Anime Review: Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 1

By Drew Hurley 23.07.2019

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 1 (UK Rating: 15)

With so many anime series these days, there are few considered modern classics. Series that breakthrough from just anime fans to being watched by casual viewers and into the mainstream of pop fiction. Attack on Titan is undoubtedly one of these series. The anime and manga did crazy sales both inside and outside of Japan, with even Marvel getting in on the Titan-slaying, by producing a tie-in comic that saw the Avengers taking on the man-eaters. With the conclusion of the second season, big revelations were brought to light and now there's a very different story to be told. Coming courtesy of Manga Entertainment, this collection is available from August 12th.
The opening to the series is a perfect metaphor for the changes that make up the series with this latest season. The first two seasons had bombastic and memorable openings. 'Guren no Yumiya' and 'Shinzou o Sasageyo!,' both by Linked Horizon are some of the very best anime openings in years. They preceded a pair of seasons full of the same explosive energy of the music. Then there is this opening. 'Red Swan' by Yoshiki and featuring legendary J-Rocker Hyde. The song is closer to the ending themes of such action series, The music is slow, upbeat. Reflective. The scenes playing out are more reminiscent of the closing animations of the previous seasons.
That opening fits with what the story becomes in this season. The story is more reserved, filled with world-building and political developments. Titans step into the background while the human characters take centre stage. Before the humans can finally take on the Beast Titan and his people, they have to unite. However, that doesn't mean it's completely lacking in the series signature action. It's just different here. For example, the ending theme to the season is 'Akatsuki no Requiem' and it's by the band who crafted the themes that were so memorable for the series already: Linked Horizon. This slamming track is the perfect accompaniment to 'Shinzou o Sasageyo!.'
This season opens on the crew living the domestic life. Captain Levi has recruited the best of the Survey Corps and they're hiding out in the woods. Dedicated to protecting both Eren and Historia. They're also tasked with keeping the place clean and anyone who knows Levi will understand there's more risk to them in failing that mission than keeping humanity safe.
While they're hiding from the Titan shifters who have caused all of the nightmares for humanity within the walls in the first place, they have another new enemy. Their own leaders. It's Human vs Human as the story dips into political intrigue in place of the Titan slaying. Levi's group soon finds itself on the run, their refusal to hand over Eren and Historia to the King sees them marked as rebels and traitors. The military police are dispatched and at their head is a special agent with a link to Captain Levi himself. This special anti-human unit is led by Kenny the Ripper, this urban legend has slaughtered countless members of the military police already, and his team now has a special version of the 3D Maneuver Gear.

The 3DMG has long been one of the key aspects of the popularity of the series. Reminiscent of Spider-Man, this insanely cool method of getting around captured the attention of the audience and now it's getting an overhaul. The bladed weapons of the Scouts may be perfect for slashing the Titans to pieces, but they're not ideal for taking on other humans, instead, the shadowy agents of the government have altered the 3DMG, replacing the swords with firearms. These guns are flintlocks meeting pipe guns, and they have a dual purpose. They are able to fire solid pipe projectiles over a foot long, useless against Titans but perfect to butcher humans. The guns also have the anchors from the 3DMG blade sheathes built into them.
While the antagonists here are humans instead of Titans, it doesn't mean that the violence and gore the series is famous for is absent here. The second episode shows that Studio WIT is going to keep the quality just a high, when the Scouts face off against Kenny and his team the action explodes with some of the signature style and kinetic motion as a chase through the streets shows off the new equipment.
Eren and Historia are soon taken from Levi's team, and the story is dedicated to a fight on multiple fronts. The Scouts need to overthrow a corrupt regime. Eren and Historia have to be saved. Kenny's killer squad has to be taken out. Not to mention the truth of the monarchy, the history of Levi, the truth of Eren's father. There is a huge amount of progress in this season, and for those worried about the lack of Titans, there's a big surprise at the conclusion. Then, as the final episode rolls out, the long-awaited operation to retake Wall Maria finally begins.
Manga has always packed the AOT releases with bonus content, and there's no change here. Disk 1 contains just one episode commentary, but that's so it can hold the majority of the episodes. Ready for Disk 2 to be stuffed to the brim with bonuses. There's another episode commentary, text-less openings and closings, and promo videos. Then there are the featurettes. Chibi Theatre is a 10-minute compilation of the comedy chibi 4 Koma comics for each episode. Attack on Titan at Anime Expo 2018 gives two special interviews, one with each of the voices of Eren Jaeger, both the original in Yuki Kaji, and with Bryce Papenbrook the English. There are four Inside the Episode features that see duos of English voice actors and director pair up for some 10-minute interviews. Best of all though is "Directors break down episode 46." This is where the Japanese staff of Tetsuro Araki, Executive Director for the series, and Masashi Koizuka, the Episode Director, break down this landmark episode. A full picture in picture commentary with the pair including showing off storyboards and talking about the process of crafting this episode.
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10
Thanks to the gap between seasons, many fans had let Attack on Titan slip from their purview, this season shows why they should return it to their attention. It's common in anime that as a show goes on there's a point where the story takes a drastic shift - when it's time to build the narrative and progress the story. It often doesn't work, but here it really does. Managing to develop the world and the characters, and keep the attention of the audience. Keeping excitement high in what should be the "quiet" season. The next part promises even bigger things, though it may be a while before the second part arrives sadly. When this third season aired in Japan, it only made it up to the 12th episode; the final episode in this collection. Then, it went into hiatus. Hopefully, Manga Entertainment ensures Western fans don't suffer through the same delays.

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