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. 

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.

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Fourteen, Savagery Review: It’s Time for Round Two.

4 and a half stars
I was very excited for Episode Fourteen of Attack on Titan‘s Final Season, “Savagery”, because it would be adapting two very great chapters that I may have not graded too high upon initial viewing but have become more fond of over time.
However, then an earthquake happened and the episode was delayed a full week, now premiering alongside Episode 15, “Solve Salvation.”
While not getting “Savagery” last week was disappointing, it is understandable why they would delay it.
I mean, this came not ten years after the devestating earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands.
Yet, once again, some of the fandom showed its toxic side, demanding the episode be aired and saying they did not care about the reason for the delay.
In any case, we eventually got “Savagery”, directed by Jun Shishido, and was it the potential top ten episode that I said it could be?
Well, not really, but it’s still a great episode.
Picking up from where “Children of the Forest” left off, Episode Fourteen kicks off with Eren’s confrontation with Mikasa and Armin, where he tells them some very hard truths(?).
Leaning back in his chair, Eren tells Armin that because he has been going to see Annie so much this means that Bertholdt has taken over his brain, which is honestly a very hypocritical thing for someone who has eaten three Titan Shifters to say.
But Eren doesn’t stop there, oh no, because then comes the tragic scene that fans have memed ever since it happened.
The “Mmgh” scene.
Dubbed this because of the sound effect Mikasa makes in the manga, in this moment, Eren claims that Zeke told him that members of the Ackerman family only awaken their power after they recognize a host to protect.
So, when Eren saved Mikasa all those years ago in the cabin, she saw him as a host, which is why she has been so desperate to protect Eren over the years, not because she truly loves him but because she is essentially a slave to her Ackerman instincts, or so Eren claims.
He backs this up with the constant headaches Mikasa has been suffering, which is apparently the true self trying to break free from its Ackerman  programming.
As if this was not bad enough, Eren follows this up with the cruelest thing he could possibly say, “Mikasa, I’ve always hated you.”
Rightfully, Armin goes to try and teach Eren a lesson, only for Mikasa to slam him into the table, again seemingly proving Eren’s point.
This doesn’t stop Armin, though, as he continues to try and beat up Eren.
Note my repeated use of the word “try” because Armin does not stand a chance.
Eren’s brutal beating to Armin here was much worse than in the manga, where he only hit him once or twice.
Here, Eren launches a barage of fists, reducing Armin to a bloody pulp.
But if Armin doesn’t get to Eren with his fists then he definitley gets to him with his words, calling him a slave and, given Eren’s angered reaction, you have to wonder exactly how free he really is.
This whole scene was a great adaptation of Eren practically trying to destroy his friendship with Mikasa and Armin, although I do wish more lines from the manga had been kept in.
I was pretty sad to see Eren’s line of, “There’s nothing further removed from freedom than ignorance” go.
Following the intense scene between Eren, Mikasa and Armin (oh, and Gabi too, I guess) we get the action segment of the episode with the long awaited round two between Zeke and Levi.
Seeing Zeke run away from Levi before transforming Levi’s men was way funnier than in the manga and the part where he actually transformed them was particularily horrifying.
Then we get the fight, which is really good but admittedly could have been done better.
For starters, I do think some of the shots of the Titans were a bit too static and also some iconic shots from the manga should have been given a few more seconds to linger to make the scene more epic.
Then there’s the OST.
I know I harked on about people complaining about the OST in “Declaration of War” but that’s because I personally think some of them let their expectations get in the way of things, which is understandable because I’ve experienced that too.
In the case of this OST use, I actually like that they used Kenny’s theme because, with him now gone, it feels like it belongs to Levi.
However, I do think that they should have used the lyricless version because the lyrics of this theme speak directly to Kenny’s motivations.
So, it’s a bit weird listening to a song about why Kenny wanted to steal the Founding Titan that is playing in a Levi vs Zeke fight scene.
This is something I picked up on a rewatch, though, and I don’t think a lot of people will be too bothered by it.
Again, I did really enjoy the Levi vs Zeke scene, I just wish that Mappa had more time to animate certain sections of it better and maybe went with the lyricless version of K21, so the lyrics didn’t jar with what is actually happening in the scene.
Back to the actual fight, if we can even call it that because it’s more of a slaughter, Levi comes out on top once more because Zeke underestimates him yet again.
Zeke may be one of the smartest characters in Attack on Titan but his ego always gets the better of him, and in spectacular fashion here.
Levi not only manages to kill all of the Titans Zeke transformed, willingly killing his own comrades, but also blows Zeke out of his hardened nape with the Thunder Spears, leaving Zeke a gruesome mess that looks brutal, even with the censorship.
This leaves him at Levi’s mercy, stuck in a cart, looking like a piece of overcooked pizza, and with a thunderspear stabbed in his abdomen to keep him from escaping.
Not to mention Levi torturing him by cutting his feet off so he won’t transform into a Titan, and probably also for personal satisfaction but who can blame Levi for that after all the cruel things Zeke has done.
Well, if you thought that Zeke was a completley irredeemable monster, then the cliffhanger for the episode may have hinted otherwise to you, as we see Zeke as a child playing catch with a mysterious man named Mr Ksaver, preparing us all for the Zeke flashback we would see next episode, which more than lived up to expectations.
As for the rest of “Savagery” that comes before this cliffhanger, it is just as great, with Floch’s ambushing of Shadis done very well.
You can really see how drunk on power Floch has become, as he pursues nationalism even further by punishing those who do not align with his thought process, having Shadis be beaten up by a bunch of recruits he trained before demanding Hange lead them to Zeke.
Given that it was implied that Hange once had a crush on Shadis, the moment she looks at him, beaten to a bloody pulp, like Armin was previously, is really sad.
Not as sad as the next episode, though, “Sole Salvation”, which, as I have said, is a fantastic episode that I look forward to reviewing.
Overall, even if I think certain moments of “Savagery” could have been done better, the episode is still fantastic with its tragic scene between Eren, Mikasa and Armin, and epic second showdown between Levi and Zeke.

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Thirteen, Children of the Forest Review: An Intense Adaptation for an Underated Chapter.

