WARNING: Contains spoilers. Written from the POV of a manga reader, so anime-only viewers please beware.
Gaaaaahhh! What day is it? What time is it? What year is it right now? Someone has to tell me because I’m completely befuddled.
Just kidding. About not knowing the year. It’s still 2020, that much I know, but as for the time I’ve no idea. My winter break started on the 26th of this month and the moment I no longer needed to get up early for work my entire daily routine was binned and my circadian rhythm totally compromised. For the past few hundred(?) hours I vegetated in front of the telly and have so far watched a dozen anime, half a dozen movies, a dozen TV series, half a dozen documentaries, all of which I consumed between local programs such as the Japanese figure-skating nationals (congrats Yuzu and Kihara, absolutely impressive both!), the whole Japanese Sasuke competition (congrats Morimoto, absolutely impressive!), and dozens of other year end specials most of which I forgot the moment the next program came along…
My mind currently looks something like this:
Dunno know what is what or which is which anymore, and my brain is like a badly-planned, overcooked stew with bits and pieces of everything, half of which shouldn’t have been thrown in there in the first place.
Anyway, yesterday I got a couple of comments on old articles from two new readers of my blog, and they were like cold buckets of water over my fogged-up head, with me going fuuuuuuuuuuck I forgot to write a review of the latest AoT episode!
So here I am, full of apologies, while also feeling a bit queasy because god knows what kind of junk I ate while bingeing on pop culture TV. The way my tummy feels right now I think I gobbled up one of the remote controls; there are a whole bunch of them and I can no longer tell if one is missing xD
In any case, on to the anime episode:
Ah, Falco looks adorable here, happily playing postmaster to the mystery hospital patient. When he sits with Eren on the bench telling him how much his words encouraged him, it was like seeing Eren with his son in the future, if he were to have one.
We then see the latter half of Chapter 96. How nice to see Lord Tybur speak! He’s like a fashion model with an opera singer’s voice. Blond and blue-eyed like Historia, they could be relatives instead of rival noble houses. His rambunctious kids, religious cult-like seniors, that mystery woman in a maid’s outfit–what a household!
I especially loved that scene when he and Magat stood at the balcony deep in discussion, and the camera panned to the Helos monument down below. The scene looked like a Vermeer painting, with the gorgeous play of light and shadow.
Later on, while they inspect the newly-constructed stage, Tybur wears a cool hat, and that scene of him and Magat looking opposite ways is picture perfect.
Pieck and Porco
My god, I love these two! In a previous review I was whinging about the removal of the staircase encounter, only to see it in this episode. Aren’t they totally adorable?
Ah, I am blessed! Now that I think about it, the animators seemed to have gathered the humanising moments of the warriors into this episode, which is a good thing because next time we will see some of them meeting a grisly end. I feel a great sympathy for the warriors, and I’m one of those readers wishing Isayama took more time to flesh them out in the manga.
Falco Makes His First Confession
While poor Reiner is trying to share his knowledge of Paradian terrain with the Marleyan military just to be insulted by them, Falco is shown in competition with the other warrior candidates. I loved the way this was animated: the older ones gathering on the balcony and making remarks about the events down below, Falco celebrating his first victory over Gabi.
The scene by the gate with the Marleyan security guards was also wonderful to see as an animation. Falco tells Gabi in a roundabout way that he’s in love with her, but Gabi, being Marley’s Eren 2.0, is clueless. The blushing Falco is too cute, being forthright and brave. He’s only a kid, but my word, the reticent adults in Paradis could learn a good deal from him!
Meet the Grandparent
Eren, looking gorgeous as ever, finally meets his grandfather, and he turns out to be mentally shattered, given all the tragic events that had befallen his family. I liked the voicing of his character; that scream he does before the staff come to take him away gave me chills.
Afterward his grandson looks at the baseball and the glove Falco noticed. Anime-only viewers may not have corrected the dots yet, but manga readers know where these toys came from. Old Dr Jaeger has no idea, but his two grandsons have already met. Had he known I’ll bet he’d have screamed harder.
Chandeliers and Charlatans
I can’t get over this exquisitely animated ballroom scene. Everything’s been done to perfection: the room, the music, the costumes of the worldwide VIP guests.
It’s heartbreaking the way the warrior candidates are trying so hard to be useful and helpful and liked. They not only have to sacrifice their lives as future titan shifters, they also have to suffer the humiliation of being insulted and mocked while they serve the powers-that-be.
Kiyomi comes to Udo’s rescue, and we meet her for the first time. I’m rather disappointed that they didn’t add more pizazz to her kimono. Being a super VIP I’d wanted her outfit to be made of the finest shiny silk with the most refined embroidery, but here the kimono looks as plain as it does in the manga.
