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EP. REVIEW: Attack on Titan The Final Season


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Kuzu



Joined: 13 Sep 2019
Posts: 91
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:47 pm Reply with quote
AmpersandsUnited wrote:
People romanticize World War 2 to a very unhealthy degree. The people who actually think America was the gallant hero riding into battle to save the world from the evil Nazis as everyone cheered around them, when in reality there was protests and riots happening all over the country and war crimes happening all the time. The amount of people I see cite literal propaganda pieces like that comic book cover of Captain America punching Hitler over the past few years has been amazing, especially since it's easy to tell when people haven't actually read those comics since Cap uses so many racial slurs and derogatory remarks about the Japanese it would make even MacArthur blush. I guess that speaks to how effective the propaganda was, I suppose. Nuances takes on war or really any kind of political conflict are hard to find when people have very strong opinions and emotional reactions to things. There has to always be a "good side' and a "bad side" to every conflict, or else people start feeling uncomfortable.

That's the conceit of most "War is Hell" stories; a lot them will try and paint a picture of how horrible and bad war is, but most of these stories have a clear good guy and bad guy, which allows the audience to have a group to for and against and make them feel justified in watching a war happen. Transformers is technically a series about war, but you sure as hell will never see anyone say that the Decepticons aren't the bad guys.

That's what makes Attack on Titan pretty different in that respect; by focusing on the Paradis Eldians for so long, our proverbial "Good guys" you build up the audience's expectations and sympathies; you root for Eren and co because well, they're the ones who you empathize with, so naturally anyone against them are "the enemy"

Now the script has been flipped, as this season opens with seeing our main character's "enemies" as sympathetic and fighting for their own right to live, and a lot of them subjected to extreme propaganda, and see our main characters as "the enemy". Gabi is basically the Eren on the Marleyan's side, with Eren himself being what Bertolt was to him ironically. And its not like Eren wasn't aware of that either, he spent years living under Marley and even concluded that "they're the same" with him and Reiner, beings forced into the situation they were in due to circumstance.

But since the world at large is against Paradis, Eren largely had no choice; it's kill or be killed essentially. And as a person of color myself, it is disconcerting to see an oppressed minority group framed as just as morally grey as the ones who oppressed them, but I think that's what AoT's strength lies, it exposes the ugliness of human nature and the world for all to see and it's not pretty at all. That's why it largely succeeds as a true "War is Hell" story, because in a war, there are no good guys or bad guys, just two people trying to kill each other to survive.
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killjoy_the



Joined: 30 May 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:06 pm Reply with quote
I feel like contextualizing individuals within a regime being fed brainwash-levels of propaganda to justify oppression, and then have a figure tell the entire world that the reason for that oppression was a lie to begin with - but now they actually need to oppress them, as they're actually the threat we've pretended they've been the whole time - isn't really flipping the script to a 'both sides' thing nearly as hard as most people seem to. If anything, it makes it seem like this is all Marley's fault from the start as their oppression lead to the current system, which lead to them going to Paradis to extract the Founder, which lead to Eren, which lead to this. You can maybe go for a point with the Eldians' supposedly oppressing everyone before going to Paradis, but after someone just admitted to lying about the conclusion of the thing, who's to say the start of it was as it's said either?
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Pipoko



Joined: 13 Jun 2014
Posts: 165
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:50 pm Reply with quote
I very much disagree with the idea the review posits that we're now actually supposed to see the Eldians as devils and that it says it's a literal "both sides" deal now, as the poster above me also pointed out.

That's ignoring the entire context of the previous 3 seasons of the story. The idea here is that the corrupt system held up by various factors and not just a single enemy is the actual "enemy". This is also a big point in the Coup arc, in some simple ways, like the reporters not having the courage to publish anything negative about the government.

Eren's mother died as a consequence of Marley's plans of conquest. Their leadership caused these circumstances. So the big enemy here is this system and all of the Eldians are victims of this system. They are forced to do these things so they wouldn't be killed.

Eren just kind of takes it too far and makes it worse by doing it in the worst way possible that the enemy can abuse. I think there was a number of smarter ways to do this. This isn't self-defense anymore and in itself literally played into the system and what it aims to do.

There is so much talk of how the story is morally gray now, but I think there does still exist a protagonist/antagonist dicothomy. It's the oppressive system vs everyone living under it.
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Doodleboy



Joined: 23 Dec 2013
Posts: 295
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:11 pm Reply with quote
Looking at the episode again there really is a lot of good choices in the episode.

