Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season Part 2

This review contains spoilers, but most people have read the manga, and anything authoritative is already spoiled by the OP.

evening if you haven ’ thyroxine read it, you ’ ve probably heard the ending of the manga was a arrant catastrophe, and this is true. When the concluding chapter was released, the internet exploded with absolute vitriol and desperation. Some were seething with rage, screaming about how Isayama ruined their lives and how Attack on Titan had been soiled constantly, and others were coping so intemperate you ’ d think they just received newsworthiness of their mother ’ sulfur end, refusing to boldness world and betroth in absurd and embarrassing genial gymnastics to

try and somehow justify the stupefying writing decisions which lead the story to such a nonsensical and laughable conclusion. However, while all of this was going on and everyone was understandably losing their minds, I was just sat in the corner, confused, because while it’s definitely true, the final chapter of Attack on Titan makes the ending of Game of Thrones look like a masterpiece, the decline in writing quality began long before chapter 139. The inane plot holes and outrageous character assassination responsible for ruining Attack on Titan have, unfortunately, already begun.

I’ll begin with the characters we all know and love and how they’re being viciously butchered right before our eyes. The final arc of Attack on Titan is officially called the War for Paradis Arc, but throughout this review, I will be referring to it by its unofficial title, the Avengers Arc. Aptly named after Marvel’s Avengers franchise, the final arc of Attack on Titan sees Eren activating the Rumbling and attempting to genocide the rest of the world to guarantee the safety of the Eldians living on Paradis who the outsiders wish to genocide themselves. Meanwhile, the remainder of the main cast—both the Paradisians and the Marleyans—form an alliance I will henceforth refer to as the Avengers to stop Eren and stop the Rumbling. It’s all very grandiose, soul-stirring stuff, but in order for this to happen, every character involved in the fight against Eren has to decrease their IQ to single digit numbers and abandon every conviction that made them who they were. The only characters with proper motivation are on Eren’s side, like Floch, for example. Even though everything is done to discredit him, he stands tall; right or wrong, he does not give up his case, and he’s the only one acting with consistent motivations. As for the Eldian Avengers, these fucking imbeciles are helping those who’ve said they are against genocide, and yet have themselves tried to commit genocide against the Eldians. The Marleyan Avengers ask, “Can you kill Eren?” And these fucking morons look back with tears in their eyes. They continue, ”So what will we do if we stop Eren?” And the morons continue looking back with tears in their eyes. The new retarded version of Hange also says, “We will win in one to two years, then we will think about it!” In other words, her suggestion is to allow the island to get wiped out to prevent Eren from wiping out the outsiders? The outsiders want to commit genocide, and that’s bad; the Yeagerists want to commit genocide, and that’s bad too; the Avengers, however, want to stop genocide, and that’s good, right? Isayama apparently forgot to mention thwarting one side paves the way for the other.

Ultimately, no one’s actions are morally pure, and yet the story is intent on breaking all our favorite characters to force them into this preachy contrivance to try and convince us we still have kid-friendly good guys to root for. Murdering the rest of the world to keep your people alive is wrong; actively allowing your people to die so the rest of the world can be safe is wrong. The moral ambiguity was the appeal of the story, but whenever you actually read the manga or watch the anime, they always make it look like the Avengers are the undisputedly righteous heroes. Then you read online discussions, and everyone says Eren is the hero who is unequivocally correct. It’s all so strange. Levi has no qualms working alongside Annie, the war criminal who murdered his fellow soldiers and even his future wife. She’s the same sadistic psychopath who mutilated the corpses of his comrades in cold blood, and he never says a single fucking word about it despite continuing his obsession with killing Zeke for doing what he did. Levi’s squad and that one guy Annie used as a yoyo must be rolling in their God damn graves. Zeke himself is portrayed as an anti-hero, but his euthanasia plan is functionally just as genocidal as anyone else’s proposal, yet because he opposes Eren, the single condition is met for the story to deem him a hero for no reason. In the caves, Eren pushes Grisha to finish what he started, reminding him of his sister, of Dina, of Kruger, and why he fights. Grisha had come to terms with what it meant to be a patriot, because he wanted Eldia to survive; he was willing to be complicit in the genocidal horrors Future-Eren showed him, because it meant his people would live. However, he suddenly tells Zeke to stop Eren because…who fucking knows?! Of course, the single most offensive scene which best incapsulates how contrived and backwards everyone’s motivation has become is the infamous pie scene, where Annie, the girl who directly and indirectly killed many of the character’s friends and families, eats some pie funnily, everyone makes a goofy face, and laughs like good friends.

