Attack on Titan Season 3 Series Review

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 12 - Sasha

Less Shouting, More Plot, Still Great Action – Yes!

It’s taken awhile for me to get to this review and it isn’t because I didn’t enjoy the anime or that I didn’t have a strong opinion. It was more that the anime ended at a weird time of season and I’d already finished drafting my Summer anime reviews and scheduled them but I hadn’t yet gotten in to my backlog of anime to review and so Attack on Titan season 3 went on the list to catch up on at a future time and then I got busy.

Attack on Titan Episode 5

But, now that I’m writing about this anime again, the only thing I can really think is ‘wow, I really had a lot of fun with season 3’. If you recall my pre-season thoughts, I was pretty pessimistic about Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin). Season one started great but meandered. Season two did whatever it did. I guess we did get an amazing reveal but it really felt like the plot was lost and we spent a lot of time just kind of reacting to things or rushing from action show piece to action show piece. Don’t get me wrong, some of them were cool, but it felt like the plot was lost or stalled.

Well, season three has come along and it has brought us some wondrous things. Levi getting into the action as Kenny attacks his squad in the early stages of the season is a solid and exhilarating beginning to season 3.One that captures the adventurous spirit as well as the danger and idea of life being pretty cheap very well and reignites enthusiasm for the series in a way that was badly needed (at least in my case).

Attack on Titan - Season 3 - Episode 2 - Levi

Sure the fight across rooftops and through the streets of the district is over the top and from a physics point of view highly improbably(how dead is Levi if he actually attempted those stunts), but it is beautiful,fast paced, the sound perfectly complements it, and everything about the sequence just works from a raw emotional point of view. And it opens up the characters of Attack on Titan to us in a way we’ve never really had the chance to explore before.

From Eren and Historia, to the Ackerman’s, the  false King, Eren’s father, Kenny, all of the cast get some life breathed back into them as we take a break from riding around on horses and fighting and actually look at what is behind all the mystery and intrigue. Do we get all the answers? Well, it is Attack on Titan so not really, but it brings together a lot of the plot threads, the half hints and ideas, and it seems to throw them back into forward motion in a way that ends up being immensely satisfying.

Attack on Titan Episode 10

While I’m at it, I’ll mention that the OP this season is fantastic. I get that when you first hear it, or if you hear it without watching the show you will be wondering what that song is doing attached to Attack on Titan, but the opening perfectly captures what this season aimed for and ultimately accomplished. We see that the characters have grown up but that their pasts haven’t disappeared. Who they were and what they have been through has shaped them and continues to have an influence over their lives even as they try to find their own paths. The song and the visuals that go with it capture that, as well as the relationships these characters have formed. It really works and there’s a reason it ended up on my list of favourite OP’s for the year.

However, while the world and characters are being fleshed out there is a trade off. If you are after continuous bouts with Titans you may find season 3 a little bit of a disappointment. For me though, they more than made up for the lack of number of Titans early on by the sheer grotesqueness of the titan they fight just after the mid-season. And of course, by the end of the season we are back to many titans.

Attack on Ttian Episode 9

Still, the greatest accomplishment of season 3 is that it finally made me appreciate Eren as a character rather than merely tolerating him. As a shouting protagonist type, one of my least favourites, Eren has always been a sore point for me with Attack on Titan. While I joked early on in this season that gagging Eren helped immensely, when the gag came off, I found that Eren had finally moved forward as a character. Sure, there are still some stupid moments with him, such as his fist-fight with Jean, but Eren managed whole moments of character introspective later in the season without a single shouted line and with thoughts that I felt I could relate to and understand.This was quite the break through moment for him.

There are negatives of course. As I mentioned, there are less fight sequences this time around and so there are a lot of scenes of people standing or sitting around talking. There’s also a lot of characters from the political groups and military that you probably won’t be all that attached to getting a lot of screen time. And some of these moments could have been trimmed a little, though mostly I enjoyed it. The other thing of course is that we are still unfinished so now we’re back to waiting yet again.

