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.

Attack on Titan The Final Season Trailer Reaction: Excited yet Concerned.

And so it begins.
After months of rumors and speculation, we finally have a new poster and trailer for Attack on Titan‘s final season.
Speaking of the poster first, I will say that it is absolutely incredible.
It parallels season one’s poster perfectly and is definitely one I can see hanging up on my wall.
As for the new trailer, it finally reveals that Wit Studio is passing on the anime adaptation to Mappa Studio to finish.
And, of course, with the studio change comes a different animation style.
Admittedly, I was initially unsure how I felt about it but, after watching the trailer multiple times, I kind of dig it.
It’s clear they were trying to emulate the manga’s style and they definitely succeeded, for the most part.
Another cool thing about the animation is how much of it is not static.
I was afraid there would be quite a few still images based off how much movement is in certain shots but this issue was virtually nonexistent, at least from what the trailer shows us.
Along with this, I was shocked about what the animation showed as well, and this is one of my few criticisms of the trailer because it did spoil some very recent events in the manga.
Still, I’m sure that without the context many anime only viewers will have no idea what they are looking, so I’m sure it’ll be fine.
What is more concerning is the limited role of prior seasons’ Director, Tetsurō Araki, and composer, Hiroyuki Sawano.
While both do apparently have a part in making it, new director Yūichirō Hayashi and new composer, Kohta Yamamoto, look to be taking the reigns for the final season.
Granted, I don’t know too much about either of these people, and they could do a fantastic job but Araki and Sawano did such an amazing job with their directing and music in the first three seasons that I am concerned about their lessened roles.
I can say though that the music, animation and direction for the trailer is stellar so, hopefully, this is a sign that Mappa will be able to do the manga justice.
It has also been confirmed that what was shown in this trailer was animated solely for the trailer, which I am honestly both relieved and slightly nervous about.
On the one hand, there are images from all way up to Chapter 122 and there is no way they could have animated that already if there were more than 20 episodes.
Seeing this scared me into believing we might just end up with another Tokyo Ghoul: Re situation but knowing it was animated for the trailer makes me feel a lot better.
Another thing this gives them time to fix is some character designs that look a little off, like Porco and Levi’s, and an added fourteenth finger pointing at Ymir, which ruins the symbolism this scene had in the manga.
However, on the other hand, a lot of this animation was fantastic and a part of me is concerned we might not get the same excellent quality when the season finally airs.
Although, this fear has no evidence behind it, it is just my paranoia getting the better of me, so, hopefully, it will turn out fine.
This trailer also gives us a first look at many of the new characters like Falco, Gabi, Pieck, Colt, Udo, Zofia, and Willy, who all look amazing in the new animation style.
We also got to hear the voice actors for Falco, Gabi and Willy, who all sound great.
The opening shot of the trailer with Falco looking up at the bird and telling it that it needs to fly away sent chills down my spine.
Another fantastic moment was the final shot of the trailer, which looks to be Eren and Reiner fighting in Shiganshina during Chapter 117.
However, their outfits are from the Marley Arc here so this is likely another shot made just for the trailer.
Yet, it is such an amazing shot that I hope they actually create something like it for the adaptation of that chapter.
One shot I was not a fan of though was the shadowed version of Reiner’s suicide attempt.
Sadly, it looks like they will be censoring this scene, lessening its impact.
But, for every iffy moment in the trailer, there is a great moment that makes up for it, like the teases to Chapter 100, which I just cannot wait to see animated because, if adapted right, it will be one of the series’ best episodes.
I also cannot wait to see the entirety of Volume 30 adapted because, in my opinion, Chapters 119-122 are the best writing Hajime Isayama has ever given us.
I wonder if the season will be split up into two cores, like Season Three, or if they will do it all in one go and pull a Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood by having the anime end at the same time as the manga.
Either way, I believe the final season needs to be 25 episodes or more if it is going to adequately adapt the remaining story.
Let’s hope Studio Mappa can live up to Wit Studio and Hajime Isayama’s legacy.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode Five, The Bells Review: As One Mad Queen Falls, Another Rises.

