Review for Attack on Titan: Season Three Part Two
I don’t think I can overstate just how much I have been looking forward to this particular instalment of Attack on Titan. I may not have been too keen on the show when I first saw it (mostly because my preconceptions were dashed as it wasn’t a sci-fi set on Saturn’s largest moon) but this tale of humanity surviving against desperate odds, and man eating giants really grew on me. Most significantly, since the series began, and the human race lost access to the outer ring of their triple walled country, we’ve been tantalised with the promise of the truth behind this world, hidden in the basement of a house in that outer, lost ring of land. Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2 is where we finally return to that lost village and learn these long lost secrets. At least I hope it is; there is still one more season of the Attack on Titan anime to come after this one.
A hundred years previously, the Titans came. No one knows from where, or what they wanted; giant naked beasts in human form, with no other thought or instinct than to hunt and devour humans. There was no defence, no comprehending these mindless enemies. Humanity was almost wiped out, the few survivors seeking refuge in a small parcel of land, defended by fifty meter high walls, higher than any known Titan. And so mankind has endured in relative safety for the last hundred years, a small enclave in what used to be their world. Dreaming of the outside world has become a taboo, understandable when the few military expeditions sent out to reclaim lost territory always come back having suffered devastating losses.
That doesn’t stop the young from dreaming of a free world, and friends Eren Jaeger and Arwin Arlelt long for the day that they can explore the world that they’ve been denied all their lives. It’s only the pragmatism of their friend Mikasa Ackerman that keeps their wild dreams in check. Eren’s mother certainly wouldn’t hear of him joining the Scouts that venture outside the walls and suffer such devastating losses. Then the Titans return, heralded by a previously unknown Colossal Titan that towers over the perimeter walls, with an Armored Titan that breaches those walls to let the rest of the man-eaters in. Suddenly, humanity is forced to retreat from its own, meagre remaining territory once more, pushed back from the lands bounded by the outer wall Maria, to the inner boundary of Wall Rose. And Eren’s left with an unfathomable desire for vengeance, to slaughter every last remaining Titan and reclaim the world.
Five years later, the three friends have graduated military training with flying colours, and have shunned the prestigious military police, the comparatively safe guards, to sign up for the Scouts, but they have no time to settle into their new roles as humanity’s vanguard, when the Colossal Titan reappears at Wall Rose, and the Titan onslaught resumes. This time Eren will get payback, this time Eren will have his revenge, but there’s something about Eren that no-one knows, not even Eren himself. It transpires that Eren might just be the weapon against the Titans that humanity needs, or he might just be the biggest threat that humanity faces. The battle for survival continues in this third season of Attack on Titan, and if you thought there weren’t any more shocking secrets to be revealed, think again. Ten more episodes are presented across two discs from Manga Entertainment.
50.The Town Where Everything Began
51. Thunder Spears
53. Perfect Game
55. Midnight Sun
56. The Basement
57. That Day
58. Attack Titan
59. The Other Side of the Wall
Attack on Titan gets a 1.78:1 widescreen transfer at 1080p resolution, on two dual layer discs. The image is clear and sharp throughout, with no visible aliasing or compression. Even the perennial problem of digital banding is kept to a minimum here, really only restricted to darker scenes.
Attack on Titan’s visual aesthetic is astounding, and comes to life with impressive impact on Blu-ray. The character designs are typical anime, but are drawn with bold outlines and shadow detail to make them stand out against the backgrounds. Those backgrounds are detailed and stylish, evoking that pseudo-mediaeval feel with North and Central European architecture. The show also uses a diminished colour palette, eschewing the bright and primary (except for blood), and opting instead for autumnal, pastel shades. On top of that the animation is excellent, detailed, fluid, and atmospheric. The aerial action sequences have to be seen to be believed. The Spider-man movies should take a leaf from Attack on Titan.
You have the choice between Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Stereo Japanese and 5.1 Surround English, with translated subtitles and a signs only track locked during playback. I went with the Japanese audio as always, and was happy enough with original voice actor performances, suitably histrionic for such an over the top show. What I sampled of the English dub was acceptable enough, with the actors rising up to the dramatic challenge. Certainly the 5.1 up-mix from Funimation really does enhance the show’s dynamic action sequences, and it’s a shame that the Japanese audio couldn’t have been mastered in surround for a change. Alas not a lot of Japanese television gets the surround treatment in Japan. Manga Entertainment return to the Attack on Titan franchise after Season 2 was released by Sony, and this time they are using Funimation’s discs (well, Funimation own Manga now so it would be daft if they didn’t) and there are no problems with the subtitling.
The discs boot to animated menus, and you get the Marathon Play option if you wish to forego credit sequences.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for Funimation Now.
There is a commentary on episode 55, with ADR Director Mike McFarland, Matt Shipman (Floch), J. Michael Tatum (Erwin), and Trina Nishimura (Mikasa).
Disc 2 begins with a video commentary from ADR Director Mike McFarland, Josh Grelle (Armin), and David Matranga (Bertholdt)
Episode 59 has an audio commentary from Mike McFarland, Josh Grelle, and Bryn Apprill (Historia).
You get the Chibi Theater “Go Get ‘Em, New Levi Squad!” shorts which last 6:55.
The Eyecatch Gallery translates the text on those ad bumper cards in the middle of each episode.
Finally you get the textless credits.
This bit is going to be short, and quite understandably so. In fact I am exceedingly glad that I’m not going to write much here in my effort to avoid spoilers, as in this collection of episodes, there are so many epic developments in the main storyline alone, and that’s before we get to the twists and revelations that are revealed when Eren does, finally return home, and finds what’s hidden in the family basement. We’re talking M. Night Shyamalan level twists; we’re talking revelations that make “that moment” in Dark City look tame. I was thrilled, I was blown away, and I was truly excited in just how Attack on Titan managed to subvert expectations yet live up to all the promises that it had been making since the first episode, with its intricate world building, and engrossing story-telling. What happens in this collection of episodes changes everything, indeed, I think the show’s genre just changed as well. Attack on Titan is no longer the survival horror that you ‘grew up’ with.
Attack on Titan’s strengths have been the impeccable storytelling, the brilliant characters, and the amazing animation. It’s the perfect package in many respects, and once more, this collection of episodes reminds you that no one is safe in this world. No matter which character you invest in, which hero you pick, there’s no guarantee that they will make it to the end credits. Yet you can’t help but get invested in the characters, and what they go through, which make it absolutely compelling to watch. There are plenty of moments in this collection which will have you at the edge of your seat, and it’s not just in terms of action. There are moments of pure drama that can break your heart.
There is so much more that I want to mention regarding this collection that I just can’t. It’s those pesky spoilers. The direction this show goes in terms of allegory is so on point and relevant that it bears great discussion. But I can’t talk about it. But if you have been watching Attack on Titan to this point, you have to see this release. The characters really do come into their own, dreams are attained, but twisted with reality, triumphs are tainted with tragedy, and the seeds are sown for an absolutely epic conclusion to the story. But you know, even if the Final Season can’t live up to these expectations, Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2 stands up as a perfect moment in anime storytelling.