5 stars
I really loved Chapter 111 of Attack on Titan when I first read it and I think it is one of the most underated chapters in the entire manga.
So, imagine my excitement to see it so well adapted in the thirteenth episode of the final season, “Children of the Forest.”
Directed by Yasuhiro Geshi and Kōnosuke Uda, the episode picks up first with a scene from Chapter 110, which many feared was cut, that being Zeke’s flashback revealing what he did to Ragako village.
The scene opens with the village being consumed by gas, fanned in by Marleyan soldiers, with Zeke and Pieck in attendance.
Once the smoke hits them, all of the villagers, Connie’s family among them, collapse and are unable to move.
Zeke then Titanizes them with his roar, just like he did back in the first episode of this final season.
However, Zeke’s explanation of these events and how he supposedly did it to save Eldia clearly does not satisfy Levi, understandably.
Levi believes Zeke to have not a shred of guilt over his actions, which is not helped by Zeke’s good mood.
This does lead to a pretty humorous scene, though, where Zeke assumes Levi must not be very popular with the ladies.
Oh, Zeke, if only you knew the extent to which Levi fangirls will go.
This comedic and on the nose moment is quickly interrupted, though, as soldiers arrive to inform Levi of Zachary’s assasination at the hands of the Yeagerists.
With that, the episode transitions into the adaption of Chapter 111, as Gabi, Falco, Kaya, and the Braus family arrive to taste Niccolo’s excellent cooking in remembrance of Sasha.
It is here that Gabi and Falco plan to make contact with Niccolo based on Kaya’s advice, all of them still unaware that the woman Gabi killed was Sasha herself.
The tension of this reveal slowly builds as Falco begins to realize something is amiss, and Hange and the 104th arrive to question Niccolo.
However, the impending reveal to those characters close to Sasha that Gabi was the one who killed her is not the only case of growing tension here, because now the wine is coming into play.
I did criticize how easy it was to guess that there was something up with the wine in Episode Ten, when it was more subtle in the manga, but now I would like to rescind this criticism.
It being made fairly obvious that the wine was poisoned with something made the scene where Jean and Connie almost take a sip very nerve-racking.
Thank goodness Niccolo had the foresight, and the added kindness thanks to Sasha, to stop them from doing so, although he did end up using Marleyan racism to cover it up.
This leads to the big conflict of the episode, as Gabi and Falco follow Niccolo when he retreats with the wine and confront him, telling them that they are Warriors candidates who snuck aboard the airship when it was fleeing Marley.
This, of course, tips Niccolo off and he asks the big question: “Did you kill someone? A female soldier.”
Well, any smart person would find this question odd, considering Niccolo is a Marleyan, who have pretty much all been brainwashed into hating Eldians.
This is why Falco picks up on it.
Gabi, on the other hand, oh boy, her brainwashed brain cannot take a hint.
With every word out of her mouth she keeps digging her metaphorical grave deeper and deeper.
You can really see how indoctrinated Gabi is, as she almost seems to be seeking praise from Niccolo, a Marleyan, for killing Sasha.
However, praise is certainly what Niccolo has in mind.
No, he’d much rahter perfer a wine bottle smash to the skull for her.
It’s Falco who takes the blow, though, jumping in front of Gabi and taking the hit but also ingesting the wine.
The soundtrack during this scene is also straight up fire.
Niccolo is much more focused on Gabi than the injured Falco, delivering her a beating off screen, before throwing her before the Braus family and exposing her as Sasha’s killer.
It’s here that the best voice acting of the episode is showcased.
Ayane Sakura again does a magnificent job as Gabi but Eji Hanawa steals the show as Niccolo, who mournfully and furiously explains how Sasha saved him from this war and taught him that he was supposed to make people happy with his food.
Gabi hits back by telling him of the people Sasha killed, claiming that it is actually she who brainwashed him, ironic coming from her.
Mr Braus understandably looks sickened to hear such a despicable thing about his daughter and requests the knife from Niccolo.
The terrified eye movements of Gabi and Mr Braus’ contemplative face here, almost as if he is considering actually killing Gabi in an act of revenge, are animated incredibly well.
However, revenge is not what Mr Braus ultimately wants, as he shows exceptional maturity for a mere side character, giving one of the best speeches of the series about how, as adults, it is their burden to carry and move on from their sins to get the children out of the forest.
The forest, in this instance, being a metaphor for the cruel world and cycle of violence that our characters struggle with daily.
With this, Mr and Mrs Braus convince Niccolo to let Falco go, followed by Mr Braus asking if Gabi is alright.
This shocks Gabi right to the core of her being, as she sees these supposed devils concerned for the very person who killed their daughter.
Well, not all of them are concerned because Kaya is already moving head first into the forest, as she attempts to stab Gabi with a knife for the death of Sasha.
Only Mikasa’s Ackerman insticts save Gabi from a knife to the head.
The animation of Kaya being tackled to the ground and comforted by Mr and Mrs Braus is just great, as well.
Mappa did a really good job with the animation this episode.
With Mikasa and Armin moving Gabi to a safer place, we then get the big reveal of the episode from Niccolo.
Zeke’s spinal fluid is in the wine, and potentially hundreds of military officers among the Military Police and Garrison are currently infected.
Zeke lied at the beginning of the episode when he said that Eldians freeze when they ingest his spinal fluid, and this lie has caused those infected to be entirely unaware of their dangerous position.
The Scouts have absolutley no time to warn everyone, though, because who else should show up but Eren and the Yeagerists, and in a much more abrupt way than in the manga.
Rather than seeing Eren enter the room that Mikasa and Armin are talking to Gabi in, like in the manga, we just hear the door close and see him casually walk up to them, bloodly hand raised in a threatening manner.
It honestly reminded me of the abrupt Reiner and Bertholdt reveal from Season Two, it’s that great.
Just as entertaining is Floch’s arrival with the Yeagerists and Hange’s slow realization that they all knew about the poisoned wine.
Floch grinning at Hange and shushing her is a real improvement on the manga, making Floch look much more sinister than he does in the original source material.
Following this, we get the naturally frustrating cliffhanger of Eren saying he wants to talk to Armin and Mikasa, only for the episode to cut off there.
Well, at least the wait might just be more than worth it because tomorrow’s episodes is about to adapt two fantastic chapters which, with time, I have come to look incredibly favourably on.
If done right, the next episode could easily be in the top ten best episodes of the series.
As for “Children of the Forest”, in my opinion, it is a near perfect adaptation.
Great shots, animation, voice acting and music, it has it all.
I do wish a couple of manga panels, like a particular flashback shot of Sasha, had been included but these are not major things and did not decrease my enjoyment of the episode.
“Children of the Forest” is a fantastic episode and I have my fingers crossed that “Savagery” can be adapted to near perfection as well.

