24 episodes at 23 minutes each.
Attack On Titan has come a long way since the fall of Wall Maria and the first memorable skirmish with the monstrous titans in season 1. Who knew that this wildly popular anime would go on to take the animated world by storm, producing an enthralling, adrenaline-soaked season of action and tight storytelling.
Season 2 had a tough ask to try and build upon this solid foundation, doing so by adding more lore and backstory to the Titan threat while keeping the shocks going with a couple of game-changing reveals about everything up until that point. And game-changing is an apt title to give season 3 of Attack On Titan. Of course, for spoiler purposes I won’t divulge too much of what’s going on but suffice to say, this anime sets the foundations nicely for the fourth and final season to follow. But let’s backtrack for now to dissect the 24 episodes on offer in this excellent season of anime.
The first half of season 3 serves as a proverbial deep breath as the Scouts heal and gather their strength for the inevitable fight to come. Only, dangers lurk closer to home when they learn Pastor Nick – the man who fed the team information last season – has been murdered.
With fingers pointing at the Military Police from those within the Scout ranks, the ugly truth hidden within Trost soon becomes apparent. The place is rotten to the core with corruption and this extends all the way up the Royal chain of command.
This becomes a crucial part of the first story arc of this season (consisting of the first 10 episodes or so) as a secret about the royal lineage changes the very foundations of the city within these precious walls. The second half of the story uses the information we’ve learnt about the Titans and the royal family to look further beyond the fortifications of Trost toward a familiar hunting ground – Wall Maria.
While the first half sets the foundations and fortifies the walls ready for what’s to come, the second half erupts into a bloody, violent whirlwind of emotion as fighting erupts in a big way. The Colossal Titan, Armored Titan and Beast Titan all show up (as one would expect given the ending to season 2) and lay down the gauntlet for our characters to run through.
These episodes are a great pay-off to the patient build-up early on, working to add more weight and dimension to a lot of the characters who all have their chance to shine this year. Kenny’s back too and while still a minor player in the grand scheme of things, gets an entire episode dedicated to his backstory to learn more about what drives him to the actions he takes through the first arc of the story.
By comparison, Armin and Erwin have quite the ride this year and during the fighting both characters really lean into their respective roles perfectly. The teacher and mentor arc for these two is paid off in quite the spectacular way and a few of these episodes are easily the best in the entire three season span.
In fact, season 3 in general is arguably the best season of the bunch. While season 1 had the shock and originality with its story, season 2 had the more ferocious fighting across its – admittedly abrupt – short run-time. By comparison, season 3 combines the best of both worlds with some game-changing plot reveals that completely turn everything we’ve known upside down. In a way, this is akin to Westworld (which another media outlet mentioned in their recaps) and it definitely holds some similarities.
Where Attack On Titan stands out though is in its strong identity and themes, which touch on ideas of loyalty, friendship, sacrifice and destiny. You may have noticed I’ve barely mentioned Eren through this review and that’s because, to be honest, there isn’t a whole lot to say about his character.
For the first arc he plays out a damsel in distress (in a compelling way no less) before grappling with the ramifications of his actions and what’s happened. In a way, Eren is very much in shock and dazed through large swathes of this story until the latter half where he finally comes into his own and grows into a more formidable protagonist and fighter. That’s not to say his character is bad though, but compared to the supporting players this year, Eren’s arc doesn’t quite have the same wow factor.
What does have wow factor however, is Eren’s basement back home. Much has been said about what lies within and I’m not about to disclose that here. Suffice to say, this is definitely a slow burn and for those fans who patiently waited week after week for the reveals late on, I take my hat off to you.
Well, what lies within will undoubtedly change your opinion on Attack On Titan’s world and what part Eren and the others have to play in the fight that lies ahead.
Attack On Titan was always going to have a hard job matching up to fan expectation. In a way, the third season takes a while to really find its groove again and wobbles through a tumultuous but gripping political plot for the first half of its run-time. This eventually paves way for some of the best fighting and action in the series, backed up by some really strong character performances and memorable stand-out segments that easily rival anything seen in this medium for quite some time.
Much like the Colossal Titan itself, season 3 dwarves its predecessors and does so with blazing hot wisps of smoke that carve out a very unique place for this anime among the greats. Season 3 of Attack On Titan is undoubtedly a great season of anime and a fitting way to lay the foundations for what should be a very memorable and unforgettable final season to come.
Verdict - 9/10