Answers? In MY Attack on Titan? Yes, that’s right, “Declaration of War” finally provided us with badly-needed context for the overall history of this universe and Paradis’s place in it, answering questions that I have had for years (but then it gives us even more questions). It also is, in case you couldn’t figure out from the title, the episode where stuff starts going down.
First off, “Declaration of War” does exactly what it says on the tin. After an episode that ended with the most tense cliffhanger ever, they followed it up with an even bigger cliffhanger, with Eren changing into his Titan form in the basement of an apartment building. And this happens after a quiet, seemingly reasonable conversation with Reiner where I got the impression that Eren was saying he wanted to bring an end to the war. Apparently, that was just a ruse to lull Reiner into a false sense of security, because Eren just goes for it, destroying the building they’re in and no doubt killing many of the residents.
This is the unbelievable brilliance of Attack on Titan. After almost three full seasons of thinking you knew what the deal was – who the enemies were, where the story is going – everything got turned on its head. Now, you are facing the very real possibility that the protagonist we’ve been rooting for since the beginning is the bad guy.
The fact of the matter is, you just don’t know. Reiner and everyone on this side of the sea were presumably working for the greater good. If what Willy was saying is true, then Eldians truly were monsters, ruling over a reign of terror and eating people indiscriminately. This also explains why the Reiss family was content to hide behind the walls and never try and go after the Titans; if Willy is to be believed, the Reiss family felt so guilty for the sins of their ancestors that they voluntarily isolated as many Eldians as possible on Paradis and imprisoned them within the walls.
I get the feeling your loyalties will waver as this season goes on. As we approach the end of the story, who is wrong and who is right will be questions that have no definitive answer. The world doesn’t often work that way. As Eren says, there are good people on both sides, and there are bad people on both sides. But Eren seems to not care about the good people on the other side, and he’s determined to destroy all of his perceived enemies.
But is this a distraction? Is this a necessary evil? The Eren at the end of season 3 seemed completely done with everything, tired of fighting and worried that the war would never end. What happened in the three years since that episode? In “Declaration of War”, he repeatedly tells Reiner that they are the same; is he referring to Reiner having to do bad things because of no other choice, or is he referring to Reiner’s confession that he did have a choice and he chose to be a hero?
Who is wrong and who is right? The answer to both questions may be nobody.
I do feel bad for Falco, though.
Even with the answers we were given, can we trust them? Are we ever really going to know the full truth about everything that happened? If even the Marleyans didn’t know what happened (and honestly, wouldn’t there have been some record somewhere about this from somebody?), how do we know that Willy is telling us the truth? Given context, it probably is the truth – it explains the war, the island, and the Reiss family’s history of non-involvement. But even if it’s true, it doesn’t justify the way the world treats the Eldians now. These people had nothing to do with what happened, and continuing to punish them is wrong.
Also, why is Willy coming in to explain this now? The uprising was years ago at this point; they have known for ages that Eren has the coordinate power. Is it as simple as Marley was at war until recently, or is there some other factor at play?
Based just on the fact that the titular declaration of war happens to be in the internment zone, with most of the top Marley military brass and many prominent world leaders in attendance, leads me to believe that either Willy is in on the plan or he had his own plan that has now been derailed. Eren seemed to know what was going on, and he planned his transformation for a specific moment. That indicates there was some collusion.
Is Kiyomi involved in whatever’s going on? She didn’t stay for the show, and her conversation with Willy seemed loaded with code. Whose side is she on?
You just don’t know. Attack on Titan is an anime that giveth and taketh away. Every time you get answers to your questions, you get more questions.
One of my questions (aside from the many I’ve already asked in this review) is, who was the soldier who led Pieck and Porco into the trap? There is some speculation that it’s Armin, because of the hair and the beard, but the voice wasn’t right. There is also a theory that it’s Annie – there have been enough reminders of Annie lately, and in “Declaration of War” we met her dad, who believes she’s still alive – because Pieck recognized the person. But then, Pieck was also on Paradis – she rescued Zeke from Levi – so she might have seen Armin there.
Is Zeke in on the plan? He was taken somewhere different than the other two, and there have been earlier hints he may be working against Marley.
And even though we might have a more complete version of what happened and how everyone came to be on the island, we still have no idea how Eldians gained the ability to turn into Titans in the first place. We don’t know why shifters only live for 13 years but regular Titans can seemingly live forever. We learned in season 3 that if a shifter dies without a designated heir (as in, they aren’t eaten on purpose by someone), then that power passes to someone randomly. Is there a way to stop that? Is there a way to end Titans for good?
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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