Four years after Eren and the scouts finally reached the beaches of Paradis, the Marlean army is on the verge of finally winning a four year campaign against the Mid-East Allied Forces. Among them are four Eldian “Warrior Candidates”, those potentially in line to inherit the Titan powers Marley still has at its disposal. Since losing the Colossal Titan, they’re down to relying on what they have left: the Armored, Jaw, Cart, and Beast Titans. These candidates include Colt, the planned successor to the Beast Titan, his brother Falco, and Gabi, Reiner’s cousin and a hopeful to take the Armored Titan. Gabi is especially eager to prove herself in order to show that the Eldians are good and finally get rid of the stigma on their race, so she ends up using the fact that she is a small girl to sneakily destroy an armored tank so that Reiner, Zeke, and Gilliard (the new Jaw Titan after Ymir) can storm the fortress.
Zeke drops a bunch of Pure Titans on them, parachuting the bodies from an airship and then using his ability to turn them into Titans. Reiner jumps and transforms in the confusion, but is soon faced by another armored tank that can fire rounds which even pierce his armor, losing an arm in the process and even more while protecting Zeke. But despite this, they still win the battle and the war. However, even with this victory, it becomes increasingly obvious that the power of the Titans is becoming less useful in war, so they’ll have to finally complete the mission of reclaiming the Founding Titan in Paradis.
Attack on Titan finally makes its glorious return for its final season with an episode that is overflowing with things to talk about. Out of all of these, let’s talk about the episode count first, as it’s been announced that this season will have just 16 episodes. That sounds like a lot, until you look at the remaining manga chapters left to adapt and realize that won’t even get us through most of what’s left when the manga ends this April. So what I speculate is most likely is that we’ll be doing another split season like with Season 3, with this first block being 16 and another being the remainder, which is certainly more ideal than just cramming it all into 16 episodes like it might initially seem to be. Though naturally we’ll have to wait and see how they choose to go about that.
The next thing worth mentioning is this episode itself, which takes a far different approach than other season openers and gives us a full frontal view of Marley in the present day, with only the new surviving Marley characters as our viewpoints. No Eren, Armin, Mikasa, or anyone, just Reiner and Zeke with some newbies. Before, we only had Grisha’s flashbacks to go on, which gave us a good idea of what things were like when he left, but now we see their presence in war, especially in how they use their Titan power and how using the Subjects of Ymir has worked out for them thus far. What showing us this effectively does, besides introducing us to a bunch of new characters for us to sympathize with and cry over when they have their inevitable brutal deaths, is both show us how powerful Marley is as an army while also showing that, much like we’ve seen over the last three seasons, Titans are not all powerful, and that was when they were facing a bunch of flying people with swords who have been cut off from the rest of the world. Up against real tanks and artillery, they’re only barely able to squeak out a win, which is why their only hope now is to get back the Titan whose main feature is mind control.
And lastly for this week, let’s talk about that new OP. Attack on Titan has always been known for using its opening intros and songs effectively with their current place in the story and this is no exception. The first three openings portrayed our protagonists in almost propaganda-esque glory as they faced the Titan scourge to show their undying dedication to their cause, even while the truth started stripping that inherent loyalty away. The fourth opening for the start of the third season, which was for an arc where the primary threat were other sentient human beings, was fittingly internal in its focus. Then the fifth brought us back to the glorious battle, though now with the knowledge that the seemingly mindless foes they faced were also other people, and that knowledge flourished throughout the intro with numerous colors to contrast the start black, white, and red of the first few. And now we have this OP, which is mostly white and stark with no discernable characters to show the blanket oppression that Marley threatens the world with, with only scenes of war and destruction up until the very end, where Eren’s Titan is almost ready to break through and unleash the truth to the rest of this world that is steeped in lies. And we’ll see where that takes us next week.