Attack on Titan’s Season 4 premiere was greeted by enraptured fans, animated conversations, and an electrifying atmosphere on the internet.
In return, fans were met with a completely different feel to the anime – from the opening till the end. Not only were they unable to find their regular cast of the Survey Corps but they were spoon-fed fresh new faces operating in a war.
In that moment, the Attack on Titan world looked eerily similar to ours. It wasn’t until Reiner’s appearance that fans were reminded that the past 3 seasons weren’t a dream.
But his appearance provoked questions of a time-skip off-screen. Reiner is introduced as a sort-of drum roll, with the frame panning from the bottom to his face while a narration takes place.
The Reiner we see has a hardened, slightly aged face and hold onto your socks – he’s also sporting a mean beard! A surprise, but a welcome one.
So, has a time gap taken place in the story? How long has it been since the events of Season 3? Dive right in and you’ll find out.
Attack on Titan Season 4 takes place 4 years after the events of Season 3. The premiere focuses on Marley’s 4-year war with the Mid-East Allied Forces that arose as consequence to the events of Season 3.
Several dialogues hint towards a four-year time-skip and serve as a call back. The manga chapters yet to be adapted further corroborates this fact.
1. Is There a Time-Gap in Attack on Titan Season 4?
When the studio first offered a sneak peak into the character designs of Season 4, the discussion on community forums were set ablaze by questions regarding a time-skip.
Not only did the characters undergo a personal make-over, but they also donned a cool new black Survey Corps uniform!
The trailers and promotional pictures further pushed the fans into fervent curiosity. With their transformation into a more ‘mature’ look, it felt like we’d left these rosy, brazen teenagers behind in Season 3.
Well, a manga reader like myself, already knows the answer to this question but the first episode of Season 4 also provides multiple clues regarding the time-skip.
One of the major give-aways was Reiner itself. I’m sure we haven’t come so far along this year that we forgot how baby-faced Reiner looked like in the first three seasons.
He had blonde close-cropped hair, a clean-shaven face and a bulkier built in the first three seasons.
But the Reiner that greets us this season has slightly longer hair, a short goatee and less bulky built (if you notice, his face has become more defined).
It was almost as if Hajime Isayama and Studio MAPPA wanted to remind us that the characters went through puberty. On a serious note, I’m assuming the weight of Reiner’s actions and the trauma of losing Bertholdt caught up to him.
What strikes a chord in everyone’s hearts is the comment Reiner makes as he’s about to destroy yet another wall.
As Reiner makes his grand entry in the operation, he says, “I’m sick and tired of these walls” in a deadpan manner. This is a major recall moment for fans as they’re aware of what destroying the walls of Paradis Island did to Reiner.
But there are clues beyond Reiner as well that signify a time-skip. Such as when Zeke claims that it is their defeat that causes the war while addressing Reiner.
This can only refer to the intense Battle of Shiganshina that took place towards the end of the previous season. Further clues also give away how long it’s been since the ocean scene in Season 3.
2. How Much Time Has Passed in Attack on Titan?
Attack on Titan returned this year with a peculiar answer to Eren’s question in the concluding moments of the previous season.
A startling remnant of Erwin’s strange question to Eren,
“What do you think the enemy is?”.Erwin
A significant amount of time has passed since then but the question looms heavily over our minds as we see what is on the other side of the ocean.
In the first few minutes of the episode, we see Falco surrounded by his friends as he regains consciousness.
One of the first question that Udo pipes in is,
“Do you remember how we’ve been at war for four years?”.Udo
Now this dialogue in itself is insufficient to know how long it’s been since the events of Season 3 because what if Marley was so powerful that it could balance a war and an important military operation at the same time?
Seems unlikely that Reiner and Zeke could oscillate between two areas of conflict like that but let’s consider it, anyway.
This can be refuted by what Commander Magath tells Colt. Citing the loss of the Colossal and Female Titan, Commander Magath elicits the risks of involving the Jaw and Cart Titan in the operation while the anti-titan artillery is still functional.
While telling this, he mentions the failure of the operation to retake the Founding Titan that was launched “9 years ago”.
Just to refresh your memory, the year Bertholdt breaks the wall is stated to be Year 845. The events between Battle of Trost till the mission to retake Shiganshina (Season 3) takes place in the Year 850.