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Twelve, Guides Review: The Corruption of Shinzou wo Sasageyo.

4 and a half stars
You know, I was pretty excited for Episode Twelve of Attack on Titan‘s final season, “Guides.”
It was set to adapt one of the most hype scenes in the manga with Eren’s escape from prison and meeting up with Floch and the other Yeagerists, putting on his coat as the sun sets and ready to keep moving forward.
Then, the scene happens, and it’s just as epic as I hoped it would be.
So, imagine my surprise when I see people are once again harassing Mappa over their displeasure with this scene.
Well, no, I shouldn’t say surprised because I’m pretty sure these toxic people (I will not call them fans) will find something stupid to harass Mappa over pretty much every following episode.
If you didn’t like this scene, though, again, just like the people who didn’t like Chapter 137, that’s A-ok with me.
I just want certain groups of people to stop being toxic with their displeasure to the point that they are literally harassing people.
Back to the episode itself, “Guides” is directed by Kunihiro Mori and adapts most of Chapter 110 and half of Chapter 111 pretty amazingly.
Beginning with Armin checking up on Annie in the basement of a military police base, Hitch shows up just in time to stop him from going all Shinji Ikari on her.
In all seriousness, Armin’s hurried explanations to hide his crush on Annie and Hitch saying she can’t understand why Annie is popular when all she does is sleep, which is basically Isayama talking to the viewer, are both very funny.
However, the tone switches when Armin and Hitch emerge from the basement and see a rabid crowd of Eren supporters protesting his imprisonment.
Floch and the other recruits leaking the information about Eren’s escape definitley damaged the public’s faith in the military and this is only increased by what happens after.
Before this, though, we get two scenes of investigations done by Hange and Pyxis.
The first is Yelena finally cracking under the pressure and admitting to Pyxis that she met with Eren.
She tries to paint herself as a fangirl, obsessed with getting to know Eren, which, to be fair, she was, but she is not able to pull the wool over Pyxis’ eyes to hide the true extent of her and Zeke’s plans.
As Pyxis says, the only way to tell a good lie is to mix some truth in there.
Yelena revealing that she did meet with Eren leads to Hange confronting Onyankopon about this, much to his shock.
He then tells Hange about the extremes Yelena went to when it came to dealing with Marleyans who betrayed them or were at least uncertain with their plans.
This makes it unusal that she has been supportive of Marleyan rights on Paradis, Hange notes, which will play a key role in her decision at the end of the episode.
Following this scene, “Guides” cuts to one of the episode’s big moments, as Armin and Mikasa go to talk with Zackly (or is it Zachary? Oh, nevermind) about potentially speaking with Eren.
Zackly, however, is having none of it, having already given up on Eren because he and the rest of the military now believe that Eren is under Zeke’s control.
Now, Zackly plans to pass Eren’s Titan power onto someone else… after he tortures him with his magnificent work of art that is.
Yet, Zackly is smart enough not to let Mikasa in on this but Armin manages to deduce it pretty quickly.
Before Mikasa can go in and listen to Zackly’s conversation with the candidates, though, her Ackerman senses go off and she has just enough time to cover Armin, as a bomb, on Zackly’s chair of all things, explodes, killing Zackly and his candidates to replace Eren.
The military’s commander in chief’s mutilated body then splats on the ground, in full view of the protesting public but, unfortunately, not in clear view of us due to censorship.
To be fair, censorship is nothing new in Attack on Titan and the way its shot makes it clear that Zackly was torn apart by the explosion, so the horror of the moment is thankfully still kept.
Another moment that also translates well in the adaptation is the corruption of Erwin’s catchphrase “Shinzou wo Sasageyo!” translated to, “Devote Your Hearts!”
Erwin used this to rally his troops to fight for humanity, but now it is being used to rally behind a rapidly growing, naitonalist terrorist group, the aptly named Yeagerists, with Eren at its head.
Speaking of, it is here that we come back to the previously mentioned coat scene, where Eren escapes jail, along with Floch and the rest of the Yeagerists, and heads off to find Zeke.
I really like the way this scene was shot, scored, voice acted, and transitioned into the mid-card.
In my own, personal opinion, it was a perfect adaptartion for the scene.
Following the mid-card, we get the beginning of the adaptation of Chapter 111, with the hectic meeting between the military officers and Kiyomi, which quickly dissolves into arguing, mostly at the fault of the Military Police.
Thankfully, Pyxis is there to resolve the situation, and comedically suggest they surrender to Eren.
There is a serious intent behind this, though, because Pyxis realizes that with the threat of Marley and the rest of the world now faing Paradis means they cannot have infighting, so he plans to negotiate with the Yeagerists by putting Zeke’s location on the table.
Some, like Hange and Kiyomi, are clearly not as assured by this, which is made apparent for Kiyomi when she approaches Mikasa and suggests she come to her ship if things go wrong.
Mikasa cleverly confronts her about her intent to use Paradis’ resources but Kiyomi surprises her by telling Mikasa that even though she is considered a “money pinching vixen” she still has the honour to protect Mikasa for her clan.
As for Hange, her doubt about the situation is shown by her belief that there is more to Yelena and Zeke’s plans, spurned on by Yelena’s suspicious actions, like vouching for Marleyans when she was so ruthless with them before, as I mentioned earlier.
This causes her to lead the 104th to Niccolo’s restaurant to interivew him where, surprise, surpise, Gabi and Falco have just arrived with the Braus family.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the episode ends with the cliffhanger reveal of Pieck having arrived in Paradis, likely planning Marley’s surprise attack, which Reiner advocated for at the end of Episode Ten.
In my opinion, “Guides” is another fantastic episode for Attack on Titan‘s final season and Mappa are doing a great job, especially when you consider the rough production schedule they are suffering through.
Sure, some of the shots in the episode, like one of Mikasa running, do look a little off but they are nowhere near as offputting as Pyxis’ Megamind head in “A Sound Argument.”
The one big criticism I do have about the animation is a continutiy mistake where Eren is shown in his Yeagerist outfit in a flashback.
However, this could potentially be fixed in the Blu-Ray.
All in all, “Guides” is another great episode that adapts one of Attack on Titan‘s best hype moments very well.

