Attack on Titan‘s season 4 trailer seems to confirm a fear many viewers shared regarding the upcoming final season. Based on the manga series by Hajime Isayama, the Attack on Titan anime has been a major hit, particularly on western shores, and that popularity has invited Marvel crossovers, live-action movies and even an Easter egg on The Simpsons. After the runaway success of its first season, Attack on Titan season 2 was hampered by delays and took almost 4 years to release. Fortunately, fans only had to wait a year until season 3, and Attack on Titan‘s brand of blood and misery continues to produce one of the most consistently strong anime franchises in recent memory.
Following Attack on Titan‘s dramatic season 3 finale, however, it was announced that the upcoming fourth run would be the final chapter of Isayama’s story. This came as a surprise to readers of the manga especially, who were aware of how much material the anime had left to cover. The Attack on Titan manga was already some way ahead of its TV counterpart and even though the end of the story is firmly in sight, the series remains in publication at the time of writing. Knowing this, many were concerned that trying to cram the remainder of the manga into a single season would be as futile as leading a cavalry charge against the Beast Titan… Too soon?
The recent trailer for Attack on Titan‘s final season is rightly being praised for its stunning visuals and faithfulness to the manga, but also confirms the huge challenge season 4 faces: how can a single season do justice to Isayama’s final act? The trailer introduces new characters, new Titans and new settings, as well as older versions of main protagonists Eren and Mikasa. Manga readers will know there’s plenty more to come, and based on the Attack on Titan season 4 trailer, it looks like nothing is going to be skipped. For comparison, Attack on Titan season 1 (25 episodes) covered approximately 34 manga chapters, season 2 (12 episodes) covered roughly 15 chapters and season 3 (22 episodes) covered around 39 manga chapters. There are already 39 chapters ready and waiting for Attack on Titan‘s final season and, as previously mentioned, that number is still going up.
Attack on Titan season 3 did well to squeeze in a colossal chunk of material without feeling rushed. However, the upcoming final chapters feature large swathes of exposition, backstory, character introductions (and farewells) and massive battles, so not only will Attack on Titan season 4 cover more chapters than ever before, it must also tackle the densest, meatiest part of the entire story. Initially, it was suggested that Attack on Titan season 4 might gloss over some of its Marley scenes, but the new trailer proves otherwise. This is encouraging in the sense that the anime promises a more authentic adaptation, but the question mark of where cuts will be made still lingers ominously overhead.
Several possible options lie ahead. Attack on Titan‘s final season might opt for a condensed, anime-only ending. Other series have done this in the past, deviating from the img material for the sake of practicality, but the results are usually less than impressive. Alternatively, season 4 might boast a bumper episode count. This would be a much preferable option, and allow Attack on Titan to unravel its conclusion in full. Falling somewhere in between is the most likely route – Attack on Titan‘s final season will clock in around the 22 episode mark but make edits to fit everything in. This is a risky process, and just like taking down one of the titular Titans, the cuts will need to be made in exactly the right place.