Attack on Titan: Final Season Part 2 (Review)
Hey, thanks for stopping by Mono's Anime Rants. It's finally time to review the latest season of Attack on Titan. Below these intro paragraphs, you can find links to the reviews of previous seasons at my old WordPress blog. But today we're only focusing on Final Season Part 2, which aired from January to April 2022. (Note: This is also sometimes referred to as Attack on Titan Season 4 Part 2.)
In the Final Season Part 2, Eren begins the Rumbling, a devastating Titan attack that will wipe out the majority of human civilization. This season finally gives us the answers to several questions, including what Eren has been planning, why he chose to do it, the origin story of the Titan powers, and more. Today's post will not be an in-depth review of all the interesting and controversial content in this season. It's simply a brief review of five categories to give you a general sense of the quality of these episodes. Let's get started!
Warning: Possible spoilers for AOT Final Season Part 2!
Links to Previous AOT Reviews
AOT Final Season Part 1 Review
-AOT Final Season Part 2 Review-
Visuals Category: 6/10
When studio MAPPA took over production of AOT, the visual quality dropped dramatically. While I still wouldn't call the art and animation bad overall, it's not really good either. It's just average. There is little movement in this anime, so the characters don't look very "alive." There are action scenes, but they are mostly still-shots with different camera angles and action lines. This is severely disappointing after the dynamic, fluid movement we saw in AOT Season 3. (That was when Wit studio was still in charge.) The Titans are sometimes animated with extremely cheap and bad-looking CGI.
The colors in this season seem pretty washed out, and there are not many cases of pretty or creative lighting. Although the face expressions are detailed with a lot of linework and shading, they are also way over-the-top most of the time. Exaggerated expressions on faces full of line shadows may not be a style that everyone likes. Personally though, I kind of like the intense faces.
Story Category: 10/10
In stark contrast to the visuals, the story was absolutely amazing. No story is completely perfect, but AOT has reached the point where I can't easily imagine it being crafted better. The story category includes many different elements, but today we'll stick with four: plot, pacing, lore or world-building, and themes. This season of AOT had an exciting and detailed plot. I haven't found any obvious, gaping plot holes. There were plot twists that caught me off guard, although I'm sure there are people who found them predictable, too. Plot pacing was also good, so I never got bored.
The lore expansion in this season was significant and the exposition was blended well. Everything we learned was extremely interesting to me, such as the origin of the Titan power and the surprising ability of the Attack Titan to reach across time. Finally, the most powerful story elements were the themes. The main themes included the cycle of violence, prejudice, the question of fate or free will, and the "demons" that live inside humanity. There were a few positive themes too, such as redemption, perseverance, friendship, and self-assertion. I could continue gushing about the profound thematic elements and other aspects that make up this amazing story, but let's keep it brief and move on.
Audio Category: 9/10
The Japanese voice-acting continued being just as awesome in AOT Final Season Part 2 as in previous seasons. If the voice-acting direction style has changed since the studio switch, I haven't noticed it. I'm not going to nerd out over all the famous and talented seiyuu, but here are just a few of prominent voices: Yuuki Kaji as Eren Yeager, Ayane Sakura as Gabi Braun, Romi Park as Zoe Hange, and Takehito Koyasu as Zeke. They all have extensive experience in voice-acting and their voices are unforgettable.
Next is music and songs. Some scores from the OST were composed by Hiroyuki Sawano, an incredibly talented music writer known for a variety of famous anime soundtracks. His style is unique but cinematic. Most of the Sawano music in this season was recycled from earlier seasons of AOT, but they all sound amazing, so I don't think anyone can complain. As for the rest of the OST, it was composed by Kohta Yamamoto, who also did the music for Final Season Part 1. He doesn't have as much experience, and his style can't compare to Sawano. However, I still enjoyed his music and I look forward to more from him in the future.
The opening song for this season is "The Rumbling" by SiM. It was written specifically for Attack on Titan. I enjoy the song, but for those who don't like some level of metal, it won't be good listening. Then there's the ending song, "Akuma no Ko" by Ai Higuchi, which also seems to have been written with AOT in mind. This is my favorite anime song of the year, hands down. It's absolutely beautiful and the lyrics seem to be about Eren's perspective. He justifies the carnage he causes because it will ultimately protect the future of his home and friends. Yet at the same time, he admits he is "akumo no ko," a demon child. I love this song!!
Characters Category: 9/10
This is another category where AOT has always shined, and the pattern continues in the Final Season Part 2. There are no new characters introduced, so instead, there is plenty of good and interesting development for the characters we already know. Because there are so many characters by this late point in the series, there wasn't time for absolutely everyone to have a meaningful moment. Still, with what time was available, this season did an excellent job providing character development. I won't go into much detail for the purposes of keeping the review brief, but a few examples of character progress and insights are mentioned below.
1) The most hated AOT character ever, Gabi Braun, is actually an interesting and well-written character. In this season, she has several redemptive moments where she reflects on the wrongs she's done and shows signs of improvement. She's growing out of the prejudice she was indoctrinated with as well as the vengeful hatred that was personal to her.
2) Annie Leonheart finally woke up from her five-year slumber, and we got to know the reasons for her determination. Her story with her adoptive father was intense and emotional.
3) We continued to understand Yelena better in this season too. The revelations about her true history were of interest to me, as was her character psychology. Her plans have fallen apart, and she has nothing left.
4) The character of Ymir the Founder was fascinating as all hell. I can't believe they managed to communicate the heart of her character in just half an episode of flashbacks.
5) Last but not least, I must mention the infamous Eren Yeager. In this season, we finally got to understand his true motivations and the meaning behind his plan. Eren is a divisive character, with much of the fanbase finding him irredeemable, and others feeling unable to blame him for his choices. Whether you like Eren enough, the truth is that he did something unforgivable. However, it's also true that he did it to protect what he loves, and not out of cruelty.
That's more than enough about characters for now.
Personal Enjoyment Level: 9/10
When I first watched AOT Final Season Part 2, I hadn't been spoiled about what happened, nor had I read to that point in the manga. I believe this raised my enjoyment level quite a bit. (Incidentally, I have now read the manga through the end.) The suspense I felt was thrilling. The excitement of Annie's return was significant. There were many other things I enjoyed in this season too, including learning about Ymir the Founder and Eren's ability to effect the past. I loved the audio, especially the music by Hiroyuki Sawano and the ending song by Ai Higuchi.
Additionally, I loved the moments that showed the themes of the show and interesting character development at the same time. An example was the scene in the woods, when everyone has met up and is trying to get along under Hange's command. There was some really interesting discussion about vengeance, prejudice, grief, and the need for human compassion. I didn't mention Jean in the characters section, but it's worth saying that I highly appreciated the character development for him, too. I could go on and on about what I enjoyed in this season of AOT, but I think that's enough examples for a short review.
Overall Score: 8.6/10.0
The overall score is calculated by taking the average of the five scores for the categories above. While 8.6 is a very high score for any ordinary anime, it's a bit low for an AOT score. For comparison, in my review of Attack on Titan Season 3 part 2, the overall score was 9.2. The reason for the drop in the score was the subpar visual category. That threw off the average by a lot.
Speaking of score, this season of AOT is currently enjoying a rating of 8.78 on MAL. A little over half a million people voted on it. I'm pleasantly surprised by this high rating. A lot of people didn't like the ending of the AOT manga for the dark direction it went with Eren's character (or other reasons). In addition, a lot more people complained about the bad art and animation since the studio switched from Wit to MAPPA. Considering those facts, it's shocking to see a score this high on MAL. I'm glad for it though. That wraps up the review.
Thank you for reading~