The wait is over! The pilot episode of Attack on Titan’s final season is a blast from start to finish, and I must say they outdid even the very first episode of season 1. But before we begin to breakdown the scenes, let me clarify one thing.
I did not fully read the manga, and thus, for the first time, my review will only be based on what the anime will show. I do have knowledge of later events and characters that will happen in the show, but without all the information the manga has provided, I will review this season as if I have no knowledge of the source material. Therefore, there might be some conflict in my opinion if you compare it to the manga. Now let us refresh ourselves of season 3’s finale.
In the last episode, our heroes prepares for the inevitable conflict with Marley, the kingdom that defeated the once mighty and proud nation of Eldia, the original owner of the Titan powers. With Erwin’s death, the Survey Corps is now led by Hange Zoe, and they vowed to carry the late captain’s wishes. In the end, Eren and the gang finally reaches the shore of Paradis Island with Eren’s final words wondering, in a really creepy manner, if eradicating their enemies is the only way they can find peace.
Episode 1 of the final season begins unexpectedly: a war between Marleyan and the Middle Eastern Federation. Right from the get-go, we are smack dabbed in the middle of a World War Two-esque battlefield. And it is extremely brutal and violent. This stands out in contrast to the beginning of season 1, where everyone initially lived peacefully until the Titans invaded.
The parallels and contrasts between this episode is interesting. Much like Eren, Falco is introduced after waking up from a dream, though it was never shown. And the battle involves walls and Titans, though this time the Titans are assaulting a military fort instead of a whole city.
But that’s where the similarities end, as we will soon learn. Falco is not as overzealous as Eren. He is, for lack of a better word, a character who looks like he is not cut out for war, as evident when he needed to be save by another soldier. Gabi, meanwhile, is an exact opposite of Mikasa. While our favorite badass heroine is stoic and only shows emotions around Eren, Gabi is anything but. She is loud, arrogant, overly confident, and a little vain. But she is smart, and somewhat like both Eren and Mikasa, is willing to prove herself.
The introduction of the agile but powerful Jaw Titan is epic, and we can see that he will be a formidable opponent for our heroes back in Paradis Island. Galliard, the owner of the Jaw Titan’s power, is not shown. But we can determine from Falco and Gabi’s admiration that he is a respectable warrior.
With the addition of these new characters comes three familiar faces. The Cart Titan, Pieck, appears once again, now with a functional backpack with machine-gun turrets. Her arrival makes her more than just an ammunition carrier, this time participating at the frontline. Then we have Reiner, older and obviously more experienced. At this point, nine years has passed since the first invasion of Paradis. And we can see how those nine years have changed him. This is no longer the indecisive and guilt-ridden holder of the Armored Titan. This is now a battle-hardened and tougher Reiner who is a full-fledged Marleyan warrior.
Arriving after Reiner is, of course, Zeke, the fearsome Beast Titan. And much like Reiner, this is an older Zeke. More ruthless, more sure of what he wants. Back in season 3, we saw how Levi nearly killed him if not for Pieck. And it is quite obvious that his failures has only served to strengthen his resolve.
One of the many things I liked in this pilot episode is how we finally saw how a real Marleyan invasion and military operation happens. Back in the previous three seasons, their strategy merely consisted of getting an insurmountable number of Titans inside the walls of their target and let these mindless minions do the work. But in this episode, we are treated with the sight of more complex strategy from taking out key enemy assets all the way to airdropping a full horde of Titans.
Perhaps that’s because Paradis is never technologically advanced enough to warrant these strategies, unlike the Middle Eastern Federation with their armed trains and ships equipped with anti-Titan cannons. But therein lies the fun thing—this has proven that the power of Titans is not absolute, and a nation can resist them for a time if they have the proper equipment. Of course, with the latest developments in the manga, that notion has been challenged at last.
The voice acting is marvelous as always, with the new cast portraying their roles excellently. Natsuki Hanae, known for voicing Tanjiro and Kaneki, has pulled off Falco very well. But it is definitely Sakura Ayane who took the spotlight for this episode. Famous for voicing a lot of roles, including Ochaco from My Hero Academia and Yotsuba in The Quintessential Quintuplets, she has portrayed Gabi’s personality in a really good way. This is just the first episode, but I can very much say that she can carry the role until the end.
Animation-wise, a lot of people are saying that it is not as good as Wit Studio. But I humbly disagree. The color palette and shading might be soft and not as gritty as Wit Studio did, but the animation is almost incomparable. I honestly didn’t notice any difference, and dare I say it, MAPPA even made the action scenes slightly better. Even the CGI is not bad either. But of course, this is still the first episode, and it is too early to judge the season. So for this episode alone, I’d say MAPPA did one hell of a good job.
As far as music goes, both the opening and ending credits are less spoiler-filled compared to the previous ones. Instead, MAPPA opted for a more subtle and symbolic imagery, which combined with the songs, makes for a haunting melody.
With just 16 episodes confirmed, a lot of things can go wrong in the adaptation and some scenes might be skipped. However, this episode is very well-paced with incredible cinematography and script. Isayama, the creator of Attack on Titan, is overseeing the final season. So we can say that it is in good hands. Overall, this episode is epic from start to finish and deserves a perfect 10/10.