Attention all she’s, he’s, and them’s! Herein will be a needlessly detailed and long review of Attack on Titan season 3 Part 2. Be aware that there are spoilers. Ready? Let’s Rant!
These are my notes I took down about the art and animation while watching the 10-episode season. I’ve tried to order and present them in a way that flows better.
First of all, the visuals in the opening song are great, because green and blue tone filters are used, which are my favorite colors, and there are splashes of rainbow colors like paint. As usual, it looks like a higher fps rate in used in the opening, making the scenes of soldiers using 3D Maneuver Gear even more awesome. Speaking of which, the part in episode 50 where the scouts use their gear to fly up to the top of the wall is an example of dynamic camera angles and smooth animation. (Plus the part where Eren plugs the wall.) Lots more creative, eye-catching shots of scouts flying through the air and readying their thunder spears appear in episodes 51 and 54.
The Titan fight scene in episode 51 (Reiner vs. Eren) is almost slow-motion, which annoyed me a little at first; but then I thought maybe that’s realistic. Creatures that big and heavy moving around probably would move slower. One thing I noticed is that CG is rarely used for any of the scouts, even in distance shots. There is some 3D with them on the horses during some charge scenes, but that looks pretty good. The terrible impact of Bertholdt’s transformation in episode 52 was extremely well done– like the effects on the surrounding and the massive explosion. But the CGI used for the Colossal Titan looks just plain horrible. There’s no getting around that.
The results of the Beast Titan’s rock throws in episode 53 were horrific, and the art did an amazing job presenting the utter devastaton. I love the intense expressions of the characters in this anime. The animation of Armin’s expressions was beautiful when he talked to Eren about his plan in episode 54. I like the animated motion of the Cart Titan ep 55. The holocaust-like imagery at the end of ep 56 was disturbing, but I feel it was necessary for the story. Historia’s queen costume in episode 59 is gorgeous. There are beautiful visuals in this episode at 16 mins and beyond, showing the horses running, the fields, the birds, the sky, and the sea.
All throughout the series, the backgrounds and scenery look fantastic. In episode 50, I was struck by the the landscape of forest, fields, and town leading up to the wall of Shiganshina, as well as the detail of buildings in and around wall Maria. The cloudy skies in the background help set the mood in episode 51; it’s like the tense calm right before the storm. The sunset scenes while Grisha and Kruger are talking (example, episode 58 at 3:08) are stunning and realistic.
The cast in AoT never ceases to amaze. Kamiya Hiroshi (Levi), Romi Park (Hange), Ono Daisuke (Erwin), and Hosoya Daisuke (Reiner) are all famous, experienced seiyuu that perform incredibly well. Kaji Yuki (Eren), Inoue Marina (Armin), and Ishikawa Yui (Mikasa) were well less famous at the start of AoT, but by now they’ve definitely made names for themselves. Their acting is every bit as good as that of the veterans.
I loved hearing Armin’s voice narrating the start of episode 50. The voice-acting is marvelous in episode 54 when Armin talks to Eren and then holds on to Colossal Titan while being burned. Also, the acting in episode 55, during the fight over who to inject, is sensational. Mikasa (Ishikawa Yui) and Hange (Romi Park) struck me most in that scene, but Floch’s seiyuu, Ono Kensho, showed his talent there as well.
Opening song “Shoukei to Shikabane no Michi” (“Path of Longing and Corpses”) and outro song “Name of Love” were both memorable. The former is by Linked Horizon sounded like classic AoT, but also had just enough originality to be different from previous Linked Horizon song. As for the ED, it’s by Cinema Staff, and it’s emotional and moving. The instrumental music in AoT S3 Part 2 is brilliant; it’s all I could ever ask for in an OST. Here are a few moments I loved. In episode 50, there’s nice music playing when the scouts are looking at Shinganshina. Listening to the theme music and insert song starting at around 20 minutes is like being on drugs. It just sounds so wonderful and gets me so pumped!
At 9:15 in episode 51, we can hear a piece of music I know has been used in past seasons for strategizing/talking scenes. The song in episode 52 at 18:30, and the song with chanting at around 20:00 are both mind-blowing. The impending horror music used in the season in various scenes first appears in episode 53 at 01:28. There’s some great piano music at 16:30 in ep 53. The piano music in episode 56 at sounf 05:45 is pretty, too. There’s also the solemnly beautiful music that plays during the scenes where young Eren and Mikasa guide the adult versions through Shinganishina (in episode 56). The moving music at 12:50 in episode 59 is astounding, as is the medley piece during the end credits.
Attack on Titan has always had well-written and relatable characters, and most of them have more depth than the characters you see in the average anime series. AoT’s characters are just as amazing in S3 Part 2 as they have been in past seasons. There seemed to be slightly less development for characters than is absolutely optimal, but given the amount of action in the early episodes, and the story of Grisha in the later ones, that’s only to be expected. Next are some thoughts of mine related to characters throughout the season.
