By Eric Vallen
As expected, general animation quality has gone down for the recent Part II of Attack on Titan season 4. All the same, the recently released episodes have looked amazing considering the limited 9 months Mappa Studio had to animate the rest of the series. Titans remain CGI but are leaps and bounds better looking than previous studios’ animation quality. However, it must be said that at certain points of episodes, the animation is leaps and bounds better than any other moment. For the climactic scene in each episode, the animation is simply flawless. Most notably, the wind effects are absolutely superb, and Mappa utilizes them consistently to set the mood of scenes, giving a more authentic feel to the picture. In terms of sound, all actors are the same, and surprisingly, Mappa’s team has been able to use certain elements of the original soundtrack. In addition, Mappa has created an entirely new opening soundtrack, titled “Rumbling” as well as certain other songs that are used sparingly. The “Rumbling” features a heavy metal-inspired orchestra, a perfect fit for the coming arc of the show. Additionally, I would heavily recommend viewing with headphones, or a surround sound setup. Certain key moments and pieces will not have the same effect if they were to just be played normally. As for storytelling, If you’ve watched Attack on Titan before, you already know what to expect. The story, especially the coming arc and first four to five episodes, are literal masterpieces. The coming final arc of Attack on Titan is arguably peak fiction. Hajime Isayama’s writing is some of the most prolific of our generation, and he delivers yet again. Attack on Titan has lived up to its reputation so far this season, and will likely set the bar even higher as episodes keep releasing.
MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD LITERALLY DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED
Episode 76: “Judgment”
Episode 76 picks up right where we left off, just after the end of Levi and Zeke’s fight. Hange, Flock, and others come upon the scene, where Hange pronounces Levi dead. At the same time, Zeke emerges from the body of a titan not his own, distracting the entirety of the group. Taking advantage of this, Hange takes Levi in her arms, and dives into the river, presumably because Levi is in fact not dead. The others fail to catch them, and Zeke reveals his body was rebuilt by a “strange girl” at the center point of the paths. Clearly, this girl is Ymir, and raises certain questions concerning her own motives. Did she purposefully create the titan to save Zeke? If so, what does that implicate on essentially the entire series? What reason does she have to save Zeke as of now? All of which is yet to be seen. With this, we cut back to Shiganshina, Eren having transformed. Marley begins their counterattack, airdropping hundreds of soldiers, including Reiner, into the streets. Ominously, Eren states “Given what little they know, they shouldn’t have taken this risk” in reference to the Marleyan attack foreshadowing a possibly even more devastating Eldian counterattack in the future. Eren and Reiner exchange blows, while Gabi realizes the condition for Eren’s usage of the founding titan. With this knowledge, Marley now has a real tactic against the now extremely powerful Eren. Reiner and Porco are defeated in battle, but are saved by Pieck and commander Magath, acting as snipers from The Wall. Simultaneously, Marleyan ground troops and airships gun down much of the remaining Eldian military. All goes wrong, and it looks as if Eren may be eaten. Stuck between supporting Eldian euthanization and killing Eren, Armin, Connie, Jean, and Mikasa reason that Eren doesn’t in fact support the euthanization plan. They come to the conclusion that he only supports the plan because it’s his only route to obtaining the founding titan’s power. With this, and Eren roaring for backup in the background, the episode ends. In short, founding titan Ymir now plays some kind of role in future events and may have played a role in past events, Marley’s attack has been wildly successful so far, and Eren’s friends have decided to put their faith in him. Whether that decision was right or wrong will likely be revealed in coming episodes.
