Attack on Titan: Season 3 – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Shingeki no Kyojin Season 3

 

Related: Attack on Titan: Season 1

Attack on Titan: Season 2

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Fantasy Action Horror

Length: 22 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Finally some human drama
  • First half delivers good action
  • Less Eren

Negatives:

  • Stories from previous seasons don’t carry over well
  • CG titans
  • Baseball titan
  • Continued lack of thought to the details

(Request an anime for review here.)

Here we go, back for another season of Attack on Titan. After the poor showing of Attack on Titan: Season 2, I was done with this series, but a reader requested I return for the third season, as it had improved – or so the claim went. I go into this willing to give it a chance.

Attack on Titan: Season 3 starts well with beautiful animation and a focus on human versus human conflict. The titans became an uninteresting part of the series since it turned out every character and their mum is secretly a titan. Eren as a titan is still the greatest mistake this series made. You don’t think the author would do the same again, would he? Would he? It has also become evident which characters have plot armour, removing much of the tension that Attack on Titan executed well in the first season. These problems persist in season 3.

However, this season does improve in several ways. As I mentioned, the human conflict is good between the scouts – largely composed of the lower class – and the ruling class at the heart of civilisation. There should have been more such conflicts from the beginning of the anime. The most captivating element in any monster story is how characters react to each other, not the monster. Attack on Titan in general lacks complexity. Look no further than the one note cast of characters, especially Mikasa. I thought she would find relevance by now.

Ironically, the best action comes not against the titans but between humans, all of it in the first half of the season. The animation is great, the settings are creative and lend themselves well to the web swinging, and it’s different from earlier seasons. As for the titan action, it’s okay overall. The fight with the crawler titan has good atmosphere. A massive battle against a few special titans eats up most of the latter half of the season, which does drag from lack of story and two glaring flaws. First is the Bigfoot Titan and his baseball puns while pelting boulders. Just why? Imagine if Gollum started going on about fidget spinners in The Lord of the Rings. The second is the decision to have the Colossal Titan made entirely in CG – it never looks good (the crawler has the advantage of being in the dark).

In fact, we see a significant drop in visual quality during the second half. Static pans with only mouth movements become more common, highflying action is rare (characters hanging from walls or on roofs is popular), and we have less key frames throughout. The first half looks great, much better than season 2, only for the second half to slash the budget. One has to wonder either if a different team did the work or if they realised that fans would watch regardless. Attack on Titan is popular enough to draw a crowd on a shoestring production.

The “Part 1” and “Part 2” structure of this season brings another problem to mind: the disconnect in story between seasons. Think back to seasons 1 and 2 and how little most of their events matter to season 3. Even with this season, the two halves aren’t all that connected. There is no sense of planning for the overarching story, as though the author thought of it one season at a time. The internal conflict within the human city of Part 1? Irrelevant to Part 2. What happened in season 2 again? I’d say 10% matters from season to season. This simultaneously makes each season feel like filler and relevant content.

Every good story employs resonance to build and build the narrative, incorporating past elements with the new to reinforce themes and events. Attack on Titan lacks resonance. When an earlier setup does receive an answer, I imagine the editor had to remind the author the night before.

Lastly, we come to the details. In my season 2 review, I talked of how the author hadn’t grasped the size of the human territory within the walls and the travel time required. It gets worse. We have characters travelling vast distances in a fraction of the time it should take. People come to the rescue at the last second (see plot armour earlier) despite being on the other side of the battlefield a minute ago. You can get away with this to some extent, but repeat offences wear thin. On a scale of one to Game of Thrones season 7, Attack on Titan is an eight for poor travel logistics.

Then we have simple stupidity. The ruling class wants to disband the scouts, the one group able to slay titans. How moronic are they? While evading the police, the scouts have the idea of hiding Eren in a crowd of 100 scouts by pulling their hoods up while flying around. Hoods wouldn’t stay up – bet you the writer has never worn one. Not a big deal, but it’s one of many instance where no thought went into the idea. No one instance is atrocious, yet they add up over time. Another that comes to mind is the torture scene. The mad scientist woman is the interrogator, but because she is comedic relief, the scene is laughable rather than frightening.

