Still, the final season of Attack on Titan hasn’t come to an end. There will be no more episodes of this popular anime after the release of the first part of its final collection of episodes in late 2020. In 2023, there will be the third installment to Hajime Isayama’s gruesome epic, so it’s not quite time to say goodbye yet. Even with just nine chapters left to be adapted following Part 2’s conclusion, it seems likely that the third and final season will conclude with a bang. While we waited for the next episode of Naruto, what were we left with?
Episode 86 ended with Eren (Bryce Papenbrook) and his friends escaping from Paradis Island in a bloody manner, so Episode 87 begins with a flashback to a happier time. Sasha Braus, a late fan favorite, returns to the island for the first time in a long time (Ashly Burch). Mikasa (Yui Ishikawa) ponders the exact moment they lost Eren during the lighthearted scenes of the group trying ice cream for the first time. She wonders if Eren has always been this way, or if there was a turning point in the past few years that made him so. In an attempt to save Sasha’s wallet, a young boy robs her and the crowd turns on him, believing he is an island devil. Eren is reminded that what he is planning to do is a necessary evil when Mikasa, Armin, and the others realize that the world is afraid of them.
Paradis has been living in constant fear of violent xenophobia since learning of humanity’s existence outside the fortress walls. “Island Devils,” as the Eldian race is known, are feared by nations such as Marley, who believe the only way to keep the world safe is to wipe the island clean. Since the “Rumbling” retaliation from Paradis is a real threat, no one has attempted to do so. The Indian king warned the rest of the world that if Paradis was ever threatened, the colossus titans within the walls would be unleashed to flatten the world.
Eren rejects this plan in the finale, as we learn. Because he ate his father to get the Attack titan to pass on to him, he refuses to let Historia’s life be cut short and to allow the cycle of children eating their parents to carry on. Eren, on the other hand, had been made aware of a different scheme almost from the beginning of Paradis’ alliance with Zeke: Zeke’s secret plan. He believes the only way to save humanity is to use the Founder’s power to sterilize all living Indians, preventing them from having children and ensuring that the Titan bloodline will never be passed down, effectively ending the race. Even though Eren agrees to Zeke’s plan, he also rejects it. It is Eren’s goal to use his freedom to ensure the freedom of his friends, as he believes he was born into this world free.
Until this finale, Eren’s reasons for starting the Rumbling were a little unclear. When it comes to Eren’s villainy, everything that makes him compelling as a protagonist is also what makes him terrifying. When it comes to the world of Attack on Titan, Isayama has done an excellent job of portraying it. In the beginning, the titans served as a unifying force for humanity. When Kenny Ackerman (Phil Parsons) attacked the Scouts, other humans became the enemy until the military staged a coup against the monarchy. Then, other humans became the enemy. Every living thing outside of the island became the enemy when it was revealed that Paradis is only a small part of the world. The heroes of the story were forced to change their morals as the threat evolved, to protect themselves and their people. It was only the target that changed the Paradisian military’s nationalistic fervor. Nationalistic fervor was used by Floch, the only person Eren could trust, to seize control of Paradis and turn the population against outsiders. “Dedicate your hearts!” was once an inspirational rallying cry, but now it’s a chilling form of propaganda.
Eren’s true goal has always been to unleash the Rumbling on the world, not just as a demonstration, but as a real threat to the world’s stability. Eren believes that the only way to end the cycle of hatred is to commit genocide, and he intends to wipe out all life outside of the island. The finale revealed that Eren’s bloodlust isn’t the only reason he’s committing these crimes. It’s not just his desire to finally be free that drives him to do what he does. For Eren, the only way to ensure that his friends live long and happy lives is to exterminate the entire human race. After witnessing an Eldian sympathizer in Marley declare that Paradis Island’s inhabitants, the Indians, must be exterminated because they are not to be feared like the island devils, he lost all hope for a peaceful resolution. That’s when Eren decides that the future that Historia gave him when he kissed her hand—the future in which he destroys all of humanity with the Rumbling—must happen. The only way to “end the cycle of revenge-fueled by hate,” he tells Historia.
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A few more notable facts about Eren’s past are revealed in this montage from Attack on Titan. As a first point, everything that has happened thus far and will happen in the future is entirely at the command of Eren. He is not being coerced into doing anything. No otherworldly entity, such as Ymir, can influence him. Even though he had visions of this future, he chose to destroy the world. Second, Zeke tells Eren that he doubts Mikasa’s loyalty to Eren is based on any kind of genetic conditioning, as Eren had suggested in their heated confrontation at Niccolo’s restaurant earlier in the episode. Instead, it is more likely that Mikasa has a strong affection for him. As they settle into life in Marley, Eren begins to question Mikasa’s devotion to him on the night of their first full day in the village. In response to his question, Mikasa explains that he is a member of her family. While Eren was being slaughtered, she wondered whether she could have done more to prevent it by giving an entirely different answer — suggesting that the one she did give wasn’t entirely accurate.
It is interrupted by an elderly refugee who offers to host the group for dinner and drinks and we are given one final glimpse of the team as if they were normal kids – not soldiers, not murderers, not war criminals – just a gaggle of young friends getting drunk together for what seems like the first time. As the series’ stakes rise, so do the characters’ personal growth and development since the show’s inception in 2013. There is no way anyone could have foreseen that a single member of the group would commit atrocities on a global scale or that the rest of them would be forced to unite against him. None of them, except Eren, had any idea that the refugees they were staying with were going to be trampled to death in a matter of months.
Finally, after a few episodes of glancing at the approaching titans through steam clouds, Eren’s army and his skeletal new titan form are shown in all their terrifying glory. Artillery fire from the world’s armed forces is ineffective against the rumbling titans. Massive amounts of heat from the titans’ bodies quickly evaporate the seawater beneath the armada, wiping out all but the sturdiest warships. Eren delivers a voice-over monologue justifying his march as the titans arrive and begin their rampage. His reasoning is eerily similar to Eren’s resolve to rid the world of titans when he was a much younger man. “I’ll exterminate them all from the face of the planet.”
Fascism has been a recurring theme in the final season, but the anime is now venturing into uncharted waters with its message. A lot of big questions are being asked, and the answers need to be carefully considered. One such question is whether Mikasa can be held responsible for Eren’s violence simply because she denied him a romantic avenue. The other is whether or not an act of genocide can ever be justified, whether it is due to a historical conflict or the perpetrator acting in the interests of their friends. When it comes to the big questions being asked, there’s no need to overstate the importance of making it to the finish line. Attack on Titan will have to answer these questions in some form or another in 2023.