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Eleven, Deceiver Review: Oh, Boy! Here I go Killing Again!

4 stars
Oh, Gabi, Gabi, Gabi.
Why must you further enrage the Attack on Titan community?
Even though I think Gabi is a great character, I did find myself wanting to slap her in the eleventh episode of the Final Season, “Deceiver”, although that was pretty much the point.
Directed by Teruyuki Ōmine, the episode title refers to many characters, from Floch, to Reiner, to Zeke, to Kaya, to, of course, Gabi and Falco, who are the main decievers of the episode.
This is made clear right from the get-go, as Gabi fakes a seizure to lure a guard into her and Falco’s cell and beat him unconcious with a rock so they can escape… or at least it was implied that he was unconcious in the manga.
Curiously, in the anime they decided to make it abundantly clear that Gabi had killed the guy, who Falco clearly points out was trying to help her.
Gabi goes even further, planning to kill Kaya if she doesn’t buy into her cover story, when the girl stumbles across her and Falco.
She even actually does attempt to kill her, when she learns that Kaya herself was deceiving them because she knew they were from Marley the whole time.
I’ve seen someone use the Rick and Morty “Oh, boy! Here I go killing again!” gag to describe Gabi and it’s funny because it’s absolutley true.
Despite this, I still don’t hate Gabi.
Again, I did want to slap her when she was blaming Kaya, her mother, and their ancestors for all of their suffering but I still know that Gabi is a brainwashed girl, indoctrinated by Marleyan propaganda.
In any case, she seems to have suffered the first blow to this indoctrination in “Deciever” through experiencing kindness from Sasha’s family, with neither Gabi nor Sasha’s parents knowing that she killed their daughter, and Kaya logically breaking apart Gabi’s arguments about the Eldians supposed sins before tearfully demanding an answer.
This results in the final blow for Gabi’s first pillar of indoctrination by the end of the episode, as Kaya offers to help Gabi and Falco get back to Marley by taking them to see Niccolo because she knows that Sasha would help them and she wants to be just like her.
Following this emotional moment, we get the post credits scene of Reiner and the rest of the Warriors beginning to plan their attack on Paradis.
This continued one of the earliest scenes in the episode, where Reiner woke up and demanded to know where Gabi and Falco were.
Reiner may have been suicidal earlier but now he has a new purpose that keeps him living: rescuing Gabi and Falco.
This causes him to criticize Magath’s plan to wait six months for Marley and the other countires of the world to create a global alliance to attack Paradis because Zeke would have undoubtedly made a plan by then.
His announcement that they need to launch a surprise attack on Paradis immediately makes for quite the cliffhanger.
Also, it is pretty funny that the shot cuts to him when Porco wonders how Zeke could have betrayed them.
Reiner’s own sins as a deceiver are always right in front of him, with him constantly being reminded of them through one way or another.
Speaking of reminders, Hange is forced to remember how the corrupt Sannes told her that she would basically be taking his place eventually all the way back in Season Three.
Whereas once Hange fought to let the people know everything the government was hiding from them in the Uprising Arc, she now has to lie to them until she knows all the info that there is, bringing more distrust down on her and the new government.
This is not helped by Floch and a bunch of recruits leaking information about Eren’s arrest.
Now that Floch has seen Eren acting like a devil, just like Erwin, he is fully on his team, a stark contrast to how he was against him at the end of The Return to Shiganshina Arc, showing just how much Floch perception of Eren has chanhged over the four year time skip.
It’s not just Floch, though, because many others are on the side of Eren, including Louise, the girl Mikasa saved all the way back in Season One.
Now devoted to following Eren, based on Mikasa’s example, Louise’s dedication in spite of military law causes Mikasa to remember Eren saving her all those years ago, through a mysterious headache.
However, Eren saving Mikasa is now painted in an even darker lens than it already was in that first season.
Eren has always been capable of committing atrocities and this flashback makes it very clear, even though the people who kidnapped Mikasa and killed her parents pretty much deserved it for what they did.
Along with Floch and Louise, there’s also Yelena, who is almost certainly involved in Eren’s schemes, based on Pyxis’ findings, yet, so far, she’s keeping her mouth closed.
There are a lot of decievers in this episode, making the title quite fitting, which is funny because it was actually swapped with the next episode’s title “Guides.”
While “Deceiver” does fit nicely for this episode, I wonder if “Guides” will end up doing so for Episode Twelve, considering that I can’t quite think of a way in which that title will suit its events.
Either way, “Deciever” is still a really good episode of Attack on Titan. 
Not only does it have some great, emotional scenes for many of the titular decievers, but it also came with some fantastic animation, especially for the backgrounds.
The episode did make me want to slap Gabi but, again, I’m pretty sure that’s the point.