Contrary to my plethora of criticisms, I am more positive than negative towards Attack on Titan: Season 3, mostly because of the first half and its visual plus audio quality (great new OPs). It’s easy for the action to sweep you up.

Still, season 3 has not increased the likelihood that I will watch the conclusion. There are no mysteries left for me to care about. Season 3 revealed the origins of the titans to lacklustre results (would have been better with no explanation and no attention drawn to the idea of a backstory whatsoever). The studio has announced the fourth and final season is to release in 2020.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: For Attack on Titan fans only. While an improvement over season 2, Attack on Titan: Season 3 isn’t worth it for those that already quit.

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35 thoughts on “Attack on Titan: Season 3 – Anime Review”

  1. I’ve stuck with the manga (which has gripped me from start to finish) and I’ve not started the anime (saw bits on YouTube and disliked the shouty voice acting). I’m guessing I should keep it that way. While I’m sure the manga shares quite a few of the flaws you describe, I’ve barely noticed them due to how engaged I’ve been, and it is also much less shonen-y. I also feel the black and white art suits the grim tone better than the anime, which looks a bit shiny.

    The baseball moves, however, are no less atrocious in the manga, I must say. My engagement was certainly broken there. Baseball is too modern a sport to fit with the older setting; sports back then were far less refined. No clue why the Beast Titan needed to sling rocks with a pitcher’s action and deliver cringeworthy lines.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Then when he realised it was ridiculous he even tried to shove in some backstory to it (don’t know if this has featured in the anime, so apologies if it hasn’t). My only thought was “you’re making it worse”.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Nope. It was obvious that was planned from the very beginning. Not only that, but it was literally revealed that the world outside the walls is far more advanced, so your complaints about baseball lines not fitting are objectively wrong.

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          1. The fact that it’s based on WW2 Germany (+ally Italy) and references baseball – you know, that sport all Germans (and not the Japanese, which the author belongs to) are totally nuts about – makes it even worse. Leaving it as an ill-fitted joke would have been better.

            Also, the “their world is actually modern outside” twist is a few degrees of separation from “it was all a dream”, which is the worst twist in existence. To avoid making “the world isn’t what it seems” not come across as a cheap patchwork cover, it’s best revealed earlier in the story, as seen in The Island, Cabin in the Woods, and Logan’s Run. It should be a setup, not an answer.

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            1. You’ve abandoned your criticism that “It doesn’t fit the setting, which is a bad thing.” and have replaced it with “It fits the setting, which is a bad thing.” Do I need to point out the stupidity of this?

              Also, the Basement twist is both a setup AND an answer, and judging by the fact that many consider the next arc to be one of the best in all of manga, the set up was quite good.

              The twist was expertly foreshadowed from the beginning, it didn’t contradict any previous information, it set up the rest of the story fantastically, and it stayed true to the core themes of the series while subverting others (subverting them competently, not like GOT Season 8). These are all the markings of a great twist. What stops a twist feeling like a cheap patchwork cover isn’t how early it’s revealed, it’s whether or not it was weaved into the very foundations of the story. The basement plot twist clearly was setup and planned out from the very beginning, preventing it from feeling cheap.

              Your criticism of Attack on Titan is bad, and it has always been bad. A lot of your complaints make me think you’re either incapable of basic comprehension skills, or simple research (such as your complaints about Season 2’s travel logistics, when 3 minutes of Google and some basic maths reveal that the distance the characters travel makes complete sense).

              Nethertheless, I look forward to a possible review of the masterpiece that will be Season 4. Because you will either be forced to admit that it is genuinely really good, or make your worst review yet in another terrible attempt to criticise it.

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              1. Going back through your replies riddled with shifting goalposts and repeated incorrect use of key words (you should listen to Inigo), and lack of understanding in fundamental storytelling concepts such as tension, motivation, arcs, conflict, and foreshadowing, I had to wonder why I can hear the frothing through the screen. Why such anger towards a stranger daring not to like anything as much as you do? It’s not enough that someone can think it’s alright; they must extol it to high heaven. All over an anime that doesn’t care about your presence, made by people who don’t even know you exist? Then I reached your last paragraph and it all made sense.