Attack on Titan Episode 11

Attack on Titan really does like to keep us waiting.

Overall though, I’d definitely recommend continuing with season three if you made it through one and two. In my view, this was the best Titan has offered us so far and I’m looking forward to see where they go from here.

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Karandi James
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Attack on Titan Season 2 Series Review

Overview:

Continuing on from season 1 after the fight with Annie, the scouts are trying to investigate when reports of titans inside the walls come in. Then we spend a lot of time running around and screaming. It is attack on titan afterall. I reviewed individual episodes of this while it was airing so if you are interested in my thoughts on the episodes click here.

Review:

This season was very much like season one for me in that I really loved the first half and let myself get swept away with it, and then in the second half the nagging feeling that this show can’t remember that it is actually supposed to have a plot started kicking in. The difference being that season one started with that incredible titan attack sequence that just blew me away and sucked me straight into the story whereas season two’s first episode, while it had its own charm, just isn’t going to stack up. The other major difference being with half as many episodes, things derailed a bit faster this time round then last time.

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Before I get into the positives, of which there are many given despite my complaints I’m still watching this show and still actually hopeful season 3 will come out next year as announced, I am going to go through my major issues with this season.

The first is the pacing and the way plot points are introduced and dealt with. Attack on Titan does not have good pacing. It didn’t in season 1 and it hasn’t fixed the issue in season 2. The Beast Titan makes an appearance early on, we get one other appearance and then he vanishes until the tease right at the end of the series. Delaying information is a fine tactic for building suspense when done right. Something like ACCA did it very well. But in this instance we don’t have any clues or ideas and there’s no reminders of this particular plot point. It just kind of appears and then goes and nobody even seems to mention it thereafter. Much like the titans in the walls who seem important only no one seems to be in much of a rush to deal with that issue. Or what happened to Annie? Or the key from last season? And when did Eren actually become the hope for humanity? Stuff happens or is said but nothing is built on.

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Another problem, the first half of this season deals almost entirely with the side cast as each seems to get an episode focus and then once they are reunited the focus shifts entirely onto Eren and Reiner. And while some of these episodes are very good (more on that when I get to the positives), there isn’t really a lot of cohesion between these stories and when we eventually slam all these characters together only a few actually survive all these plots being crammed together to have any further relevance. It kind of feels like most of those episodes exist only so you stop calling Sasha ‘potato girl’ and can actually distinguish characters from the support cast if you have never read the manga.

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Honestly, the show really only knows how to deal with one thing at a time. There’s never any subtlety in the presentation and as a direct result when we are investigating the titans in the wall, that’s all we’re doing. When we are learning about Ymir’s back story, that’s all we’re doing. While some shows might get away with that, Attack on Titan has created the problem of far too many ideas, and if it is only dealing with one at a time that means it has shelved everything else and the audience is just left waiting. I think Eren’s basement got mentioned once in this second season. Season 1 it seemed like a big deal but apparently it isn’t a big enough deal that we actually need to mention it or even seem to remember it. More importantly, once the action starts, all of the ideas kind of get tossed and instead we just get to see this show be cool action.

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Of course my final major issue is our supposed protagonist, Eren. He says it himself that he hasn’t changed at all and while he might have said that in the midst of understandable depression and desperation, it really rang far too true. He hasn’t changed. He’s the same angry little kid shouting at the world and just kind of demanding that it fix itself in a way that benefits him. While he has had some development over the two seasons, he’s still just plain unlikable. The fact that the other scouts seems to realise he is the single most irritating person in the world doesn’t help. It isn’t exactly surprising that his return to the main group at mid-season marked the down-turn in my enjoyment of the show.

So now that it sounds like I hate the show, I’m going to turn this around and tell you why you should probably watch this season anyway (if you haven’t already).

