Attack On Titan‘s season 4 premiere introduced plenty of new faces and ideas – here’s everything you need to know as the anime’s end begins. Attack On Titan has been one of the biggest anime and manga franchises of the past decade, overcoming a sophomore slump, studio changes, and massive gaps between seasons to enjoy the enduring adulation of critics and fans. Attack On Titan season 4 will, somewhat surprisingly, bring the story to a close. Although Hajime Isayama’s manga is currently in its final stages, the source material is still ongoing, and Attack On Titan‘s final season will need to move quickly (or be afforded a bumper episode count) to fit everything in.
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The last time fans saw Eren, Mikasa, Armin and the gang, Attack On Titan had just dropped its long-awaited basement reveal. Spearheaded by Eren’s Attack Titan, the Survey Corps finally reached the basement of Grisha Jaeger. There, they learned about the outside world, the Titans’ origin, and more. The folks inside the three walls are Eldians located on Paradis Island, while the world outside is dominated by the Marleyan Empire, whom the Eldians waged war with over a century ago, leading to their retreat behind walls Maria, Rose and Sina. When Attack On Titan season 3 concludes, Paradis has been cleared of Titans, and Eren looks out to sea, knowing that another enemy awaits.
But in the Attack On Titan season 4 opener, Eren Jaeger is nowhere to be seen. Indeed, precious few familiar faces appear in the premiere episode, and Attack On Titan begins to feel like a completely different anime, with a fresh cast, an unfamiliar setting, and very little context provided. Were it not for the timely return of Reiner, the Armored Titan, some viewers might’ve mistaken the episode for a spin-off. While the world of Attack On Titan might feel very different in season 4, there is method to the madness.
Who Are The Soldiers & Why Are They Fighting?
Attack On Titan season 4 begins on a strange battlefield at an unspecified point in the franchise’s timeline. The premiere is set approximately 4 years on from when Eren was seen by the edge of the ocean for the very first time in season 3’s finale, pondering the events to come. The opening battle of Attack On Titan season 4 takes place in the outside world, in the story’s fictionalized version of the Middle-East. Using the powers of the Titans they control (e.g. the Armored and Beast), the Marleyan Empire has been on an aggressive crusade of expansion. Their latest conquest is pummeling the allied forces of the Middle-East into surrender after years of bloody warfare, and the conflict has reached its endgame.
Grisha Jaeger’s backstory in Attack On Titan season 3 demonstrated the mistreatment of the Eldians who didn’t make it to Paradis Island, and were forced to remain behind as prisoners of the Marley. Isayama draws parallels between the Marleyan treatment of Eldians and the real-world experiences of Jewish people in Nazi Germany, including the creation of camps, and enforced wearing of armbands. Attack On Titan season 4 shows how Marley has found a use for their unwanted Eldian population – send them to war. There are two types of Eldian soldier in the Marleyan military. The basic Eldian is used as cannon fodder, and Captain Felix Magath is happy to sacrifice 800 of these men without remorse, proving their disposable reputation. In a slightly more privileged position are the “warrior candidates.” These young fighters have been selected and trained as potential Titan-shifters of the future.
Attack On Titan previously revealed that after an Eldian inherits a Titan, they’re destined to die within 13 years, at which point their Titan shall be reborn into another Eldian at random. Since Marley are keen to ensure the Titans remain under their control, each of their shifters must find a new host before those 13 years run out. Attack On Titan season 4’s premiere introduces Colt, the successor to Zeke’s Beast Titan, and a group of youngsters who are competing for Reiner’s Armored Titan. This quartet of candidates are Gabi, Falco, Udo and Zofia. Despite being abused and exploited, it’s clear that the Eldian warrior candidates do not see themselves as victims. As revealed through Gabi’s misguided words, these Eldians have been indoctrinated into believing their kin on Paradis Island are no-good demons, and only by serving the Marleyan military as Titan soldiers can the Eldian race make amends for past sins. Presumably, life for a warrior candidate is far more comfortable than for the average Eldian under Marley’s jurisdiction.
