I want to start this off on a lighthearted tone by asking why they thought the most literal title was the best course of action for naming the season. I mean it makes sense, sure. But ‘Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2’ doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue that well.
Picking off from the events of the first half, Season 3 Part 2 (which I’ll just call Part 2 from now on) has us watch our protagonists of the Survey Corps years after the initial event of the series finally return home and find out what secrets lie in the basement of the Yeager family home.
Action, suspense, tactics, and lots and lots of lore are what Part 2 is all about. Harking back to the days of horror as the overwhelming pressure of these massive, naked beings takes hold, the two parts of Part 2 can be easily divided into the battle for the Shinganshina District and the truth of what lies in the basement, both of which acting as the series’ earliest goals. It’s this clear, defined setup of dynamic and calculated action from two tactical fronts leading into the payoff of answers that has kept only the anime watchers in suspense for about six years that drives the show into this grand spectacle that culminates everything the series has shown us thus far.
Personally, I think the Battle for Shinganshina is well worth the price of admission and is far better and exciting than what comes afterwards. The battle on the wall is ultimately a battle of tactics and adaptation mixed with genuine fear and the dangers of war. Here, everything from the voicework to the animation is top notch as two different fronts are being battled upon, accomplishing a multitude of goals which is made even better due to how often the Survey Corps is forced to adapt due to the changing tide of battle. It’s also the one part of the series thus far that really puts into perspective how this war has impacted humanity and just how many lives were lost. The story told during this battle is so viscerally detailed that I find it difficult to look away at how much the stakes mean for the characters putting what little value their lives have on the line for the greater majority.
In stark contrast, the payoff for such an amazing battle worms its way as the secret in the basement, which reveals itself to be a massive lore dump told through the perspective of Eren’s dad. Now I like lore; it expands the world and the world expansion done for AoT thus far has been pretty good all things considered. However AoT has had a habit of making its lore EXTREMELY weighty.
The world building this time only has about three to four episodes allotted to it, and is extremely dense in both its presentation and how it all ties into what we already now. In essence, the world building reveals to us an entirely new section of the story that’s only been hinted at before, an entire character backstory for Eren’s dad, and more on the lore of the titans. It’s surprisingly well-paced for what it’s telling, but it’s a staggering amount of details to take in. Part of me wishes there was a little more down time or just runtime in general to get everything in neatly, but I suppose the team was on a time crunch to get it out as it is in preparation for the finale.
Overall though, I really do like what AoT has done for itself in this passing season. Tactical and action packed battles mixed in with answered questions makes this a very, very satisfying season to watch for those who’ve caught up with the story thus far. My only concern now is how the series is going to continue moving forward. I fear large loredumps due to their natural tendency to lose the viewer’s focus and sprout an entirely new setup that feels foreign to everything else before it. With its incoming ‘Final Season’, a fear of mine now is that AoT is going to start muddying itself with its own story and collapse under the weight of its own world due to just how many facets of it now exist within its story, a likely result given how now the protagonists are turning towards their ‘true’ enemy after all of this. And this is a threat that Eren and the others have never met before, and that’s why I’m worried.
Character’s a bit of a hard subject in AoT now due to its vast amount of characters and increasing body count. As far as arcs go, exploration goes towards Erwin during the Battle for Shinganshina and both the mysterious Beast Titan and Grisha Yeager during the reveal of the basement. Most of the character time I feel is really only to fill in the blanks and help with developing the next part. It’s useful and at least for Erwin’s part definitely helps to give weight to his character and the impact he’s had over the course of the entire series. However because the series has for the most part always been a story-based series, characters individually are given less of a limelight.
This becomes a more abundant fact when Mikasa, Armin, and Eren serve roles that fit the current narrative rather than being the protagonists. I’ve never been against these three not taking the mantel (far from it especially when Historia was concerned), but with regards to how the series has treated them these past couple seasons, I’ve honestly become a lot less invested in who they are beyond what they established at the beginning of the season at the idea of them finally ‘Returning Home’.
Thank you Wit Studio for taking the time to really give it your all this season. I was kinda upset when they announced that there was going to be a seasonal split into a ‘Part 1’ and ‘Part 2’ for Season 3, but seeing what they did, I’m actually really happy they decided to do it.
Apart from the Colossal Titan’s model and the horses at times, everything in this series is hand drawn to the style in such a way that I am basically climaxing at the sheer magnitude of quality. If there was any other reason to say why the Shinganshina Battle is my favorite arc for this series, this would be it. The constant closeups, the sheer terror on the characters’ faces, lightning effects, dust clouds, shrapnel, massive property damage, slow down freeze frames of characters with ODM, Levi once again doing super extra and dramatic slicing shots, all happening during such a moment of pure do or die. More so than anything, the art is just an outward, uncensored display of war. You see the bloody carnage for what it is, and the haunting feeling of seeing it drawn in the anime is a feat that Wit needs to be commended for.
And because it seems like we’re just pulling all of the Season 1 cards today, “Shoukei to Shikabane no Michi”, Linked Horizon’s OP for this season of the show, feels like a massive throwback to the first OP as well as a multitude of different OPs and even a couple EDs that’s been featured over the course of the series. Personally I think it’s a lot less coherent of a song than its predecessors due to its varying mix of styles and tones, but the mashup idea is pretty cool nonetheless.
Cinema staff’s “Name of Love” is very much the opposite as its more somber and appropriately ‘homely’ feel is a massive tone shift as it puts into perspective the hell the protagonists have seen the moment they joined the war against the titans. I prefer the ED to its OP counterpart, especially since the ED treats us to even more Season 1 nostalgia with snapshots in reference to the days when they were in bootcamp just for that extra little kick in the nuts.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not a massive AoT fan. Honestly, I thought the series was overhyped and borderline comical due to how many characters the show spit out only to be offed later on as mooks or sacrifices for the war. It wasn’t until now that the series outright tells the unnamed soldiers while they’re backed to a corner, “You’re not returning home. This will be your grave. But don’t die cowering in fear, die as a soldier fighting for humanity’s freedom.” And that’s when my opinion of the series really changed.
I used to really think that Historia’s arc was the high point of the series, but boy was I fucking wrong. The tone I think is really the series’s main selling point. It’s typical ‘facing adversity’ that’s standard fare for shonen series, but it’s the presentation and vivid imagery of do or die that makes that message really stand out. Not only that, but the Battle for Shinganshina is really THE culmination for the series’s journey and it’s this one arc that really sells me on this series as a whole because of how it stands as the climax for the heroes’ journey through all of the shit happening in Wall Maria.
I can’t really recommend a 4th installation for a series that at this point is only for devoted fans, so I’ll just say this as my closing statement: I hope this doesn’t crash and burn. You have built my expectations for this coming conflict to be so good, by god do not let your own now massive world building be the thing that bests you.