When the Survey corps enter the scene they're framed from a distance, we see them either from far away or the back. We get some more conventional hero shots later but for the most part we're seeing the Survey corps as how Marley must see them.

They're something foreign and alien to this world, especially after 4 episodes of a comparatively grounded non-combat time. It's almost surreal to see Titan-fights and 3DMG in this space.

There's also a shot of Gabi's profile gritting her teeth in pure rage after the two guards died, a shot used for Eren Jaeger plenty of times in the past.
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MasterGhost



Joined: 29 Nov 2011
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:18 pm Reply with quote
I will just say this - no matter whether you agree with the reviewer or not, from a metatextual standpoint, the fact that this arc is generating so much debate and discussion on ANN itself is pretty good evidence of how successful Isayama is with his story-telling.
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jdnation



Joined: 15 May 2007
Posts: 1413
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 9:56 pm Reply with quote
Gem-Bug wrote:
jdnation wrote:
.... the current vogue pet peeve of 'fascism.'


I think fascism(dunno why you would air-quote that) is quite a bit more than a "vogue pet peeve", especially to folks that are directly suffering it's effects. That one little part of your post kinda colors the whole thing as pretty dismissive and ignorant of issues other people may be facing, whether or not it ties into an anime we all enjoy.


Because people can be just as easily duped to hating the other side and going to war in Republics, Democracies, Monarchies, Communist blocs, and your local high school cafeteria. It's not a feature exclusive to Fascism. There are various cultures from the world all present at Marley's event and eating up Tyber's words. We have an information issue, not one of state power, though state control undoubtedly factors in.
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Covnam



Joined: 31 May 2005
Posts: 2208
PostPosted: Mon Jan 18, 2021 11:44 pm Reply with quote
Yuvelir wrote:

spoiler[Who says that Will is the Warhammer Titan?]


Well, I'm glad I didn't read that before I saw this weeks episode Laughing

I didn't have an issue with the visuals and just enjoyed the episode this week. Looking forward to seeing more Smile
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Pipoko



Joined: 13 Jun 2014
Posts: 165
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 3:34 am Reply with quote
Another thing that I just realised I didn't mention, too and I think is very relevant here.

Last episode was literally about how both sides are people. It also had the element that Reiner did what he did because he never was given the opportunity to see outside of the perspective he learned (through brainwashing) in Marley before he went to Paradis.

Eren similarly had no idea about the horrors awaiting him when he joined the military, not necessarily through propaganda, but a naive perception of war. He talked to Falco about this back in season 4 episode 3. It's not like any of this context suddenly disappeared.

They had a choice, but didn't understand they had it and circumstances made it a logical choice *for them* at the time they happened.

So I feel like the uncomfortable allegorical elements don't come from the present events and present Marley vs Eldia conflict, but the supposed history of oppression being a thing before this because that not only muddles the allegory by making the oppressed race also oppressors in a general sense, but also considering the specific historical imagery. It's a very typical element stories like this fall victim to, but very frustrating considering it gets so much else right in my eyes.

But I'm also talking from a manga reader perspective and maybe that's influencing how I see stuff more than I think it is even if I try to only refer to material covered in the anime. Maybe I'm also misunderstanding the review. I don't know.
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Johan Eriksson 9003



Joined: 27 Oct 2014
Posts: 266
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:18 am Reply with quote
killjoy_the wrote:
I feel like contextualizing individuals within a regime being fed brainwash-levels of propaganda to justify oppression, and then have a figure tell the entire world that the reason for that oppression was a lie to begin with - but now they actually need to oppress them, as they're actually the threat we've pretended they've been the whole time - isn't really flipping the script to a 'both sides' thing nearly as hard as most people seem to. If anything, it makes it seem like this is all Marley's fault from the start as their oppression lead to the current system, which lead to them going to Paradis to extract the Founder, which lead to Eren, which lead to this. You can maybe go for a point with the Eldians' supposedly oppressing everyone before going to Paradis, but after someone just admitted to lying about the conclusion of the thing, who's to say the start of it was as it's said either?


Willy only exposed the coverup about a Marleyan hero overthrowing the Eldian empire when the reality was was that king Fritz dismantled his own nation out of guilt. The whole "1800 years of Eldian imperialism" still happened so yeah, there is clearly a "both sides" thing going on here. spoiler[And yes, the Eldian empire really was a thing. And it was just as oppressive as the Marleyans say it was. Everything Marley is right now they learned from their former tormentors. That much has been confirmed.]