Attack on Titan Season Four, Episode Ten, A Sound Argument Review: Historia’s Sacrifice.

please fucking work
I remember reading Chapter 107 of Attack on Titan and feeling quite disappointed with the direction Hajime Isayama took Historia’s character.
To me, the idea of her sacrificing herself and any children she would have went against everything that her character development in the Uprising Arc was about, so to see her pregnant for this sacrifice plan really did not sit well with me. 
Thankfully, with the benefit of hindsight as a manga reader, I now look on this scene, and the potential it has for the end of the story, a lot more favourably. 
Historia’s sidelining after this point, though? 
Well, I am pretty sure that I will always believe that was a mistake. 
In any case, Episode Ten of Attack on Titan‘s final season, “A Sound Argument”, adapts both Chapter 107 and 108 well, albeit with a few hiccups.
Directed by Kaori Makita, the episode follows up on the serious cliffhanger from “Brave Volunteers”, which featured Eren standing in front of a mirror in his jail cell and proclaiming that he has to fight.
This is continued in the episode with a not so serious beginning, as Hange interrupts Eren’s talk with himself and humorously comments on it. 
I had honesty forgotten how funny Hange could be but seeing her scenes adapted in the anime really drove it home for me, especially with this scene. 
Just take a shot everytime she says “fight” during this conversation. 
You will pass out in a matter of seconds. 
It’s not all humorous, though, as Hange switches to serious, reminiscing on her talk with Eren about Titans, all the way back in Season One, and how he let her ramble on and on about pointless things. 
However, these happy times are no more, unfortunately showcased by Hange’s next line about how she believed Eren would never sacrifice Historia. 
From there, the episode delves into the flashback that puts Zeke’s supposed plan to save Eldia into motion. 
This comes from a flashback of the Volunteers introducing Paradis to an ally, Kiyomi Azumabito from the nation of Hizuru. 
It is through this flashback of her meeting those on Paradis that we learn not only the effect Zeke’s plan will have on Historia but also of Mikasa’s “importance” to Hizuru as well. 
It is revealed that Mikasa in actually the descendant of a lost Shogun from Hizuru and thus essential to the nation. 
This is proven through a tattoo Mikasa has on her hand. 
Now, while my opinion about Historia’s pregnancy in the manga has become more positived of the years, my opinion on this scene has not, and the anime makes its reveal a little more problematic. 
Mikasa being the descendant of a long lost Shogun always felt a little too convient to me, what with five Titan Shifters and the heir to the throne all coincidentally coming from the same training corps. 
Not onlt this but Mikasa being important to Hizuru has so far amounted to absolutley nothing in the manga. 
The anime makes this reveal even weaker with how its revealed, although that is not be entirely Mappa’s fault. 
You see, Mikasa having this tattoo should have been set up all the way back in Season One but, for whatever reason, Wit decided to remove it. 
So, now that the tattoo is revealed in this episode, it has absolutley no buildup and feels like a retcon. 
Following this reveal, we get a brief happy scene with Historia, where she is excited for Mikasa being important because it means she has someone to relate to. 
Eren then slides in all smooth and comments that Historia looks happy, to which she replies that she is.
You know, just to drive the knife deeper into her hearts when she looks so unhappy with her pregnancy later in the episode.
The plan for this pregnancy is revealed in the flashback by Kiyomi, who reveals that Zeke gained her trust by gifting her with ODM Gear, which he got from Mike, who he gruesomely murdered all the way back in Season Two.
With the Ice Burst fuel as a resource, Zeke gives Hizuru a reason to get in bed with Paradis: profit.
This causes Mikasa to realize she is a pretext pretty easily and it is following this that Kiyomi reveals Zeke’s plan to save Eldia but also sacrifice Historia and her descendants.
Paradis will need 50 years to catch up with the rest of the world’s military technology and, in order for the island not to be attacked during that time, the threat of the Rumbling must be maintained. 
Therefore, the Founding Titan and a Titan of royal blood must be passed down, meaning that Historia must have children who will then be sacrificed to the same fatal cycle that her family subjected themselves to for centuries, which, again, goes completley against all of Historia’s character development. 
Historia agrees to this nonetheless and this is where Eren steps in, furiously proclaiming that Zeke can take his plan and shove it. 
Eren’s reaction is a lot more volitle than it was in the manga here and I am personally all for that. 
This violence is then continued when the episode cuts back to the present and Eren angrily attacks Hange, after telling her that since he has the Warhammer Titan, he can escape anytime he wants. 
Eren furiously demands to know if Hange has some kind of backup plan, as Titan marks and sparks briefly flash up his face. 
Hange backs off, playing off Eren’s lunge as a perverted move, before showing the audience how she feels depressed about the state of things, as she tells herself that Erwin made a terrible choice making her Commander.
After this scene, we get the big reveal of Historia’s pregnancy, with her looking dead inside, and a mysterious farmer telling her she needs to take better care of herself. 
This farmer is apparently the father, according to members of the Military Police, including Nile, who are shown enjoying some wine togethor, before one drunk guy starts committing blasphemy by degrading Historia. 
In all seriousness, this part of the episode was another problem I had with Historia’s pregnancy in the manga. 
Historia just gets togethor with a random farmer who we have never seen and have no reason to care about, and also bullied her as a child, contributing to her suicidal ideology when we first met her in the story? 
If the farmer is the father then, in my own opinion, this reveal was pretty poorly done. 
However, notice that I said “if” because there are a lot of signs for this being a red herring. 
Some of these signs, like Historia being said to have never married the farmer and also a panel of a mysterious, hooded figure watching Historia talk to the farmer, were cut in the actual episode. 
Still, there are enough signs to make anime only viewers question it, just like us manga readers did. 
Only time will tell if we are reading too much into these supposed signs or not.
One thing that is made explicitly obvious rather than just a sign, though, is Niccolo with the wine. 
In the manga, this moment was subtle and some people did not pick up on it. 
In the episode, however, Niccolo giving the Military Police officers the wine is highlighted by dark lighting and threatening music. 
It makes it very obvious that something is up with the wine and I do wish it had been kept more subtle. 
After this obvious scene, we get yet another flashback, to one of the last times Eren and his friends were truly happy, as they built a railway togethor, accompanied by a humorous background moment of Armin trying to stop Sasha from drinking all their water. 
Levi and Hange show up, giving us another funny moment when levi is offended by how much taller the 104th has become, before Hange delivers the bad news that Hizuru is not willing to help Paradis negotiate with other nations because it wants their resources. 
This most likely means they will have to sacrifice Historia, something that is already happening in the present time of the episode. 
Yet, Hange has not given up hope and suggests sneaking into Marley to try and make connections because surveying is what the Scouts are all about. 
This excites many of the 104th as they ride back on the train, which leads into a heart warming scene of them all discussing who should get Eren’s Titan when his 13 years are up. 
Mikasa volunteers first but Jean counters this because she is still important to Hizuru and they don’t know if the Ackermans can become Titans. 
Jean then says he would be best but Connie also counters this by saying he is too important and offers to take on the burden himself. 
Next comes Sasha, who tells Connie that he is too much of an idiot to handle the responsibility, so she will do it, even though she doesn’t want to. 
Connie fires back, declaring that she is just as much of an idiot as he is. 
This leads to them both proving themselves idiots, as they comedically state, “Eh?” to each other in confusion. 
Eren breaks this comedy by deciding he will not give the Titan to any of them because he wants them all to live long lives, leading to a whole lot of embarrassed blushing among the 104th, to which Armin blames on the sun after Jean yells at Eren about it. 
Following this happy, heart warming flashback, it cuts back to the darker times where Mikasa, Armin, Connie and Jean are all reflecting on Eren’s actions, which lead to Sasha’s death. 
Connie is particularly angered about this because of Eren laughing when he got the news, not aware that this is how he handles grief, and says they may have to cut Eren down if it comes down to it, which horrifies Mikasa.
Armin also says that the military may be planning to give Eren’s Founding Titan to someone they can trust, as the episode ends with shots of a suspicious looking Eren in his jail cell and even more suspicious Zeke at his “hotel”, still under careful watch from Levi.
Overall, “A Sound Argument” is a decent episode of Attack on Titan. 
There are some great moments, like Eren and Hange’s scene and the flashback between the 104th. 
However, some things I personally didn’t really like from the manga, like Mikasa’s convient importance that is actually not all that important, are kept and sometimes made weaker. 
There are also a few animation issues here and there, like Pyxis’ bulbous head, which had a lot of people comparing him to Megamind.  
Still, all in all, “A Sound Argument” is an enjoyable episode.

Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Seven, Assault Review: Attack on Nutcracker.

5 stars
And here I thought “Declaration of War” was an incredible adaptation of the manga.
Well, in comparison, episode seven of Attack on Titan‘s final season, “Assault”, blew my expectations out of the water, in an episode that clearly surpassed the source material.
Way more dark and brutal than the two chapters it adapts, “Assault” is a visceral, heart pounding episode from start to finish that has me even more excited for how Mappa will adapt future chapters, some of which are the best in the entire manga.
Directed by Jun Shishido, the episode depicts the end of Eren and the Survey Corps’ horrific assault on the Liberio Internment Zone, where they completely demolish the Marleyan army and its prized Warriors.
Zeke, Pieck and Porco, all fall to the might of Eren and the Scouts, with only a severely injured Reiner left to stand against them by the end.
Before all of this craziness happens, though, “Assault” starts with an engaging beginning scene before the opening, hyping up the oncoming fight (if you can even call it that) between Levi and Zeke.
With Pieck and her panzer unit arriving to help Porco, numerous Scouts are cut down in a hail of gunfire, much to Mikasa and Levi’s horror.
However, Levi’s horror quickly turns to determination as his old enemy Zeke enters the battlefield and the epic fight between the two factions continues.
It is this fight that Falco emerges from the rubble to see, as Reiner managed to save them both by partially transforming when Eren began his attack.
However, Reiner is now in a bad state as a result of this attack and isn’t healing properly, which Falco realizes is because he has lost the will to live.
Reiner being absent puts the Warriors at even more of a disadvantage than they thought because, even though the Scouts are cornered in Marley, like Pieck points out, they have two aces up their sleeve.
The first of these aces comes in the form of the Colossal Titan himself, Armin, who launches an attack on the naval port, essentially tactical nuking it and killing hundreds if not thousands of people, unfortunately not all of them soldiers.
Armin sees this horror for himself because, after emerging from his Titan, he sees a small child in the rubble, looking up at him in horror, probably the same way he looked up in at the Colossal Titan when Bertholdt breached the wall, all those years ago.
How many innocent people did Armin kill in this attack?
All the haunted Armin knows for sure is that this horrifying experience is most likely what Bertholdt saw and felt on the day he broke the wall.
As for Armin’s Colossal Titan, I really have to applaud Mappa for making it look amazing as it did.
For one thing, it was entirely 2D, with not a hint of CGI.
Back when Wit Studio did their Colossal Titan in seasons two and three, it was entirely CGI to the point that it was slightly distracting but here it looked perfect.
As for the rest of the CGI in this episode, I thought it was fantastic as well.
Thankfully, the morons who threatened Mappa’s staff over the CGI last episode seem to have finally shut up about it now so this is a testament to how great everything looked.
Back to “Assault”, the second second ace the Scouts have up their sleeve is an airship that is flown to pick up the Scouts from Liberio, with Hange and a new character named Onyankopon in charge of flying it.
It is great to see Hange and Armin again, and their conversation about Armin’s planning being similar to Erwin’s shows how their character arcs will involve them trying to live up the legacy he left them with.
As for Onyankopon, I know from the manga that he is a pretty great side character, so I’m interested to see how he will be portrayed and voice acted in the anime.
In any case, their airship is a giant target, which is why it was so important for the Scouts to take the Warriors down before it got there, especially the Cart Titan with its Panzer Unit.
By the time the airship arrives, only Porco is left, Pieck and Zeke having been defeated.
Unfortunately for Porco, he screws up yet again and is defeated by Mikasa and Eren, leading to Eren using him to kill the Warhammer Titan.
I say “again” because the Warriors failing was 90% Porco’s fault here because of his complete arrogance in this battle.
Screw up number one for Porco: He doesn’t listen to Pieck telling him to stay back and protect Zeke, allowing both her and the war chief to be taken down by the Scouts.
Screw up number two: After seeing Pieck and Zeke have been defeated, he gives into his anger and attacks Eren in a blind rage, leading him to accidentally expose the Warhammer Titan’s weakness.
Finally, screw up number three: Porco doesn’t check his blind spot when going to attack Hange and Onyankopon’s airship, allowing Mikasa and Eren to dismember him, and then Eren uses him as a literal nutcracker to kill the Warhammer Titan and inherit her power.
Speaking of the nutcracker scene, wow, was that way more brutal and emotional compared to the manga.
The shots of Eren’s Titan looked absolutely demonic and the voice actor for Porco, Toshiki Masuda, did a fantastic job with showing Porco’s horror as he realized Eren is using him to kill Lara Tyber.
Another scene that is way more brutal than the manga is the deaths of the Panzer Unit, as it is shown that they have pictures of themselves and their family’s in their gun holes before they are killed by Sasha, Jean, and the other Scouts, making them much more sympathetic before they die.
Of course, there’s Armin’s attack on the port, which is also more horrifying, with the red glow giving it a real Evangalion vibe.
And then there’s the moment the episode hyped up right from the begging, Levi’s absolute slaughter of the Beast Titan.
Much like the first round, this couldn’t even be called a fight because Levi took the giant monkey down with just one hit, hatred glowing like a fire in his eyes.
Gabi, Falco and Magath then have to watch as Levi blows up the Beast Titan’s nape, supposedly with Zeke still inside, traumatizing the kids further.
The two have seen so much in the last few episodes, being betrayed and having their friends die in front of them, and this is only bringing them further into the black hole of hatred created for those on Paradis.
Gabi especially has fallen further down this rabbit hole of propaganda, now having the gate guards’ gun and declaring that she will kill Eren Jaeger.
Her and Falco’s voice actors also do an incredible job this episode, just like Porco’s, with their guttural screams for Reiner giving me chills.
It caused a response in Reiner as well, as he rises from the rubble, apparently ready to save Porco from being eaten and to face down Eren in round three.
Although, it doesn’t seem like this round will last very long considering that Reiner’s Titan is half formed, with much of its armor missing.
This is most likely due to his damaged state because of Eren’s transformation and his suicidal mindset, shown by his line of, “Why can’t you just let me die in peace!”
It does make for an epic cliffhanger, though, what with the intense music and great voice acting.
“Assault” is another brilliant episode in Attack on Titan‘s final season, delivering fantastic action, animation and voice acting.
I am now even more excited for the next episode, “Assassins’ Bullet”, and how well the chapter or chapters it covers could be adapted.