You’re supposed to suddenly view Annie as this harmless little cutie patootie and disagree with Eren, but I don’t. I mean, what he’s trying to do is obviously wrong, but those he’s fighting against are attempting to do the same, and the Avengers are trying to allow them to do so. Remember, no one is in the right, so morphing war criminals like Annie into blushing waifus who eat pie funnily while simultaneously overplaying Eren as this over-the-top edgy monster just to force the audience into viewing one side as the generic Disney villains and the other side as the generic Disney heroes is totally fucking preposterous and downright insulting to my intelligence. Newsflash: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with defending your nation from a world that wants to eradicate it. Please appreciate that while the Allies of WWII were obviously nowhere near as barbaric and disturbingly evil as the Axis, they still had to carpet bomb and even nuke entire cities to finally force the fascists into submission and end that genocidal war which they themselves started. When conflict breaks out, no one leaves without blood on their hands—that’s just how the world works—so this forced optimism and biased presentation just feels gross. One of the saddest examples of this is Louis. We’re supposed to hate Louise for no other reason than that she’s a Yeagerist. “There’s good and bad people on both sides. War happens because multiple sides exist, not because one side is bad. The cruel state of the world is to blame for conflict, not any one person in particular.” These mature, fundamental realities which the story seemed to grasp all go out the window, because now we have to cheer for the Avengers as they fight the fascists. Louise was just a girl who was inspired by Mikasa’s heroism in season one, but now we’re supposed to sympathize with Mikasa as she looks down at Louis with pure disgust as she lies on her deathbed, and it’s solely because she’s an ideological Yeagerist. Mikasa was nicer to Gabi after she shot and killed her best friend, Sasha, than she was to Louis after she took her fucking scarf.

*THE NEXT PARAGRAPH CONTAINS MANGA SPOILERS* Animeonlys may skip it. I just continue making the same point.

The weirdest thing about it is while we’re supposed to hate the Yeagerists, their leader, Floch, was a brave man who fought and died for his country till his last fucking breath, and he remained resolved in every single thing he said and did, including his last charge against the Avengers on the docks and his assault on the boat, which was guaranteed to end in death, but somehow I’m supposed to hate him and think he’s the bad guy because he loves his people and apparently that’s disgusting and evil. Hating someone else’s people and wishing genocide upon them is disgusting and evil too; allowing those who hate your people to genocide them is disgusting and evil too; THERE ARE NO GOOD GUYS HERE. But this doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters now is what Isayama arbitrarily assigned to be right and what Isayama arbitrarily assigned to be wrong, as well as how he bent and broke characters to force them into either camp. Loving your country and rebelling against the world that wants you dead? That’s bad. Making peace with your abusers, coming to the aid of an enemy nation and licking their boots, redeeming the parents who ruined the lives of their own sons and daughters so they could live better lives, Ymir loving the sadistic pedophile incestous rapist King, betraying and gruesomely slaughtering your former allies who fought beside you? That’s all good and just. Eren is a piece of shit for committing global genocide, but if it’s only 80% of the world’s population, then he is the coolest guy around. This final arc is even worse and more tone deaf than many people who hate it even realize. There will always be a faction who gobbles it up regardless, but there will also be many who will start questioning the direction of the story and more people will begin doubting it, just as we’re seeing now with mixed reactions to the Avengers Arc. Once they adapt the ending, sites like MAL will be inundated with furious fans. It’ll spark debate between ending defenders and genuine fans rightfully pissed at Eren’s character assassination, and the community will devolve into chaos.

There’s really no point in talking about the shitty production anymore, so I’ll make it as quick and painless as possible. Most people have calmed down and accepted the reality of the situation, and those who haven’t are either committed shills who will cope until the end of time, or honest casuals who legitimately don’t mind bad animation and silly looking CG, and I have nothing bad to say about either group. The key animation and in-betweens are still shoddy and inconsistent; the character designs are ugly, wooden, and often off-model; such off-model frames are frequent and hideous; the CG is as embarrassing and clunky as it’s ever been; the compositing is worse than the backgrounds; the cinematography still has that hazy MAPPA filter and horrid color palette; the handling of the soundtrack is unbelievably fucking incompetent, with Kohta Yamamoto repeating the same four or five tracks over and over again (or just effortlessly reusing Hiroyuki Sawano tracks from previous seasons) with countless jarring, choppy edits; and the directing is a lifeless flatline compared to the exhilarating genius of Tetsuro Araki. If you don’t care about any of that, that’s fine. I have no problem with you, and if you can look past the clunky character designs and the ten-layers of digital vaseline MAPPA slathered over it, there was actually a few legitimately good pieces of animation sprinkled throughout. Overall, though, part two is just as much of an eyesore as part one. A surprising amount of the ODM gear is hand-drawn this time instead of the CG toy soldiers from part one, but thanks to the messy in-betweens and the bad directing, their attempts are downright pathetic compared to the work of Arifumi Imai, Yasuyuki Ebara, Takuma Ebisu, and so on. Their 3D environments are also outclassed by the original layouts for Trost and Stohess, and season one came out almost NINE YEARS AGO. To quote Monrello on MAL, “When your professionally-made anime adaptation is less intense than its source, a manga composed of still images, you have meteorically fucked up.”

