Attack on Titan, Season Three Episode Twenty, That Day Review: The Exposition Dump to End all Exposition Dumps.

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Spoiler Free Review:

Exposition is notorious for being difficult to get the viewer invested in, without becoming bored.
This speaks to how brilliant of an episode “That Day” is because it is entirely exposition driven, and yet, every second of it is so investing.
The episode is essentially the true basement reveal.
No, “reveal” is not the right word.
What I should say is “reveals” because there are so many, and each and every single one of them is mind blowing.
I have viewed numerous people watching the episode online and their reactions to certain twists are priceless.
As I was watching the episode, I ended up jumping with excitement every time one of these twists was perfectly delivered, which was always.
“That Day” adapts Chapters 86 and 87 of the manga, the prior of which is my favourite chapter in the entire Attack on Titan manga so far.
So, I was almost praying that the episode would manage to adapt that material properly.
And you know what?
It did just that.
With this episode, Attack on Titan changes into a much more complex and deep story in which the lines between the good and bad guys are constantly blurred.
Watching Grisha’s tragic backstory is just as enthralling as it is in the manga, allowing the viewer to understand his motivations and sympathize with him all in a single episode.
Speaking of Grisha, his voice actor, Hiroshi Tsuchida, does an amazing job here, especially at the ending where his full range becomes apparent.
All of the newly introduced characters in this episode are great and interesting, even if we will not see many of them outside this flashback.
The music is once again fantastic, bringing back a track that was introduced in “Hero” for the climactic end.
If I had one criticism, it would be the censorship.
The violence of the manga chapters really highlights both the terror and themes in the manga so it as shame this is not adapted here.
Still, this does not affect the episode in any big way, and if you have not read the manga then you will not notice it.
In my review of “The Basement”, I predicted that “That Day” might actually beat “Midnight Sun” to become my new favourite episode of the series.
And does it achieve this?
Well, right now I am unsure of that.
Both episodes are amazing in very different ways.
“Midnight Sun” is amazing in the way that it hits you emotionally, and “That Day” is amazing in the way that it hits you with all of these exciting and epic twists that change the entire story.
Both are master piece episodes so it is a bit hard for me to judge which one is better without thinking really hard about it.
I will say this, though.
Even if  “That Day” does not beat “Midnight Sun”, it comes incredibly close.
It is an amazing episode that needs to be watched twice in order to adsorb all of the colossal information.

Spoiler Review… Seriously, if you have not seen the episode then DO NOT READ THIS! Trust me, you do not want this spoiled for you.