I agree with those that say the current theme works better as a metaphor for bigger concepts (war and how it changes people/fascism and why it feels appealing to some) than it does for any specific historical event or group. I also think that we can't use that as a Carte Blanche to dismiss people who feel like AoT is overstepping with this theme. If anything, it kinda highlights why it was a colossal mistake for Isayama to use such loaded holocaust imagery for the Eldians. It actively makes it harder for me to see the nuances of "both sides can be awful" when he directly compares one side to the Jewish people. WWII may have been more of a grey conflict than a lot of us would like to admit and while America certainly had a lot of flaws (including actual nazi-supporters who opposed the war) it definitely can't be said that the Jews ever did anything to warrant the hatred they got from the nazis. So when Isayama dresses up the Eldians in Jewish ghetto iconography and then also tells us that they were themselves an oppressive empire before, it lands way too close to Q-conspiracy stuff for comfort.

And again, what annoys me the most is how easily it could have been avoided. The core theme of how fascism is not only awful but ultimately self-defeating works so much better without dragging the holocaust into it. Japan especially has a genuinely complicated relationship with fascism and seeing a Japanese author tackle that in the way Isayama does is both interesting and bold.
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Pipoko



Joined: 13 Jun 2014
Posts: 165
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 5:54 am Reply with quote
johan.eriksson.9003 wrote:
killjoy_the wrote:
I feel like contextualizing individuals within a regime being fed brainwash-levels of propaganda to justify oppression, and then have a figure tell the entire world that the reason for that oppression was a lie to begin with - but now they actually need to oppress them, as they're actually the threat we've pretended they've been the whole time - isn't really flipping the script to a 'both sides' thing nearly as hard as most people seem to. If anything, it makes it seem like this is all Marley's fault from the start as their oppression lead to the current system, which lead to them going to Paradis to extract the Founder, which lead to Eren, which lead to this. You can maybe go for a point with the Eldians' supposedly oppressing everyone before going to Paradis, but after someone just admitted to lying about the conclusion of the thing, who's to say the start of it was as it's said either?


Willy only exposed the coverup about a Marleyan hero overthrowing the Eldian empire when the reality was was that king Fritz dismantled his own nation out of guilt. The whole "1800 years of Eldian imperialism" still happened so yeah, there is clearly a "both sides" thing going on here. spoiler[And yes, the Eldian empire really was a thing. And it was just as oppressive as the Marleyans say it was. Everything Marley is right now they learned from their former tormentors. That much has been confirmed.]

I agree with those that say the current theme works better as a metaphor for bigger concepts (war and how it changes people/fascism and why it feels appealing to some) than it does for any specific historical event or group. I also think that we can't use that as a Carte Blanche to dismiss people who feel like AoT is overstepping with this theme. If anything, it kinda highlights why it was a colossal mistake for Isayama to use such loaded holocaust imagery for the Eldians. It actively makes it harder for me to see the nuances of "both sides can be awful" when he directly compares one side to the Jewish people. WWII may have been more of a grey conflict than a lot of us would like to admit and while America certainly had a lot of flaws (including actual nazi-supporters who opposed the war) it definitely can't be said that the Jews ever did anything to warrant the hatred they got from the nazis. So when Isayama dresses up the Eldians in Jewish ghetto iconography and then also tells us that they were themselves an oppressive empire before, it lands way too close to Q-conspiracy stuff for comfort.

And again, what annoys me the most is how easily it could have been avoided. The core theme of how fascism is not only awful but ultimately self-defeating works so much better without dragging the holocaust into it. Japan especially has a genuinely complicated relationship with fascism and seeing a Japanese author tackle that in the way Isayama does is both interesting and bold.


spoiler[I think the Ymir backstory at least gives the situation a little bit more nuance than that because the real perpetrator of this whole thing actually enslaved what we consider the ancestors of current Eldians. The first king Fritz built the empire on a slave(s) he obtained and abused and that actually does fit the analogy a little bit better because the slaves are also separate folk from the Eldians. The empire was essentially built on the exploitation of the Jewish equivalent (who were innocent enslaved people) by a foreign power and went from there. Ymir also obtains the power in a very neutral way. So it at least leans into the "this is general human nature" and "this is how imperialism works" angles a little bit more.
]


But also, yeah, it probably would've been much better to not use the imagery at all. Plenty of other ways to still get the point across.
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Everlasting Coconut



Joined: 22 Jul 2019
Posts: 87
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:13 am Reply with quote
Pipoko wrote:
So the big enemy here is this system and all of the Eldians are victims of this system. They are forced to do these things so they wouldn't be killed.


