Well, we made it, people. It was ten years in the making (for the anime, mind you. The manga debuted back in 2009), but we finally came to the startling Attack on Titan ending on November 4th.
I’ve already discussed how I thought Attack on Titan was the best under-the-radar show on TV, and how I was both overjoyed (but also kind of annoyed) that they decided to stretch out the final season for so long, but now that it’s finally over, I have extremely mixed feelings.
Now, mind you, these mixed feelings aren’t about the ending itself, as it’s more the fact that it’s actually over. Because when it comes to the anime ending, I truly think that it will be looked back upon quite fondly, which is strange given how poorly the ending of the manga was received by some. But, I have five reasons why I think the anime’s conclusion will be much more revered than the manga’s.
Oh, and spoilers up ahead.
Attack On Titan Fans Have Had Ample Time To Process Their Feelings Over The Controversial Manga Ending
I’m going to be real with you. I was completely and utterly in love with Attack on Titan, even ranking the very best episodes at the time when the manga was quickly coming to a close. Back then, I was an anime-only fan of the series, and I was almost positive that series creator, Hajime Isayama, was going to end with a satisfying conclusion.
But then, he didn’t. Or at least, many fans thought he didn’t. There are whole articles detailing the controversy concerning the manga’s conclusion, but in a nutshell, a lot of fans didn’t like how Eren seemed a little out of character toward the end, or how everything seemed kind of pointless given what occurred after the Rumbling, ostensibly only a few years later.
But that was back in 2021, and a lot can change over time, notably public opinion. People who read the manga back in 2021 have had time to process the ending, with some manga/anime fans seeming to have softened their opinions on it. I also feel that people have been discussing the ending so much since it happened, that there have been multiple interpretations that have shifted the conversation.
All this is to say that going into the conclusion of the anime, I think a great many people had already heard that the Attack on Titan manga ending was “not good,” and they’ve had time to prepare for that idea. In doing so, it seems that people were pleasantly surprised when the anime ending was actually really good. Who would have thunk it?
The Anime Ending Smooths Out Some Of The Rough Edges Of The Manga’s Conclusion
Here’s the interesting thing. The anime ending is largely almost exactly the same as the manga ending, but there are a few changes that go a long way. For example, one thing that a lot of manga fans didn’t seem to like about the original ending is how Armin had a conversation with Eren that seemed like he was actually thankful to Eren for initiating the Rumbling.
But the anime smooths that out, making it sound like Armin also played a large role in everything that went down, and he even comments on how he will meet Eren again in hell once he dies.
Another major sticking point for manga readers was that it seemed like Paradis Island was destroyed not too long after the conclusion of the Rumbling, but the anime ending makes it seem like whole generations pass by, and so it doesn’t seem like the events of the Rumbling were pointless.
Yes, Paradis still gets blown to smithereens in a mid-credit scene, but it looks like it takes place several years in the future, which is a bit more palatable than people who actually survived the Rumbling being nuked within their lifetimes.
So, the anime ending, while almost entirely similar, makes enough changes that it feels a lot more acceptable than the manga’s conclusion.
The Stirring Music And Striking Animation Makes A Big Difference
The manga is certainly unique in its artwork, but I think a big reason why the anime ending seems to be so well received is due to MAPPA Studios’ excellent work. The Attack on Titan anime has always been noteworthy for its animation and music (Even right down to its intro themes), but MAPPA Studio went above and beyond when it came to this final episode.
The visuals were startling, and the music was stirring all throughout. And one specific scene involving the ghosts of the warriors who had passed along the way was made that much more poignant when paired with the music that accompanied it.
This scene was also in the manga, and while it was definitely devastating there, it was made that much more somber with the way the visuals melded with the music. A static image on a page is one thing, but seeing it all play out in motion was another matter entirely.
The Ending Is As Consistently Bleak As The Rest Of The Series
And then, you have the potency of the actual anime ending itself. A lot of people went to X immediately after the finale to voice their feelings, like one person who believes there will never be a story like Attack on Titan ever again:
Or, those who believe they will “never recover from” the emotional torment that the conclusion put us all through:
Or, the many people who used the Vince McMahon gif to display their feelings:
And I think a lot of this goes to the bleak way the series ended. For anybody who wants to actually get into the popular anime, they should go into it knowing that the story will break your heart. Yes, it’s a series with excellent battle sequences, but it’s so much more than just that, and the ending is as consistently bleak as the rest of the series.
In this way, I think the anime’s ending succeeds with the fans since this is what we’ve always expected. If the ending had been cheery, then that would have been inconsistent. But, I think there’s one more reason why the anime’s ending will live on forever while the manga’s is kind of already being forgotten.
Overall, The Anime’s Ending Makes The Series Feel Circular, So It Pays To Rewatch It
Lastly, I think the main reason why the anime’s ending will be looked back upon more fondly than the manga’s is that the anime just feels much more circular than the source material.
Yes, again, the anime follows many of the same beats as the manga, with a few exceptions, but after rewatching the first season again in preparation for this final episode, I noticed just how much was actually foreshadowed in that very first scene.
Pretty much the entire series can be recontextualized when you view the ending discussions in the series, and then watch the first episode all over again. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever watched a more circular series in my entire life, and I think the anime does a better job of showing that than the manga does, which might just be one more reason why some are calling the anime’s conclusion a “masterpiece” while a lot of people frowned heavily upon the manga's ending.
But, what do you think? Do you also believe that the Attack on Titan anime ending will go down as one of the greatest anime endings of all time? For more news on all things anime, be sure to swing around here often!