The end of an era is beginning — the first half of “Attack on Titan: Final Season Part 3” was released as an hour-long special episode on March 4 and quickly became the talk of the town.
Ever since its manga release in 2009 and anime release in 2013, “Attack on Titan” has been one of the most popular shounen series of all time. The manga concluded in 2021, drawing a highly controversial conclusion to a 20-year-long project. Needless to say, fans had high expectations for the anime’s finale.
Without a doubt, the first episode did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded expectations with its moving character development, spectacular animation and a brilliant soundtrack, earning a 9.19/10 on MyAnimeList and replacing “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” as number one in the top anime rankings.
In “Attack on Titan,” humanity is forced to barricade themselves within large walls by mindless, towering giants called “Titans,” who prey on humans. Life within humanity’s last safe haven is abruptly destroyed when a massive Titan breaks through the walls, attacking the town alongside hundreds of other Titans. After witnessing his mother’s death at the hands of a Titan, Eren Yaeger (Yuki Kaji) vows to eradicate all Titans. Alongside his friends Mikasa Ackerman (Yui Ishikawa) and Armin Arlert (Marina Inoue), Eren fights for humanity’s freedom, but the more he attacks, the more he learns about the world’s darkest secrets.
“Attack on Titan: Final Season Part 3” picks up from where the previous season left off. Yaeger successfully starts the “Rumbling,” sending thousands of Titans on a genocide march to kill everyone outside of his home, Paradis Island. In the face of danger, Eren’s friends and enemies work together to stop him and save humanity. Forced to confront their regrets and guilt, they prepare themselves for one final battle, even if it means having to kill their friend.
In just one hour, the series manages to give the characters so much room to grow. The stoic Annie Leonhart (Yuu Shimamura) shows a more soft, caring side during a conversation with Armin, a great change from her usual cold, aloof tone. Titan enthusiast Hange Zoë (Romi Park) shines in a brilliant fight sequence, a glorious moment and a highlight of the episode. Eren shows a new side of himself as he apologizes to a young child for the sins he is about to commit, reminding viewers that although Eren seems like an entirely different person altogether, at his core, he is the same character many grew to know and love. His ideals have not changed — he chases after freedom, and he will not take freedom away from anyone.
It is hard to believe that when the current animation studio MAPPA took over from Wit Studio since “Attack on Titan: Final Season” began, they received countless complaints and death threats over this so-called “downgrade.” However, MAPPA has proved the haters wrong in the anime’s previous part, and it returns once again with mind-blowing animation and cinematic sequences.
The Titans are genuinely terrifying; their hollow expressions and gradual movement are ominous and bone-chilling as they trample everything in their way, whether that be trees, houses or people. Compared to season one’s Titans, who looked comedic at times, the Titans in this episode are a mixture between eerie and horrific.
The soundtrack continues to be one of the show’s highlights as composer Hiroyuki Sawano delivers hit after hit. The track “Bauklötze” that plays during Zoë’s iconic battle heightens the impact of the fight, making it another one of Sawano’s iconic pieces. The opening song “UNDER THE TREE” by SiM fits the episode’s ambiance and contents perfectly, with the chorus echoing a heart-wrenching question that Yaeger’s friends wish to ask him: “Why, oh, why? Why, oh, why? / Don’t you wanna stay with me?” The somber tune and fitting lyrics make it the ideal song to accompany this episode.
The only common complaint among fans regarding “Attack on Titan: Final Season Part 3” is its release schedule. With more and more anime releasing episodes of a season in batches, it seems this has now become normal. However, to break a final season into three parts and further divide the final part into two parts seems to be rather disappointing. Furthermore, the greatly controversial manga ending of “Attack on Titan” has split the community in two: either you love it, or you hate it.
Fans criticized Yaeger’s poor characterization and storytelling so much that the author has issued a public apology to fans. There is no way to tell how the anime adaptation will handle the grand finale, but the first episode seems to be promising.
Exhibiting moving character development, spectacular animation and a brilliant soundtrack, “Attack on Titan: Final Season Part 3” delivers a fantastic buildup to a grand finale in its first episode. The expectations are even higher now — will the ending make it a masterpiece, or will it ruin all its brilliance? All will be revealed when the second half airs in fall 2023, ending the series’ 20-year run once and for all.
Grace Tu is a Social Media Manager for the 2022-2023 school year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.