Let’s be honest: the season three Attack on Titan opening is a little… different. What possessed Wit Studio to make such a radical change after the success of previous OPs? Today, we’ll examine the differences between this and previous openings, and the reasons why this change may not be such a bad thing.
A Major Change
The OPs for seasons one and two shared a common thread: they both had a heavily militaristic, choral sound not unlike that of 1941’s “The Sacred War”. This World War 2-inspired tone meshed extremely well with the concept of Attack on Titan – a small group of allies banding together against a seemingly unstoppable foe.
In contrast, the season three opening, “Red Swan” sounds like it was ripped directly from a romance anime. A closer look at the lyrics reveal darker themes, however. There are hints of doubt (“What’s the lie? / What’s the truth? / Who to believe?”), acceptance (“Those bloodstained wings / spread them wide!”), and loss (“Fly to heaven”). These darker motifs are highly reminiscent of shows like Evangelion, and, despite the song’s bubblegum pop appearance, the lyrics fit fairly well with the vibe of Attack on Titan.
Of course, the song itself is only half on an anime opening; there’s also the video. While previous seasons’ OPs focused on fluid movement and action, this one is much more subdued. It’s almost as though before, the show wanted its audience to feel excited about the prospect of going out and fighting Titans, much like Eren did.
“Red Swan” flips this on its head. By now, Eren has lost so much: his friends, his family, even his identity. The video puts major emphasis on how much has changed since he was a kid running around with his friends. As his younger self dances around, excited about everything, the present-day Eren stares into space, shocked to his core by the horrors of this never-ending war.
Without The Scouts, What’s Left?
By this point, the audience has seen so many Scouts die that there’s little point learning their names. The ones who remain are battle-hardened, reliable soldiers who trust each member of their team implicitly. The video for “Red Swan” highlights this by showing clips of Eren, Armin, Mikasa, Levi, Historia, and Erwin contemplating where they came from interspersed with clips from their struggles along the way.
Season three marked a huge tonal shift for Attack on Titan. Now, it really is the Scout Regiment against the world. If they didn’t have each other, they’d have nothing. Humanity would have nothing.
Despite initially hating the new opening, we’ve since come around. Sure, it might sound different, and the video seems a little cheesy at first. Scratch below the surface, however, and you’ll find that there’s actually a lot of depth to it. What do you think? Is “Red Swan” a terrible replacement, or is it a masterpiece? Be sure to let us know in the comments!