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 One: The Other Side of the Sea Review – A Fantastic New Beginning.

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN MANGA SPOILERS.

4 and a half stars
It’s finally here!
After over a year of waiting, Mappa has delivered the first episode of Attack on Titan’s final season, “The Other Side of the Sea,” and, boy, is it a good one.
Honestly, coming into this episode, I had concerns.
There has been a number of leaks about production hell at Mappa with how complex the character designs are so I was worried the animation would suffer.
However, Mappa and directors  Yūichirō Hayashi and Jun Shishido thankfully pulled it off, delivering a fantastic first episode that gave me a new appreciation for Chapters 91 and 92 of the manga, which the episode adapts.
Directed by  Kaori Makita, “The Other Side of the Ocean” picks up four years after the defeat of the Warriors on Paradis, introducing us to a whole slew of new characters, starting with Falco (Hanae Natsuki), an Eldian warrior candidate caught in the middle of the final battle of a war.
The opening scene introducing him and his brother Colt (Masaya Matsukaze) is fantastic, with the ringing of Falco’s ears, the intense music, and the brutal imagery of the brothers’ fellow soldiers being cut down in a hail of bullets.
The war the two are involved in is Marley’s attempt to defeat the Mid-East Allied Forces by destroing their forces at Fort Salta; the Mid-East Allied Forces being a series of countries who banded together to attack Marley after they were defeated at Paradis four years ago.
This information is delivered to us in admittedly shoddy exposition, with the convenient excuse of Falco losing his memory due to a probable concussion.
Thankfully, it is a brief scene so it is not too much of a problem.
Also, this does give the episode time to introduce its other new characters, Gabi (Ayane Sakura), Udo (Ayumu Murase), Zofia (Yumi Kawashima), and Commander Magath (possibly Yukitoshi Hori), all of whom are greatly adapted from the manga.
Gabi is especially well done, with Ayane Sakura bringing the character to life perfectly because I already can’t imagine another voice actress playing her and I’m probably going to hear her voice whenever I read Gabi’s lines in the story.
Following these introductions, Gabi reveals she, Falco, Udo and Zofia are being considered by Magath for the role of the next Armoured Titan.
It is after this that we get the Final Season OP, “My War” by Shinsei Kamattechan.
Honestly, on my first listen, I was kind of unsure about it but, after repeat views, I think it’s a great opening for the Marley Arc, with amazing lyrics, and some chilling visuals towards the end.
I suppose my biggest criticism of it would be that it does occasionally use repeated shots of explosions and I think there should have been some variety.
Once the OP closes, we get the the beginning of the epic battle, with Gabi coming up with a plan to take down the Armoured Train, which is a threat to even the nine Titans, all by herself.
This plan goes off without a hitch, with Gabi destroying the Armoured Train before Falco dives in to protect her from machine gun fire.
He needn’t have tried though because the new Jaw Titan, Galliard, who has one of my favourite Titan designs, shows up to save them.
We also get a look at the Cart Titan, which has had its own upgrades in the four-year time skip, with machine guns mounted on its back to shoot at oncoming soldiers.
It is during this time that Falco saves an enemy soldier, only for him to call the Warrior candidates “devils,” showing how strong the hatred for Eldians is outside Paradis, even from their own people, as Gabi so obviously displays by how brainwashed she is into hating the Paradisian Eldians.
Then, we get the most epic moment of the episode as, in a perfect adaption, Eldians are parachuted down from an airship carrying Reiner  (Yoshimasa Hosoya) and Zeke (Takehito Koyasu).
The latter lets out a vicious roar, turning all of the falling Eldians into Titans, who crash down onto Fort Slava to a great soundtrack, which we saw a hint of in the final season trailer.
Reiner jumping down and wiping out the Mid-East Allied Forces’ soldiers with the help of Galliard, then protecting Zeke from a navy bombardment, followed by Zeke destroying that navy, were all moments that left my jaw on the floor, in terms of their quality.
One slight criticism I do have about sequence is the CGI.
Basically, almost all of the Titans in this episode are CGI and, while this looks great on some Titans like Galliard and Reiner, it looks a little off for the Beast Titan in certain shots.
However, this CGI is certainly nowhere as bad as WIT’s CGI Colossal Titan and it did not lessen my enjoyment of the events so, even if the quality of the Titans remains the same throughout the rest of the anime, I will be completely fine with that.
Following the end of the battle, we get the ED, “Shock” by Yuko Ando, which is another banger and has plenty of cool symbolism for upcoming events.
An intriguing anime only scene accompanies this song, which appears to show Jean having infiltrated Marley, hyping up a future battle that I hope is done justice with the adaptation.
This was not the only anime only scene in this episode though because there were multiple ones and, in my opinion, almost all of them improved the adaptation.
There were the anime original portrayals of the horrors of war, like traumatized Eldian soldiers, including one kissing a locket supposedly containing a photo of his loved ones, a squad of what appeared to be forced suicide bombers, and a single soldier climbing atop countless corpses.
Then there’s the added set pieces, like when Reiner has to destroy a second Armoured Train, which he then used to destroy the enemy canons, when in the manga there was no second train and Reiner used a radio tower to destroy the canons.
Another interesting change is the character redesign for Koslow.
In the manga, he looks like a normal guy but they adapted the design in the adaptation, making him pudgy and ugly, probably to make him seem like an evil caricature.
Thankfully, Koslow is a minor character with no importance in the plot so this character design change is not one I particularly mind.
What is definitely the most interesting deviation from the manga, though, is Falco, while concussed, saying that he dreamed he was flying around with a sword, fighting Titans.
This is quite a shocking change because it seems to be heavily implying that Falco is seeing the memories of one of the Scouts, most likely Eren’s.
If this is true, then this anime only scene may be crucial to predicting the manga’s ending, which I will discuss in my predictions for Chapter 136.
Overall, “The Other Side of the Sea” is a fantastic start to the final season that I actually think surpassed the manga, with its great adaptation of the source material and brilliant anime original scenes.
I was a bit worried about the adaptation going in but Mappa definitely proved themselves here and I hope they can keep up the quality in the 16 episodes to come.
Yes, I did say 16, because that seems to be how many episodes we will get, based off leaks, at least for now.
Since this is nowhere enough chapters to fully adapt the story without it being rushed and thus poorly adapted, this would spell certain doom for the final season were it not leaked that the pacing of this season will be around two chapters an episode.
Given this, the pacing will most likely be fine and we will probably get a second part of the season months from now, or maybe a movie or two to finish the adaptation.
No matter what happens though, I hope Mappa can keep up to the standard they have set with this episode and deliver a fitting final season to my favourite story of all time.