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For all its faults with story and character, Attack on Titan gets one thing right every single time. It gets into the audience’s head and it moves the audience. Whether it is the visual spectacle and tragedy of Mike getting torn apart at the start of the season, the horrified expressions on the young scouts faces as they realise that the older scouts (the only ones with weapons) have finally lost and are being eaten alive by titans, Reiner’s casual but show stopping declaration that he was the armoured titan, of the final episode of this season where they mirrored the death of Eren’s mother right in front of him yet again, this show manages to make you sit up and take notice. It might be shock, it might be sadness, it might be anger, but while watching you feel these emotions surging through you and these images and the sounds stick in your head after the episodes are done. Plus, the titan tossingmoment in the final battle was kind of fantastic. This season is worth watching just for the touching Eren/Mikasa moment in the final episode. As much as I dislike both of those characters, that was one excellently handled emotional point.

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Part of this is due to the artwork. The world, the titans, and the characters while not beautiful (not the right descriptor) are perfectly suited to the story they are telling. There’s an enormous focus on character reactions to the horror surrounding them and this is told largely through their eyes and they are impressively expressive. The titans this season no longer had the surprise factor that season one gave them, but they still managed to make them suitably creepy and devastating. Even the smaller titans were made incredibly terrifying, particularly when Sasha was facing off with one without and gear. There’s a few moments where the animation might be off, but this show is still incredibly impressive from a visual point of view.

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The music also remains on point. It took nearly half the season before the theme song grew on me but it certainly did and while I still don’t understand the point of some of the visuals in that opening, I actually began looking forward to it as it framed the episode nicely. However, it is the music and sound-effects throughout the episodes that will really just drag you in. They aren’t intrusive but rather add to an immersive viewing experience. The show also makes fairly affective use of silence in the final episode which was a pretty excellent choice.

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So pretty much if you are going to sit a pick faults with the storyline, you will most definitely find them. If you want to pull characters apart and look at whether they seem like real people or have real motivations or any kind of normal reaction to situations, you will probably find it fairly easy to fault this season. If you think too hard about all the story threads that seem to get pulled into the spot light for a brief moment and then tossed aside, you will absolutely be disappointed. However, if you strap in and just watch, you will probably get swept away by the grandeur of the moment and watch some pretty cool fights and some really tragic deaths.

My review of season 1 finished like this:

It’s beautiful, fast paced, and dramatic and when it is at its best it truly shines and those moments will carry you over the slower bits. If we actually get a continuation that matches the feel and quality of season 1 then this could be a very memorable anime. Otherwise I think it is one of those ones that had its moment in the sun but without finishing won’t have staying power.

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My thoughts have changed a little as season 2 was far better during the first half when it did finally focus on some of the more interesting characters. However, it still suffers from a lack of ending and without knowing where all these conspiracies and plot threads are going there’s little other than a wait and see mind set when thinking about how I feel overall about this show.

That said, I’d love to know your thoughts on season 2 if you’ve finished watching it. I know some of the bloggers out there loved this season a lot more than I did but some have been more critical please feel free to share your stance now that it has concluded.


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Karandi James.

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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 12

Review – Yes Spoilers:

Okay, I’m still kind of annoyed that we don’t know what’s up with the Beast Titan (but hey, there’s a nice tease at the end of the episode in case we forgot he was supposed to be significant), we don’t know what’s in Eren’s basement, we don’t know why some Titans can shift and some can’t and why eating someone transferred that power to Ymir, but credit where it is due, they did answer something in this final episode of season 2.

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Levi, I totally agree with this point given the speed of reveals compared to the speed of the deaths in this show.

The episode began with the smiling titan advancing on Eren and Mikasa. Hannes swoops in to save them and after putting up quite a good show manages to die heroically and bloodily right in front of Mikasa and Eren (because those two need more trauma in their lives). This actually led to a fairly nice moment of near silence. For a show that normally pelts us with sound from everything (horses, wind, capes, weapons, screams) the sudden silence was jarring and probably one of the most affective things it has done in terms of creating a moment. Still, hard to take Hannes’ death too seriously after watching some of the other deaths from other scouts. Why does this one smiling titan insist on splattering the surrounds with blood and gore while others manage to eat in a way that looks like they belong in a Saturday morning cartoon?

