Attack on Titan, Season Four, Episode Two, Midnight Train Review: Marley Arc Gets Uprising Arc Restyle.

3 and a half stars
Coming into the final season of Attack on Titan, I wondered if Mappa would cut or rearrange certain scenes from the Manga, like Wit did with the Uprising Arc, in order to make the story flow better.
Well, this question has been confirmed with the season’s second episode, “Midnight Train”, which adapts Chapters 93 and some of 94 and 95, skipping over Reiner’s flashback, leaving that for next week.
Whether this rearranging of scenes will be problematic or not remains to be seen with future episodes but, so far, it appears to be working well if “Midnight Train” is any indication.
Directed by Daisuke Tokudo, the episode starts off by adapting Chapter 93, although having various cuts throughout.
Beginning with the meeting between the Marleyan generals, the first scene highlights once again how Marley is falling behind other countries technologically because of their reliance on Titans in warfare.
This leads to Zeke suggesting they attempt to retake the Founding Titan to buy Marley time to catch up, saying that he will do so because he should be the one to bring an end to the plans of Grisha Jeager, as his former son.
While also revealing that Zeke has one year left in his term, this scene also unfortunately highlighted my main criticism with the episode, it’s animation.
While certainly not bad, it did have a few questionable moments, like with Zeke in this scene where his face looks oddly emotionless, with only his mouth being animated to move.
This odd animation continued in the following scene when Zeke and Colt are walking up some stairs and when Udo starts talking about the threats Eldians face.
Apparently, these two moments were made using rotoscoping, which is an animation technique.
It is used during other scenes in the episode and those all look great.
However, these two scenes with Colt and Zeke, and Udo look a little janky compared to the rest of “Midnight Train’s” animation and they pulled me out of the story for a brief moment.
Still, these are only small instances and the technique usually looks good.
Besides, the Colt and Zeke, and Udo scenes are both well done in their own right, providing great humor with Zeke’s ass wiping technique gag, and also tragically revealing the full extent of Reiner’s PTSD when he imagines Gabi, Falco, Udo and Zofia as Bertholdt, Annie, Marvel and Porco from his training days.
Speaking of Porco (Toshiki Masuda), we finally got to meet him and Pieck (Manami Numakura) this episode.
Both of their voice actors do great jobs as the characters, with Pieck being the Cart Titan and one of my favourite new characters introduced during the Marley Arc, and Porco being Marcel’s brother and the new Jaw Titan, meaning he ate Freckled Ymir to get her power.
That’s right, Freckled Ymir still dies off screen.
It’s disappointing that we still don’t have a death scene for her but it’s not like I expected anything better for her character at this point anyway.
Following these scenes, we get the titular train the episode title is referencing as we see the Eldian Warriors on one, returning to their home internment zone of Liberio, resulting in the humorous scene of Colt lifting up Gabi so everyone, including Gabi herself, can cheer for her.
Yet, there also comes a serious scene here, as Falco criticizes Reiner for apparently allowing his cousin to inherit his Armoured Titan, thus shortening her life span.
Reiner uses this moment to test Falco, resulting in two interesting reveals.
One, being that Falco’s last name is actually Grice, the same name of the man who was with Grisha in the Eldia Restorationists.
And two, that Reiner wants Falco to surpass Gabi and inherit his Armoured Titan so he can protect her from the dark future they face.
With this, the adaption of Chapter 93 comes to an end and we get a merged adaptation of parts from Chapters 94 and 95.
Starting with the Warriors reaching Liberio, we get some interesting new scenes of Porco and Pieck interacting with Gabi and Falco, acting as older siblings looking out for them.
I really liked this addition because it helps make their characters more sympathetic, also helped by all of the shots of all the Warriors reuniting with their families.
We have Zeke greeting his grandparents, Gabi hugging her parents, Reiner awkwardly reuniting with his mother, and an anime original scene of Pieck’s father coughing as he welcomes her, which introduces his illness a lot earlier than the manga does, which is a pretty cool addition.
Along with this heat warming scene, however, we also get a reminder of how war is constantly on the horizon, as the Marleyan, Koslow, scares a bunch of traumatized Eldian soldiers suffering from PTSD.
This also allows us to see Falco’s good side because he is kind enough to help one of these soldiers, whose armband has been placed on the wrong arm.
The next scene proves as a great contrast to the horrors of war because, while the traumatized soldiers screamed and fall when Koslow yells “Boom!” at them, Gabi yells “Boom!” with glee to her family, showing the extent of her indoctrination in Marleyan propaganda.
This indoctrination is shown further by Reiner having to act like the Eldians on Paradis Island are devils, comedically turning something as innocent as Sasha eating a potato into something monstrous.
On an unfortunate note, many anime only viewers seem to have misinterpreted this scene as Reiner trying to fool himself into believing this, when he is actually trying to subtly tell his family that those on Paradis are no different from them.
This may have been lost in translation because of the removal of Reiner smiling under his hand, so I wish they had kept that.
One great addition is the a brief moment that comes after this scene, as one of the traumatized soldiers is shown killing themselves, again showing the harm the Marleyans are doing by forcing the Eldians to fight their battles for them.
I love how Mappa is adding all of these scenes to show the horrors of war.
From here, the episode goes into adapting parts of Chapter 95, with the meeting between Zeke and the other Warriors, as Zeke explains their plan to take the Founding Titan with help from the Tyber family, the holders of the Warhammer Titan.
Here, we get another indication that Reiner is now fully aware of the Marleyan propaganda and indoctrination, as he realizes Zeke is hinting that the room is bugged and saves Porco, who is voicing his dissent, from endangering himself by interupting him.
With this moment, the episode ends as Reiner wonders if he really has to go back to Paradis, setting up the next episode to adapt all of his flashbacks, which is kind of worrying.
I have heard leaks about the pacing of this next episode and it makes me scared the writers could cut a lot of pivotal moments for Reiner’s character.
Fingers crossed they can do these chapters justice with just a single episode.
Back to the episode itself, “Midnight Train” is a solid adaptation that is brought down slightly by its occasionally janky animation and cut content.
Still a good episode though and I hope everything turns out alight for the next one.

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.