I remember the complete and utter shock I felt at the massive twists of chapters 85 and 86 of Attack on Titan.
The death of Grisha’s sister, Zeke being Grisha’s son and Eren’s half-brother, Dina being the smiling Titan the entire time, and Kruger turning out to the the Owl.
All of these twists are masterfully adapted in “That Day” where Grisha narrates over his tragic life.
This said, you may have to watch the episode a couple of times before you understand everything because there is so much information but this does not stop the twists from being mind blowing.
Following the post-credits scene of “The Basement”, the beginning of the story sees Grisha take his sister Fay to see the airship.
They are caught by two soldiers, Kruger and the detestably, yet appropriately named, Gross.
Since their race, Eldians, are not allowed outside their internment zone, Grisha is punished by receiving a beating from Kruger.
Sadly, Fay receives a far worst punishment as Gross feeds her to his sons’ dogs.
This tragedy leads to Grisha’s father telling him why they are being oppressed.
Nearly 2000 years ago, a woman named Ymir Fritz made a deal with the devil to obtain the power of the Titans.
After her death, her soul was split into the nine Titan Shifters who build the empire of Eldia and began a worldwide ethnic cleansing, which lasted around 1700 years.
However, the defeated nation of Marley managed to incite a civil war and get seven of the nine Titans under their control.
King Fritz, the holder of the Founding Titan, fled to the island of Paradis and created three walls to protect his people.
Those Eldians who were left on the continent were then persecuted for their ancestors’ sins, forced to live in ghettos and wear armbands.
However, this story cannot be taken at face value because it comes from a biased viewpoint.
It is plausible that the story of Eldians being descendant from the devil is just propaganda for Marley to justify its persecution of the Eldian race.
It is also just as plausible that the ideology Grisha later develops, that the Eldian empire was uncompromisingly good, is false as well.
Watching Grisha come to this conclusion to justify his anger towards Marley is very investing, just as much as what follows this.
After joining a resistance group, Eldia Restorationists, their spy in the Marleyan army, the Owl, sends the last descendant of the royal family, Dina Fritz, to help.
She and Grisha fall in love and have a son, Zeke.
That’s right, the Beast Titan is not only Grisha’s son but Eren’s half brother as well.
This also adds context to what Zeke was talking about when he told Eren his father had brainwashed him.
Grisha tried to force Zeke to become a Marleyan Warrior in an effort to steal the Founding Titan, pushing his ideology onto him.
Zeke, however, had no way of knowing that Grisha actually allowed Eren to develop his own ideology before giving him a Titan power.
He was not brainwashed like his brother was, which ultimately led Zeke to betray his parents and the Restorationists to the Marleyan authorities.
After being tortured for information, Grisha and the others are taken to Paradis to receive their life sentence of being turned into a mindless Titan.
There, Grisha is forced to watch as his friends and wife are all turned into Titans, some of which will look familiar to the viewer.
This is because, not only are many of the Restorationists Titans we saw in the battle of Trost, but Dina is also the smiling Titan, the one who ate Eren’s mother and Hannes.
No wonder this nightmare makes Eren scream upon waking up, as he is now starting to experience his father’s memories after learning the truth.
Back to Grisha’s plight, he realizes Gross and Kruger are there and he accuses Gross of murdering Fay.
Gross sadistically decides that he will make Grisha “dance” by feeding him to a mindless Titan.
Attack on Titan is a show where there really are no good guys or bad guys but Gross is the one exception.
He is disgustingly evil and revels in this, which makes it all the more satisfying to see Kruger push him off the wall so he is fed to a Titan just like he fed Fay to the dogs in a great sense of poetic justice.
This is one of the scenes I was disappointed to see censored because watching Gross get eaten is satisfying both because it allows the viewer to cheer as this monster is killed, and because it also ties into what Gross said about humans enjoying violence, pointing the finger at the viewer.
Kruger then reveals himself to be the Owl, before transforming into a Titan that strongly resembles Eren’s and attacking the remaining Marleyan forces, bringing the episode to a shocking end.
“That Day” is a fantastic episode.
It has so many exciting twists and turns with its massive exposition dump, which the episode somehow keeps interesting throughout its runtime.
Sadly, not everyone sees it this way.
Some are suggesting, or outright stating, that the information about the Eldians shows that the write,r Hajime Isayama, is an antisemitic fascist.
You can see these concerns being raised in the Polygon article “The fascist subtext of Attack on Titan can’t go overlooked”, where the absolutely ridiculous suggestion that some Titan noses are made to resemble antisemitic Jewish stereotypes is made.
Honestly, I rolled my eyes upon seeing this was an actual article.
People who think Attack on Titan is fascist seem to be conventionally forgetting that the main characters took down a monarchy with fascist elements this very season.
Not only this but if Attack on Titan is antisemitic, like some claim, then why are the characters who represent the Jews the main characters who we root for?
It makes no sense for the series to be fascist with all of its themes about freedom and it saddens me every time I see someone misinterpreting this.
Attack on Titan is a thoughtful story that is creating a message about cycles of hatred and “That Day” proves this.
It is an amazing episode that may actually be my favourite episode of the entire anime.

Attack on Titan Volume 21 Review: The Basement Reveal Delivers the Best Chapter so far.

Chapter 83: Falling Axe.

