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.
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.
Chapter 95: Liar.
Hajime Isayama’s goal for the Marley Arc so far seems to be to bring Reiner to his lowest possible point.
This started in the previous chapter, and the first one of Volume 24, “Liar,” is the continuation of this, with it going even deeper into Reiner’s backstory.
We see the rejection he experienced from his Marleyan father, which lead him to dedicate his remaining resolve to his mission and become a hero.
It does not even matter to him when Marcel reveals he badmouthed Porco so he would not become a Titan to protect him and this is the only reason Reiner became a warrior.
This once again breaks down my prior perceptions of Reiner as always being a natural born leader, with his inner thoughts at this revelation distracting him long enough for Ymir to sneak up on him, leading to Marcel sacrificing himself.
If anything, Marcel seemed to fit my original ideas about Reiner more than the man himself.
This further development of an important character and a long dead one was great and gave me a better understanding of both characters.
The flashback also delivers some Titan action, showing the Warriors training to attack Paradis with a display of all their abilities.
Among these, we get our first (and probably last) look at Marcel’s Jaw Titan, which looks very similar to his brother’s.
This seems to confirm that either their family has a special connection to this Titan or it has been enhanced, unlike with Ymir.
The rest of the chapter also delivers a few interesting reveals.
Most importantly we get the name drop of the final Titan Shifter and the family that possesses it.
This being the Warhammer Titan under the procession of the Tyber family.
According to the Warriors they are a family of Eldians who have being living the high life as honorary Marleyans but are now stepping in due to the severity of the situation.
I am interested to see what this latest Titan will be like and just how it will play into the story.
There are also a few lighter moments to go along with this as, right before this scene, Porco stumbles upon Pieck crawling on the floor because it feels “more natural” for her after spending so much time in her Titan.
This was a genuinely funny moment, made even more so by a later panel of Pieck lying on the couch like a cat.
She is definitely one of my favourites characters introduced in this arc.
Chapter 95 was an interesting one that built on Reiner’s character development and made me interested for what was to come.
Chapter 96: The Door of Hope.
Attack on Titan came full circle this chapter with the flashback revealing what really happened when Reiner, Annie and Bertholdt breached the walls and in its aftermath.
This goes to show how fantastic of a writer Hajime Isayama is because of how he has changed perceptions of these characters as the manga has gone on.
When Reiner, Annie and Bertholdt were revealed as the Titans who breached the walls it made them instantly unlikable for causing so much death and destruction.
However, as the series has gone, Isayama has slowly shown us more and more of their perspective, until now we are getting the full story.
This allows us to not only understand Reiner but Annie and Bertholdt as well, and to make these characters, who we initially thought of as evil, sympathetic is a real achievement.
The three all had moments that made me sympathize with them in this chapter.
From Reiner trying to be Marcel so he can achieve his mission, to Annie crying out that she is only doing this so she can go home, to Bertholdt hilariously trying to compliment Annie and failing spectacularly.
All of these moments served to make these characters more sympathetic and relatable, something I could not imagine being done 50 chapter earlier.
Another thing I enjoyed about “The Door of Hope” was how it served to explain so much about the three’s actions inside the walls, which until now was a complete mystery.
For example, the story Bertholdt tells when he first meets Eren and Armin, about how Titans destroyed their village, is actually taken from a man who told them his story before hanging himself.
Any other writer would have just had Bertholdt make up this story but Isayama is smart enough to actually think up of explanations to things that did not need to have them yet are all the better for it.
However, while I did like a lot of the connections Isayama made to earlier points in the story, his writing did still suffer in some areas.
This was most apparent with the cliffhanger where Reiner is being yelled at by Keith Sadies on the first day of training.
This is a continuity issue because Sadies did not yell at Reiner because the look in his eyes showed he had already been hardened.
So to see Sadies yell at him in a clear breaking of continuity was a bit jarring.
Still, this was just a small moment and the rest of the chapter is great.
I especially liked the scene where the three Warriors broke the wall because it gave us their perspective as opposed to our heroes.
It brought the story full circle, right back to where it all began.
Chapter 97: From One Hand to Another.
I said in my review of Chapter 95 that Isayama’s goal with the Marley Arc was to bring Reiner down to his lowest point.
Well, Chapter 97, “From One Hand to Another” was the culmination of all this because Reiner is more broken than he has ever been this chapter.
The continuous flashback panels of Reiner’s struggles ending with the haunting image of him with a gun in his mouth, seconds away from pulling the trigger, is something that I will remember for a while.
