WARNING: Contains spoilers. Written from the POV of a manga reader, so anime-only viewers please beware.
Wow, did you see that, the ending part where Eren transforms and kills the most powerful and influential Eldian on their planet? Amazing.
Covering Chapters 99 and 100 of the manga, this episode was perfectly done from start to finish. I screencapped my favourite scenes so let’s have a look at everything the animators did right:
Bert’s Final Realisation
“He wanted to be judged,” was the answer Bertholdt arrived at upon pondering over the dead man’s words. The anime opens with this scene, as does the manga, and it sets the theme of the coming two chapters.
Lord Tybur’s Last Appearance
I love this scene of Willy Tybur backstage, with that very tall bodyguard every present, and other actors covered in fake blood.
The coloring and lighting are perfect. Kiyomi and Tybur shake hands for the last time, and Kiyomi has the good sense to leave as soon as possible.
Last Outing Together
This scene of the warriors with the candidates is so precious because it’ll be the last time we see them all together.
Soon three of the seven will be dead, with the fourth one, Zeke, in limbo (as of Chapter 136). I love this lighthearted moment of Pieck teasing Zofia, with Gabi smiling at her. How the night will change everything!
Tybur’s play is flawlessly animated in every way. The shadow puppets are the perfect backdrop to his speech about history.
My favourite scene is this one here where the entire stage is lighted in an eerie red glow, the actors moaning and covered in blood, a scene straight from hell. Tybur talks about their conventional history: how his family and Helos saved the world.
Yelena in Disguise and the Panzer Unit
We see a mystery soldier, whom we manga readers know as Yelena, lure Pieck and Porco into a trap. I remember reading this part of the manga for the first time and wondering why Pieck was suspicious of her. I’ll learn why later on, but anime-only viewers will certainly be left making guesses.
I’ve been waiting for Pieck’s surprise PDA to her Panzer unit finally be animated, and it did not disappoint! Wonderful expressions on the envious soldiers’ faces.
The Truth is Told
The stage lighting changes from eerie ruby red to emerald green, and Tybur tells the world their real history: that 145th King Fritz was the true hero, making a deal with the Marleyans to create a mythical hero in the form of Helos and then imprisoning himself and some of his people in a nearby island.
Fritz binds his descendants to a pacifist yoke. It was so impeccably illustrated here: the pencil drawings of a kingly man with a bird holding a newborn child:
Gorgeous art fit for framing! Isayama’s drawing skills have improved so much by the time we reach Chapter 99, and the animators did justice to the drawings in this episode. I totally love this scene of the island’s wall being forcibly opened and pieces of it falling over the glowing opening. Beautiful lighting!
Gabi’s face is priceless as she learns the truth. She has the most expressive face ever and it’s always fun to see her reactions. I screencapped this open-mouthed expression because it’s the last time she is surrounded by her friends like this.
From the outside looking in, this theme of reinterpreting history cuts like a knife. We Earthlings are in an unprecedented era of historical revisionism, ‘alternative facts’, ‘post truth’ and the like. We are beginning to question our conventional versions of history, wondering if our heroes are who we think they are, or if they’re just effigies propped up by those in power in order to maintain the status quo. How should we evaluate the generosity of an insanely wealthy man who built his success on the back of slave labour? Was the man tagged in our history books as a ‘founding father’ simply a narcissistic egomaniac bent on advancing his own self-interest all the while expertly manipulating public opinion? We are starting to wonder if the ‘historical events’ we were taught within the traditional school system are too exclusionary and skewered to celebrate whoever it was that won the war.
I think this is one of the reasons why AoT is so deeply painful to read and watch: the issues it tackles are so relevant even in this day and age. The anime adaptation brings the paperback words to life and makes us pause and think about our own limping planet and the sorry state of the societies we have built.
Inside the Well
This scene of Porco holding his broken arm and Pieck looking at her broken leg deserves a graphic of its own. I don’t know why but it just does.
I love these two. The anime didn’t show us the part where Pieck notes they were given supplies meaning it was a planned imprisonment, but removing this part doesn’t take away from the story, so I’m fine with it.