4 stars
The follow-up chapter to Armin’s heroic sacrifice, Chapter 83, “Falling Axe” is set-up for the three brilliant chapters to follow in this volume.
Much like the previous chapter, it starts off great showing how Eren and Armin first met, with Eren encountering Armin after he had been beaten up by bullies.
Armin’s words about how he did not really lose because he did not run away and then Eren asking his name made for a fantastic transition into the current timeline where Eren is trying to cope with Armin’s charred body.
Before he can do anything, however, he is interrupted by Zeke (and the other Titan) who confront each other in their first meeting.
While I did like the scene between the two, after reading the rest of the volume I felt like the twist to who Zeke is probably should have been revealed here because we do not see Eren’s reaction to this.
However, it still is an interesting scene and if I had not already been spoiled on who Zeke was it would have been very intriguing build-up.
I especially liked how Zeke told Eren he would rescue him some day because it shows that Zeke thinks he is in the right.
However, their meeting is interrupted by Levi who naturally killed all the Titans Zeke sent after him, which prompts Zeke to go rescue Reiner.
But, before he is rescued, Hange and the others manage to retrieve a letter from Ymir to Historia that was in his possession.
Unfortunately, this adds to my increasing fears that Ymir is already dead, which I hope is not true because she is one of my favourite characters and I feel she could add a lot to the story given more screen time.
The chapter ends with the surviving soldier from Erwin’s suicide run at Zeke arriving with a badly injured Erwin leaving Levi to decide who should get the Titan Serum and eat Bertholdt, Erwin or Armin.
Once again, I had been spoiled on who would eat Bertholdt so this did not leave much investment for me by the end.
However, this does not change the fact that “Falling Axe” is still great build-up.
It might have its minor problems but it delivers quite a few great scenes like the first meeting between Eren and Zeke.

Chapter 84. Midnight Sun.

5 stars
As I said, I had already been spoiled on who would eat Bertholdt and become the Colossal Titan so I figured this chapter would not be very investing but, oh, how wrong I was.
“Midnight Sun” is an incredible chapter of Attack on Titan that delivers so much emotion.
I really wish I had not been spoiled on what would happen because this was just amazing to read.
First of all, I now know what that great mid-credits scene at the end of episode twelves of season three was all about.
The reason Levi is fighting with Eren and Mikasa is because he wants to give the Serum to Erwin while they want to give it to Armin.
However, before Mikasa can do anything crazy, Hange and the others show up and calm everyone down.
Both sides give good justifications for who should be chosen to eat Bertholdt, including the new character Floch, who compares Erwin to the devil, saying only he can save humanity.
Eren tries to get Levi to choose Armin by bringing up his dream to see the ocean.
This moment was so powerful it left me tearing up, which was a huge surprise because I already knew how it would end, showing just how amazing this chapter was at drawing out emotions.
In the end though, Levi chooses to save Armin and finally let Erwin rest.
The reveal that Armin was the one chosen was expertly handled and the death of Bertholdt that followed left me feeling sorry for him, despite everything he had done.
Then there was the death of Erwin.
Erwin is in my top five favourite characters of the series so I was sad to see him go but I personally believe he was killed off in a great way that tied off his character arc brilliantly.
I was also glad that I had not been spoiled on at least one major character death.
I knew coming in that Erwin would probably die because I had been spoiled Armin would become the Colossal Titan but I still had my reservations because I had not been spoiled.
So, it was nice to see a major character death I did not know for a certainty would be happening.
Speaking of character deaths, we also got confirmation this chapter that Moblit died saving Hange.
I feel like his death will probably be overlooked compared to Erwin and Bertholdt’s but he was still a great side character with a heroic death and I will miss him.
Overall, Midnight Sun was a perfect chapter that delivered a great emotional gut punch, even though I knew what was coming.

Chapter 85: Basement.

