WARNING: Contains spoilers. Written from the POV of a manga reader, so anime-only viewers please beware.
Wow! We’re finally blessed with the animation of AoT’s Marley arc, covering Chapters 91 and 92 of the manga. The episode was aired on the NHK G channel at ten minutes past midnight here in Japan, so I stayed up and risked being late for work the following day (a Monday, ugh!). It was only 25 minutes without commercials, though, so the episode seemed to be over before I could stifle a yawn.
In a nutshell, it was worth waiting for. What an anime adaptation does best is to breathe life to the action that the manga struggles to convey. I think this episode did justice to all the war imagery and fight scenes.
Let’s have a look:
Warrior Candidates on Parade
It was great to see Gabi, Falco, Udo and Zofia interact. Gabi’s being her initial ultra cocky self, and it was a job well done for the voice actor. I liked that none of the warrior candidates were given a cutesy voice, despite their being ten years old.
Magat is unlikable in our first glimpse of him in Chapter 91, and he is rather an asshole in this episode, as he should be. He will evolve and change as the story progresses, but for his debut scene he is every bit the arrogant Marleyan commander. Voice? Perfect.
Fantastic Jaw Titan
We meet Porco Galliard for the first time in the anime. His Jaw Titan is super cool, like a lion with a mask, and his fight scenes are energetically and flamboyantly portrayed here. It makes us wonder, who is he? Where did he come from? What does he look like in human form? We manga readers have all the answers, of course, but for someone seeing him for the first time I think he’s made a fantastic entrance and a good impression.
Fearsome Cart Titan
The Cart Titan is in fighting form, fully armed and being badass. Who could have guessed that this fearsome-looking monster would be a petite, beautiful woman in human form? The Cart’s Panzer unit is blasting away and we see Pieck Finger in her combat glory.
Good Ole Armored Titan
It was a relief to see Reiner, an old familiar face amidst the sea of new ones. We see him in action and already he’s struggling in facing down the enemy’s new anti-titan weaponry. It was cool seeing him fighting once more. When he said he didn’t like walls at all, they didn’t show the manga flashback of the Paradis wall scene with Eren in it. Why, I wonder? I’d have wanted it shown because I think it best illustrates Reiner’s state of mind: he still cares for his friends on the island and they are still ever present in his memories.
Man of Mystery
Aaaand, of course there is our poor Zeke with his huge, ugly Beast Titan. Still a total mystery at this point in the story, he was so well-animated I found myself going, Who the fuck are you? How come you can make Eldians titanize just by shouting? For anime-only viewers Zeke is that confident, cool-as-a-cucumber, enigmatic man full of secrets whom we’re dying to get to know more of. I’ve liked his voice actor since we first encountered him in the earlier season, and this episode makes me look forward to seeing him speak in the coming installments.
Weapons of War
My favourite part of the anime was seeing the Eldian captives (live human sacrifices) being herded off the airship and transformed as they fall to the ground. It was a truly horrific scene, and the anime made it look every bit as awful and disgusting as it should be. This is where anime shines far, far better than manga as a form of expression: seeing the hapless group be moved about like unfeeling objects, with the myriad expressions on their faces, and having them titanize before our very eyes into dreadful, mindless weapons of war was hair-raising and deeply moving in a tragic way. We could see the fear, terror, helplessness and hopelessness in their faces, feel the abomination and injustice of it all, and it makes us think, maybe Eren is really justified in doing the full rumbling. Anything to put an end to this. Ah, the cruel, cruel world of AoT.
Of course, the callous and victim-posing Marleyan second-in-command takes this moment to remind the young warriors that their ancestors did the exact same thing to the Marleyans who are now their bosses. Tit for tat, as if two wrongs make a right. Poor kids, being made to stew in guilt and remorse for something they didn’t do nor approve of.
I’m on the fence about MAPPA’s character design. The human faces look a bit crude and somehow lacking in form. Colt Grice, for instance, has a very handsome face in the manga, with clean lines and a lean look, but he strikes me as looking pudgier and much younger in the anime version. I’m not sure I like the anime noses of Gabi and Falco, either. For some reason I feel the characters look prettier in the manga than the anime, which is a strange thing to say because usually it’s the other way around.
I think the major disappointment for me was the bouncy opening theme song, including the animation for it. Rainbow colors? Why? Season 4 deals with very dark themes, so I expected the music to be equally sinister and infernal.
But this is all just nit-picking, and a matter of personal taste.
A Great Start
Overall, I think it’s an excellent start. Condensing two fat monthly chapters into less than half-an-hour is always a challenge, and I could barely find fault with the composition and editing of this first episode. The action scenes are wonderful, and so are the voice actors.
AoT is such a depressing manga, and I feel we need more lightness and comedy in these trying times, but for what it’s worth, Isayama’s complex, layered story is still one of the very best I’ve ever encountered in the world of manga. The anime deserves an earlier time slot, methinks.
I think this Season 4 anime adaptation is off to a great start, and I’m feeling confident MAPPA will go from strength to strength as the episodes are released.
Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of this anime episode? Please take a moment to share a thought or two in the comment section below. xoxo, hana
Next – Season 4 Episode 2 Review