Cycle of Hate
Incredible theatre props this one. Willy explains why they need to destroy Paradis as he looks at his relative, the girl holding the War Hammer Titan.
I love everything in this scene: the speech in its full, uncut splendor, the backdrops, the music. Even the Attack Titan is portrayed quite accurately albeit stylistically. Perfect coloring of the manga, the anime breathing life to this historic moment when Willy Tybur seals the fate of the world.
The renderings of the skinless wall titans are absolutely perfect.
Don’t you just love how they are colored in the anime? They’re so good I should add them to my rotating wallpaper screen❤
We’re the Same
The Eren and Reiner scenes are totally heartbreaking. Hearing Eren ask him why he did what he did was so poignant and touching in an incredibly tragic way. To hear Isayama’s manga dialogue voiced out like this was sheer pleasure on my part, making me glad I’m alive in this day and age getting to see it all in real time.
The animators did a wonderful job with all the basement scenes: the lighting is perfect, the music is perfect, the voice actors doing justice to the iconic characters and this painful moment when Reiner confesses it was ego and not duty that drove him to destroy the walls. His tearful groveling at Eren’s feet broke my heart in the manga, and broke it even more now because the anime makes everything so tactile and tangible.
Born Into this World
I love the way Eren’s eyes widened when he heard Willy say the exact same words he’s said himself: “… because I was born into this world.” For Eren that fact justifies his right to be free, and for Willy it justifies his desire not to die. The blinding camera flashes of the world press lighting up the stage was pure perfection.
It was only for a few seconds, but just seeing this moment animated was enough to put a smile to my face for the entire day.
Willy Tybur has made it clear: Paradis had to be wiped off the face of the earth. Eren disagrees, and he expresses this opinion by the most dramatic transformation we’ve seen as of yet.
The animation was superb in every way: the transformative energy crackling like firecrackers as the two enemies shake hands, the terrified expressions on Falco’s and Reiner’s faces, the fireworks growing into bolts of lightning, Eren’s eye lighting up like glowing jade.
What we see next is a bigger, wider, more muscular Attack Titan, all grown up the way Eren is now an adult. We hear the familiar roar, but this time it really means business.
The above is probably the most dramatic, best ever ending panel of any anime episode ever made. At least, I think so! It’s sensational and brutal and horrific and violent and bloody, all the things that make the story so close to what is happening in our own world that following it is like gazing into a mirror showing all the transgressions and hopelessness of a planet made up of atrocious humans.
This episode is what an anime adaptation should look like. It covered from end to end two heavy chapters, and there were no distracting additions or debilitating subtractions. (Are you listening, Araki? You’ve a lot to learn from this new and better team!)
Nothing about it felt rushed or choppy. The adaptation is very faithful to the original, the MAPPA team’s decision to show all of Tybur’s speech a master stroke. I feared otherwise because of the way WIT chopped off important chunks of Eren Kruger’s monologue while on the wall with Grisha Jaeger in Season 3. Thankfully, however, our new anime team seems to know when to leave a speech as is. Let’s hope they’ll do the same for the other important dialogues in the upcoming chapters.
All in all, Season 4 Episode 5 was a treat for the five senses, a true sensory delight. The pacing was neither too fast nor too slow, there was enough tension and mystery for the anime-only viewers, the conflict of interest between Eren and Tybur was perfectly expressed, the transitions between scenes were smoothly done. The musical score was on point, neither too distracting nor too subtle, supporting the dark mood of the episode, the music queues timed well for each scene.
I’ve always marveled about MAPPA’s mad skills in cinematography. I’ve watched a few of their well-regarded works, including Jujutsu Kaisen and Banana Fish, before they took on AoT, and they continue to impress me. In this episode, the coloring and lighting were stellar, the settings framed so well they deserve to become postcards for excellence.
Bravo, MAPPA, job well done! I’m very much looking forward to what they have in store for us as the story grows more and more complicated and fascinating.
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
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