Declaration of War – Attack on Titan Season 4 Episode 5 Review

This is a review of Episode Five of Attack on Titan Season 4, the Final Season. Titled “ Declaration of War”.

Check out last week’s episode review here.

Ahh.

I’ve been looking forward to this chapter being animated for over a year now.

Patiently anticipating it.

While watching this, I fully expected to be hype beyond belief…but all I felt was this enveloping numbness.

Is it because I’ve already read the manga, and know it all goes downhill from this moment on? I truly and fully wanted to enjoy this episode. But I didn’t.

I’m pretty sure it’s because I waited to review the latest snk manga chapter. I don’t really agree with the direction the story is going and certain character motivations, so reading the new chapters each month always puts me in a bad mood afterward.

I really should have reviewed the new manga chapter yesterday, instead of this morning. To off-set some of the post-read depression that kicks in after posting.

Damn it.

Or, maybe it’s because I kept re-playing the manga in my head?

I know this may sound weird, but I saw each and every manga panel in my head while watching the anime. I’d re-read a select handful of chapters a dozen times. This arc happened to be my favorite. Especially with what’s going to happen next.

But for some reason, I found myself very disappointed by the adaption.

This is at no fault to MAPPA – I truly think it’s just me.

When I read this chapter, I remember feeling this sort of…electric.

Eren’s meeting Reiner. Willy’s giving a speech. The upper brass of the Marleyan military that were expendable were assembled for their imminent deaths…(I don’t count this as a spoiler, as the preview for next episode already told you that).

Eren had this calm, almost soothing aura about him.

Sure, Reiner was panicking – but Reiner is only here to suffer. Seriously.

The whole time the two spoke, Falco was having an internal monologue trying to figure out why Reiner was freaking out and breaking this cool, dependable older brother archetype he still managed to keep up in the kids’ eyes.

Willy would start the play, and the manga panels interlaced between Reiner and Eren’s conversation perfectly.

Finally, we got a certain panel of Zeke reacting to something Willy said. Eren reacts too – as it becomes a very important theme later on in the series.

Mappa and Isayama-sensei have cut out certain parts of the manga, only to reintroduce some scenes at a later time.

Pieck crawling on the floor in episode 4, for instance, was actually her introduction scene. I have no problem with it being rearranged, but at first it didn’t make sense.

There was something else from maybe episode 2 that Zeke mentions, that has been cut out. I guess it will be revealed again dramatically at another time.

Many people online were really mad about the Pieck crawling scene being cut, and although it was later introduced, I told myself I’d never get like that. And here I am, barely two episodes later pissed that a certain Zeke reaction scene was cut.

And I don’t know why. I know it’s an adaptation – and thing’s change – but my gosh I wanted to see that scene there and then. I wanted the parallel. I wanted more of Falco’s monologue. I wanted to see another certain scene that was cut (but may possible be added somehow) that happened during Eren’s transformation after Willy’s declaration of war on Paradis.

Even Eren’s flashback while talking to Falco and trying to explain to him that they were the same – some scenes were cut. Scenes that showed what Eren was doing this entire time. Not involving him just sitting on a branch waiting for Falco to deliver letters.

But, maybe this is what happens when you are far too passionate about something for your own good?

As I type this, I feel like one of those gatekeepers in fandoms who are never happy and complain about the authenticity of everything – even if the author himself (of herself) had a hand in said thing.

I wasn’t trying to be this way. And I had no real problem with the episode.

I think this is a mix of fantasy vs reality mingling in my head while reading the manga and imagining the anime adaption, along with reading the latest manga chapter and being mildly disgusted with its characters.

Which is a problem I have to get in check going forward with this final season’s reviews – especially since I have major bias towards some of these characters.

Like Kiyomi Azumabito, who I affectionally call ‘shady kiyomi’ in my head every time she appears.

In the manga, her words were a tad more threatening. Then her leaving immediately afterward while the rest of the world was assembled for the show made her automatically suspicious. In the anime, it just seems like she wanted to leave.