3 stars
Well, this was a controversial episode.
You only need look at the numerous scathing reviews fans have given Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode, “The Bells”, directed by Miguel Sapochnik, to see how they think the story is going.
By far the biggest point of contention with the episode is where the writing took Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) character.
After defeating Cersei’s (Lena Headey)  army and the Golden Company with very little effort, she suddenly goes insane and burns down most of Kings Landing, killing thousands of innocent people
Many fans are saying that this horrendous act is completely out of character for Dany,
however, in my opinion, that is not the case.
I still think the writing is bad here but for a different reason.
It has been hinted at on numerous occasions that Dany would become like her father.
In fact, it was quite obvious to me this was going to be where they took her character because I literally titled my review for the previous episode, “The Beginning of the Mad Queen.”

burning King's Landing
I think it was pretty obvious that Dany was going to go full Mad Queen after last week’s episode. 

So, if I think Dany doing this is in character, why do I think this is bad writing?
Well, that comes down to how unconvincing the scene where Dany decides to do this is.
After the city surrenders, showing they are no threat, Dany glares at the Red Keep, before heading off towards it.
As a result, it makes it appear that she is going to kill Cersei for all she has done… only for her to burn thousands of innocent civilians instead.
Why she decided to target these people instead of her ultimate enemy first is beyond me.
What is worse, I feel they could have easily made this scene work.
Remember when Rhaegal was killed out of nowhere by the Scorpion last episode?
Well, since it made absolutely no sense for Dany to make such quick work of them after losing her other dragon so easily, maybe this could be her reason for burning down Kings Landing.
In this version Rhaegal is helping Dany take King’s Landing when the bells sound.
Dany halts her attack, only for a trigger happy soldier, or maybe someone acting on Cersei’s orders, to shoot Rhaegal down with a hidden Scorpion where all the civilians are.
Enraged and paranoid about where other Scorpions may be, Dany resolves to destroy the city no matter the cost.
This would help her actions make more sense I feel.
But, as I said, I do think her turning mad was setup well.
It is just the scene itself that I feel is poorly written.
So, I do not hate this bit as much as other people.
No, the thing I hate most about this episode is what they did to Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), throwing all of his development out the window, just like he did Bran.

Jamie dies
Jaime’s death in this episode is very underwhelming and feels like a contradiction to his character.

First of all, the fight between him and Euron is absolutely stupid.
There is little to no build up and no satisfaction in this fight, due to Euron (Pilou Asbaek) being such a terrible character.
Then there is Jamie’s loving reunion with Cersei, which is weird considering she ordered Bronn to kill him for some reason.
The two then try to flee King’s Landing, only to be trapped underground and crushed by rocks while holding onto each other.
Now, while this was somewhat satisfying for Cersei, it did not feel that way for Jamie.
What did he even do this season?
He just ran off to help in a fight he was not needed in and returned to Cersei just do die.
What happened to all that buildup with him getting his good deeds book fulfilled?
All in all, it felt like they really dropped the ball with Jaime’s writing this episode.
Even the best scene of the episode, where Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie say their final goodbye, does not ring true to Jamie’s character because he says he does not care if innocent people die, which goes against what we know about him.
It is a shame too because, like I said, this scene is great, with both actors giving a great performance, especially Dinklage.
Sadly, Varys (Conleth Hill) also feels badly written in this episode because he is captured and killed pretty easily.
The Varys of previous seasons would have left long before he was arrested.
Then there is Arya (Maisie Williams) who I am pretty sure has infinite plot armor because of how many unsurvivable things she somehow lived through this episode.
Again, I know I am complaining a lot about the writing of the episode, but the cinematography, action, and acting are all superb.
The scene between Tyrion and Jamie is the most touching of the season.
We finally got Cleganebowl in all of its epic glory, with both Sandor (Rory McCann) and Gregor fittingly dying in fire.
Although Dany’s reasoning for burning down King’s Landing is badly written, her actually doing it is horrifying to watch and well filmed.
Then there is Emilia Clarke who gives a great performance as Dany, really selling the madness.

Crazy Dany
Even though the scene where Dany decides to burn King’s Landing down did not work from a writing standpoint, Emilia Clarke still did a magnificent job.

The shot of her face as she decides to go on her mass killing spree is chilling.
She looks set to be the villain of the final episode, with Jon, Tyrion, Arya and Davos about to probably face off against her.
It will be interesting to see if this final episode is enough to earn back the fans’ good will.
But, with all the hate this final season is getting, I doubt it.

