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Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 1 Limited Edition Anime DVD/BD Review

10 min read
New truths, hard shells, and a changing world.

New truths, hard shells, and a changing world.

What They Say:
The truth about the Titans begins to come to light. Political secrets, a false king, and the reality that will shake the foundation of the world—all falls on the shoulders of Eren and his friends, as they fight to survive. With Historia set to be the rightful Queen, the Levi Squad must act. But a figure from Levi’s past, the deadly Kenny, could turn this into a losing battle. Are Eren and his friends prepared to face the true monsters that lie within the walls?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is about as expected as we get the original Japanese language in stereo while the English language adaptation is in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. Due to the setup of the disc, you can’t change on the fly to sample either track (and it involves a good bit of moving around in the menus) so I only sampled a bit of the English language track. The show as a whole has a solid forward soundstage design to it where it uses the action to move across the screen in some good back and forth moments as they flit about while there’s also some good impact when it comes to the Titans stomping about. The series features a lot of action and that hits some very good notes throughout, but it is constrained to its original stereo designs. The 5.1 mix bumps it up in various areas as it goes on but there’s not a lot thrown to the rears here. What the mix does is increase the overall impact and comes across as a bit louder in general. But both tracks do some good stuff here and it’s very well designed for the property.

Originally airing in 2018, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This set has twelve episodes where eight are on the first disc and four on the second, which is where the extras are as well. Animated by studio Wit, the series is one that definitely looks great and it has a much stronger feeling when it comes to colors and detail than the HD simulcasts I had been watching, especially early on. The animation has a very good look to it, a little more stylized than most, and it has a very good quality about it with the colors, detail and the overall presentation of it that really makes it feel like much more than normal. The transfer takes all of this and runs with it as the colors are rich and solid throughout, the animation’s fluidity comes across really well and the high impact sequences stand out even more. There’s a lot to like here and it’s very easy to be invested in it because of how appealing it looks.

With the limited edition packaging for this release, it’s going to be something that will be divisive for fans based on personal preferences but does at least provide continuity with how the first set was done. The release is setup as a digipak with the whole hardcover book feeling that has the big plastic trays inside to hold the discs, the right side with the DVDs and the left side with the Blu-ray’s. The front of the package has the standard imagery that really does stand out no matter how many times you see it for the season with a different take on a face off at the wall. The logo through the middle is done in bloodied silver against the darkness of the Wall and the combination of the three pieces really is striking. The back cover goes simple but effective as well with a black background that has a sliver of a look at one of the more dangerous Titans. This is underneath the insert that’s not glued to the package under the shrinkwrap which does the standard sell of the premise, the extras and the technical information in a pretty clean and clear way.

Opening up the digipak, the left side under the discs has a good bit of classic almost map-like design that fits with the style of the show that wraps to the back side as well. In between these two things we get a twenty-four page booklet that I really wish was placed separately rather than bound to the package since it’s just awkward. We get some decent character bios and artwork and some cute translated four panel theater comics as well. Add in a couple of pages of great promotional artwork and it’s a very nice booklet.

The heavy chipboard box that holds the digipak is nicely done with a kind of slick look to the paper that gives the colors of the symbol in the middle a little extra punch without being too much. The logo is clean and clear in how it’s presented and I really like how the back side is a really great shot of Levi. The set also comes with a great squarebound booklet that’s full of artwork in full color from the home video releases and other promotional pieces that’s crisp and very appealing. The comics within it are definitely amusing

With two commentaries split between the discs, the bulk of the extras are on the second disc. This is where we get the advantages of creatives coming to Anime Expo as there are good interviews with Yuki Kaji as well as Bryce Papenbrook about Eren. The set comes with four more Inside the Episode interviews on the English side, and there’s a cute chibi theater piece along with a run of promotional videos. The eyecatch gallery gives us the necessary understanding of what’s being said and the clean opening and closings round it out. What we also get is a picture in picture approach to episode 46 where the Japanese directors sit down to break down how the episode operated. It’s a great piece in general but the presentation definitely helps to smooth out the understanding of their choices.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally airing in the summer 2018 season, the third season of Attack on Titan is definitely a curious work. It was one that amused me in some ways because it was the second season that got a lot of grief but was one that I found really well done and enjoyed a whole lot in contrast to the complaints I heard. With the third season, we got some big expansions on what’s going on in this world and it works well, especially the back half of the season, but the opening half left me just not feeling it quite as much. The show has become more of an ensemble piece as it went along, and that’s fine, but some of the characters ended up a lot more secondary for a bit than I expected. It just took a bit to really get into the groove of it all.

