Attack on Titan: The Final Chapters (Part 2) is divided into three chapters that are primarily consumed with the ongoing war against Eren as he leads a Titan Rumbling to trample the world into submission. This basically becomes one long game of Titan Capture the Flag, except the flag is Eren and the cost of failure is the radical culling of humanity. Everyone moves forward towards a common goal that they believe is necessary, all of which encapsulates Attack on Titan’s central theme that these characters have ironically all been “slaves to freedom.”
Attack on Titan’s “freedom fighters” briefly experience a just, empathetic life that’s not reactionary or ruled by fear. This finale provides so many beautiful glimpses of humanity coming together and choosing humanitarian efforts over rage, while regular Eldian and Marleyan civilians come together to help and heal the world. It’s such a touching example of how everyone needs to collaborate during moments like this rather than purely the heroes being essential for success. The entire world works together for a brighter future and this message of cooperation is the perfect theme for the series to go out on and what’s been essential from the start. All it took to learn this lesson was wiping out 80% of humanity.
Attack on Titan’s series finale wants its audience to constantly be thinking about the cost of war and if the end justifies the means. However, it’s also just an utterly gorgeous animated action spectacle. There are stunning fight sequences with mind-blowing choreography and non-stop action where every single character contributes in continuous combat that plays out like Rube Goldberg machinations of epic destruction. There are explosions of fire and steam and viscera and rainbow expressions of power, especially during the final attack against Eren’s Titan. This finale also makes phenomenal use of color and grayscale as a shorthand for power, helplessness, and hope, especially during the infamous baby trampling scene.
The Final Chapters (Part 2) is an 86-minute extravaganza that truly feels like a movie instead of just some extended special. The Final Chapters (Part 1) felt grandiose at 61 minutes, but this finale goes above and beyond with the level of spectacle that’s given to the series’ final hurrah after a decade of consistent storytelling. This is arguably MAPPA’s greatest work and if this finale were in theaters it’d be one of the highest-rated animated movies of all-time. It’s almost a little bittersweet that this isn’t a theatrical experience considering its feature-length runtime.
Every Attack on Titan character receives cathartic closure during The Final Chapters (Part 2), but this finale really celebrates the series’ core trio of Eren, Mikasa, and Armin. They’ve always been Attack on Titan’s heart, even with an increasingly ballooning cast of eclectic affiliations. Armin’s glow-up from the start of the series is absolutely staggering and it’s so satisfying to watch the hero that he’s become. Similarly, Mikasa’s final confrontation with Eren is a series highlight. Perfect editing takes these two through multiple moments in their lives that culminates in this painful, powerful farewell. I burst into tears when “Bird Eren” wraps Mikasa’s scarf around her neck. There are clear parallels between the toxic love between Ymir and King Fritz and Mikasa and Eren. However, Mikasa at least makes it to the other side unscathed. It’s not easy for her to forget about Eren, but she slowly builds a new life for herself.
It’s essential that Armin and Mikasa work out their complicated feelings with Eren during Attack on Titan’s finale, which takes advantage of the audience’s own tangled relationship with this anime’s main character. Eren Jaeger remains one of the most fascinating anime character studies as he’s evolved from protagonist to antihero to villain. This major gambit has played out across multiple seasons and it’s been such a game-changing decision for the medium that highlights what a protagonist truly is, can do, and the legacy that they leave behind – not unlike Attack on Titan as a whole. This finale is all about Eren, his pride, his power, and his deep martyr complex as he throws the world into apocalyptic peril.