‘Attack On Titan: The Final Chapters (Part 2)’ review: the battle of Heaven and Earth
Warning: Spoilers below
When Attack On Titan debuted its heavily hyped fourth and final season back in 2020, none of us dreamed that it would take three years to wrap up. In terms of quality, the popular anime has delivered banger after banger across these last 28 episodes and two supersized specials. Yet, the show’s inconsistent release schedule has tested even the most diehard fans’ patience, leading to waning interest instead of feverish anticipation.
Nevertheless, here we are in 2023, and we’re finally getting the TV adaptation of Hajime Isayama’s controversial final chapters. So, did the anime change the manga’s ending to appease fan outrage? Not at all. Mileage will vary on how Attack On Titan’s pessimistic take on human nature is digested among viewers. But did this final episode at least deliver an epic conclusion? Oh yes, it certainly did.
This feature-length climax drops us right in the middle of “The Battle of Heaven and Earth” as the surviving members of Paradis’ Scout Regiment and Marley’s Eldian Warrior Unit put aside generations of conflict to make a last stand against Eren and his horde of Colossal Titans at Fort Salta. Since Eren has already wiped out 80% of the planet’s population, defeating him might be a pyrrhic victory.
But our rag-tag crew are determined to face impossible odds and save what’s left of humanity. The action sequences on display here are some of the best work MAPPA has ever done on the show (and that’s a really high bar). Watching Mikasa, Levi, Connie and Jean swooping in and out with their ODM gear has never been more exhilarating. Their death-defying acrobatics are only matched by the spectacular Titan on Titan action – as Reiner, Pieck, Annie and Falco push their Titan forms to the limit against Eren’s endless army.
The way the series finale ebbs and flows between swells of badass bravery and waves of crushing desperation is masterfully done. The action isn’t just breathtaking – it’s chock-full of great character moments, surprise returns, poignant callbacks and shocking reveals. Every bit of physical combat is layered with years of trauma, friendship and personal history between opponents and allies – ensuring that each blow or injury or explosion delivers maximum emotion alongside that rush of adrenaline.
As excellent as the kinetic aspects are, the finale also shines in its quieter moments. In between the ferocious battle, the narrative wisely weaves in breathers within The Paths. Two beautiful conversations in particular – one where Armin convinces Zeke to turn the spirits of deceased Shifters against Eren, alongside Armin’s profoundly touching and revelatory final talk with Eren – will make you weep. If you haven’t figured it out yet, Armin is the true hero of Attack On Titan, and has been all along.
Finally, we turn to Mikasa. A character who has stated repeatedly that she will kill everyone in the world to protect Eren – her saviour, childhood best friend and unrequited love. But will she kill Eren in order to protect everyone in the world? At this point, even Mikasa’s idolization of Eren has reached a breaking point; and it all took was global genocide. Nonetheless, capping off the story with powerful full circle moments featuring Eren, Armin and Mikasa (the three who kicked off the show in the first scene of the first episode) making the hardest choice imaginable was perfect. Each of them have committed unforgivable sins, but we’re reminded that they were innocent kids, shaped by humanity’s inability to break its cycles of hatred.
Was Eren right in his view that there will always be suffering as long as there are people? Attack On Titan’s epilogue logically explains that far-right Jaegerists have militarised Eldia in preparation for the world’s retribution – even as our protagonists return to the island for peace talks. You’d be wise to stay glued during the credits because the story flashes forward through hundreds (perhaps thousands?) of years as modern cities spring up and new technologies are developed.
The magical power of the Titans may be gone, but humanity will always find new ways to destroy ourselves, as evidenced by the missiles and nukes that now decimate the world. In the end, Attack On Titan remains a cynical, unsparing and gruesome cautionary tale about humanity’s worst impulses. But as long as there are Armins out there, we can always hope to do better.