Game of Thrones, Season Eight, Episode One, Winterfell Review: The End Begins.

4 stars
After a long wait, the final season of Game of Thrones has finally begun with its premiere episode, “Winterfell.”
Anticipation has been building for months now to see how what is arguably one of the greatest TV series of all time will conclude, and the first episode of this conclusion does not disappoint.
If there is any single word to sum up this episode then it would be reunions, because there is a bulk load of them.
Jon and Arya, Jon and Sam, Tyrion and Sansa, Arya and the Hound, Arya and Gendry, Jamie and Bran, the list goes on.
As a result, “Winterfell” is a set-up episode to the coming battle with the Night King and his undead army, and we will probably have to wait another episode to get that battle.
Still, what we get in this episode is nothing short of great and really shows how fantastic Game of Thrones is with character drama.
All of the reunions and meetings that happen in this episode are well done, with many of them being reminiscent of the very first episode of the series.
I found the best of all the reunions to be the one between Sam and Jon, where both Kit Harrington and John Bradley gave magnificent performances.
Bradley is touchingly sympathetic as Sam in the scene where he learns his father and brother were murdered by Daenerys (Emilia Clarke), which leads him to tell Jon his true parentage.
Jon takes it as well as can, learning that not only had his father lied to him his entire life and that he is the true heir to the Iron Throne but also that he slept with his aunt.
Kit Harrington sells the conflict, anger and sadness Jon is feeling in this scene brilliantly.

Jon and Sam.png
The scene between Jon and Sam is the best of “Winterfell,” with both Harrington and Bradley giving great performances.

Unfortunately, this scene and others in “Winterfell” seem to be highly hinting at Jon and Dany being at odds later.
This is nowhere more apparent than when Sam asks Jon, “you gave up your crown to save your people. Would she do the same?”
Only time will tell if Jon and Dany will stay united in the same cause, but I sense a tragedy coming, what with the Night King approaching and Cersi (Lena Headey) scheming.
Speaking of her, Cersi’s scenes in this episode continue to show how conniving she is, with her having Euron (Pilou Asbaek) fetch the Golden Company to deal with Jon and Dany’s army after they are finished fighting the dead.
In a small twist she even has sex with Euron to ensure his loyalty, and even goes as far to send Bronn (Jerome Flynn) to murder Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Jamie (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau).
However, this last act does seem to go a bit against her character.
While her wanting Tyrion dead is nothing new, the idea that she would want to kill Jamie just feels weird to me because, although they are on opposite sides now, I never got the sense she wanted him dead before.

Cersi.jpg
Cersei is unlikable as ever in the season premiere, even if her wanting Jamie dead does not make sense.

Sadly, this is not the only flaw I had with the episode because Theon (Alfie Allen) returns to rescue Yara (Gemma Whelan) from Euron’s clutches.
This scene felt a little rushed and odd, given that Theon somehow knew where Yara was, and it felt like Theon’s mission of the final season was going to be to rescue her, but now that is done.
Other than this though, “Winterfell” is still a great episode that also delivers on a few tense scenes to remind the audience of what is at stake.
After escaping from the Wall, Tormund (Krisofer Hivu) and Beric (Richard Dormer) run into Edd (Ben Crompton) and, after a pretty good comedic moment between them, find the horrifying scene of a young lord brutally murdered by the Night King and placed up in a display as a warning.
The night is certainly coming to Game of Thrones.

Tormund and Beric.png
The scene where Tormund, Beric and Edd discover the killed boy, who comes back as a Wight and attacks them, reminds the viewer of the horror that is to come.

The episode ends with Jamie arriving at Winterfell and seeing Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright), in what will probably be the most awkward reunion of the final season.
In all seriousness though, I doubt Bran hates Jamie now because he is the Three Eyed Raven and seems more emotionless.
In the trailer for next episode we see Jamie being put on trial, in a sense, but I believe Brienne will speak up for him by maybe convincing him to tell the truth about why he killed the Mad King.
Although, we did not actually see Brienne this episode from what I can recall so we will have to wait and see.
Either way, “Winterfell” was a great way to kick off the season and sets up a lot of the relationships and conflicts that will be sure to come to a head in the great war with the Night King in the next few episodes.