TitanS2E12
This is the cartoon version – I will never stop laughing at this image.

But, I will say this for Eren. He is the type to never give up. He’ll just keep doing the same stupid thing over and over even when it doesn’t work. But he will get really angry with himself and need a pep-talk from Mikasa. And points to her, she actually seemed to be a real person for about two minutes in this episode with a real and genuine personality.

I’m totally overlooking the Ymir and Historia bit but to be honest they didn’t do anything with Christa/Historia. Ymir ultimately went with Reiner after a touching farewell, but weren’t the scouts looking for Christa as well because she knew something about the walls? Why didn’t they even hint at that later in the episode? We got confirmation about Connie’s village and Levi and Ervin now know what the audience has known for a few episodes that the titans inside the walls were the people from the village (did someone poison a well, or how does that happen?) but Christa’s story never gets mentioned.

TitanS2E12d

So last point I’ll touch on is the actual answer we got. A while back Reiner mentioned that Eren was a coordinate (or might be) and we had no context for what that might have meant. This episode, we get to see just what that means even if Eren is too dumb to figure out what just happened. And I guess Reiner’s point of view about Eren having the coordinate is pretty understandable given Eren is not the person I’d want to entrust with that sort of power either.

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Anyway, I now have to think back over the whole of this season and figure out where I stand on it. There have been some good moments but my overall impression is really mixed. I’ll write a full season review soon.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 11

Review:

There were so many moments in this episode where I just had to stop the episode and ask what on earth they were doing. Admittedly, the first half of this second season seemed like it had finally taken the hint and was working to develop the world and characters as well as lead us toward some answers. It was really, really enjoyable and nicely done. This second half however has devolved into more or less the mess that the second half of season one fell into. Events occurring and then more events (with some shouting in between).

There’s only one episode left of this second season. At this point there is zero chance of anything happening to allow this to end well (or logically, sensibly, or satisfyingly) and that is a real shame. Unfortunately, they will always choose cool over substance in this plot and as a direct result we have a mess.

TitanS2E11

When did Attack on Titan start doing panels? I’m thinking back through all the previous episodes and when this style might have been used and I’m drawing an absolute blank. Why in the second last episode of the second season would you suddenly decide to do this? A more appropriate time to try this would have been back when Reiner pulled Eren aside to reveal he was a titan. A reveal of that magnitude would have deserved an artistically different choice and wouldn’t have felt as out of place as this moment did.

Then we have Mikasa revealing what we already knew. Her sole reason for existing in this anime and in this world is to save Eren. While I wouldn’t mind her wanting to save Eren while accomplishing other goals, her absolute single minded focus makes her an incredibly dull character. She doesn’t talk much, but she wastes what few words she has this episode on threats and lines you would expect a b grade villain to utter. Her absolute dismissal of the situation for the other characters also pretty much shuts down any possibility that we might find out their actual motives because you know, we still don’t know where they are going or why they are wanting Eren or Christa other than vaguely knowing they are going ‘home’ and that Christa knows something about the walls (not sure what), and Eren might be something but that point hasn’t been explained and yet:

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Where did that come from? And why does everyone just buy that? Since when was Eren being held up as humanities only hope? So frustrated right now.

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But hey, looks cool. Okay, some people will really enjoy this because we’re back to fast paced action for most of the second half of the episode and it is a cool fight (even if a lot of what is going on makes very little sense and once again a lot of the ‘extras’ get mowed down without drawing a weapon – aren’t these guys trained).  The titan throwing at the end was particularly cool to look at. But cool does not make for a good storyline and to be honest, the parts of the story I’m wanting to see kind of get buried here.

