Co-Managing Mosaic Editor
Have you ever started a show thinking the main idea was one thing, only to reach the end and discover the whole plot adds up to something much greater than you ever could’ve imagined?
That’s the rollercoaster of emotions I went through while watching “Attack on Titan” (AOT). After 10 years, four seasons and two long-awaited finale specials, the anime finally reached its end on Nov. 4.
Although the manga (the comics that the TV show is adapted from) ended two years ago, my first exposure to the series was the anime, so that’s how I intended to tune into the finale.
However, I watched season one at the ripe age of 12. Now that I’m 20 years old, I’d say that I’ve turned into a master of dodging spoilers despite being chronically online. Avoiding manga spoilers hasn’t been the only hurdle for anime viewers, though. After years of delay, a change in animation studios and art style and a “Final Season” that turned out to be split into not one, not two, not three, but four separate parts, the road has been a long one.
After all these years, does the anime stand the test of time?
The series starts with a boy, Eren Jaeger, who lives inside the outermost wall of humanity’s last stronghold. This stronghold, made up of three rings of walls – the most privileged/rich live in the very center, of course – protects them from humanity’s greatest threat: Titans, unintelligent, disfigured, man-eating giants that have wiped out all civilization beyond the walls.
Actually, two things protect the humans: the walls and the soldiers of the Scout Regiment, who volunteer to go outside and fight the Titans. Although their actions are for the sake of defense and research (they hope to find out more about the Titans to stop them for good), the Scouts are not revered as brave warriors by civilians. Since their losses far outweigh their successes, most people just see them as idiots with a death wish. But not Eren. To him, they are the only people who know true freedom, as they are not restricted to life inside the walls.
When tragedy strikes their town, Eren and his childhood best friends (Armin Arlert and Mikasa Ackermann) are set on a path that drives them to join the Scouts and the fight against the Titans. But from this point on, nothing in the story is as it seems. As years pass, characters come and go and Eren’s world expands, we watch a boy become a man – and a man become something much more.
AOT was one of the first anime series I ever watched. If you’ve never watched an anime before (maybe you prefer live-action TV shows or hate reading subtitles), I beg that you give this one a shot.
This series features some pretty intense violence and gore (spoiler alert: the man-eating Titans eat some people, and none of the bloody details are spared). Since the show is animated, it’s definitely not as bad as live-action gore can get, but I’d watch at your own discretion if you can’t stomach that sort of thing.
Once you get past the gore, I guarantee that the striking events of the first episode will lock you into the story. Boasting engaging, goal-driven main and side characters, in-depth conflicts and some of the coolest fight sequences I’ve ever seen, seasons one and two are a very wild ride.
But now that everything’s come together after seasons three and four? Let me just say this: If you have any appreciation for storytelling or worldbuilding (or, I don’t know, 10/10 entertainment?) you need to watch this show. I’ve never in my entire life as a consumer of stories been absolutely floored by a finale like AOT’s.
The story’s creator, Hajime Isayama, leaves no stone unturned and makes every moment count. And I mean every moment. By the end of the show, it’s revealed that even the most minor of characters’ deaths happened for a reason. Isayama digs so far into (and beyond) the timeline of his world that the story truly transforms into one unlike any other I’ve ever watched or read.
The past, the present, the future and fate all come swirling together for a monumental ending that leaves you questioning humanity – and whether someone who has committed the grossest atrocities can ever be redeemed.
Unless you’re not a fan of intricately-woven plots and superb writing, AOT is a must-watch. You can stream it for free (with ads) on Crunchyroll or watch ad-free through their subscription program, which offers a two-week free trial. Give it a shot. The anime might just leave you in tears the way it did with me.