In its final season, ‘Attack on Titan changes sides to reveal the big picture. One of the most successful anime series of the last decade has replaced its protagonists with brand-new characters from the opposite side of the plot.
Even after agonizing delays between seasons and perplexing shifts in production studios, we’ve finally arrived at the beginning of the end for Attack on Titan (which is simulcast on Hulu). But, in its final season, how does the hugely successful anime follow up a series of earth-shattering revelations about its setting and the origin of the titular giant humanoid Titans? By thrusting us towards the other side of the argument, it feels as though we’re watching a totally different film.
Attack on Titan has been posing the same question for three seasons: “Who is the enemy?” “The Other Side of the Sea,” the series’ fourth season opener, reveals the series’ final goal: The true villain is institutionalized bigotry, which perpetuates a never-ending cycle of abuse and suffering.
It accomplishes this by plunging us into yet another war between the nation of Marley and the Eldian people, focusing on an entirely new cast of characters, mainly Indians, serving as Marley Empire troops in a campaign to take down a previously unseen Middle Eastern Alliance fort.
After Season 3 of Attack on Titan successfully answered the series’ central question—that the swarms of Titans roaming beyond city walls are actually people turned into man-eating monsters sent by the enemy nation of Marley to hold the people of Paradis Island trapped and afraid—the final season reset the clock and moved to an entirely new chapter that is still linked to the series’ central question.
They tried their hardest to live up to the brainwashing they’d got from generations of anti-Eldian propaganda. At three episodes in, this season is already doing an excellent job of depicting the effects of institutionalized hate by a nation fearful of a segment of its population’s ability to turn into Titans, as well as nationalism-driven warfare that uses Eldian people as tools to hold the rest of the planet in the Marley Empire’s grasp.
It makes no difference that Gabi jumps right into the line of fire to prove her worth as a Marley soldier; the military officers continue to use Eldian-only power on the front lines and take great pleasure in sending people to their deaths.
No matter how much has changed, this show is still as thrilling, terrifying, action-packed, and nuanced in its themes as it was when it first premiered. Attack on Titan has slowly raised the stakes, becoming a much darker show, and this final season teases what might be the anime’s most thrilling chapter yet.