Attack on Titan Season Four, Episode Three, The Door of Hope Review: A Doorway to Misery.

4 stars
Being Reiner sucks.
I’m sure that’s a thought that passed through many viewers’ minds upon watching the third episode of Attack on Titan‘s final season, “The Door of Hope.”
Directed by Kōki Aoshima and Hiromi Nishiyama, the episode details the many, many, many times that life has kicked Reiner to the ground and then spat on him for good measure.
If you hated Reiner in prior seasons for his actions, then you may find it rather difficult to hate him after what we see him go through, as “The Door of Hope” is primarily a flashback episode to Reiner’ time as a Warrior on Paradis.
Before the episode gets to that point though, it starts off with Reiner’s humble beginnings, as his mother revealed to him as a child that his father was a Marleyan and the only way they could all be together was if they became honorary Marleyans.
This motivates Reiner to become a hero to the world by slaughtering the “island devils” so that both his parents will be proud of him.
However, this is easier said than done because Reiner is by far the weakest out of all the Warrior candidates, as pointed out by Porco.
This causes Reiner to go full brainwashed indoctrination mode, accusing Porco of being a Restorationist sympathiser, which results in him getting punched to the ground, not the last time this will happen in the episode.
Unfortunately, it is also here that I have to state one of my criticisms of “The Door of Hope”, which is the soundtrack used for this scene.
The music itself is great but it doesn’t suit the scene at all, being more fitting for an action scene than a dialogue driven one and this drew me out of the moment.
Still, the scene makes up for it with its showcases of Annie and Bertholdt, and the symbolism.
Bertholdt helps Reiner to his feet, showing his good nature that would later be corrupted by what he does on their mission in Paradis as the fearsome Colossal Titan.
This is contrasted by Annie, who seems well suited for the Female Titan already, crushing a bug under her feet, just like she would go on to crush the numerous Scouts who got in her way when she tried to capture Eren both times.
With this characterization done, the scene then transitions into some fantastic symbolism when, while Reiner looks up at the Wall separating the Liberio Eldians from the Marleyans, on Paradis, presumably at the same time,  Eren looks up at the walls separating him from freedom.
Both are trapped by walls and both are now given the opportunity to move forward past them. Reiner now has the motivation to become a Warrior so he can achieve his goal of becoming an Honorary Marleyan, and Eren is being approached by Armin with the book that will create his motivation to strive for freedom, no matter how far he will have to go to achieve it.
Following this great piece of symbolism, showing how similar Eren and Reiner are, we then get the first of many scenes that are improvements from the manga.
The first of these is the recap of six of Marley’s Titans, as we see them destroy an enemy nation’s military with a display of each of their powers and a description of their users.
The way this scene is edited with the files of each Warrior, followed by their power being shown, and this all ending with the portrayal of the Colossal Titan’s nuke attack as a “god of destruction” is way more intense than it was in the manga.
Another step up comes when Marcel is eaten by Ymir, which is framed like a scene from a horror film.
This moment came after Marcel revealed to Reiner that the only reason he became a Warrior was because he spoke up for him while criticizing Porco to the military, which he did to save his brother from shortening his lifespan by inheriting a Titan.
Marcel revealing this before he dies saving Reiner is just another in a long list of Reiner being kicked while he’s down, both figuratively and literally.
Figuratively, when he first meets his father only for him to call him and his mother a devil and run away from him, and literally, when Annie almost kicks Reiner to death after they lose Marcel.
The latter scene is particularly brutal, with some fantastic work from Annie’s voice actress, Yū Shimamura, in a scene that tells us so much about Annie’s mental state, being the least brainwashed of the trio, recognizing that both Marleyans and Eldians are liars, and only wanting to get back to her father.
However, it is following this great scene that again tops the manga, that we get a scene where the manga is clearly better, this time because of cuts.
The moment where Reiner, Annie and Bertholdt destroy the walls is almost completely cut, with old footage from season one primarily being used.
Annie’s involvement in destroying the wall, Bertholdt looking up at it upon arriving, and Reiner’s desperate fight to protect them in the chaos, is all cut for the sake of time.
Yet, while it is disappointing to see that these scenes have been left out, they are not essential to understanding the story so it is not a massive loss.
Thankfully, other, more important scenes are not cut, like the one with the villager who kills himself in the settlement after telling the Warriors his backstory.
This moment with the villager is important because it is his backstory that Bertholdt uses as their cover when he and Reiner are first introduced in season one, creating another rewarding find for viewers upon rewatches.
Another cool moment comes with Kenny making a brief cameo, as Annie tracks him to try and find the Founding Titan, only to realize this was a big mistake because of how dangerous Kenny is.
With some quick thinking and some good old kicking, Annie manages to evade the Ripper and report back to Reiner and Bertholdt, causing Reiner to decide they need to breach Wall Rose, leading to the attack in Trost.
Before cutting back to the traumatic present, we get one more symbolic scene between Eren and Reiner, as Reiner, after realizing he sees himself in Erne, encourages him to keep moving forward, a piece of advice he will sincerely regret giving later on.
Then we get another improvement on the manga, in the most gruesome of ways, with Reiner’s suicide attempt in the present.
Coming into “The Door of Hope”, I was concerned that this scene would be censored based off the trailer.
Nope!
They showed the whole thing in disturbing detail and even add things, like Reiner’s gasping after he thankfully decides not to go through with it because of a miraculous unintended interruption from Falco.
And Falco’s reward for unintentionally saving Reiner’s life?
Well, running into the most dangerous person in the world of course!
The reveal of Eren in the final moments of this episode is fantastic, with some stellar voice acting from Yuki Kaiji and great added symbolism with the tree behind him.
The build up to this scene was also great, with the previous episode hyping up his appearance in a subtle way that some anime only viewers picked up on and others didn’t.
It is in his conversation with Falco that Eren lays out the very themes of the episode, as he speaks of those who push themselves into hell for hope or just for another hell, and that the only ones who know what lies beyond are those who keep moving forward.
Well, Reiner has been trying to push the door open on hope for a while now and got nothing but misery, yet Eren seems determined to find hope, even if he has to go through hell and drag everyone with him to get there.
Overall, “The Door of Hope” is a great Attack on Titan episode that does a fantastic job of showing the suffering of Reiner and what comes of it.
It looks like we have only one more episode before we get to the adaptation of the amazing Chapter 100 and I, honestly, cannot wait.
Hope you all have a merry Christmas.