Yeah, I think it's important to point out that, even though the story has switched perspectives and we're now in enemy territory, the characters the show now wants us to empathise with (i.e., Reiner, Gabi, Falco, the Warriors and candidates) are all Eldians who, just like the Eldians in Paradis, are living under the oppression of Marley.

Pretty much the only relevant Marleyan character we've been introduced to is Magath, and he seems to have his own reservations about the system.
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Yuvelir



Joined: 06 Jan 2015
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 8:42 am Reply with quote
Everlasting Coconut wrote:
Pretty much the only relevant Marleyan character we've been introduced to is Magath, and he seems to have his own reservations about the system.

Heck, part of his plan goes through exterminating most of the bigoted Marleyan top brass.
The writing isn't sympathetic with Marley as a nation at all, not in the slightest.
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El Hermano



Joined: 24 Feb 2019
Posts: 399
Location: Texas
PostPosted: Tue Jan 19, 2021 10:39 pm Reply with quote
Kuzu wrote:
Transformers is technically a series about war, but you sure as hell will never see anyone say that the Decepticons aren't the bad guys.


Beast Wars did something of a similar take. Predacons were subjected and ruled over by Maximals, which is why Megatron stole the Golden Disks in the first place and planned to use them to rewrite history so Predacons were the ruling class instead and free his people. Not that that made most of the Predacons on the show any less overtly evil, aside from Dinobot, Blackarachnia, and maybe Waspinator, but they did give the villains motivation for what they were doing rather than just being evil for evil's sake.

Overall, I do tend to like 'both sides' stories. War and conflict are complex issues and stories that try to paint them as simple good VS evil conflicts ultimately do more harm than good in my opinion.

johan.eriksson.9003 wrote:
WII may have been more of a grey conflict than a lot of us would like to admit and while America certainly had a lot of flaws (including actual nazi-supporters who opposed the war)


People can protest war for many reasons beyond supporting the other side. That's like saying anyone who protested the Vietnam War or Iraq War were supporters of North Vietnam or Al-Qaeda, which honestly sound like a strawman a person would come up with to brand anti-war groups as bad.
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Johan Eriksson 9003



Joined: 27 Oct 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2021 5:49 am Reply with quote
El Hermano wrote:

johan.eriksson.9003 wrote:
WII may have been more of a grey conflict than a lot of us would like to admit and while America certainly had a lot of flaws (including actual nazi-supporters who opposed the war)


People can protest war for many reasons beyond supporting the other side. That's like saying anyone who protested the Vietnam War or Iraq War were supporters of North Vietnam or Al-Qaeda, which honestly sound like a strawman a person would come up with to brand anti-war groups as bad.


Um...ok? There absolutely were a lot of people who opposed entering the war on the grounds of "I don't see what the problem is" though. I never said that everyone who didn't want war were nazi-supporters. That is a strawman.
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Zefram



Joined: 02 Oct 2019
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 20, 2021 12:55 pm Reply with quote
Pipoko wrote:

spoiler[I think the Ymir backstory at least gives the situation a little bit more nuance than that because the real perpetrator of this whole thing actually enslaved what we consider the ancestors of current Eldians. The first king Fritz built the empire on a slave(s) he obtained and abused and that actually does fit the analogy a little bit better because the slaves are also separate folk from the Eldians. The empire was essentially built on the exploitation of the Jewish equivalent (who were innocent enslaved people) by a foreign power and went from there. Ymir also obtains the power in a very neutral way. So it at least leans into the "this is general human nature" and "this is how imperialism works" angles a little bit more.
]


But also, yeah, it probably would've been much better to not use the imagery at all. Plenty of other ways to still get the point across.


While agree that using imagery of Holocaust here was not a good idea. However, I slightly disagree about the Eldian empire origin backstory, its a bit more complicated then that.

spoiler[ Backstory was more about the Haves and the Have Nots, powerful and powerless and how much Titan power made a difference to the powerful but did not to the powerless. The original "king" of Eldian people is regular leader - powerful warrior, brute, etc and original Ymir is powerless slave who is so abused and beaten-down that when she obtained the greatest power imaginable allowed herself to be used up by her abuser with only way out by killing herself. After that the story changes, her daughters were the only heirs of the Eldian king, so their family became the power class. ]

But I also find it interesting that in all Eldian power families (Tiburs, Fritz', etc), the other members of the family reaped the rewards but they sacrificed their most powerless member, someone who is always timid (and in Tiburs and Fritz' cases usually female). Its only when Eldian families lose control of their Titans (the ones that Marleys stole) the males become part of it, and they do not consider themselves sacrifices and powerless but more as warriors. I find this dynamic very interesting.
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