                There’s a reason fanboys are universally loathed. Like a political parrot, no different from an entertainment fanboy, it’s either “you agree with my ‘objective’ opinion or you’re my enemy.” I’ll never understand this sycophancy. You talk of comprehension yet refuse to exercise it (ignorance of basic maths and physics also join the battle at the final turn – if only the Romans had thought to bend space with their horses), which coupled with a declaration of a masterpiece without having seen the piece and the stereotype is complete. Is this anime the only thing going for you in life? If so, that’s sad. Ironically, you remind of a Game of Thrones season 8 fanatic. The moment a fanboy enters the conversation, it turns boring. Veiled by blind rage at a differing opinion – in one ear and out the other – the fanboy is a waste of time.

                If you want to human centipede with your friends about an anime, you go right ahead. Just keep it to your bubble.

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  2. Really glad you got round to reviewing this season. I thought it was a significant improvement over the second season. I didn’t hate the second season but it was so disappointing in terms of character development and direction of the story.

    I actually think it’s great that Levi was the main character of this season instead of Eren. I like Eren but Levi is more interesting to me and his progress throughout this season was just amazing. He does pretty much a 360. I felt like he was a supporting character that actually did far more than the three main protagonists. That’s a character done right.

    I know you wanted to avoid spoilers but I think you could have mentioned Erwin’s leadership in this season. He is an extremely compelling and heroic character. What happened to him was so unexpected.

    I like this season the best because it also focuses on politics and society aswell as survival of the fittest. This really reflects the whole dimension of the premise and it worked really well. I wasn’t expecting you to give this a medium though. Maybe a High, but I can see where you found the flaws.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really glad you’re not one of those people that jumps onto the bandwagon and joins the hatebase because a character is overrated. I can’t even begin to describe how infuriatingly annoying that is. I’ve noticed that most of these people only dislike a character for how much hype they receive, and don’t give any other valid reason to back up their arguments. People really need to stop trying to be so forceful with their views because it is not worth it. To me, Levi is a character that you could see had potential, and he fulfilled it. He was not shoehorned in just for the sake of fanservice, which is what some of the hatebase had implied (which is not true. I highly doubt Hajime Isayama would even think twice about fanservice). Although your views on Season 3 have waned since the first season, you see that a character’s merits is what helps the story progress. Kudos to you for pinpointing that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t get the kneejerk reaction either, where people hate something just because it is liked (or vice versa). It’s probably the same underlying cause found in political oposition – blue team hates red team just because they aren’t blue even on issues where they agree. I’m sure people who hate Levi enjoy similar characters elsewhere.

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  4. So sorry for the late response.
    I completely agree with you. Most of the comments I’ve seen are incredibly biased and cliched. It’s like no one comments on his complexity or his characteristics or his traits or his aura or anything like that. It’s either “overrated” or “Gary Stu” These two dreaded words have just become really stale and irrelevant for reasonings to bring down an important driving force device. It’s really, really annoying.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. “Less Eren” Why’s that a positive? He’s the main character. He should be getting most of the development. I don’t know about you though but I do really like Levi in this season.

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    1. I had never heard of the opinion that Levi was a fanservice character. I thought that only applied to Mikasa. Then again, I am not part of the fandom. Good video, though it could be 10 minutes shorter. He’s absolutely right about fans/haters projecting traits on a character, particularly with popular ones. I don’t know how anyone could think he is perfect? Makes no sense. Good video.

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  6. The other video I posted (which is no longer available as the user took it down) that one was arguing against the fact that he thought that Levi was nothing but fanservice and the Beast Titan scene was disappointing because it was all over too quickly and he said it was because Levi was too overpowered. I won’t give any spoilers away in case people that have read your review will see my comment, but that is actually not the case. He was very repetitive in saying how much he hated Levi as a character, whilst Soul’s video reflected on Levi’s true characteristics, which are heavily underestimated and misunderstood. I thought I would share both the videos to see what your opinion was of Levi as a protagonist in season 3 compared to Eren.

