Attack on Titan is an anime that fans just can’t seem to get enough of. Even though the series has been airing for nine years, it still has just as much hype around it as it did when it first premiered, if not more. And as we near the finale of the series, the excitement continues to build. The second part of season four of Attack on Titan was nothing short of absolutely spectacular. From the captivating storytelling to the changing relationships between characters, and the exhilarating fight scenes, these past 11 episodes encapsulate just what makes the series so successful. Part two provided many answers to questions that fans have been wondering about for the past three seasons while yielding multiple surprising plot twists at the same time. As thrilling as part two was to watch, it was just as equally thought-provoking and emotional. And let's not forget the killer opening by SiM, which foreshadowed just how electrifying and phenomenal part two would be.
Memories of the Future
The most mind-boggling episode from part two of the series was easily “Memories of the Future.” In this episode, Zeke and Eren walk through some of Eren’s most important memories in an attempt to show Eren how he has been brainwashed by their father. However, PLOT TWIST, it turns out Eren was the one who brainwashed Grisha to kill the Reiss family and steal the founding titan. Both the audience and Zeke were completely stunned by this plot twist. It was thought that Grisha did all these terrible things at his own will, but it was Eren pulling the strings the whole time. Upon watching the episode when it aired, I was so confused about what was going on, so my reaction was about the same as Zeke’s. It wasn’t until I rewatched it, that I understood what it all meant. We also learn that Eren’s titan, the attack titan, has a special ability that only he possesses: Eren can see memories from the future, hence the title of the episode. Not only does this new ability explain everything that led up to this moment, but it opens more doors for fan theories about what could happen next.
Previously, we only knew that those who inherit one of the nine titans have the memories of all the past titan-shifters, however, Eren’s special ability is a game-changer. It shows that from the moment he kissed Historia’s hand four years prior, he knew exactly what was going to happen in the future, including the war with Marley and the rumbling. The episodes from here on out show just how thoughtful Eren had to be to plan out everything he did so that he could complete his plan of enacting the rumbling. This episode had me on the edge of my seat, watching the suspenseful exposition unfold. I thought to myself, “Dang, Eren’s really bada** right now.” It’s no wonder this episode was rated a 9.9/10 on IMDB, it’s truly invigorating to watch and is an episode I would rewatch again and again. Though, I could say that about the entire season.
From You, 2000 Years Ago
The episode “From You, 2000 Years Ago”, starts off right where the last episode ended, and we see Grisha’s titan murder the Reiss family. Then, another plot twist: As Zeke is still observing Grisha’s memories of that night, Grisha somehow can see Zeke there with him. Sobbing, Grisha apologizes to him and tells him that Eren will get what he wants, and that Zeke needs to stop him. It’s a sorrowful and bone-chilling moment for both of them, as neither Zeke nor the audience understands how Grisha can see him. Zeke and Eren then talk about how Eren manipulated Grisha by only showing him certain memories that would make him do what Eren wanted. After realizing that Eren was behind the curtain, controlling everything, Zeke instructs Ymir to rid Eldians of the ability to reproduce, which she mindlessly obeys as she starts to walk towards the coordinate to carry out the order.
The episode then transitions to a flashback, and we finally see the full story of Ymir’s past and how she became the founding titan. We see the injustices she faced both from King Fritz and from her own village. It’s a truly disturbing story, considering that she was enslaved as a child, forced to bear the King’s children, was fed to them, and then continued to be a slave creating titans for 2000 years. It wasn’t until Eren arrived in the paths and freed her from her eternal bondage.
He tells her for the first time in 2000 years, that she’s not a slave or a god, but a person. He asks for her power, to end all the suffering and hate that has been caused because of the titans. And, being exhausted from being a slave for so long, Ymir finally makes a choice for herself and gives Eren the power of the founding titan, which means he can finally start the rumbling. The colossal titans are freed from the walls, and Eldia lies unprotected against not only titans running around, but the world. The episode ends with a grim message from Eren to all Eldians around the globe, that he’s on his way to destroy every living thing on Earth that isn’t on Paradis Island. You think you know what’s going on in this episode, but then it repeatedly shifts gears and does something unexpected. While we knew Ymir’s background somewhat, it was still horrific to actually see her story on screen. We see her more as a person rather than just a figure in an old story. You really have to take it all in after the episode ends because it’s packed with exposition, dialogue, and action. It flips the direction of the season from fighting Marley to the rumbling’s execution and the world joining hands to stop it.
To Like or Not to Like Eren…That is the Question
It’s not common to have a character act as both a protagonist and an antagonist at the same time. For three seasons (and how many years???), we have rooted for Eren and his quest to eliminate all the titans, but in season four, it’s not so easy to support him. Even though he’s still fighting for freedom and eventual peace, it’s hard to justify the means of genocide in doing so. Yes, he’s enacting genocide to try and allow his friends to live long and happy lives, but at the same time, he’s killing billions of innocent people who have nothing to do with Marley and Eldia. Even his friends have trouble trying to pick whose side they’re on. They want to support and trust Eren, but they can’t get behind global genocide. This type of harsh, internal conflict isn’t common in anime I’ve watched before, at least not to such a large scale. Support genocide to be on your friend's side or fight to stop your friend. It’s no secret that they might have to kill Eren to stop him too, but Armin, Mikasa, Connie, and Jean don’t want to admit it out loud. It seems like such an obvious choice to stand up to Eren, but the characters still struggle to make the choice. I appreciate that the writers allowed the characters to have this conflict. It feels more realistic, and it shows how much they care for their friend and how much they want to do the right thing at the same time. Eventually, though, they decide to leave Paradis and chase after him at the end of part two, hoping that they can stop him before he destroys the entire world. Once they catch up to him, I’m sure there’s going to be a huge, emotional confrontation between Eren and his close friends.
In the last episode, “The Dawn of Humanity”, Eren asks Mikasa how she feels about him. Frustratingly, Mikasa hides her feelings for him and says that she views him as family, to which I’m sure he was disappointed to hear. This moment is crucial during the episode, it shows that Eren was still undecided on if he should enact the rumbling or not. Because of her answer, he did enact it. If she would have said her true feelings, however, he might have decided to run away and live the four years he has left of his life with her. It all depended on this moment, and I truly feel that he would have preferred her to lament her true feelings to him. It was a very intimate moment, both for the characters and the audience. From what I can remember, this is the first time Eren and Mikasa have had a conversation about their relationship and feelings for each other. It’s about time! For years I’ve been wondering if they’ll ever confess their feelings for each other. Maybe if we’re lucky, there will be some sort of closure in their relationship in part three.
To say MAPPA did an outstanding job with season four of Attack on Titan is an understatement. They blew everyone’s expectations away with their excellent use of CGI and the art style they used, which was slightly different and more expressive than the previous three seasons. They also showed off how intense and emotional their use of writing can be, by having the characters struggle to make really difficult decisions and to choose sides they never thought they would be choosing. They really encapsulated all the qualities that make the series so entertaining and engaging in this season. They had big expectations to live up to with season four and they sure are living up to them. There’s not a doubt in my mind that they will work just as hard and do a spectacular job on the third part as they did for the first two.
Images: MAPPA, MAPPA