Attack on Titan Season 4 Debut

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Enoch Orozco

Currently, the first two episodes of the final season of Attack on Titan are available on Crunchyroll (Photo Courtesy of Enoch Orozco).

[WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Seasons 1-3 of Attack on Titan, as well as discussion about episode 1 of Season 4]

In 2013, seven years ago, the hit anime Attack on Titan took the world by storm. The genius writing of Hajime Isayama along with the beautiful animation by Wit Studio brought a lot of new fans to the scene and satisfied the die-hard followers’ unmeetable expectations. The island of Paradis is home to humans and monsters alike, and humanity finds itself on the brink of destruction. The first season focuses on the humans of Paradis, known as the Eldians, who believe they are the last human beings left on earth. 100 years before our main character is born, the monsters known as Titans (3-50 meter tall beings who only live to eat humans) chased humanity within the only three walls that separated the two parties. Our story follows Eren Jaeger, a young teen with a mysterious power to shift into a titan and his uncovering of the secrets behind the titans.

Following a full 24 episode season of a grueling plot with many convoluted twists and turns, the show disappeared. Then, randomly, after a four-year wait, the show reappeared with a second and third season. Wit Studio took a lot of time animating, with some scenes taking up to two months to release (gore warning). However, even though the show remained as expertly crafted as it once was, it wasn’t received nearly as openly as season one. Four years is a long time for people to wait for a show with little to no updates, so a large chunk of the fanbase died off. Following three years of semi-steady episode uploads since the season two debut, on July 1, 2019, the third season came to an end. Our main cast of characters finally made it to the ocean around their island, only to find more enemies on the other side. This time, the enemies were other humans, known as the Marleyans.

After a few delays due to COVID, on December 6, 2020, the first episode of season four was finally released. This episode, much like the first season, took the world by storm. One streaming service, Crunchyroll, was down for 15 minutes due to the insane amount of traffic to the website. I was both stubborn and lucky enough to not have to wait forever to watch the new episode, and to put it frankly, I was blown away.

Wit Studio gave the responsibility of animation to a new studio, MAPPA, and to say the least, I was worried. However, within the first couple of minutes of the new episode, my nerves were calmed by the beautiful animation. In a surprise twist to anime-only watchers, we jumped forward four years AND didn’t see any of our main cast of “good guys” the entire episode. Instead, Hajime builds on the themes of war and perspective and puts us in the shoes of the Marleyans we have grown to hate over the seasons. The Marleyans believe the world was betrayed by the Eldians, and that they are devil spawns that need to be completely wiped out. However, Hajime makes us sympathize with the “enemies” of the third season in an attempt to make us turn on the people we followed for the entire show. He pushes the idea that, in war, neither side is the “good” or “bad” guy. 

It seems like, at least for the first couple of episodes, we will be following a group of Marleyan soldiers and their perspective on the war and Eldians. While some viewers may not be swayed and remain loyal to the Eldians, some of the more empathetic viewers may start to like the Marleyans.  It will be an interesting clash both within and outside the story when the two parties inevitably meet again. Nevertheless, I am excited to watch new episodes every Sunday at 3:45 EST on Crunchyroll or other streaming platforms.