If you haven’t watched “Attack on Titan,” what are you waiting for?

Arts & Entertainment

Greg Shannon, Staff

Header Image: Kodansha

If you were on social media in 2013 and 2014, then you probably remember constant murmurings of a Japanese television series called “Attack on Titan.” With the exception of maybe “Pokemon” or “Dragon Ball,” “Titan” is the only major series imported from Japan to break into the mainstream audience in America. The series had an interesting curve of popularity since its release in 2013.  In its almost eight-year run, it went from the most hyped, most talked about show on the internet, to the point where mainstream media sources were covering it, to seemingly disappearing out of nowhere after the first season. Many people almost forgot it existed, and the mainstream audience and media for the most part refused to even acknowledge seasons two and three. However, 2020 was when all of that would change. Around mid-November, the anticipation for the fourth and final season of this anime would shake the entertainment world to its core and would even break into the mainstream world again.


“Attack on Titan” is an animated series adapted from a serialized comic of the same name by author and artist Hajime Isayama. The story follows one Eren Jaeger, a headstrong boy with a dark family past, and his friends and fellow soldiers in a military built up to defend humanity from giant humanoid beasts that resemble comical and demented charicatures of people: the titular Titans. The story is set in motion when two Titans break down the walls surrounding a young Jaeger’s home town, leading to his mother’s death. From that point, the story follows Jaeger and his fellow soldiers through years of battle against the Titan menace, all the while the story dropping hints and clues that something much greater and more sinister was beyond the walls that protected humanity.


I’ll admit that when the show first aired in 2013 I eventually dropped it near the end of the first season. Even though there was a bunch of action and beautiful animation, my 13-year-old brain just couldn’t keep up, and sadly I just didn’t continue. That was an incredible mistake on my part. The hype that surrounded the return of the show for its final season is what drove me to rewatch and catch up on this masterpiece of storytelling. I binged the entirety of the first three seasons and honestly didn’t know how they could top them. 

Then it happened: the first part of season four was released. It’s hard to describe just how good part one has been. If season three is the preppy high school jock of the series, then the first part of season four looks like the older brother that went pro and is living in a mansion rubbing it in his younger brother’s face that he’s so much better.  The season takes the great dramatic action the series is known for, the brilliant character development that the second season gave us, and further built on the full-circle narrative arcs set up in the third season. These are all very much present in this latest season and are even amplified in it. 

The first thing that the fourth season of this show does is introduce a new cast of characters separate from those we were acquainted with in the first. In the first five episodes, the writers develop these characters to be on par with some fan favorites that came before them. We see the growth of Reiner Braun, a recurring character in the series who is trying to cope with all of the mistakes he made throughout the show, and see how grief can affect a person in complex ways. Some new characters are set up as foils for Jaeger and his comrades, allowing the audience to sympathize with the people they are meant to see as the enemy. While these aren’t all the characters and development we get, they’re definitely the most important. What makes it so amazing, though, is that a lot of it comes in the first five episodes. They give us a reason to care about these characters in such a short amount of time and continue it even after the main characters show back up and steal the spotlight. 


Next, something that this show continuously does flawlessly is having everything come full circle. “Attack on Titan” has managed to make everything seem important. Like its past seasons, they take the events that leave us with questions and manage to build on them and make them fit perfectly into the world and narrative. Without spoiling anything, an example of this is a three-episode long arc in season four that not only answers a question that was left open in 2017, but does so in a way that shows the new characters’ connections to the previous story beats. It shows you how much the creator Isayama cares about this story. Every time you come up with a question or theory, you know that eventually it will be answered in some way, and usually in an interesting or surprising way. 

Lastly, the thing that truly made this season special compared to the already amazing show is that the tone and feel of the series is completely different, yet still just as high-quality. In the first three seasons, there was always a clearly defined good and evil. We knew which group was on the right side of history and we knew who the enemy was. However, with how things started this season and all of the insane events that have transpired, it’s honestly hard to tell which side is good — it’s all grey. Isayama did something that I honestly don’t see many shows do. He took a once loved character and destroyed him, made him universally hated by every fan of the series, and made him a part of the enemy. Most fans were rooting for him to be defeated and killed by Jeager or one of his teammates. Then, in just a few episodes of season four, everything flipped. 


People started to care about our main antagonist. We saw their backstory and even questioned “Are they the bad guy in this story?” Then, completely out of left-field, the writer takes the protagonist, the character we’ve rooted for and followed since the beginning, and turned him into a monster, into the villain. There are no good guys or bad guys anymore. Anyone in this show can be a villain or hero depending on who you agree with. The writers of the series set it up this way because now, the biggest question of the story will not be “Who is going to win?” and instead will be “How far will they go to win?”

Isayama has honestly created something extremely special with this series. The world, the plot and the characters have all seemed special and every episode has been used to push the story forward. This last season of “Attack On Titan” has been spectacular so far and it only makes me more excited to see what will happen in part two this January. If you haven’t watched this show I honestly encourage you to watch it. It’s been labeled as the “Game of Thrones” of animation and it honestly lives up to the hype. Plus with part two coming out in January, there’s still plenty of time to catch up.

2 thoughts on “If you haven’t watched “Attack on Titan,” what are you waiting for?

  1. I absolutely agree, I just started Season 3 and loving it so far. Absolutely worth the watch for anyone looking to hop into anime or a good show in general!


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