Attack on Titan Season 4 continues to deliver excellent content this week with another great episode. This episode continues from episode 9 and concerns the plans that Paradise Island has in order to ensure their security. Not much happens in terms of action but there are great scenes that help to develop the characters, flesh out the world, and set up the next big arc of the story. There will be some spoilers in this review.
Eren’s True Colors Show
Eren in previous episodes looked intimidating and foreboding but now he is just downright terrifying and frightening. The way he just grabbed Hange and yelled at her was scary. The lightning effects when he almost transformed into a titan were also a great addition, emphasizing just how angry he was at that moment. In each episode, he becomes more deranged and more like the antagonist. It is frightening to think what he is capable of given all the power he has at his disposal. At the same time, you also understand why he is like this. I can’t imagine what sort of stress and pressure he is going through. This makes me really excited to see what Eren has up his sleeves since he is so dangerous and unpredictable that he could do anything.
Eren and Historia
Eren also showed his soft side in this episode, especially to Historia. In one of the flashback scenes, Eren defends Historia from the plan to turn her into a titan to activate the Rumbling. It is clear to anyone watching that he has feelings for her. While I’m not necessarily against Eren being with Historia, I have much preferred to ship him with Mikasa. I mean, she is one of the characters that we have been following for the longest time along with Eren and Armin. She is also the girl that has shown the most affection and care for him since they were children. It is just disappointing that Eren doesn’t reciprocate the same feelings for Mikasa. I guess Attack on Titan is following the anime cliche of the childhood friend always not getting the guy.
Although I do like Historia as a character, in my personal opinion I do not think she is a match for Eren. Not that there’s anything wrong with Historia, it’s just that I think that Mikasa is a better match for him. This nicely leads to the next point which is the reveal that Historia is pregnant. Now, I am very excited to see the implications of this since they need people of royal blood for the Rumbling to work. I also want to see who is the father of Historia’s child. I have a feeling that Eren has something to do with this.
A Bigger World
This episode also showed Paradise Island form diplomatic relations with Hizuru ( basically Japan). It is then revealed that Mikasa is actually descended from a Shogun lord and is royalty. Now, I personally did not like the implementation of this reveal since it just felt so sudden and without warning. Compare this to the reveal of Historia being of royal blood which was built up and foreshadowed for several seasons. I also don’t like it because it kind of makes Historia less unique since we have another girl who is secretly royalty. Although, it is possible that Hizuru was making this stuff up so that they could get access to Paradise’s natural resources. I certainly do want to see how this new faction will factor into the story.
As a student studying Political Economy, I really like that Attack on Titan can incorporate so many political concepts and ideas into its story. One throwaway line in this episode that I found fascinating is that the people of Paradise don’t know what a nation is. They’ve believed for so long that there was only one humanity, within the walls, that they didn’t know that people could form their own unique identities separate from others. It’s just interesting to see an isolated society try to adapt to the modern world. These sorts of political discussions make anime like Attack on Titan so much more engaging and interesting for me.
The Happy Times are Over
One scene that I particularly liked was the flashback segment where they constructed a railroad and rode on a train. It’s basically just them having one of those “slice of life” moments after a long day’s work. Jean, Connie, and Sasha’s dialogue I found to be very funny and entertaining. This scene adds nothing to the plot or story but what it does add a bit of much-needed levity. For 3 seasons, these people have experienced nothing but suffering so it is nice to see them have some time to just enjoy themselves. A moment of peace when they don’t have to think about survival. It makes the characters feel more human since they aren’t just there to slay titans but have their own unique personalities. In retrospect, this is also quite tragic since it’s another scene of Sasha enjoying herself just before she is gone.
This is brilliantly juxtaposed with the next scene where the group is openly hostile and critical of Eren’s actions. Connie even goes as far as threatening to end Eren when the time comes. These people have been friends going all the way back to Season 1. To see the comradery that these people have built up over the years be torn apart by this conflict and for friends to pitted against each other is quite tragic. It also makes the scene that was mentioned before much more depressing because this is probably the last time we will see these characters genuinely be happy.
What’s going on?
One thing that I do need to criticize would be the confusing pacing. This episode has multiple flashback scenes as well as current-day ones mixed in together. The problem was there wasn’t anything to help distinguish between the two. Usually, a flashback scene would have different screen proportions or a filter to differentiate it from one that is happening in the future. In this case, both past and present scenes look exactly the same. This made it somewhat confusing for me to understand what was going on since it wasn’t immediately clear which scene was happening in the past and which were happening now.
Overall, this episode was a solid entry into the season. It did a great job at building the tone and atmosphere this half of the season is going for as well as helping to establish the important plot points that will be relevant in the future. All of the setups in this episode such as Historia’s pregnancy and debate over Paradise’s foreign policy make me very excited to see what else is in store. The team at MAPPA have consistently proven that they are able to deliver quality on a weekly basis and based on the track record of this season so far I’m sure it will be amazing.