Eren’s fear in episode 50 is very understandable. What calms him down again is imagining the sea and what’s beyond it– thoughts of freedom. Eren uses hatred and revenge as driving forces a lot, but they are not his sole motivators. I’m as impressed as always by Armin noticing and investigating the signs of the campfire, and knowing to look inside the walls. He makes a good point about needing to throw aside common sense when faced with opponents as mysterious and monstrous as the Titans.
It irritated me that the Scouts of the 104th are still too concerned for Reiner and Bertholdt. However, it was believable. Imagine it. These kids knew and relied on Reiner and Bert for 3 long years, and they’ve only learned about Titan shifters over the last 4 months. Likewise, it was aggravating when Armin tried to negotiate with Bertholdt in episode 52, but it’s believable for his character. It’s also acceptable to think that Bertholdt would engage him for a few minutes in order to verify his feelings and solidify his resolve. And of course, I have to mention that Armin showed his true colors as a real honest to fucking goodness HERO. Armin is best boy forever. ❤
At round 14 minutes in episode 51, we get some good character background and development for Erwin. It’s mostly about how he longs to see the secrets in the basement, and doesn’t have much of a plan beyond just that “selfish” dream. There are also insights about him struggling under the burden of having led so many soldiers to their deaths. More about Erwin and his heroic character and charisma can be seen in episode 53 with his final charge. Levi attacking the Beast Titan in episode 54 was badass, but seeing his desperation and grief was saddening. It’s one of many examples that shows he loved and respected Erwin. Just look at that shot of him in ep 55 at 01:58. The loss of Erwin has turned him into a single-minded killing machine.
There’s a short moment (in ep 54 at around 15 mins) where Mikasa decides to let Armin and Eren handle things on their end, instead of listening to her emotions and flying over to them. This is an example of how mature she has become since S1. During the arguing over who will be injected, you can see a plethora of character insights. For example, Mikasa eventually gives up on Armin and accepts orders from Levi and Hange. Eren, meanwhile, keeps arguing for Armin until he’s forcibly taken off the scene. Levi’s perspective at the end, about not wanting to bring back Erwin again for more suffering, almost made me cry. Heck, it looked like Levi was close to shedding some tears.
There were some other interesting character moments here and there afterward. Take for instance Floch’s outburst and the argument he starts in episode 59. It was annoying, but relatable, and most of his thoughts did need to be said by someone. While Armin and Mikasa are fairly happy and accepting, Eren seems like he’s in terrible shape by the end of the last episode. Like Mikasa, he has changed a lot. He’s not as short-sighted or naive. But it’s also sad to see him caught up in so many intense emotions like shock over shared memories, worries over Historia, and disillusionment with the world. It’s almost like Eren is becoming unhinged. We’ll see.
Story and Themes: 10/10
The story was structured and presented excellently, with few flaws that caught my attention. It’s all especially powerful when previous seasons are considered. The way S3 part 2 binds them all together is noteworthy. Here are my thoughts I jotted down while watching. The flashback about Marco and Annie at the start of 52 makes some things from S1 very clear for the first time; it’s an example of tying the story together well. I used to complain of too much plot armor for Reiner, but others have it too, as we see in episode 55, when Armin and Erwin are still breathing. All the drama and suspense in that episode– about who will get the Titan injection– is done masterfully. You can’t help but be on the edge of your seat, even if you’ve read the manga like me.
Many questions were answered over the course of the story in S3 Part 2, but there are new mysteries already. The Beast Titan giving up on Bertholdt and saying he wants to rescue Eren are at this point (ep 55) nonsensical. However, when we learn that Zeke, son of Grisha, is likely the Beast Titan (ep 59), it makes some sense; I guess he wants to rescue his brother. I’m not all caught up on the manga, but as of now, I still never know if Zeke is serious about what he says.
Episode 56 was slow and boring. But it was a good move to show the vision of young Eren and Mikasa leading the grown-up versions, and to show flashbacks of the streets and houses before they were ruined. I can forgive one boring episode among the general action and chaos of Attack on Titan. Anyway, Grisha’s story was heartbreaking in ep 57; I understand his hatred for Marley. He wonders, “Who was truly in the wrong? Was it me, or this world? Most likely, it was both. I was ignorant and foolish; the world, irrational and insane.” The story of Kruger was interesting, too, like how he had to act commit so much evil, and how all he can do now is continue his plan under the burden of his sins.
