This Attack on Titan review contains spoilers
Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 7
“Eat me. Save humanity.”
Attack on Titan remains a complex, entertaining series because it’s able to consistently keep the series’ “main character” fluid. It’s fair to say that Eren is the show’s true protagonist, but he’s very much been a burden in the show’s third season and he’s even explicitly called a “crybaby” in this installment.
As priorities in the series shift and more truth comes to light, various characters pivot into the spotlight. There are definitely stretches through the series where to an outsider it would appear that Levi, Mikasa, or even Annie or Ymir is the show’s protagonist. “Wish” keeps that fluidity in play and makes a strong case for why Historia Reiss could actually be Attack on Titan’s true protagonist. While this season has flirted with that idea since its premiere, this is the episode where Historia really gets to show what she brings to the table.
If last week’s “Sin” was about providing closure to many of the psychological questions that plagued these characters, then “Wish” is about taking action. It’s a very plot-heavy installment with many fast-moving set pieces that act as a strong counterpoint to the previous entry’s more methodical style. On that note, the episode kicks off with a literally explosive start as Levi and his men finally make their play to retrieve Eren.
Levi’s squad truly gets creative with their ambush and they put to use barrels of gunpowder and smoke signal shells in inspired ways that allow them to get the advantage on Rod Reiss and his men. I’ve signaled out this bizarre crystalline Fortress of Solitude before, but now that it gets to be the backdrop for a battle it can truly shine. The gorgeous environment only looks better as Levi and company slice through the air and wrap around pillars with laser precision. It’s a brilliantly conceived attack that highlights just how adept Levi and Armin are as strategists. The team takes down Reiss’ 35 men with zero difficulty (well Hange takes a pretty bad spill).
“Wish’s” aerial fight is amazing to behold, but it becomes even more memorable thanks to a unique hip hop-skewing soundtrack. Hiroyuki Sawano always does amazing work with the show’s music, but he goes above and beyond this week. It really works well here. The animation, the choreography, the emotion, the music; everything here comes together to build a remarkable sequence. Attack on Titan is going to have their work cut out for them in the future because they continue to raise the bar so much when it comes to their fight scenes.
It’s been a while since Mikasa has truly had a chance to shine in battle, but she’s all sorts of awesome in this episode. Her busy scene is very reminiscent of Levi’s spectacular fight sequence in this season’s second episode. Speaking of Levi, he moves so fast here that the animation can’t even fully keep up with him and his attacks come across as mere blurs. He looks like a goddamn devil when he emerges from that smoke and is dripping in intensity. Kenny of course returns to verbally taunt his nephew, but even he can’t pose much of a challenge for Levi.
It’s also worth pointing out that this is the first time that many of these characters (Sasha, Connie…) have killed other humans. This battle looks incredible, but the mental toll that it must take on Levi’s team is also considerable. The episode doesn’t shy away from this darkness and shots will linger on the light leaving characters’ eyes as they meet their ends. Everyone is either close to their breaking points or just becoming increasingly numb through battle. None of these people signed up to become Scouts so they could kill other humans.
“Wish” features an incredibly action-heavy first act, but it turns into a really touching episode that’s all about characters who have eternally been used as pawns in other people’s games, but are now finally trying to make their own choices. This inspiring concept is reflected in Historia’s decision to go against her father’s wishes and deny his plan to turn her into a new powerful form of Titan. She decides to break the destructive cycle that’s been a part of the Reiss bloodline for generations. She will not be his mindless weapon of destruction and Historia instead chooses to align with Eren. This episode is very much about reveling in Historia’s badassery.
A few more details on the Reiss family’s sordid history come to light. Frieda Reiss was in control of a coveted ability that could essentially wipe out the Titans, only she wasn’t able to activate this skill before Eren’s dead killed her and claimed it for himself. Now the talent lies within Eren, but it’s true powers cannot be activated unless it comes in contact with the Reiss bloodline (sorry Kenny). Since this mammoth ability is “wasted” on Eren, Rod wants Historia to claim it and finish off what Frieda couldn’t. What’s interesting here is that Historia does want to have control and power, but she wants to acquire it by her own means rather than give her father any satisfaction at all. She can do this by herself.
“Wish” pulls the trigger on Historia’s pivotal decision in the tensest way possible. The episode generates some real anxiety in its climactic final minutes as Historia contemplates what to do. Up until this point the audience also has no real indication where her allegiances really lie, which makes the scene even more suspenseful. The metamorphosis that she undergoes at the end positions her as a real wildcard that may even be more dangerous than her father. Furthermore, Rod Reiss’ addendum that humanity is apparently supposed to be ruled by the Titans for some unknown reason complicates everything in a delicious way. Just when it seems like Attack on Titan’s larger backstory is finally clear, it throws a Titan-sized wrench into the machine.
With the clock now ticking, Eren doesn’t try to talk his way out of a grim fate, but rather takes responsibility for his father’s selfish actions and the twisted chain of events that has led them all here. He sees all of this as his fault and while the accuracy of that is up for debate, Eren couldn’t be more different than his father during this emotional confession. It’s a pitiful display that Historia even insults Eren over, but it’s a pivotal moment of acceptance for the character. Eren and Historia both rebel against their “fates,” albeit in deeply different ways.
“Wish” is a wonderful episode of Attack on Titan that continues the exceptional run that this season is experiencing. The plot continues to advance in exciting ways and this installment even throws in a Titan in the most chaotic way possible. Attack on Titan is almost a third through the season and there’s already been a ton that’s happened so far and a very clear vision of what lies ahead. There are still an abundance of mysteries and subterfuge that hang over these characters like a heavy fog, but it’s exciting to see the show have such a passionate energy driving it forward this year.
With a Titan showdown front and center in the next installment, it looks like Kenny said it best: “This is gettin’ good.”