Attack on Titan (Season 3)
The authorities, hoping to shut down the Survey Corps for good, seize Commander Erwin on a trumped-up murder charge. The solution for our heroes might involve a little regime change. But that might be an easier task to accomplish than retaking the people's lost territory, now swarming with Titans...
WARNING: SPOILERS- but no more than I thought necessary!
Someone looking at this series after it's finished (whenever that actually occurs) will no doubt not appreciate the frustration those of us who've watched it in "real time" have had to endure, because of its dilatory presentation: between the end of the first 12 episodes of Season 3, and the beginning of the 10-episode "second part" of the season, lays a gap of over seven months. One can't be blamed for thinking that this is just to keep interest in the series going- and its tie-in merchandise and spinoffs selling- for as long as possible.
But in fairness, with Season 3 the show finally achieved "epic" status in my eyes. Season 3 finally gives us much of the backstory it's been promising us since the beginning- though certain important details are STILL missing, while in other places things seem to have been made much too complicated. (SPOILER: the show seems, at last, to have made the Titans creatures of metaphysics and the supernatural, rather than of science.) Since Season 2 the series has been portraying the Titans more sympathetically (despite their tendency to eat people), which Season 3 amplifies tremendously in the account given in the backstory, which consists partly of legends (disputed by the opposing parties, of course), but is mostly a first-person account. I THINK this might all be intended as an allegory, but I'm not sure exactly who, or what, the parties involved are supposed to represent. It seems a trivial point, but Season 3 DOES present an interesting new wrinkle on the demise of Eren's mother.
The other thing I'm going to note here is that, with the political contest within the "current" story, plus the backstory, plus a MAJOR battle against the Titans included, this season seems a bit overstuffed; it reminded me of J. K. Rowling's last Harry Potter book, The Deathly Hallows, in that respect, though Rowling was a bit more generous in the presentation of the backstory of her work through her previous volumes, rather than hoarding all the answers until late in the game like AOT does. But I digress.
I honestly loved the first part of this season (first 12 episodes), mainly because the Survey Corps crew, for the first time, takes the initiative to change things, which takes a lot of courage. We won't even SEE a Titan until several episodes in- though the show does compensate us with the Titan that it finally delivers. We'll meet a character named Kenny, who's got a complicated relationship (!) with Captain Levi, and an interesting tie to another character as well.
(I'll note that the season begins with our favorites- Levi; Hange; Eren, Mikasa, and Armin of course; and such minor faves as Conny and Sasha. Later, hordes of redshirt squad members will be required as well...)
There's an admirable amount of character development this season. Historia Reiss (the former Christa Lenz) finally comes into her own. Eren becomes less hotheaded and more introspective. (I'll forgive his one brief lapse into maudlin martyrdom.) The season is worth a watch just to see Mikasa's stoicism finally break down, if only on one occasion.
But poor Armin definitely gets the short end of the stick this time, becoming a tragic figure. Always being the one with the least military demeanor of any of them, he gets called upon to perform soldier's tasks ill-suited to his personality, and finally becomes- through no fault of his own- so controversial that his continued presence threatens to split the squad. (The circumstances here involve the most gripping human drama the show has been able to create so far.)
I've seen some online comments that accuse this season of pure nihilism, but I don't think it is. (SPOILER COMING, AGAIN) The charge might be made, with SOME justice, about the centerpiece battle against the Titans; but to me it was, more precisely, an example of sunk-cost thinking trying to salvage something positive from the predictable results of inadequate planning. (Really, there is NO excuse for the lack of contingency planning by our heroes, though the show DOES try to stack the deck in the Titans' favor by, among other things, giving at least one of them a completely new superpower.) But I personally define "nihilism" as situations where no one survives AND nothing is really gained, which does not apply here: an epiphany WAS gained. And that might even prove useful.
Certainly the most ambitious chapter of the saga; the Kenny/Levi contest is a highlight, and in the Armin plotline the show powerfully invokes a heartbreaking choice- AND develops plausible reasons for it to go either way. The show's backstory at least surprised me. To the extent the show ever delivers the goods, this is the season that does it; and if you're going to watch just one season of the show, this is the one to watch. — Allen Moody
Recommended Audience: People get eaten as usual; this time they also get smashed into pulp, incinerated, and amputated. Rightstuf age-rates the DVD 17+.
Version(s) Viewed: Streaming on Crunchyroll.
Review Status: Full (22/22)
Attack on Titan (Season 3) © 2019 Wit Studio
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