Attack On Titan – Series 3 Part One (Episodes 38-49) (Cert 15)
2 Discs DVD/Blu-ray/4 Discs Ltd Combo Collector’s Edition (Distributor: Manga Entertainment) Running time: 287 minutes approx
The ongoing battle between humans and Titans is one that threatens to rage for a long time to come, but half the battle is understanding the enemy as much as it is being able to conquer them in physical combat. However, much about the Titans remains shrouded in mystery and each step closer to the truth simply incurs more questions.
Season two of Attack On Titan saw many shocking secrets come to light regarding the Titans, specifically revealing some as actually being members of the scout corps with the same powers of transformation as Eren Jaeger. This has a direct effect on Christa Lenz, previously a secondary character, now thrust into the spotlight when exposed as being Historia Reiss, a young woman of noble breeding.
With so many answers still required season three takes a dramatic new direction which might alienate fans expecting more of the same, but nonetheless still has a gripping yarn to share with us. With two soldiers Bertholt and Reiner outed as the Colossal and Armoured Titans respectively, the scouts realise the military is working on behalf of the government who are clearly hiding something.
Going undercover in a remote cottage where Hange can continue to experiment on Eren, their hideout is discovered, but thanks to a tip off, the squad under Levi’s command manage to make their escape. Suspecting the government are after Eren and Historia, the squad make their way back to Trost, although their suspicions are confirmed when Eren and Historia are indeed abducted, after fooling the military police with decoys.
Meanwhile, Levi encounters a face from his past in the form of Kenny The Ripper, once an outlaw now a member of the Interior Squad but still very dangerous. Kenny and his crew have their own version of the ODM, putting them on an even footing when engaged in battle with Levi’s squad, though they struggle with fighting fellow humans instead of Titans, and can’t bring themselves to strike to kill.
Kenny is just one of many new faces introduced in the first part of this third season, all of whom bring with them a distinct new flavour to the proceedings by virtue of the change of location for these episodes. We’ve had glimpses of the city in the past but nothing on the same scale as seen here, revealing Trost to be far more developed and “modern” looking that the rural landscapes we’ve hitherto only known.
Citizens dress in attire more akin to 1930’s fashion, architecture has a strong European influence, and whilst motor vehicles don’t exist, their transport is sturdier than the horse and carts the Scouts rely on. The interiors of the main government building is positively opulent compared the huts of the wall’s outskirts, and nobody is less than well groomed in appearance.
For this reason, the direction of the story concerns itself with the political misdeeds that are kept from the masses by the ruling parties working for their own agendas. Squad captain Erwin is well aware of the ruse the government has pulled and sacrifices himself to expose this and free Trost from this tyranny, taking the battle from beyond the city walls to the inner chambers of the city’s political hub.
If this sounds dull and not worthy of your time, let me assure this isn’t the case, though as a departure from the norm it is quite a drastic one. Writer Hajime Isayama has simply swapped one set of relentless, single-minded destructive monsters for another for our heroes to overcome, allowing them to flex a different set of muscles en route to victory. The execution may not be the same but the tactical approach still requires planning and flawless teamwork to pull it off, redirecting the tension and drama to another channel.
This admittedly means a reduction in action sequences but not a complete absence as Kenny and his squad are always on hand to make life difficult for our heroes. The latter part of this twelve-episode set sees the story move location again to an underground cave where Eren is held captive by steel chains in a pseudo crucifixion pose. It is here further secrets about the Titans come to the fore but key facts about their history remain shrouded in mystery.
Should this switch in direction fail to excite some fans because it temporarily eschews what made this franchise a hit in the first place, then this is a case of missing the point. When a great idea wears out its welcome, there are only so many layers of the same paint one can apply to keep it interesting; by taking the story elsewhere, expanding its diegesis, and fleshing out the characters and the main concept via different avenues only enhances the product, giving it more substance and depth.
As polarising as it might be, this change of pace is actually vital to the overall narrative as much as it re-energises the cast, having experienced new challenges and new ways of applying their various skills and survival techniques. The closing episodes depict the first signs of this, setting the scene for the second half of the season (which has just finished airing in Japan), a sneak peek of which can be found mid-credits of the final chapter, hinting at a return to the previous format.
Making this an easier watch is the marathon play feature which cuts out the credits and previews, playing the episodes straight through from start to finish. This keeps the pace steady and allows the audience to recall the influx of new faces and information overload that weekly instalments might compromise.
Hopefully most fans won’t be put off by this minor detour from what they’ve come to expect from Attack On Titan and instead will embrace the change as it is still the same AOT we all know and love, it’s just moving the story forward from a fresh perspective. Part two of this third season however, can’t come soon enough!
English Language 5.1 True HD
Japanese Language 2.0 True HD
Episode 40 Commentary
Attack On Titan At Anime Expo 2018: Interviews with Yuki Kaji and Bryce PapenBrook
Inside The Episode Interviews with Director and Voice Cast
The Director’s Break Down for Episode 46
Episode 47 Commentary
Chibi Theatre: “Go Get ‘Em, New Levi Squad!”
Eye Catch Gallery
Textless Opening Song – “Red Swan”
Textless Closing Song – “Akatsuki no Requiem”
Blu-ray Collector’s Edition
Four Art Cards
Limited Collector’s Edition
Rigid Chipboard Box to hold part 2
24-Page Art book
Rating – ****
Man In Black