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    1. Levi would have been a better protagonist because, other than being a more interesting person, he is more human than Eren. If insistent on Eren being a Titan, the tension is higher when the protagonist isn’t invincible like Eren. They could have also kept his Titan identity a secret and a point of mystery in season 1 if we had seen everything from Levi’s perspective instead. Unfortunately, the target demographic for AoT is teens and it is very difficult to sell an adult protagonist to a teen audience. Look at Full Metal Alchemist, another teen anime: protagonists are teens, just about everyone is an adult.

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  7. I have to disagree with a lot of the arguments you made against this season. I respect your opinion, but I personally think your argument is very weak, and I will try to explain why. Put simply, I view a lot of your criticisms for this season as questionable at best, and objectively wrong at worst. Again, I must make it clear that I have no problem with your dislike of the show. You can hate and abhor season 3. But I strongly disagree with a lot of your review, and simply want to explain why.

    Firstly, your criticism about the Beast Titan is something I seriously take issue with, as is your comparison to Gollum talking about fidget spinners. That entire argument is rendered meaningless by the twist reveal at the end of season 3. You know, the fact that there is an outside world, and that they are the true enemy behind the titans? This world is shown to be incredibly advanced compared to the people of the wall, and plenty enough advanced to have baseball as a legitimate sport. In the moment, the lines can seem tone breaking and feel like they don’t make sense, but in retrospect, they actually work as foreshadowing for the plot twist. This is why I feel Attack on Titan does really well. Events in the previous seasons that seemed dumb at the time end up feeling a lot better in retrospect.

    After that, you go on to criticise the way the seasons are all connected…. with no examples or evidence to back up your points. If the story was made up as it went along, and the author had to be constantly reminded of set ups with expected payoffs, I’m not sure the series would be nearly as interconnected and airtight in terms of plot. Seriously, the narrative is almost completely devoid of plot holes, and there are plenty of examples of subtle foreshadowing in the earlier seasons that come back later in a big way. It’s very clear that the author has painstakingly planned and thought out the entire series thus far.

    Then you make the complaint of travel logistics, which is again backed up by no examples or evidence whatsoever. There is not a single example of faulty travel logistics in either parts of season. No characters suddenly switch from fighting the Beast Titan to help out against Bertholdt and Reiner, or vice versa. The only time you could even think of the travel logistics as being flawed is when Erwin quickly appears to help the Levi squad take down Rod Reiss’s Titan. Even then, I would argue that Rod is a regional lord who likely resides very close to the capital of Stohess District, and therefore the distance between that and the throne room likely isn’t great.

    Then we get to the subject of, as you put it, “simple stupidity”. But not the show’s simple stupidity, but yours. You claim the scouts are the only group capable of slaying titans. This is simply not true. The Garrison corps and Military Police still exist. While they don’t have as much experience as the scouts, both groups are likely still capable of defending the walls. The Garrison have proven to be competent on several occasions, such as the successfully evacuation of Trost, and the successful reclamation or Trost. They did this alone. The military police are again implied to be competent, if cowardly, since the only cadets that are allowed to join are those who end up being in the top 10 in terms of Titan slaying proficiency in their respect squads. Put simply, the Scouts are most definitely not the only group able to slay titans.

    Your argument about hoods is ridiculous. Firstly, I find it funny that you claim the author has clearly never worn a hood before. Was that an exaggeration, or are you just that stupid? Secondly, the hoods were very clearly pulled tightly down over their heads. I don’t know about you, but whenever very strong winds are blowing, people tend to pull their hoods down tightly, and the strong winds are still unable to keep the hoods from staying up. Then we move onto the torture scene. Might just be my viewpoint, but Hange stopped being pure comic relief later on in season 1, or early on in season 2. She had her wacky comic relief sequences, but only when she didn’t need to take things seriously. When she is trying to capture the female titan, when she is threatening the wall priest, and throughout most of season 3, she is much more grim and severe. When they are torturing the military police, it feels like she’s relishing in it after they tortured the wall priest she was planning to question in Season 2.