The Jaw, Beast, Armored & Cart Titans
After Gabi uses her wits to force an opening, the Marleyan army finally unleash their Titans – Galliard the Jaw, Reiner the Armored, Zeke the Beast and Pieck the Cart. Of those four, Galliard is the most visually striking as a “new” Titan, but viewers have already glimpsed the Jaw in action. The Jaw Titan originally occupied Porco, who accompanied Annie, Reiner and Bertholt on their mission to Paradis Island, but was eaten by a random Titan, who then gained his ability. This turned out to be Ymir, who ultimately went with Reiner and Zeke back to Marley. Since the Jaw Titan is now Galliard, it can be assumed that Ymir was promptly served up for dessert upon her return. Although Galliard’s Jaw Titan looks distinctly different compared to Ymir’s, their powers are essentially the same – high agility, sharp claws, and a powerful mouth.
Pieck was last seen accompanying Zeke on Paradis Island, and her Cart Titan is largely relied upon for utility tasks, such as carrying gun turrets. Zeke himself is also present on the Middle-Eastern offensive in Attack On Titan‘s season 4 premiere, and the episode gives an up-close look at how he creates regular titans. A plane full of dosed-up Eldians is triggered by the cry of Zeke’s Beast Titan voice, transforming them into the mindless, generic titans who plagued Eren and the gang in season 1. This same process was used to transform the inhabitants of Connie’s village on Paradis. Reiner is the Titan viewers will know best, but the sight of him being torn apart by cannon fire will be far less familiar. The once-impervious Reiner is shredded by the shells of the Middle-East Alliance, proving that the outside world possess far better anti-Titan weapons compared to the Survey Corps. Leading this raucous bunch of Titans and candidates is Captain Magath, a Marleyan placed in charge of the Eldian unit.
These 4 Titans have been deployed during a break between Paradis Island missions. Not only did Reiner’s team fail to capture Eren’s Founding Titan, they also lost two precious weapons to the enemy – Annie’s Female Titan and Bertholt’s Colossal Titan. Before mounting another full-scale assault on Paradis, Marley are clearly looking to finish up their wars closer to home, but with technology gradually overtaking the capability of Titans, the need for Eren’s Founder is getting more and more desperate.
Where Attack On Titan’s Regular Characters Are In Season 4’s Premiere
Attack On Titan‘s season 4 premiere doesn’t visit the usual settings of Shiganshina or Survey Corps HQ, and there’s no sense of what the story’s heroes have been doing over the past 4 years. However, the episode’s closing scene provides a salient clue, as a mystery figure is shown purchasing a newspaper in a Marleyan town. This is a slightly older Jean – one of Attack On Titan‘s main characters and a member of the Survey Corps. Evidently, Jean has successfully infiltrated Marleyan territory, and he’s surely not the only one lying in wait. Attack On Titan‘s season 4 promotional material showed Eren’s Attack Titan laying waste to a Marleyan town with his friends standing alongside in support. With Jean undercover, it seems the forces of Paradis Island are biding their time before launching a surpise attack on their enemies across the sea.
The presence of Jean specifically at the end of Attack On Titan‘s season 4 premiere is no coincidence. In previous seasons, the Survey Corps have been forced to shift their focus from titans alone to humans and titans, and Jean was the character most vocally opposed to this change of strategy. While the opening episode of Attack On Titan season 4 might be a jarring experience full of new characters and unfamiliar locales, the episode serves to establish the Eldians outside of the walls as victims rather than enemies. The likes of Gabi genuinely believe they’re the good guys, having been brainwashed against their fellow Eldians on Paradis Island. Eren might be on the warpath, looking to destroy anyone who threatens his freedom, but how will the likes of Jean react to killing soldiers who have been lied to and manipulated for over a century?
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