Is the use of CGI in Mappa’s Attack on Titan Season 4 justified?

Is the use of CGI in Mappa's Attack on Titan Season 4 justified?

Attack on Titan Season 4 is the fourth and final season of the anime television series Attack on Titan, based on the manga of the same name by Hajime Isayama. The season was produced by MAPPA, switching studios from the previous three seasons.

  • The season premiered on NHK General TV on December 7, 2020, and concluded on March 29, 2021.
  • It was split into two parts, with the first part airing from December 7, 2020, to March 29, 2021, and the second part airing from January 10 to April 4, 2022.

The season adapts the Marley arc of the manga, which takes place 9 years after the events of the previous season. The season follows the Survey Corps as they travel to Marley, the home of the Titans, in order to stop Eren Yeager, who has taken control of the Founding Titan and is planning to unleash the Rumbling, a massive army of Titans that will destroy the world.

Is the use of CGI in Mappa's Attack on Titan Season 4 justified?
Attack on Titan | Image courtesy of MAPPA

The season has been a commercial success, with the first part becoming the most-viewed anime on Crunchyroll in its first week of release. The season has also been nominated for several awards, including the Crunchyroll Anime Awards for Best Anime and Best Action Anime.

Along with its share of commercial accolades, it has also been criticized for its pacing and the use of CGI for the Titans. 

The Changes that MAPPA brought for Attack on Titan Season 4 

The change of studios from Wit Studio to MAPPA for Attack on Titan Season 4 resulted in notable changes:

  • The use of CGI for the Titans: Wit Studio used a combination of 2D and 3D animation for the Titans in the first three seasons of Attack on Titan. However, MAPPA opted to use primarily CGI for the Titans in Attack on Titan Season 4. This was a controversial decision, with some fans feeling that the CGI looked out of place and took away from the overall quality of the animation. Others felt that the CGI was necessary to depict the Titans in a more realistic way.
Is the use of CGI in Mappa's Attack on Titan Season 4 justified?
Attack on Titan | Image courtesy of MAPPA
  • The character designs: The character designs for the main characters were also slightly altered for Attack on Titan Season 4. Some fans felt that the new designs were more mature and realistic, while others felt that they were too different from the original designs.
  • The pacing: The pacing of Attack on Titan Season 4 was also different from the previous seasons. Season 4 covered more manga chapters in a shorter amount of time, which resulted in a faster-paced story. This was a deliberate choice by the producers, who wanted to adapt the entire manga in one season.
Is the use of CGI in Mappa's Attack on Titan Season 4 justified?
Attack on Titan | Image courtesy of MAPPA
  • The tone: The tone of Season 4 was also darker and more serious than the previous seasons. This was due to the fact that the story was now entering its final arc, and the stakes were higher than ever before.

Is the use of CGI justified?

There are a few reasons why Mappa may have chosen to use CGI for the Titans.

  1. First, CGI can be used to create more complex and dynamic movements than traditional 2D animation. This is especially important for the Titans, who are often depicted in large-scale battles and fight scenes.
  2. Second, CGI can be used to create more realistic textures and shading, which can help to make the Titans look more lifelike.
  3. Thirdly and most importantly, CGI helps animate a diverse array of scenes with less human involvement than traditional hand-drawn frames, reducing the time required to animate one episode drastically. This was especially true for MAPPA who were under constant time pressure given that they had very little window between them getting Attack on Titan project and the producers’ pitching for it to be released in 2020.
Is the use of CGI in Mappa's Attack on Titan Season 4 justified?
Attack on Titan | Image courtesy of MAPPA

However, there are also some drawbacks to using CGI. One drawback is that it can be more expensive than traditional 2D animation. Another drawback is that CGI can sometimes look artificial and out of place, especially when it is not blended well with the 2D animation. Anime fans on the particular are wary of CGI, often always criticizing it. 

Conclusion

The use of CGI is justified but certainly not welcomed wholeheartedly. If it was executed in a more nuanced way and slowly built up then it would have been more widely accepted. But at the end of the day, MAPPA made a brave and strategic choice in using CGI. It will be interesting to see how they play out the next installation in the series and make any improvements.

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