    You then move on to describe the Titan origins to be lacklustre, only you once again don’t evaluate your opinion any further than that. This is what I mean when I say your criticisms feel questionable. Whenever I read one of them, I remember thinking “Ok, why do you think that way?” only to get nothing. But the part where I truly lost faith in your argument was when you said “(would have been better with no explanation and no attention drawn to the idea of a backstory whatsoever).” I’m sorry, but that is an awful idea. Giving the titans no explanation or origin whatsoever, what makes you think that wouldn’t be an example of terrible writing? Introducing story elements with no plans to give any explanation, or develop them whatsoever, but not only that, but taking away the whole titan origins would render Attack on Titan a repetitive zombie series where the zombies are just bigger and more dangerous. It wouldn’t be interesting at all.

    Finally, I feel like you completely avoid talking about a lot of the most positive aspects of the season. You do say in the comments that you should have talked about Levi more. But you also avoid talking about Historia’s (in my opinion, fantastic) character arc in Season 3 Part 1, or how phenomenal a character Erwin proved to be in Season 3 Part 2. There’s also your dedication to hating Eren no matter what. I hated him in Season 1 and 2 as well, but felt he became a lot more likeable and complex in Season 3. That scene where he actually loses all determination to fight and survive showed a clear departure from the one dimensional “kill da titans” character he was in Season 1. Not even a mention of Kenny, either. Well, you already ignored the fact that the series and it’s plot twists have clearly been meticulously planned and set up from the beginning, so it’s just par for the course.

    I usually hate it when people say “You went in wanting to hate it” when it comes to people reviewing anything, but it genuinely feels here that you went in trying to hate Season 3. From nitpicking, to statements that are straight up incorrect, to ignoring the well written parts of the series, it really does feel like you were trying to be contrarian here. I considered Season 1 of AOT vastly overrated, but I absolutely loved Season 3 and think it makes the first two seasons seem way better in retrospect. And this is far from a common opinion. Hell, I’ve even talked to people who disliked seasons 1 and 2 who really enjoyed this season. It feels like you are just refusing to get into the series, which is sad because the build up and payoff that Attack on Titan has had is truly phenomenal, and season 4 will be even better, and Eren actually ends up developing into a truly phenomenal character.

    Put simply, I think your review of Attack on Titan is really quite bad, and that your distaste for the series feels extremely forced. I would recommend that you do still watch Season 4, as many consider the arcs it will cover to be easily the best in Attack on Titan, and a true masterpiece of storytelling. Maybe I’m just a toxic fanboy, but I think I made a good case for why I thought your review was bad.

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  8. I personally liked this season. The visuals and characters were on point. The only flaw in my opinion was the way they explained the titans origin. Same with the whole story of Ymir… it was so confusing and hard to grasp at first. The scenes with Kenny were a little confusing at first… like why are you here??? But it was nice overall. I’d give it a solid 7/8 on 10.

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  9. I’m so glad you think that Levi would have made a better protagonist than Eren. Honestly, I did really like Eren in the past but I am so sick of the hype surrounding him now. Eren fans can be so rude, arrogant and obnoxious. They go on and on about his development in Season 4, which hasn’t even come out yet, and then they expect to get rewarded for being spiteful bullies and abusing Levi fans, or anyone else that doesn’t have Eren as a favourite character. They’re also hypocrites, because they accuse Levi’s fanbase of being toxic. Levi’s fanbase is nowhere near as toxic as Eren’s.

    I am looking forward to Season 4, but I also have doubts. It’s not being made by WIT anymore, the character designs look a bit iffy and the process is slower than we thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What did you expext from this ? It is a shonen anime/ manga intended for teens and older. About his fans, you are right about them being obnoxious, There are everywhere on youtube comments.It is the fans in general that are behaving this way, Because of this, it’s becoming bothersome. About Levi presence in the manga, we won’t see him for a while,

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