This Week in Anime
It's The End of Attack on Titan (As We Know It)

by Nicholas Dupree & Michelle Liu,

Before the anime finally reaches that infamous Basement of Secrets after six long years of waiting, Nick and Micchy break down the drama and sacrifices that laid the foundation for a reveal that will change the world of Attack on Titan forever.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Not Safe For Work warning for content and language.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet

You can read our weekly coverage of Attack on Titan here!

Well Micchy, we've finally, at long last, returned to Attack on Titan! It's been a tumultuous path littered with extended hiatuses and unplanned production breaks, but now that we're finally getting back to the rip-roaring action of loud and dirty Titan Fightin', I can't wait to see how our heroes--oh good god almighty it's all gone to shit.
Yo don't get me started on how much this season is hurting me, because MAN is it a bloodbath. Just look at the gap between the first episode of this cour...
And only four episodes later...
For real, the most striking thing about this latest season is how miserable it's been. Titan's always had tragedy, but it's usually worked to balance those losses out with some sense of triumph or progress. But not anymore! Every victory comes on the backs of countless corpses and seems to accomplish little besides preparing the survivors for the next round of slaughter.
For real, the nihilism of this season is relentless. With every step forward, the Scouts lose so much, and even their greatest victories come at a potentially greater cost. Not even the main cast is safe, much less the randos with two minutes of screentime.
Heroism is dead, everything is terrible, and everything they're working for might not even be worth it in the end, but they won't know until they (eventually) get to the damn basement.
It's probably a bad sign when the character I relate to the most in all this is Erwin.
But yeah, this season has been rough to watch at points. Especially for everyone's anxious son Armin.
Poor kid came up with a couple of clever plans in the past, and suddenly the grown-ups are putting him in charge. No wonder he's pissing his pants half the time.
Just goes to show how stretched thin the scouts have gotten at this point. They've got three adults, a half dozen teenagers, and like thirty red shirts against a trio of the most powerful Titans humanity's ever faced!
(And also this fucker.)
At this point, almost all of the old guard has been wiped out. Save for Levi and Hange, basically their entire generation of Scouts has met a grisly end, so they have no choice but to rely on a bunch of kids who are in no way ready for any of this. Sure, the 104th went through much more than the corps before them, but they're a far cry from experienced soldiers. Still, it's their turn to lead now, whether they like it or not.
At least the kids get off to a decent start by AoT standards. Armin figures out Reiner's hiding spot, and they even concoct a good plan to get him isolated so they can show off their new toys.
I cannot believe their fancy new weapon is just pointy grenades.
Did you find it...mindblowing?
When they whipped out those things I was like, "oh I see, you developed missiles," but nope, they're just glorified grenades that you can stick into things, I'm shook.
Yeah, the kids actually manage to beat Reiner by going full Fortnite on him, but unfortunately Titans work the same way as starfish, and the Beast Titan just got the bright idea to literally pitch Bertholdt over the wall for some payback.
Speaking of Bertie, he is not having a good time, mentally speaking.
The best thing this season (besides it inexplicably becoming a baseball anime) has been watching Bertholdt break down. His logic circuits are fully fried by stress at this point.
Bert's just ahead of the curve. Basically everyone's been on a trajectory to pure nihilism since they shifted from Titans being the enemy to warring against their fellow man, so it's not surprising that the jumpiest character has gone full fuck-it-mode. That's just how it be on this bitch of an earth.

We're still in the dark about the exact reality of the world outside the walls, but everything Bert, Reiner, and Annie have implied about it suggests a truth even more soul-crushingly cruel than what's come before, and in the face of all that, Bert just decides to let go of his worries. He'll just play his part and
whatever happens, happens.
And yes, while all this is going down, the Beast Titan is just Randy Johnson-ing the scouts.
But if we've learned anything from Attack on Titan, it's always a mistake to blindly fulfill whatever role you've been given. Eren thought he was the chosen one to save humanity, only to find out he was chosen for a more horrifying purpose. Armin loses his shit when he's put in charge and ends up relying on Jean to actually relay orders. And Bertholdt, focusing only on the duty he's supposed to fulfill, loses an arm and a leg—twice. So, basically all his limbs.
That still puts him ahead of most folks this season. Cuz it turns out Erwin, brilliant commander of humanity's greatest hope, only has one play when going up against an All-Star pitcher.
(The bird is everyone who's not Levi.)

