TV review: ‘Attack On Titan’ season four

Attack+on+Titan+information+screen+on+Hulu

Patrick Murphy/Northern Star

Attack on Titan information screen on Hulu

Brandon Montemayor , Lifestyle writer

Hit anime “Attack On Titan” returned for its fourth season late in 2020 and finished at the end of March. Fans of the anime have been eagerly awaiting the return of Eren Yeager and the rest of the survey corps after the climactic cliffhanger ending of season three. Grab some “O.D.M.” gear and strap in, because season four is a wild ride.

*Caution: spoilers relating to “Attack On Titan” ahead.

Although confusing at times, season four of “Attack on Titan” is a 16-episode epic that flipped the series on its head. It delivers satisfying conclusions to some of the series most compelling plotlines and continues to develop well-rounded characters and themes.

This season does not pick up directly where season three left off, instead dropping the viewer right into a war four years into the future. Four years have passed since the survey corps reached the sea and Armin inherited the colossal titan.

Season four opens up on a host of unfamiliar faces. It also begins in the relatively unexplored country of Marley, following a war that’s been raging due to the perceived lapse in power after the female and colossal titan were lost. 

It’s during this arc that two new characters, Gabi and Falco, are introduced. Both are kids from Marley who compete to inherit the armored titan. Gabi is a brash and proud eldian of Marley who has been brainwashed by the stories of the devils of Paradis. Falco, on the other hand, has more humanity and is keen to see that there is more to life than what they’re being fed. 

The season plays along a winding pathway of two converging stories, one following Gabi and Falco and more of the Marleyan side of the story, and the other exploring the growing divide in Paradis with Eren’s dissent. 

The series once again manages to succeed, retaining its immersive and attention grabbing world. The animation in this show is phenomenal, especially the scenes during the attack on Liberio. The new CG titans look great as well, with the subtle change in animation style adding a pop to the titans which effectively differentiates them.

This season also continues to build upon its characters and persuade the viewer to buy into each of their motivations. This became the main point of the season as viewers watch the moral shifts in the characters and overall theme. 

In the beginning seasons, most people are on board with Eren’s quest to avenge his mother’s death and save humanity. However, by the end of season four, Eren Yeager has become the Big Bad — someone so hellbent on revenge, it completely distorts his moral compass. He now has this ‘at all costs’ demeanor, where he no longer cares who gets hurt or by what means he achieves his goals. 

We see a similar shift in Gabi as well, who over time starts to see that the fearmongering and brainwashing that Marleyans have told her about the “devils” of Paradis might not be so true, as she’s taken in and cared for by Eldians.

The viewer also starts to see the effects of everything that’s happened. Originally rooting for Eren and Paradis, the viewer gets a closer look at the bigger picture, seeing the destructive pathway that the constant war has caused. The curtain is pulled back on the true cost of war, mainly how it affects the innocent and how each side believes they are right for their own reasons. For Eldia and Marley, so many stones have been thrown it’s impossible for the nations to distinguish who struck first. 

There are moments where this season falls flat, particularly with how jarring and confusing the initial time-jump is. If a viewer hasn’t read or kept up with the manga, they’d be overwhelmed during the beginning episodes, as they are introduced to a ton of new characters, places and plots. 

The other con is the exposition dumps. There are whole episodes where the main set pieces revolve around exposition between two characters. This creates a lull in a series known for its larger-than-life battle scenes and fierce brutal combat. 

Overall, season four more than delivered, and it’s easy to see why it has earned critical acclaim and developed a beloved fanbase. The show has never let its foot off the gas— from the pilot to the final episode of season four, the series has kept viewers and critics in awe. This season managed a rotten tomatoes score of 93% as well as an average IMDB score of 9.5 with some episodes being ranked a perfect 10. 

“Attack on Titan” has achieved so much success that fans will be pleased to note that although this latest run was dubbed the “final season,” which it was originally intended to be, the show’s massive swirl in popularity has earned the series a part two to this season.

With that in mind, here’s to looking towards the future, and what it has in store for Eldians and Marleyans alike.