A lot of what’s going on in the first half involves the way that the group that Levi is now holding together is operating in secret and on the run because the government is not what it seems and everyone is on edge for fear of being disappeared. There’s a lot of interesting little moments early on as we get the team out in the cottage where Hange does her thing and showing them making their way back into Trost only to discover that there are plans over the course of it to deal with the Survey Corps becomes pretty chilling. One moment later in the season stands out for me in just how different the members of the Survey Corps are because they do go beyond the walls and have seen the wider world. Those within are all in a prison in the end, but one where they’re unaware that they are and have had the interest or curiosity basically bred out of them at this point as to what might be. They’re content, at least as long as the Titans aren’t breaking the walls.

The show delves into the politics of the capital well here and as a fan of such stories I should be thrilled by this. The plans for a bloodless coup and dealing with the corruption within that’s trying to protect the secrets of the Titans is interesting. But the problem with it here is mixed because the gap between seasons makes going right into this kind of material difficult and combine that with it just not being executed in a really good way. It mixes in a lot of different things, including with Armin and some of the others of Levi’s group struggling with having to fight fellow humans, but it doesn’t feel like it has a strong enough central narrative to go forward smoothly. The uneven elements – and then throwing in some flashback material along the way with Historia as well – just felt like it was cramming things into the story at odd and unusual times and placement.

The halfway mark is where I started to feel more connected to this season as it delved more fully into Eren being kidnapped along with Historia but it actually part of a larger plan. In a crystal-like underground cavern, it’s here that we see how Historia and her father have a real history in dealing with the truth of the Titans. It’s something called a Founding Titan power that can be transfered between those of the same bloodline but involves some very specific aspects. That’s not something that goes over well with Kenny since he had though he’d be the one that could do it and that pushes him over the edge. Historia’s past is a little convoluted here with wiped memories being brought back to the surface thanks to Historia’s simple contact with Eren and it’s something that alters her path as she no longer will simply do what her father says in regards to the transfer. Like so many people in this series, her path was being guided but she’s now taking control of it.

While all of this is interesting, I do love the rescue sequence that Levi’s squad organizes because it shows just how professional and competent they are at this point since so many have seen so many varied things. They’re quick and effective against superior numbers in an unfamiliar location but also because they know the equipment. It’s a good piece that puts a delay wedge into the whole Founding Titan thing but puts Eren and Historia back with the group. Which is good since her life is about to be changed once back in the civilized world and the nature of the government there is changing. There’s a lot going on in the final few episodes, including a two-month jump at one point, but we see how the Survey Corps and those like Levi are learning to be far better at what they do than they ever were before.

Eren’s presence was a catalyst to change and Eren himself is still struggling with what he is and what he can do, though they’re figuring out ways to take advantage of it to secure the city more and come up with better ways to kill attacking Titans. What everything really leads to here is for humanity to really start having a plan, something that the corrupt side of the ruling party had avoided for so long. A look forward with dealing with the Titan threat and reclaiming the world is starting to give people hope and we even get a really surreal moment of the Survey Corps being cheered before going on. There’s some good stuff gone over, sometimes in montage form, but that and Historia’s new role along with seeing what Hange is up to is setting the stage for big changes in the upcoming back half as humanity begins to go on the offensive.

In Summary:
The start of the third season of Attack on Titan is a bit uneven for me but it starts hitting stronger material about halfway through. It needed the foundational pieces at the start that may not have worked too well for me in execution but the ideas are interesting. What we get from there on out is pretty damn interesting though and I like that it changes up the nature of how the walled city itself is operating going forward. Funimation once again does a great job here with a clean looking visual design, a fun dub that captures the craziness well, and a limited edition side that delivers some of the goods. The empty spacer box is kind of disappointing as you want something in there but the box itself is good and the general consistency across the seasons is very welcome. Definitely looking forward to what’s to come in this season.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Attack on Titan at Anime Expo 2018: Interview with Yuki Kaji, Attack on Titan at Anime Expo 2018: Interview with Bryce Papenbrook, The Directors Break Down Episode 46, Episode 40 Commentary, Episode 47 Commentary, Chibi Theater: “Go Get ‘Em, New Levi Squad!”, Promo Videos, Textless Songs, Eyecatch Gallery

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
MSRP: $84.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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