Erwin has a lotta bold words for someone who's about to get totally wrecked.
It says a lot about this season that the big heroic speech to invigorate the troops is just "We're all gonna die, but if we pile up enough of our bodies, we might trip him when he walks over our corpses."
"We're all gonna be cannon fodder so this one guy can do his thing and definitely not fuck it up."
Ron Howard voice: he fucked it up
I do find the bits of introspection we get from Erwin preceding this pretty interesting. He's spent his career leading countless soldiers to their deaths in the tenuous hope that they'd get something to show for it, and now that he's so close to the truth, he's half-tempted to abandon everything and just run to the basement so he can die knowing if he was right or not.
His subordinates see him as this inspiring leader, but on some level his motivations are self-serving. His speeches about liberation and the greater good are handy for getting people to follow him, but deep down he just has this need to know the truth. It seems inconsequential, but that's perhaps the most human thing about him.
I think it's that scrap of humanity that's kept me locked into this season despite all the seeming hopelessness. Titan's always been at its best when it hones in on why all these characters are fighting through seeming oblivion, and Erwin's final moments are a great example of that. Or well, they're sort of his final moments, but we'll get to that.
They're his final coherent moments, anyway. The rest of his time on earth consists of getting absolutely destroyed seconds into a suicide charge, getting dragged back by a red shirt who miraculously survived, and then bleeding out in delirium while Levi and Eren take way too long to decide who to save.
That's right, because Erwin ain't the only person throwing himself straight to hell for the sake of
a pyrrhic victory!
Armin you stupid shit, why would you do this? Actually, I totally buy that Armin would put himself on the line like this - he's way more comfortable throwing himself into danger than telling others to do so. So correction: Eren why would you just go along with this when Armin's such a terrible liar?
I think Eren's just reached the point where he's accepted it. The dude's seen countless humans thrown into the shredder, explicitly for his sake, that I buy him numbly accepting that even his best friend was doomed to give up everything for his sake. Which is why the second Armin's fried face husks out a breath, Eren's ready to feed him some titanic teammates.
Eren: "Friendship ended with Bertholdt, now Armin is (still) my best friend".
Of course, that causes complications when Levi's best friend is also clinging to life, but that darn horse-monster skedaddled with the other enemy Titans. Sidenote: how much of a letdown must it be to join a squad with the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan, but you get the fucking Pack Mule Titan? Welcome to the team Greg, your powers include carrying our shit and snitching.
Press F to pay respects to Greg. Gotta say tho, I'm pretty impressed that Attack on Titan managed to get me to feel things for Levi. I'm so used to him being the resident murder-fanservice vehicle that his sincere attachment to Erwin surprised me. As much as he acts like a cold logic machine, the guy cares about Erwin as more than a strategic advantage; if he were being purely pragmatic, he'd acknowledge that Erwin's led his last charge and save Armin instead.
I have gone on record saying that Levi sucks ass, and that's mainly because he's always felt like a bad Batman comic brought to life. Even the first half of season 3's attempts to flesh him out with Kenny and his backstory just made him more of a brooding badass murderman. But seeing him struggle with who to save actually got me.
I think this is the first time Levi's shown overt compassion for anyone? Finally, after three and a half seasons, he puts into perspective the mistakes his generation has made and the hope the younger generation represents. His ultimate decision to forsake Erwin in favor of Armin marks a changing of the guard, as the last vestiges of his team approach extinction.
It also marks him not wanting to get gutted by Mikasa but yeah, that too.

It's also kind of a touching goodbye. Levi's not blind to all the hurt and trauma everyone's gone through because of Erwin, and at the end he recognizes that for as valuable as the commander has been, bringing him back would just repeat the same cycle.
I think everyone has earned some rest after the hell they've been put through, and you know where they can go to kick back and relax? A NICE. COZY. BASEMENT...
I've been waiting for this day! I still can't believe that after six long years, we're finally going to the goddamn basement they teased back at the beginning of season one. We're finally going to the dang basement. The cellar. The vault. That room underground. It's finally here.
At this point, I don't even care what's in there. It's been six years of Isayama and Studio WIT blue-balling me on the only remaining MacGuffin in this whole god damn series, and I am going to fucking celebrate the moment that episode launches.
inb4 they pull a Cask of Amontillado and lock us in there somehow
Fuckin do it. I live here now. Just as long as I get some kind of goddamn answers. I don't even care if they're bad answers or dumb answers or problematic answers, I just want to know already. Maybe we'll find out what the heck Beast Titan guy has to do with Eren's dad.

I never got around to reading this part of the manga, so I'm as much in the dark as you are. Answers would be nice! Or maybe they'll just introduce a bunch more questions and tell you the answer is in another cellar.
So yeah, with the biggest, longest, most frustrating plot point in this show finally getting resolved next episode, it's safe to say I'm locked in on AoT for the rest of the season, no matter how depressing it gets.
rushing to watch the basement episode like

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