The continuation of Grisha’s story in episode 58 finally makes everything make sense. In this episode, there’s some odd but funny humor, like when Hange and Levi tease Eren about going through a stage. Ymir’s letter to Historia also had an element of humor, though it made me sad overall. Historia’s royal blood powers let her see some visions of Ymir when she read the letter, and based on those quick flashes, it’s almost certain that Ymir is already dead. It’s ironic and eerie how the Titan who ate Eren’s mother was once Dina, and how Eren killed that same Titan with his commanding power. Speaking of which, the concept of the Eldian’s “coordinate” and shared memories of past and future is intriguing.
Episode 59 is mostly about the reactions to and discussion of the truth of the outside world. As Hange said, the real enemy the whole time has been the world. I believe Eren sees a vision when touching Historia’s hand at the ceremony, because he’s the Founding Titan touching someone with Royal Blood. It’s unclear why exactly the memories he saw upset him so much, but a likely answer is that all the recent revelations are still very shocking, disturbing, and fresh in his mind. It also could have been because Eren is “merging” with the memories of the other Attack Titans and Founding Titans, and empathizing with his father’s desperation in that memory. The parts at the end of the episode with the Scouts having fun at the seashore were highly enjoyable.
There are many themes explored in AoT, some simple and some profound. Some that stuck out at me from this season were the human desire for violence, the cycle of violence, discrimination, hatred, sacrifice, heroism, finding meaning in life, and how people make things “true” by believing what others say. In addition, there is the overarching motif that the world is simultaneously cruel and beautiful. Let me talk a bit about a few of those items.
Erwin makes a note in episode 51 about the scouts being weaker than before because of all the sacrifices they had to make. Those deaths in all the past seasons were necessary for the scouts to get as far as they have. This is just one example of the themes of sacrifice and heroism. More is seen in in episode 53, when Erwin and the recruits charge at the Beast Titan. Also in that episode, Erwin talks about how life is not meaningless, even for them, because they can entrust the next generation to give meaning to their sacrifices. In the same way, they must be willing to be sacrifices in order to give meaning to the sacrifices of their fallen comrades.
“The hate in your eyes was enough to burn the world to ashes,” Kruger says when remembering young Grisha. He hated the country, his father, and himself, and because of that powerful hate, all the events of Attack on Titan happened. The history of the Eldians and Marleyans shows the toxic pattern of discrimination. The perspective of the evil sergeant-major Gross shows the theme of human cruelty, and raises the question of whether humans require violence. “But you know,” he says in episode 57, “people actually want to see cruelty.”
When Grisha asks who the original Ymir really was in episode 58, Kruger says, “Under Marleyan authority, she’s a pawn of the Devil. During the Eldian Empire era, she was a miracle of God. Some say she touched the source of all living matter. Who’s to say they’re wrong? The only truth in this world is that there are no truths. Anyone can become a God or a Devil.” This shows the relativity of what is accepted as truth. It’s a recurring theme in AoT.
The motif of the cycle of violence has never been clearer in AoT than it is in S3 Part 2. The Eldians conquered the Marleyans with the terrifying power of Titans, but the Marleyans eventually overthrew the empire and made their own, in which they are needlessly cruel to Eldians. The Marleyans also created many or most of the Titans that invaded the walls in S1 and killed hundreds of thousands. Our main characters will now have to go to war with the Marley and possibly the world, or else be destroyed. It’s a very cruel world, indeed. At the same time, there is beauty within it. Look at how happy Mikasa and Armin are when they see the ocean.
There was so muh to enjoy in Aot S3 Part 2! I enjoyed all the aspects mentioned above: visuals, audio, characters, story, and themes. Here are a few notes related to personal enjoyment that didn’t quite fit in with the other categories. To start with, I love that moment when Erwin gives a death stare to the Armored Titan when he stands on the wall in episode 51. Secondly, it felt so good when Hange returned– and with another thunder spear!– in episode 54. At the same time, Eren cut Bertholdt out of his titan, which was equally awesome.
The way Levi took down the Beast Titan so savagely was thrilling and satisfying (episode 54). Mikasa’s bed hair in episode 57, though! It was too funny! So was the scene with Hange and Levi teasing Eren in ep 58. It was great to see the scouts finally seeing the ocean in episode 59. Mikasa took off her boots in the water and said “heee!” or as it’s translated, “eep!” That was fucking adorable. Armin is my favorite character, so seeing him so happy was fulfilling.
Overall Score: 9.2/10.0 Magnificent
FYI, I calculate the overall score for the anime I review by taking the average of the five numbers given for art, sound, characters, and story/themes. Most of my scores are between 5.8 and 8.8, with only a select few ever breaking into the 9s range. (5s range is average, and 4s are reserved for bad anime.) When I checked today, on July 18th, the #2 most popular anime on MyAnimeList was Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2, with a score of 9.17. Hopefully this review shows that I agree; AoT’s new season deserves that 9/10. Thank you so much for reading today! This is Anime Rants, sending you all the best wishes for health and happiness.
(Images from: Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3 Part 2. Dir. T Araki. Wit Studio. 2019.)