That’s already 5 years since the commencement of Marley’s operation. So, it’s evident that it’s been four years since the previous events.
Commander Magath further explains that the reason for this war is the failure of the said operation. The events of which weakened Marley and allowed people to take advantage.
In Chapter 93, Zeke mentions that the ships sent to Paradis Island over the course of three years never returned. Not only does this confirm a time-skip but it also makes sense within the context of the four-year time-skip.
3. What Happened During The Time-Skip?
As of now, we know five things that happened during the time-skip. One is that the Mid-East Allied Forces waged a war against Marley to gain greater political control in times of military vulnerability.
The Mid-East Allied Forces seemingly possess great technology that is enough to showcase the lack of absolutism in the power of the Titans.
The supremacy of the Navy of the Allied Forces subverted the power of Marley’s fleets and it took Marley’s Navy four years just to gain control of the seas.
After which, the army was involved to destroy Fort Slava through which they could finally defeat the Navy fleets of Mid-East Allied Forces with the help of the Titan Shifters.
The second point technically did not take place during the time-skip. It took place sometime in the Year 850 – off-screen.
Porco Galliard eats Ymir to inherit the Jaw Titan bringing Marley once again in control of another Titan. We witness Porco Galliard’s Jaw Titan in action during the first episode.
Honestly, no offense to Ymir, but his Titan looked grander and exhibited far superior battle skills, showing the audience the potential of the Jaw Titan’s powers. Nothing less expected of a warrior candidate, though.
Third point is, with Bertholdt dead and Annie captured, Reiner, Zeke and Pieck returned to their homeland – Marley. Fourth, the next set of warriors have been trained to inherit the Titans in Marley’s control.
With their training at a culminating point, we see a fresh set of characters looking to execute the next operation.
And finally, the cameo at the end of the episode is none other than – Jean! We see Jean in dashing vintage suit with a hat covering a third of his face – save for his new stubble and long hair.
Not just that, it seems that Jean is in Marley! Wonder what that spells out for the events that are to come? It is likely that we’ll see our good ol’ Survey Corps members in a couple of episodes. However, remember, the tide is changing, and things may never be the same!
Also, a fun fact for the anime-only audience, the Jean cameo is exclusive to the anime and does not happen in the manga.
4. Here’s a Timeline of The Events in AOT!
This is a brief timeline of the events of Attack on Titan to make sense of what’s happening.
Note: This is a spoiler-free timeline for those who only consume the anime. So, some events are not mentioned.
- Wall Maria Falls – Bertholdt, Reiner and Annie infiltrate Paradis Island.
- Grisha battles with Frieda Reiss and Gains the Founding Titan
- Grisha relinquishes the Attack and Founding Titan to Eren
- Rod Reiss first approaches Historia
- The Royal Government enacts a culling by sending out refugees under the pretext of a plan to reclaim Wall Maria.
- Eren, Armin and Mikasa decide to join the Survey Corps.
- The training of the 104th Training Corps begins.
- Kenny forms the Anti-Personnel Control Squad.
- Battle of Trost – Colossal Titan reappears to destroy the outer gate of Trost.
- 57th Expedition – Annie disrupts this expedition to find Eren.
- Stohess District Raid – Annie’s true identity is revealed, and she is captured.
- Wall Rose Invasion – The Beast Titan (Zeke) invades Wall Rose and kills Mike Zacharias.
- Utgard Castle – Ymir reveals her identity.
- Reiner and Betholdt reveal – Eren finally accesses Coordinate and Ymir leaves.
- Ragako incident – Connie and Hange investigate the events of Ragako.
- Encounter with Kenny Ackerman and Rod Reiss – Historia’s past is revealed.
- Historia becomes Queen of the Walls
- Ymir is eaten by Galliard
- Battle of Shiganshina – Survey Corps fight Reiner, Bertholdt and Zeke. Pieck makes her first appearance. Erwin dies and the Survey Corps are heavily massacred.
- The Basement – A look into Grisha’s past and first mention of Marley.
- Reiner and Zeke Return
- Mid-East Allied Forces declare a war against Marley.
- The Survey Corps see the ocean
- The war between Marley and Mid-East Allied Forces comes to end with Marley’s victory.
5. Who Are The New Characters in Attack on Titan?
Grisha’s memories revealed a mammoth of information. The lifestyle Eldians carried in Marley was jarring to know but incidentally, we also witness the birth of the Warrior programme that would eventually send Reiner, Annie and Bertholdt on their path to Paradis Island.