Episode 77: “Sneak Attack”
The episode opens with a small recap of the group’s conversation, and although they don’t say it, it’s clear to see that Armin, Jean, Connie, and especially Mikasa are to some extent attached to Eren, and cannot find the will inside them to fight him. Eren miraculously repels Reiner and Porco, incapacitating them both for a short time. His titan scream is so loud, many have to cover their ears from the pain. And just in time, Zeke appears on the wall. Acting quickly, Zeke takes down two of the Marleyan airships in one strike. He further rains hell on the city, taking down the remaining airships, and clearing a path for him, a titan with royal blood, and Eren, to meet. Meanwhile, Gabi and Colt plot to stop Zeke’s scream, hoping to inform him of Falco having drunk some of the poisoned wine. Mikasa, Armin, and friends suit up, with Mikasa leaving behind her scarf, an indicator of her finally becoming distanced from Eren. Finally, she is becoming independent. When the four come out, they are surprised at seeing Zeke and realize that Eren really doesn’t need any help at all. Yet, Armin tells the others they must help Eren, as he and Zeke are the only ones who can “save the world”. Falco runs into Gabi and Colt, and Gabi realizes that those of Paradise aren’t devils, they’re just normal people, just like her. She realizes she’s been lied to, that war, in and of itself, is pointless. She has broken out of her cage. At the same time, Falco admits he indirectly helped Eren, essentially that he is the reason the Liberio was so successful. Also, he admitted that he loves Gabi because he might turn into a titan from Zeke’s scream. Zeke continues protecting Eren, seeing what seems to be Pieck’s titan corpse laying on the wall. Soldiers surround it cheering but realize none of them were the ones to kill her. Guns fire from within the smoke of the skeleton, and commander Magath takes his one chance at killing the man who betrayed him. Zeke’s titan falls, but the kill can’t be confirmed. Reiner runs to stop Eren, and Falco, Gabi, and Colt run to stop Zeke from screaming. Cut to black. Essentially, Eren’s plan has been jeopardized, Mikasa has become more independent-minded, Gabi realizes her status as an Eldian, and Falco’s life is in the balance.
Episode 78: “Two Brothers”
Although Zeke appears dead, Eren continues moving forward. Porco attempts to stop him and is nearly killed in the process, only saved by yet another timely shot from Magath. Pieck is attacked by Falco and his friends, while Mikasa, Armin, and the rest of the scouts take care of the ground troops. Zeke wakes up inside of his titan, barely alive, and sees Eren losing a fight to Reiner. Zeke prepares to scream, but Colt and Falco come just in time, telling him of the news concerning Falco. The scene is a selfish masterpiece, Zeke prioritizing his brother, putting down Falco and Colt, Porco and Marcel. Zeke crosses the line, purposefully killing a child he was friends with for his own motives. Falco and countless others transform, in one of the most heartbreaking scenes ever in Attack on Titan. In the ultimate selfish act, Zeke commands the transformed Falco to kill yet another person who was once his friend, Reiner. Eren escapes from Reiners grasp, and the rabid Falco tries to kill Reiner. Zeke is shot again by Pieck, but before they can shoot again, Mikasa and Armin explode the cannon. In a moment of clarity, Reiner considers letting Falco eat him, but before he can, Porco sacrifices himself. Eren leaves his titan form, running for Zeke. Thunder spears stop Reiner, but at the last second, Gabi shoots, and Eren’s head leaves his body. Cut to black, cut to flashback. Eren and Zeke talking about their plans. Eren says he will put an end to 2000 years of titan domination, but as we know, that is a ploy. Cutting back to Shiganshina, Eren’s head falls into Zeke’s outstretched hand. In a series of memories leading back in time centering around Mikasa, Armin, and Ymir, Eren comes to the coordinate. The center point. Zeke sits in chains. He’s been there for years it seems, yet everything happens in an instant. Ymir walks forward as Zeke explains, just as she created his body out of sand, she has created every titan with the same sand. Zeke pleads to Eren to go through with the euthanization plan, but Eren refuses. Armin was right. Yet, Ymir does not give Eren power. She sits, and Zeke breaks his chain. He does not have the first king’s blood. He has nullified the vow renouncing war. Zeke has the founder’s power. Eren is in chains. Impassioned, Zeke attempts to use the power to change Erens mind. Their foreheads connect, a flash emanates, and the screen cuts to black.