Producer: Wit Studio
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Writer: Yosuke Kuroda (screenwriter) & Kohei Horikoshi (mangaka)
Starring: Yūki Kaji, Yui Ishikawa, Marina Inoue, Hiroshi Kamiya
Distributor: Pony Canyon/Funimation
Genre: Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic
You’ve made it this far. You’ve encountered ridiculous levels of violence in the first two seasons of Attack on Titan, terrifying horrors, brief glimpses of hope… Hope for what? Answers? Salvation? Do you finally get them in Season Three? Let’s find out. (This review is free of specific spoilers for Season 3, but has spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2.)
Spiritual Content: It’s hard to discuss without spoilers. In different ways, each half of the season goes very deep into the mythology and religious aspects of the world of Attack on Titan. Let’s say “very present”.
Violence: You’ve made it this far into Attack on Titan, so I hope you know what you’re getting into. This show is the most violent I’ve ever watched. One of the bloodiest battles of the entire series takes up several episodes. I had nightmares after the first episodes of the series, but not in Season 2. Season 3 brought back the horrors. In addition to all the standard violence of Titans eating people, there are a few new kinds of violence. The first half of the season has a large amount of human vs. human violence, often with guns, which is somewhat new to the series. An 8-year-old girl is torn to shreds by dogs, which is intentionally made to happen by an adult male, while his young son witnesses it.
Language/Crude Humor: D**n, h*ll, and sh*t are prevalent, but not excessive. No f-bombs. I can’t vouch for whether a** or b**ch are used. Certain people are repeatedly referred to as devils.
Sexual Content: Very little, but one scene is pretty gross. In one episode, an effeminate male character is disguised as a female character and kidnapped. The kidnapper proceeds to grope the chest of the male character (the kidnapper also thinks he is a female). In a different episode, a female character laments that she never married another female character.
Drug/Alcohol Use: None that I can recall.
Other Negative Themes: A prisoner is hung upside-down and force-fed his feces. Yes, seriously.
Positive Content: There are broad themes about finding humanity and worth in all people, and dealing with racism. The show’s redemptive things are powerful, but only because they come from such a dark and painful price.
After the reveal of the Beast Titan at the end of Season 2 (have you ever been so scared to hear a creature talk?!), Season 3 starts in a somewhat unexpected way. The first half of the season focuses heavily on politics within the walls and is severely lacking in Titan presence. That is remedied in the second arc, which features one of the biggest battles of the show, which then leads to something I did not expect—answer after answer.
Attack on Titan hits from three angles. First, the fact that it is so gritty, so terrifying, and so willing to endanger and kill its cast. The terror as intense as it was in those first few episodes gave me nightmares again. One particular episode offers hope and then squelches it in such a soul-crushing way that I could not erase it from my mind for weeks.
Second, the relationships on the show. I heard somebody recently refer to shows like Dragon Ball Z and My Hero Academia as “hot-blooded” anime. Characters are passionately yelling pretty much all the time in these shows, sometimes maybe for insufficient reasons. No characters have more reason to be “hot-blooded” than the cast of Attack on Titan, and yet the show is full of nuance. The show is continuously balancing one emotion with another, to significant effect. Tension eased by awkward and unexpected humor. Victory scarred by the pain of loss. Joy lessened by somber melancholy. Hatred softened by sympathy. Season 3 has these moments throughout, and I can think of each one as I type, but you’ll have to see them for yourself.
Third, the mysteries. When I started Attack on Titan, I said to the friend who recommended it, “This had better pay off.” I watched a lot of network television in the past, mysteries answered with more vague mysteries and an apparent lack of direction made me frustrated with the entire medium. Shows like Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood have shown me that anime has a massive advantage in this department. Stories plotted out well in advance can come through and end with satisfaction. Ladies and gentlemen, we are nearing the end. The last few episodes of Season 3 provide so many answers—directly and clearly. I’m sure the audience is probably divided on the answers given, but I found myself satisfied, and thirsting for more. It’s not just that the answers are good—it’s that they also prove how well-planned this show is. I’m considering a rewatch leading up to the fourth and final season. My only complaint is that two of the episodes were so dense that I had to rewatch and frequently pause to absorb everything thrown at me.
Season 3 is Attack on Titan at its very best. While the two arcs feel very different, they come together to form one cohesive whole. It puts us tangibly close to the end game in such a satisfying way. Anime or not, this is some of the best television I’ve ever seen.
The Bottom Line
Anime or not, season 3 of Attack on Titian is some of the best television I have ever seen.