Attack on Titan anime is finally over, after over ten years of on-and-off broadcasting and the surprisingly long final season. The adaptation has seen many ups and downs and has grown in popularity enough to become one of the biggest titles of today. The manga ending has split the fandom with many disliking it and claiming it ruined the series while hoping for an anime-original ending. Their wish was not fulfilled, as the Attack on Titan anime faithfully adapts the manga for the most part. Personally, I think this is a good choice – after all, this was the story Hajime Isayama always intended to tell.
Attack on Titan Final Season THE FINAL CHAPTERS Special 2 (I am not sure who did the titles for these, but that’s a separate and somewhat laughable issue) wastes no time continuing where the previous special left off. Rumbling is fully underway and former Scouts, now led by Armin, are slowly coming to terms with what needs to be done to stop Eren. It’s full-on chaos as the thousands of titans trample on humanity, which struggles to unite even in the hardest moments.
Let me just preface by saying that although I have not been the biggest fan of the studio change, MAPPA still did an amazing job with this. The animation quality aside (quite solid, especially in the fight sequences and without the annoying blur effect for the most part), it took a lot of effort to create something that seemingly encompasses the entire ten-year history of this adaptation. I feel like this was successfully done through music choices, which cover the entire history of the Attack on Titan soundtrack, from Sawano to Yamamoto. I also have to mention this scene, which looks like an homage to Schindler’s List:
Love and Freedom
I tried to avoid the manga spoilers for years but of course, failed, so I knew how the story would end, for the most part. And the Attack on Titan anime finale adapted it quite well, in spite of some pacing issues. The symbolism and foreshadowing we’ve seen throughout the earlier parts of the story begin to fully make sense here. Ymir and Mikasa’s parallel was an interesting one I didn’t see coming. Yes, we knew they were quite different from the get-go and we knew that Mikasa could live without Eren. In spite of the walls and her own lack of power to change things, Mikasa was always free, thus achieving something Ymir never would.
I expected Ymir to be bound by hatred, more than love and I’m still not sure how I feel about this part of the reveal. To me, she was supposed to be a representation of Eren’s yearning for freedom, just like he is a representation of her desire to be free. Connected through the Attack Titan’s memories, they end up sharing a joint goal. Her death could have been a way to ensure Attack Titan lived on and manifested itself in Eren, but instead, she actually chose to die to save Fritz and doomed herself and her descendants to live with the titan curse. It feels like the only choice she ever made herself was to leave that gate open, as a sign of compassion that would end up dooming all of humanity.
The bird at the end was a beautiful touch too – birds in the Attack on Titan series are pretty much the only free creatures. They are not confined to the walls, they can fly away from the battlefields and they can go far and see whatever they want to see. Whether Eren deserved to be reborn as one is questionable.
Most of the criticism that is aimed towards the ending seems to be coming from Eren’s fans. After watching this I can understand why. He doesn’t come across as a tragic hero and he acts like a petulant child that he has been at certain points in the story. Sacrifice has always been a big theme in the Attack on Titan universe so it’s not surprising that Eren also chose this path. I struggled a lot trying to understand where Eren ends and Attack Titan begins and I’m still not sure. Was he always meant to become the Final Titan? If the history was written in the Paths then he was unable to change it. But this feels like an excuse, I’d expect him to have more agency over his actions.
This agency shows up during his conversation with Armin: he wanted to destroy the world. He didn’t want to try a different path because he saw no way out. By making himself out to be a bad guy he saved his friends – a not-so-uncommon trope for many anime/manga titles. We knew all along he was not someone who sees the beauty in life and while he believes he did what had to be done, his plan was still quite shortsighted. He is selfish until the very end and deep down he is a scared teenager with power greater than himself.
Eren is not a hero; he was never meant to be one. This is pretty clear throughout the Attack on Titan series yet he has such a big following, both in the story and fandom. The ideals he represents exist in most of us, and while it’s easy to blame Isayama for glorifying a genocidal maniac or killing him off it really isn’t that simple. His conversation with Mikasa felt like the only time he truly acted as a reasonable adult, yet even this felt like putting the blame on her for not giving him the answer he wished to hear. In the end, he is a tragic character in a tragic story that will leave you feeling empty.
The Perpetual Cycle
I wish I could say Attack on Titan ends on a hopeful note, one that shows us Eren’s actions meant something, but it doesn’t. History repeats itself and Paradis will ultimately be destroyed, not because of titans but because of humans. It’s difficult to write something about a topic like this in times like these because you have to ask yourself what kind of message the ending of Attack on Titan anime sent. Was it a message of hope? Definitely not, if anything it crushes any hope you may have felt with those last few moments of the credits.
Temporary peace for a few generations is all that the Rumbling bought. Humans won’t learn from their mistakes and the cycle will continue, as evident in that final scene – the boy and Eren’s tree. “Scientifically” it would make sense that the pathogen survived in his head, paving the road for the titans to return. We don’t know who the mysterious boy is and what kind of life he wishes for. Perhaps this time it will be different and perhaps we somehow manage to find that last sliver of hope.
Attack on Titan Anime Finale – 10 Years in the Making
The Attack on Titan franchise has undoubtedly left its mark on anime history. It’s interesting that the ending leaves the potential for a continuation but it is pretty clear that one isn’t needed. What needed to be said, has been said and any more would be unnecessary. When it first started I doubt any of us expected a resolution like this, but ultimately it is a satisfying one, regardless of how it left you feeling.
I think a big part of what made this series good was the character writing and seeing the conclusion for each of them felt oddly rewarding, probably because they realize they can’t change the future but they focus on making their lives better and cherishing life around them, along with sacrifices made. They manage to find peace for themselves and sometimes that is the only thing you are capable of.
Overall, Attack on Titan’s finale deserves praise. We got a satisfying ending and after multiple final seasons, we can finally say that it’s over and mean it. It’s an odd sense of emptiness that the ending leaves you with, but as I said, it matches the story well. What did you think of it?
Screenshots via Crunchyroll.
© Hajime Isayama, Kodansha/”ATTACK ON TITAN” The Final Season Production Committee