But, actually, they didn’t fuck up. They clearly just didn’t try. In fact, I won’t make it quick and painless after all, because the effortlessness of this adaptation made me feel so fucking depressed. There’s no sense of gravity or flow; everything just happens, scene and then scene and then scene, with no directorial fanfare to anything. For something so oppressively dramatic, it doesn’t seem to take itself seriously at all as an art form, especially when compared to WIT Studio’s version of the adaptation which was borderline indulgent in how awe-inspiring it tried to be with every important sequence. The only big moment they actually tried to make feel unique was the initial activation of paths, but even that just amounted to flickering images and some shitty slow-motion montage. This is student film level directing, and the fact people don’t see it for what it is makes me feel like I’m living in some horrifying Inception-esque nightmare dreamscape and need to kill myself to wake back up to reality. Five minutes before that pie scene, Connie was trying to murder Falco, he and Armin were at each other’s throats, and next time we see them they’re all eating pie and laughing at Annie. THIS WAS LITERALLY THEIR REUNION. No, “Holy shit! Annie is alive?!” No, “You bitch! We hate you for everything you did!” Not even a, “You know what? We hated you for what you did, but now it’s time to assemble the Avengers, so we forgive you.” Instead, THERE’S NOTHING. Not a single word! And they’re already eating pie and laughing. This is some of the worst writing I’ve ever seen. Also, when the fuck did this show get so damn SLOW?! Remember when Attack on Titan was known for its fast-paced thrill? Every shot in this show lasts two or three seconds longer than it should, and it only accentuates how fucking stale and dead everything feels. The scene where Connie yells about feeling sick of getting betrayed was such an emotional scene in the manga, but in the anime it’s just shot/reverse shot, no music, unanimated shaky-frame. They truly do not give a shit about this series anymore, and it really shows.

I’m surprised people are still so shocked such a lazy, slapdash effort turned out this poorly. Likewise, I wish all the manga readers still holding onto hope for an anime original ending would just face the facts. MAPPA is phoning this one in. They didn’t take on Attack on Titan because they wanted to do it justice; they took it on because they had the studio size and the CG department to pump it out on the producers’ schedule. It wasn’t a labor of love like it was to WIT, and even WIT got tired of Pony Canyon’s abuse and bailed out. In a way, I think it’s fitting this arc ended up with a soulless studio and staff adapting it, because it serves as the perfect benchmark for when the story started falling apart. Nobody cares. They know this is a dead franchise as soon as the anime is over, so fuck it, right? I mean, honestly, what am I supposed to say? “This FINAL Season was so hype! It’s so FINAL, it came out after the other FINAL Season and before the upcoming FINAL Season! I can’t wait for Attack on Titan: The FINAL Season…PART FUCKING THREE!!!!! Holy fuck me sideways and blow my brains out with a shotgun! A three-part FINALE?!?! ISN’T THAT GREAT?!!?!” No. Nothing about this is great or even good. Watching a series I used to love crumble beneath the weight of the author’s incompetence and the studio’s ineptitude is even more pitiful and sad than this MAL review. Attack on Titan originally seduced us with its amazing animation and powerful storytelling, but it is now coming to a slow and painful end with an effortless production and awful writing. The Final Season is a hollow specter of a once-great franchise, and it is sustaining itself on hype and prestige which it did not earn. It is standing on the shoulders of a phenomenal series and using those masterful works of art as platforms off of which to tell a worse story. I know I’ve been harsh, but as a long-time fan, trust me when I say I got no pleasure out of writing this. Having to accept this reality hurts me just as much as it hurts you. Everything I’m doing here is all so fucking worthless and stupid. Life sucks; scum fuck.

Thank you for reading.

Reviewer ’ second Rating :

2

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