WARNING: Spoilers to Seasons One and Two ahead.
The latest on-disc release of one of the most popular anime around is finally released. However, while AoT may be famous for its horror, in this collection of episodes, the danger and scares are delivered in the form of conspiracy rather than man-eating giants.
In the last series, we learned that one member of the Survey Corps (or “Scouts” as they are called in this translation), Christina Lenz, has a hidden identity. Her real name is Historia Reiss, and her family are the true royal family that should be ruling what is left of humanity. In the last series her life was partly saved by fellow scout Ymir, who it turns out was also a Titan in hiding.
Historia, along with Eren Jeager, Levi and the rest of the troop, are in hiding, knowing that the government is after both Historia and Eren. They attempt to sneak through Trost to find somewhere safer to hide, but are attacked by a group of secret soldiers from the Military Police. Their leader is Kenny (who, it turns out, is already known to Levi), for it was Kenny who rescued Levi as an abandoned orphan and raised him in the underground.
In the end, Historia and a bound-and-gagged Eren are taken to see Historia’s father Rod, who plans to use Eren’s powers. Everyone else manages to flee, knowing that they are now wanted by the government. A plan is developed by the Scouts, led by Erwin Smith, not only to rescue both of their kidnapped comrades, but also to expose the fraudulent government and to rightly restore Historia as queen. Meanwhile, in the depths of an icy cave, Eren is chained up while Rod tells Historia about the true purpose of their family, and attempts to persuade Historia to kill Eren so that she can gain his powers. A showdown between Rod, assisted by Kenny, and the Scouts finally culminates in another battle – with the largest Titan ever discovered.
Compared to previous collections of the series, this is arguably one of the less action-driven arcs of Attack on Titan. Don’t get me wrong; there is still plenty of fighting, however the battles are not between humans and Titans, but between different groups of humans with their own agendas. This batch of episodes weighs more heavily on the drama side, as we learn what is really going on at the top of the government and how the Scouts take the government on. For those more interested in battles with the Titans, don’t worry because there are still some, especially with the gigantic Titan. This in turn leads to the most horrific image in the collection, where we see a Titan with the front half of its head clean off, exposing the disgusting insides.
As there is more drama, we do see some more character development too. We learn of Levi’s origins, the childhood of Erwin, details about Eren’s father, and of course about Historia’s royal bloodline. There is also some humour added too whenever glutton Sasha Blouse gets involved. This includes been challenged when she is caught hiding something by saying what she took was: “Nothing bread-related”, and going almost insane when she and all the other Scouts are served meat the night before their battle against the gigantic Titan.
Regarding production, the most interesting aspect concerns the music, namely the opening and closing title sequences. The ending song, “Akatsuki no Requiem” is performed by Linked Horizon, who previously made all the opening sequences to Attack on Titan. The opening song, “Red Swan” is sung by Hyde from L’Arc-en-Ciel, and was written by one of Japan’s biggest musicians – Yoshiki from X Japan.
In other words, one of the biggest anime in Japan had its theme tune written by one of Japan’s biggest musical stars. It is certainly one hell of a combination. The British equivalent would be Channel 4 holding a news conference saying: “People love Bake Off so much that we have decided to work with someone to give it an extra special theme song for the next series, and here’s the person who is going to do it”, and then into the conference walks Adele.
Does the song work? Well, compared to Linked Horizon’s previous it is certainly not as stirring, but given the more dramatic nature of this series Yoshiki and Hyde’s work perhaps is more fitting. (Either way, it still doesn’t come down to the main problem that Yoshiki currently has, namely still not releasing X Japan’s latest album. He says it’s complete, but it still hasn’t come out yet, which for a band that hasn’t released in album in nearly 23 years feels like it’s taking the proverbial.)
One problem that the Season 2 collection had was a lack of extras. Fortunately, this collection has extras in spades. As with the last collection, you get the “Marathon Play” feature which allows you to watch the episodes while skipping over episode previews and title sequences, and the “Eyecatch Gallery” which translates the images and text that appear during the commercial breaks. However, this collection also comes with plenty of interviews with cast and crew members, episode commentaries, promo videos, textless opening and closing, and the “Chibi Theatre” shorts. The Blu-ray Collector’s Edition also comes with a special slipcase, four art cards and a poster. The Season 3 Part 1 Limited Edition Combi box set also now includes an acrylic Levi keychain in addition to its artbook and rigid outer box.
As with the previous collection, Season 3 leaves you desiring more and makes you want to dive into the next batch of episodes right away. Luckily, the second half of the season has already aired and can be streamed online. If you’re also wanting to hear what Yoshiki is writing for X Japan however, part of me is worried you are going to have to wait for another 20-odd years.