Hmm, I don’t know. I think I’m going to leave this one here – sorry if I dampened anyone’s mood.

I just don’t understand why they keep making the choice to cut out the little moments that add up and eventually mean the most to helping you figure out the story. If this is how the whole season is going to be, I already don’t agree with this.

The anime watchers should also have the same luxury of being able to figure things out without missing pieces like the manga readers had to. It’s no fun to watch an entire group of people flail around trying to understand the story when they have not been given all of the pieces. Theorizing is the best part about the Attack on Titan series.

Episode 5 was exciting, I just couldn’t find it within me to be excited about what I was watching.

I also don’t quite understand the decision to add soldiers in at the very last moment trying to break the door down. We already don’t give a damn about these Marleyan soldiers. It takes away a bit from the gravity of Eren’s actions on that night.

I am glad it wasn’t as censored as with Wit Studio, though. But seriously…give me my mass murder how it was intended to be. I know what I signed up for. Everyone else should be afforded that same luxury, too.

But, tell me your thoughts.

Are you okay with Eren Yeager’s Attack Titan crushing a building full of civilians? What about the truth behind the Great Titan War and Willy Tybur’s death? What about Reiner putting in his first request in of the series to die?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more Attack on Titan The Final Season weekly anime reviews.

You know what, I’m going to be real with you: I’ve already edited this article.

I went to go make some tea before uploading it and while the water was boiling I thought of something else that really bothered me. Because I’m letting it all out, I might as well rag on this as well:

In episode 4, the decision was made to cut out part of Eren’s greeting to Reiner. Eren says “Hey Reiner, it’s been four years” and then tells him “I’m glad you finally got to go home”.

And it was genuine on Eren’s part.

So later on in today’s episode when Reiner mentions something about Eren promising years ago to kill him and Bertholdt in the most gruesome ways possible, Eren is just like “oh, did I say that?” and then scratches his face and nonchalantly mentions “forget I said that” because he is embarrassed.

Eren was embarrassed of his younger, immature self. And this interaction shows that:

  1. Eren has matured, and is no longer the same boy carelessly driven by petty revenge.
  2. This is about something else.

This, coupled with Reiner’s cut out and changed reactions of laughing at everything (including Marley, the retelling of his time on Paradis, and the fact that everyone holds him in such high regard while Reiner hates himself for what he’s done and thinks of himself as nothing but a war criminal) really hammers home what a joke he thinks his life has become.

He doesn’t want to do any of this anymore. Which is why Reiner volunteered to be on the front lines and take all of the bullets, and enemy fire during the war after his loyalty was questioned on return from the failed Paradis Operation. Which…was also cut out.

So when Reiner gets down on his knees and cries to Eren begging to please kill him, it hits differently with that context. He’s tried so hard to die thus far, and nothing has worked. You saw his suicide attempt – He is still breathing. And he’s just so tired.

It’s not about revenge, it is a mercy killing – as Eren mentioned, they are the same. Eren empathizes with Reiner, and is going to fulfil his wish. Because they can understand one another.

But unfortunately, none of that comes through in the anime. Eren just looks deranged and Reiner is just panicked the entire time and you don’t know the full story why.

Okay, I’m seriously done now. Time to upload this.

This beautiful man with impeccable facial hair really saved the episode for me. Attack on Titan the Final Season Episode 64
This beautiful man with impeccable facial hair really saved the episode for me. Attack on Titan the Final Season Episode 64

Recommended: How Will Attack on Titan End?

The Entire Shingeki no Kyojin Manga Review List

☆ In Asian Spaces            

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Author: In Asian Spaces

I write in my personal time and I haven't published much at all. I don't know if that qualifies me as a writer or not, but I'd like to change that. I have a deep passion for travel, cinema and (mainly) East Asian things, but I plan on writing various things to keep it spicy. Let's prosper together ~ よろしくおねがいします。

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