My Hero Academia Season Four Episode 25, His Start Review: Ending the Season With a Bang!

5 stars
Coming into My Hero Academia‘s season four finale, many manga readers, including myself, were hoping beyond belief that the adaptation of Endeavor’s fight with the Nomu, High End, would be done justice.
Well, those hopes were definitely fulfilled because “His Start” is not only a fantastic adaptation of the battle between the two but also one of the anime’s best episodes, right up there with “Infinite 100%”, “Lemillion”, “Shoto Todoroki: Origin”, and “One For All.”
The episode starts off with Endeavor’s two oldest children, Fuyumi and Natsuo, visiting their mother, Rei, in the hospital she now resides.
It is here that Natsuo brings up many of the terrible things Endeavor did in the past, showing that even though he is now trying to change, that does not fix all of the horrible things he did to his family.
This is an important thing to note because many have accused Horikoshi of trying to force the readers to forgive Endeavor but Natsuo mentioning Endeavor’s crimes proves that viewers are being given the opportunity to judge him for themselves.
In any case, Rei does counter Natsuo’s belief that Endeavor wants everyone to forget what he has done by pointing out the flowers that she believes he sent her while she was in hospital.
But did Endeavor really send Rei the flowers?
I have a theory that it may have been someone else but that may turn out to be a spoiler so I won’t say who I really think sent them.
However, even if it turns out that Endeavor did not send those flowers, His Start still makes it very clear that he is trying to face his family and what he has done, as Rei says.
This is put on clear display in the fight between Endeavor and High End, where clear parallels between the two are made.
High End has been designed to fight the strongest opponent and beat them no matter the cost, just like Endeavor wanted to best All Might as the number one hero and hurt his family to try and achieve this.
Endeavor himself points out this parallel by telling High End, right before he puts him down, “you are me… from the past… or another future. Burn up… and be put to rest.”
This can be viewed as Endeavor literally killing the abusive part of himself to move forward as a better person and hero, as the new symbol of peace.
Such an interpretation is further established by the amazing adaptation of Endeavor’s pose after defeating High End, with him rising up from the fire, first in the air, as the music swells.
The emotional weight of this scene can also be felt in the build up to this epic moment, especially with Endeavor getting his scar, which I’m sure resulted in many anime only fans thinking it was the end for him.
Helping these impactful moments is the fantastic animation and music, which is just as good as it was in “Infinite 100%”.
Props to Endeavor’s voice actor Tetsu Inada as well for his fantastic performance, with his shouting of Plus Ultra and Prominence Burn.
Hawks also shines both through his fighting skills and in his character development through the showcasing of his admiration for Endeavor, as he could see that the flame hero was the only one seriously trying to surpass All Might.
Although, if he ever does learn the truth about Endeavor this admiration will quickly sour.
But, for now, this is Endeavor’s moment and he has truly begun his path to atoning for all the wrongs he has done, a journey that will surely be expanded upon in Season Five.
Speaking of the next season, we get a great tease in a post credits scene where Deku has a dream, seeing the past users of One For All, including the first user, One For All’s brother, who calls Deku the ninth.
This is a scene that will have monumental importance, not just for the next arc, but for the entirety of My Hero Academia’s story, and it will be interesting to see how it is adapted in Season Five.
As for the season finale though, “His Start” was a fantastic way to conclude season four.
I was a little worried that it would end at a different point, creating a cliffhanger that ultimately wouldn’t amount  to much, but, thankfully, the episode ended at just the right moment.
This ending, Endeavor’s character development, and the brilliant music and animation of the High End fight make “His Start” one of My Hero Academia‘s best episodes, and a perfect way to conclude Season Four.