4 and a half stars
After 84 chapters of build-up, we finally got the reveal of what was inside the basement in Chapter 85 and it did not disappoint.
I was so glad I did not get spoiled about what was in there because what is revealed in this chapter and the next one open up the world of Attack on Titan in so many amazing ways.
We see at the end of the chapter that what Grisha left for Eren in his basement was a book that explains everything, along with a photo, writing that outside the walls humanity is not extinct.
This was a fantastic cliffhanger that led into the next chapter amazingly.
Not only this, but the cliffhanger also built on the recently departed Erwin’s legacy because we get a flashback to Nile telling the other military leaders that Erwin’s theory was that there were still humans outside the walls.
Well, his theory is confirmed with the ending cliffhanger, which  not only adds to his legacy but it makes his death all the more tragic because he could not see that he was right all along.
The rest of the chapter is just as great, starting off with Armin waking up after eating Bertholdt.
The panel where he hallucinates(?) the crying face of Bertholdt’s Colossal Titan with half of its face a skull is very striking.
Eren’s reaction to Armin waking up was also very touching and Levi’s pep-talk with Armin about saying there should be “no regrets” was a fantastic reference to his OVA with the same title.
After this, we get another great panel with a before and after shot of Mikasa and Armin arriving at their old home in the present and when they went to save Carla after Bertholdt breached the wall.
This leads to the scene in the basement where, originally, I though Hajime Isayama was going to pull something where it turned out that there was actually noting in the basement.
This fear was caused by Eren’s key not fitting the basement door and the group initially not finding anything in there.
Thankfully, this fear was unjustified because they later discovered Grisha’s book, leading to the fantastic cliffhanger.
I am so glad Isayama actually revealed there was something in the basement because if he had pulled a fast one then I would have hated it.
The final cliffhanger in “Basement” is the standout of the chapter and leads brilliantly into the next chapter, the incredible “That Day.”

 

Chapter 86: That Day.

5 stars
Coming into this chapter, I was expecting the full explanation of the world of Attack on Titan.
I not only got that but also my favourite chapter of the entire manga so far.
“That Day” is an absolutely incredible chapter and I cannot wait to see it animated when the second half of the season three anime airs in April.
This chapter has one of the best cases of world building I have ever seen, with Grisha’s notes revealing who is actually behind everything in the series.
It is revealed that over a thousand years ago a woman named Ymir Fritz supposedly made a deal with the devil and became the first Titan Shifter.
After she died, her powers were transferred into nine people, creating the nine Titan Shifters who built the empire of Eldia.
Centuries later, Eldia was overthrown by the nation of Marley who oppressed the remaining Eldians as punishment for years of genocide under them.
Some Eldians fled to the island of Paradis, under King Fritz, where the walls were created with the Founding Titan power and everyone’s memories were wiped.
It is also stated the reason Marley sent its Warriors to attack Paradis was because of the large amount of fossil fuels there and to retake the Founding Titan.
This one piece of exposition takes the previously small world of Attack on Titan and expands it exponentially.
It opens up so many interesting opportunities and questions.
Did Ymir really make a deal with the devil, how is she connected to the Ymir we know, along with Marley are there any other countries and cultures out there?
These are all interesting questions and I cannot wait for them to be answered.
It is also brilliant with how Grisha’s backstory ties into the explanation, with the persecution he faces at the hands of Marley being very similar to the ways the Nazis treated Jewish people before the Holocaust, a comparison Isayama is obviously trying to make.
Watching Grisha be motivated to begin his stand against Marley because of the violent death of his sister and the completely brainwashed fear his father presents was amazing for him character development wise, and all of this in one chapter.
This led to Grisha joining the Eldia Restorationists where he met Dina Fritz, a descendant of the royal family.
They eventually married and, in a brilliant twist, are revealed to have had a son who is Zeke, which makes him and Eren half-brothers.
Still, while this was a great twist, I do wish it had been revealed earlier when Eren and Zeke first met in Chapter 83 because we do not get a reaction from Eren to them having the same father.
That said, I still like the twist and the one that follows it when Zeke betrays his parents to the Marley government after Grisha tries to turn him into one of Marley’s warriors as a double agent.
This adds new meaning to Zeke’s first meeting with Eren when he tells him Grisha has brainwashed him, likely believing his father tried to do the same thing to him.
The chapter can end before more details about Grisha’s past can be revealed but what we got and how this tied into the explanation of what was outside the walls was nothing short of brilliant.
I had fears that the reveal of what was outside the walls would not live up to expectations but those fears were baseless because this reveal was everything I hoped for and more.
It had fantastic world building, fit in with the themes, and had great character development for Grisha to go along with this.
Chapter 86 “That Day” is my favourite chapter of Attack on Titan so far.