One more to go. I’d cross my fingers and hope for a worthwhile conclusion but I’d really hate to end up disappointed so at this stage I’ll just kind of hope for a really cool fight and maybe I’ll get that.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack On Titan Season 2 Episode 10

Review:

I’m pretty sure I said this previously, but they are really stretching content now. Last episode they just hung around in the trees chatting without revealing a thing and this week they snatch Christa and run which essentially means other than Christa having been taken, nothing was accomplished because the scouts are still chasing the titans down trying to recover Eren.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get a little bit more this week.

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This is probably the first time they’ve actually addressed the issue of why they even want Eren in the first place and you know they aren’t even certain he’s the one they want. That would actually turn out to be pretty funny given they blew their cover and went to a lot of trouble to kidnap him and then it turns out, nope, just another person who can turn into a titan. And is the number of them starting to seem insane to anyone else? I mean, the implication this episode is that all of the titans are essentially people who’ve transformed and just lost sight of themselves (if you’ve read the manga and know the answer please don’t share, I’m just speculating based on the anime).

Eren continues to be my biggest problem with this series, though I did get a good laugh out of this sequence.

And then Reiner using unconscious Eren as a backpack was also pretty funny. Eren’s best look ever.

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Though did anyone else find it weird how little attention Reiner was actually paying the trees as he was flying through them. Given the speed he was moving if he actually wasn’t looking forward my assumption would be he should have collided more than once during that sequence.

Anyway, I moved Attack on Titan back out of the ‘must watch’. It’s amazing how much fun I was having earlier in this series when it seemed like we were focussing on the background characters and the mysteries but since we’ve gone to fight, run, fight, run and having to put up with Eren front and centre again, my overall enjoyment of this show has dropped back to finding it fun enough but I could really take it or leave it. I actually read several reviews of this episode prior to viewing and previously I’d made sure to watch the episode before reading anything about it. This week, I didn’t really mind because I wasn’t really expecting much.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 9

Review:

I really enjoyed this episode and then I got to the end and realised that these four characters literally sat in the trees and shouted at each other for pretty much the entire run time and in the process, other than realising that Reiner really had lost his grip on reality, almost nothing was learned about what was going on or why. Then I realised pretty much all my enjoyment this episode came from either characters telling Eren what I’ve really wanted to tell Eren for some time:

Or from Ymir and Eren’s reactions to figuring that Reiner really was just a little bit off:

By the end of the episode the scouts are riding toward the forest and Ymir has decided to throw in with Reiner rather than Eren (though I’m guessing that’s only while it’s in her best interest) and we are done. I did still enjoy this episode but really pretty much nothing happens.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 7

Review:

Well, we’re back to fighting though as usual I have to wonder how much gas they actually have and what that translates to in terms of combat time. Mikasa seems to endlessly fly about and other than the one time where she lost her mind a bit, she’s never seemed to run out. She did at least run out of blades through her futile hacking at the armoured titan’s neck and Armin’s handed over his spares. Let’s be honest, Armin is not getting into this fight anyway.

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The fight is pretty fun to watch, though like with a lot of the fights toward the end of season 1, this one is heavily interspersed with flash back and once again Annie’s training of Eren (or beating him up during training) comes to the rescue. There’s plenty that could be said about all of those relationships but I actually want to focus in on Eren because his character is what actually stops me from really loving this show.

Once again we’re subjected to his inner monologue and seriously it sounds like we are listening to a petulant 12 year old who has been sent to his room. The blame, the over generalisations, the lack of any kind of introspection, it all just get’s on my nerves.

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That isn’t to say that Eren hasn’t had terrible things happen to him. Nor is it to say that Reiner and Bertholdt aren’t to blame for some of those given they did in fact break the wall leading to Eren’s mother’s death. But still, humans have done some pretty dreadful things and just because this dreadful thing happened to Eren, he makes grandiose statements and villainizes them as the worst in all humanity.

So while I enjoyed this episode, part of me wanted the armoured titan to pound some sense into Eren’s head and make him stop his monologues for awhile. Then of course, we end on a cliff hanger, almost literally, as the colossal titan is falling off the wall to land strategically somewhere unfortunate for Eren.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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