Attack on Titan Final Season: The Final Chapters, Special 1 is now streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation in the United States.
Attack on Titan returns for the start of an epic conclusion 10 years in the making. This is the apocalyptic finale we have been waiting for, a culmination of all that the anime has been building towards, and an encapsulation of everything this modern classic does so well. In a one-hour episode we fully see the effect Eren’s Rumbling has on the world, with some of the gnarliest and bleakest imagery in an already bleak and gnarly show. All the while we’re treated to some of the best-animated scenes in the history of Attack on Titan, a heartbreaking goodbye, and revealing insight into the mind of hero-turned-mass-murdering villain, Eren Yeager.
Rather than some simple noble sacrifice or truly evil deeds, what this special gives us is the Attack on Titan equivalent of Walter White’s “I did it for me” speech from Breaking Bad. Eren’s whole motivation is laid bare, cementing him as one of the most interesting anime protagonists – and antagonists – of recent years.
We hadn’t really heard from Eren for quite a while, with the headspace of the person who was once the main character closing off to the audience ever since the start of The Final Season back in 2020. Now, we finally get to see how he feels about his actions and discover the lies he tells himself to justify his genocidal actions. Smart editing helps in capturing Eren’s out-of-time, Doctor Manhattan-esque state, cutting between his time in Marley living with and amongst regular people, and juxtaposing that with those same people being crushed to death by his army of Colossal Titans as they’re quite literally flattening the Earth.
This is the boldest and best approach the show could have taken.
Up until this point, Attack on Titan had been rather vague about Eren’s intentions and whether or not he is justified in committing mass genocide. This episode finally puts a foot down and argues that none of it matters. Whether he felt he was right or he was only thinking of himself, there is no coming back from mass genocide. This is the boldest and best approach the show could have taken, still leaving room for some kind of interpretation but cementing Eren’s place as one of the most complex anime protagonists of the past decade, rather than trying to pass him off as a Lelouch-type tragic hero with good intentions. Eren has become the monster of the story, and needs to be stopped.
This is truly the first half of an Attack on Titan story – the Infinity War to the next special’s Endgame, if you will – and it shows. For one, with MAPPA’s full attention on Part 3, we get the best animation the show has seen since the change in studios at the end of season 3. While the actual final battle is saved for next time, there is one all-time great fight scene in which the return of ODM gear shows off what this renowned team of animators can do when given enough production time. The fight against the army of Colossal Titans has arguably the most artfully done mix of CG and hand-drawn animation in the entire show, mixing the fluid and intricate hand-drawn ODM-gear movements that Arifumi Imai excelled at in the first few seasons with an understanding of the power of CGI that MAPPA has showcased in shows like Jujutsu Kaisen.
This makes for an exciting scene that also packs an emotional punch.
This makes for an exciting scene that also packs an emotional punch with one fantastic exit of a beloved character. The devastating scenes of The Rumbling are rich with details, with crushed bodies and fiery landscapes — the gorgeous red hues of humanity’s last sunset accompanying its bloodiest moment.
As apocalyptic and urgent as Part 3 is, it is also meticulously paced, with the script thankfully finding time for small moments that showcase the fantastic voice cast that has breathed life into this adaptation for the past decade, like the blossoming awkward romance of Annie and Armin, or several brief scenes of characters just expressing their regret for everything that has happened. But there is no turning back, there is no time to think about what-ifs, because the world has rather little time left. As we finally start to see characters from all backgrounds come to terms with the roles they played in creating a culture of hatred and war, the theme of the show is laid bare if there ever was any doubt about it: it’s all about the value of empathy, and how that is the first thing to go in wartime. It may be too late for humanity at large to turn back time and treat each other with kindness, but it is not too late for the individuals left standing to try to act for the benefit of others.
By now the Titan Avengers are both assembled and fully working together, having resolved their differences and come to painful understandings. It is genuinely heartwarming, even these circumstances, to see the surviving members of the 104th Cadet Corps once again working together. Despite what they have been through, despite what they have done, they are all still scouts, always willing to sacrifice everything (even their own humanity) for the sake of humanity at large – even those who want them gone.
Granted, this is still only half a story, with a huge cliffhanger for an ending that doesn’t resolve much. Still, it is the emotional climax of Attack on Titan, and it lays almost everything that makes this show special out in the open.
Attack on Titan returns with the first half of its explosive, apocalyptic finale, and it is better than ever. The animation is firing on all cylinders, the themes are laid bare, the emotions are at an all-time high, and the result is one hour of heartbreak, excitement, and awe-inspiring thrills. Make no mistake, this is Attack on Titan at its peak, and if the finale can deliver like Part 3 does, it will cement itself as the defining anime of a generation.