Reiner has gone through so much amazing growth in the Marley Arc that, in just seven chapters, he has become one of my favourite characters.
He is a character that perfectly represents the impact that war and trauma can have on a person’s life, especially when it happens at such a young age.
Thankfully, Reiner’s story is not over because, in a chance of fate, Falco unknowingly manages to distract Reiner long enough to stop him from pulling the trigger.
Reiner then decides not to kill himself while he still has those kids to protect, which may hopefully lead to him finding some peace.
But, this is Attack on Titan so Reiner is probably going to suffer some more.
This seems to be confirmed with the surprise return of Eren in this chapter, who is posing as an injured war vet to infiltrate Marley.
He talks with Falco and I realised it was him pretty early into their conversation but it was still a nice reveal.
Then there was Eren’s new look with him having long hair and a faint mustache, which I enjoyed because it actually makes him look a lot like Grisha.
I am also hopeful we will get to see the other main characters and what they have been up to in the four year time skip soon because Eren has Falco deliver a letter for him.
The attempted suicide of Reiner and Eren’s return are not the only interesting things about the chapter though.
We were officially introduced to the Tyber family this chapter, including its head, Willy Tyber, who looks to be an interesting character.
Willy is revealed to actually be the secret ruler of the country, which is intriguing because he and his family are Eldians and they are ruling a country that is oppressing their own race.
The reasoning behind this will hopefully be revealed soon.
We also got a very interesting moment at the beginning of the chapter where Annie was revealed to have briefly fought Kenny during her time in the 104th Cadet Corps.
This does not really have an impact on anything but it is still interesting seeing the ways Isayama can bring long dead characters back into the story.
Overall, “From One Hand to Another” was my favourite chapter of this volume with its numerous reveals and heartbreaking scene with Reiner.
Chapter 98: Good to See.
What a way to end Volume 24 .
Chapter 98, “Good to See” is full of emotional scenes and what I believe to be numerous hints at future reveals.
What stands above all these features though is the amazing cliffhanger that has me eager to read the next volume.
After Eren was revealed to be in Marley in the previous chapter, he begins to initiate his plan, culminating in him manipulating Falco to arrange a surprise meeting between him and Reiner.
The final panels of this chapter were just fantastic because they perfectly expressed what both characters were feeling upon being reunited.
For Reiner it was shock and horror but for Eren it seemed to oddly be some degree of happiness based off his statement, “good to see you made it back home.”
The reason for Eren’s supposed happiness will hopefully be revealed in the next chapter.
Either way, this was a great way to end the volume and the scenes leading up to this moment were likewise fantastic.
Watching Eren slowly manipulate Falco was interesting, especially when it lead to him meeting his grandfather for the first time.
This was a very heartfelt scene where Eren’s grandfather reminisced on the loss of his son and daughter before suffering a mental breakdown and having to be dragged away by doctors.
However, the scene goes from heartfelt to sinister when, in the scene’s final moments, Eren picks up a baseball he told Falco was from his family and tosses it into the air.
On the surface this moment may seem insignificant but, based off things that came earlier in the chapter and the series, I believe this to be very important.
This is because at the beginning of the chapter Zeke played baseball with Colt and during the Shiganshina Arc Zeke made a reference to it when he wiped out most of the scouts.
Also, there is the fact that Eren tells Falco the baseball came from his family, which all seem to hint at Eren and Zeke having meet in secret.
If this is the case, I wonder what their meeting could have been about since both appear to be on opposite sides?
Personally, I would really like to see a scene where the two talk because we have not seen a full conversation about their family connection between the two yet.
Another hint at upcoming storylines appears to be the new character who was introduced, an Asian woman said to be from the land of Hizuru.
Given how Mikasa was the only Asian character in the story up to this point, I think there could be a possible connection, with her mother possibly coming from this land.
The woman also does seem to be on the side of the Eldians, given that she protects Udo from punishment when he accidentally spills wine on her kimono.
I also enjoyed the political commentary used with Willy in this chapter when he explains the burden of ruling his country to be like turning a wheel.
This felt very Game of Thrones inspired, which would make sense because I have heard Isayama has taken some inspiration from it.
“Good to See” was an overall great way to end Volume 24 with numerous possible hints at future reveals and a few emotional moments.
The cliffhanger alone has me excited for the next volume and was the perfect conclusion to Reiner’s arc this volume.