It is only right that the masterpiece “Attack on Titan” ends in such a magnificent way. Throughout the nearly hour-and-a-half finale, I was constantly on the edge of my seat and the verge of tears. The characters, plot and themes solidified the manga-inspired anime as a standout within the genre.
With the main character Eren Yeager now serving as the antagonist — at least, in the eyes of most — the depiction of the rest of the main cast’s ideals was elegant. This was best highlighted, of course, in Armin and Mikasa.
Because he is guilty of Eren’s initial obsession with freedom and for being chosen to live over Commander Erwin, Armin’s new resolve makes him a fantastic character. He grows beyond his genius intellect and becomes a true leader who steps up in the toughest times. His guilt and poor self-esteem no longer hold him back from his potential.
Meanwhile, Mikasa’s inner battle between what is right and her love for Eren brings out the best in her character. The finale finally allows her to dispose of being a slave to her feelings and set herself, and The Founder Ymir, free from their burdens. This revelation beautifully highlights one of the key themes throughout the show: freedom. As Kenny Ackerman said, “Everyone’s a slave to something.”
Profound character resolutions are not limited to Armin and Mikasa. Reiner’s redemption was a highlight of the episode. Finally, after failing again and again, The Armored Titan had his moment as a hero, constantly carrying the toughest fighting burden for the scouts. Reiner’s newfound hope brings about a pleasant ending for possibly the saddest character in the show.
The rest of the cast — Captain Levi, Jean, Connie, Pieck, Annie, Falco, Gabi and even Zeke — have perfect endings, too. The simplistic but powerful and satisfying resolution between Levi and Zeke may be the best scene in the episode. This gives the solemn captain the peaceful ending he deserves after serving as “Humanity’s Strongest Soldier.”
Jean and Connie are excellent and deliver one of the most emotional scenes. The remaining characters are all impactful and vitally important to the ending of Eren’s story.
There is greater justification for the reasoning behind Eren’s horrific actions, even though it’s not nearly enough to justify killing 80% of humanity. His character comes full circle to show his weakness and true feelings. His perceived stoicism is a mask for someone on the verge of losing his mind. In discussions with Armin through the timeless “Paths,” he reveals how his actions put him in constant turmoil, and he is doing what he thinks is best for his friends, regardless of everyone else. While some may criticize this depiction, I believe this vulnerability adds to his character.
The characters are the highlight of what is a simple plot for one episode. It centers around the main cast trying everything to stop the Rumbling. With twists including Ymir’s goals, Zeke and Armin’s abilities, Eren’s conversations with everyone in the “Paths” and more, the episode brilliantly strays away from solely action and touches on other storylines.
Small plot details highlight many of the strong themes throughout the show. The most powerful instance is when a mother and her baby near the edge of a cliff, pursued by the Colossal Titans. Her sacrifice and the efforts shown by strangers to save her baby show humanity’s beauty while facing the consequences of humanity’s ugliness and hatred. This, among many other scenes in the episode, features both MAPPA’s and Hajime Isayama’s masterful storytelling with underlying themes and parallels riddled throughout.
While the ending is quite controversial for manga fans, I found it to be realistic and satisfying. In the end, Eren still gets what he wants after his death at the hands of the woman he loves. Everyone lives long lives and the Titan powers are expelled — for the time being.
The inevitable retaliation and war are realistically what would happen in this world. Humanity is constantly fighting among itself because of bitter hatred.
I am not usually a fan of the open-ended finale, but I enjoyed it here.
As the boy and his dog creep toward the opening of a potential new tree of life, it symbolizes the main theme in “Attack on Titan”: unnecessary violence and hatred is a curse that lives on forever.