist’s thunder spear, exploding their corpses and showering her in their blood.
Is this brutal visual cool?
Does it make Mikasa look unnecessarily sadistic in this moment?
Seriously, these soldiers were no threat to her, already being dead, and, more than that, they used to be her comrades, before Mikasa had to fight them to save the world.
It’s even more jarring when you look at the previous episode and see how reluctant Mikasa was to kill her former allies.
How did she go from that to being all gung-ho about blowing up their bodies for no reason?
Much like the Louise scene from “Pride”, it just makes her seem uncharacteristically cruel.
It would have been really easy to fix this as well.
Just have the Jeagerists be about to attack her when she activates the thunder spear, which then kills these attacking Jeagerists.
That way, her activating the thunder spear is an act of self defence, rather than unnecessary brutaility.
While I’m on the subject of issues, I will mention one more that I had, this being plot armour.
This was not a complaint I had when reading the manga because I thought not many of the alliance dying in the port battle made sense, since they have numerous Titan Shifters and some of the most skilled Scouts on their side.
Watching the anime, though, did make the plot armour quite noticable.
There are a few times where bullets and thunder spears should have logically hit characters and the ship.
Still, if that did happen then we would not have a means to get to Eren so it is acceptable.
Back to praising the episode, the Jeagerists all flee upon seeing how many of their comrades are being killed, only for Falco to attack the alliance, being crazed from his first transformation, just like Eren was in Season One.
This leads Magath to cut him free from his Titan, the process of which we actually see him do, unlike in the manga which just cuts to him freeing Falco, so this is a good change.
The alliance then lead their injured members to the ship, which departs for Odiha.
However, Magath stays behind to blow up a Marleyan ship that the Jeagerists could use to follow them.
He is ambushed by two Jeagerists, who are then taken out by none other Keith Shadis, wearing his old Survey Corps uniform.
It was he who Annie saw watching over them in “Pride”.
Moved by his students’ goal to save the world, he has decided to aid them, blowing up the train of Jeagerist reinforcements.
He and Magath then run into the ship, preparing to blow it up with themselves as the Jeagerists board.
Magath says that because of Shadis’ actions he will be remembered as a hero who helped save the world, showing that Shadis was no longer a bystander in the end.
What is truly tragic, though, is that the rest of the world may not actually know this, since no one was there to see Shadis help Magath.
In turn, Shadis says Magath will also be revered as hero for his sacrifice, however the Marleyan general refuses to feel proud of himself, acknowledging his own crimes and stating how he wishes he had allowed the Eldian children he trained to live normal lives.
Shadis consoles him, saying those children would be proud of his actions now, handing him the rifle to blow up the gunpowder while the Jeagerists converge on their location.
The two share names, becoming friends in their final moments as they blow up the ship, sacrificing themselves to ensure the Jeagerists cannot follow the Alliance in a scene that is silent, except for the sombre music.
Shadis and Magath’s sacrifice is one of my favourite deaths in all of Attack on Titan and I think the anime adapted it flawlessly.
The episode is not over yet, however, because we also get an after credits scene, which is the opening scene of Chapter 130, where Annie learns that the alliance cannot save Liberio from the Rumbling, meaning that her father is most likely dead.
Hange tries to convince Annie to continue with them to save billions of people they will probably never know but Annie refuses, no longer having any will to fight without her father and confessing to Mikasa that she doesn’t want to have to fight them or Eren.
This brings an end to “Retrospective”, one of the best episodes of the final season’s second half.
Aside from a few gripes, this is a flawless adaptation of Chapter 129, in my opinion, delivering the sacrifice of Shadis and Magath excellently.
With how well animated this episode was, I am even more excited for the final episode of Season Four Part 2, which will air in the next few weeks.
However, this will certainly not be the end for the Attack on Titan anime because there is a lot more story to give.
So, it will be interesting to see if a movie or Final Season Part 3 will be announced after Episode 28.
One thing that intrigued me about this episode was how the opening scene of Chapter 130 was adapted at the end.
For the past six episodes, Mappa has mostly been adapting a single chapter per episode and it looks like this will continue with the next episode titled, “The Dawn of Humanity.”
However, given how short Chapter 130 actually is, due to the paneling, it makes me wonder if there will be enough content to adapt it all into a single episode without a lot of extra time.
Granted, I did suspect this would happen with Chapter 128’s adaptation and I was wrong about that, so I could also be wrong about this.
If I am not, though, that leaves the question of what Mappa will use to fill in that extra runtime?
It could add some parts of the following chapter “Rumbling” but I don’t think that would work since that is the chapter that features Ramzi’s brutal death and we have not seen the flashback introducing him yet.
This is why I think the next episode may start off by having that so far missing flashback where the scouts infiltrate Marley and party with Ramzi’s family, having their last moment of happiness togethor.
Not only would this be a good way to begin the final episode of Part Two for the Final Season but it would also be good to include because the Eremika scene from Chapter 123 would go nicely with the one from Chapter 130, where Zeke explains Mikasa’s feelings to Eren.
This moment appears to be shown in the preview for the next episode.
Since I think Eren’s feelings for Mikasa were considerably rushed in the manga, having the Chapter 123 flashback and Zeke’s talks with Eren scenes togethor would make the reveal of his feelings for her a lot better, I think.
No matter what we get, though, I am excited to see the adaptation of Chapter 130 and how exactly this story will continue.