The reason why Reiner called himself a warrior makes much more sense now, doesn’t it?
The episode, titled, “The Other Side of the Sea” introduced us to various characters and it seems that we’ll be with them for a while until we see our regular cast.
We see the young candidates for the heritance of the Armoured Titan – Falco, Gabi, Udo and Sofia.
And just like Reiner and the others, they also underwent the gruelling military training to inherit the Nine Titans. The warrior programme aims to use Eldians/ Titan Shifters as a tactical advantage in Marley’s political agenda.
It also provides a way for debased Eldians to gain some ‘honour’ or benefits by serving Marley’s military.
You can see in Gabi’s resolve as she wishes to liberate the ‘good’ Eldians by dealing with the ‘island devils’ that have caused Eldians so much pain.
Propaganda is a tool and Marley’s making extensive use of it, as you can see. Gabi catches one’s eye – her attitude almost reminiscent of Season 1 Eren.
With her iron resolve and clever tactics, she’s able to bring down the armoured train all by herself – jaw-dropping introduction to a character I’d say.
Besides her, Falco seems to be rather mature and empathetic. His interest in the war doesn’t lie in the war itself but the destruction and casualties it’s creating.
His attempt to save the enemy, even, as a prisoner of war really shows that the kid possesses maturity beyond his years. Udo and Sofia are also warrior candidates like them.
Unlike Gabi or Falco, they weren’t given exclusive screen time however like them, they’re all dissatisfied by the sub-par lifestyle they’re subjected to.
Then we have Colt and Commander Magath. The conversation between them is enough to know the respect an Eldian has in relation to a Marleyan.
Racial discrimination is laced into the dialogues uttered by Commander Magath’s assistant and even the prisoner of war Falco saves.
Colt Grice is the older brother of Falco Grice (hence, the protectiveness). He is in line to inherit the Beast Titan after Zeke and also, gearing up to become a Commanding Officer in the Marleyan Army.
Much like his brother, he seems to be a compassionate man. His impressive tactical knowledge and his strong compassion for his Eldian brethren is what is shown to us.
Commander Magath, on the other hand, serves the role of an intimidating Marleyan officer who wishes to serve his homeland to the fullest.
Just like any Marleyan, he also perpetuates in the inhuman discrimination of Eldians – such as ordering 800 soldiers to act as suicide bombers or bait so that they can “serve” Marley. While there is no disgust in his attitude towards Eldian, there definitely is superiority.
Porco Galliard is another warrior candidate who inherited the Jaw Titan from Ymir.
SPOILER: He is also the younger brother of Marcel Galliard. The friend of Reiner and Bertholdt that Ymir ate before she turned.
Pieck’s Cart Titan was last seen in Season 3 while she assisted Zeke during the Battle in Shiganshina. Her titan is mainly used for utility purposes where she’s either seen carrying equipment or even gun turrets for offensive tactics.
Finally, we see Zeke in the season from an insider’s lens rather than as Eren’s mysterious villanous half-brother. We get to witness how Zeke can turn Eldians into titans – a mystery of Ragako village that disturbed not just Connie, but us as well.
While Zeke’s words of saving his brother from their father came off quite strange to fans, we’ll probably get a front row look at who Zeke is and what he meant by that.
Given the pressure Grisha put on him as a child and not to mention that massive neglection, it’s not that surprising though.
The time-gap is a surprising touch to the story, and it leaves the fans in dark about how time has treated our beloved Survey Corps. It’ll also leave fans in anticipation on what’s to come and how Survey Corps are planning to approach Marley.
As we’re left to piece this together, week after week, I’d only suggest hanging onto your seats – because Season 4 is going to be an intense, chaotic ride.
6. About Attack On Titan
Attack on Titan is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. Kodansha publishes it in the Bessatsu Shonen Magazine.
The manga began serialization on September 9th, 2009 and continues to date with 30 tankōbom formats.
Attack on Titan follows humanity settled within three concentric walls to protect themselves from the terrifying titans that prey on them.
Eren Yeager is a young boy that believes that a caged life is similar to that of cattle and aspires to go beyond the walls one day, just like his heroes, the Survey Corps. The emergence of a deadly Titan unleashes chaos.Originally Written By Epic Dope