The differences in the guests’ reaction to the nameless Marleyan politician’s boorish speech versus that of the suave Lord Tybur is made clear in this scene. Only a few hands toast the former’s speech, while the latter is showered with adulation. How nice to be royalty in hero disguise! Tybur plays his role to perfection in this impeccable animation.
My favourite scene is when the camera transitions to a view of the lit Helos monument after Tybur’s speech. It’s so beautiful I think it deserves a graphic of its own (see cover image).
In what is most likely to become Liberio’s last festival before it is destroyed, the animators go all out in giving us the sights and sounds of a town made alive with the joys of a carnival. Clowns, musicians, visual entertainment everywhere, along with ice cream, of course, and all kinds of delicious foods under the sun. We see a birds-eye-view of Liberio dotted with colorful tents, an anime-only blessing that I thoroughly enjoyed.
There’s an anime-only scene of Zofia being hugged by a drunk man in the market having mistaken her for Gabi, and the baker’s wife giving Gabi a bagful of bread. I loved this addition as it shows how much she is liked by the town folk, making her soon-to-be-anger over the Liberio attack all the more understandable.
The faces of the penniless candidates looking up at Reiner is too precious not to freeze for eternity:
Ugh, they’re beyond darling here. I think the anime has done a great job in making the kids likeable, so that we’ll care when half of them die in the next episode.
In the manga it’s only the kids who are shown stuffing themselves while poor Reiner hands over the dough to the pleased storekeepers, but here Pieck and Porco are also added to the group of gluttons. I love this change! There’s never enough of the warriors in the manga, and any more of them in any other medium is something I welcome with open arms.
Reiner, having used up half his monthly salary to treat his underlings, looks at his beloved cousin having so much fun, and he smiles a little, thinking his generosity was worth that happy look on her face. Later on, as the setting sun bathes the town in a warm red glow, Reiner has to drag her by the arm, and she speaks of things changing, becoming better in the future. While he knows otherwise, Reiner doesn’t want to ruin her happy moment.
So well-animated, this scene that cuts into the ending theme song gets a four-thumbs up from me.
Been A While
Finally, we see a smiling Falco, looking forward to witnessing a reunion between old friends. Zeke approves of the secret meeting.
I love the shell banner on the wall in this scene. Clams hold secrets between their shells, and we don’t know whether it’s a pearl or simply a ball of dirt until it is opened, is the meaning I posited from this choice of symbols.
A happy but misled Falco, a shocked Reiner, a hot Eren sounding more like Levi gone rogue than the kid who had to fight to stay upright in his compromised maneuvering gear all those years ago. How the tables have turned, how the future is about to totally change for better or worse by this beyond amazing character.
I always feel the anime is rushed because what took me three months to digest in the manga world is summed up in under twenty five minutes in the anime adaptation. In this episode, however, we get full coverage of Chapter 98, with some of Chapter 97. The manga part where Bert says to Reiner and Annie that he thinks the villager who hanged himself told them his story because he wanted to be judged had been chopped off in the anime, but maybe it will be added to the next episode instead. I mean, they moved the Pieck-Porco staircase encounter to this episode, so maybe the animators are moving things around and not binning them entirely.
This fourth episode is my favourite from what we’ve seen so far. I loved the anime-only additions, the music and cinematography are top-notch as usual. It’s a great episode to end the year, and paves the way for a bombastic fifth episode in the year ahead.
Coming Up: Heart Attack
The Battle of Liberio is up on the next episode and I am so not ready. There’ll be a very painful death, there’ll be the islanders all grown up…I will never be ready.
Tomorrow the planet will finish its 365 days of revolution around the sun and it’ll be a New Year. So sorry for this late review. I was supposed to drop this on the 29th, with a 2020 retrospect on the 31st, but alas, my best laid plans in tatters thanks to year end torpor. I hadn’t written a word of fiction, though I did do the laundry between telly bingeing xD
How’s things going where you live? What’ve you been doing lately?
The Tokyo governor asked us all to stay home as much as possible this year’s end because Covid-19 (and its new variants), and I’m doing just that. There’ll mostly be no festivities outdoors. My local お寺 Buddhist temple always had food stalls and all kinds of indoor and outdoor events during the New Year, since it’s the biggest holiday in Japan, but not this time. How eerily quiet! How strange it all seems! But I’m not complaining, because man, it could be worse. At least I’m not sick or dead yet.
I was going to end this with a simple “Happy New Year, everyone” kind of greeting, although I know that lots of us are far from happy. It has been a terrible year, but if you’re reading this, we know one thing: could be worse. So, in the spirit of survival, do have a Safe and Sound New Year!
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 5
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