One of the most successful anime of the 2010s was definitely Attack on Titan. Based on the manga from Hajime Isayama, the series' crisp animation and dark fantasy storyline have hooked viewers of various demographics for the past decade. Its first three seasons were definitely a high point in the renewed worldwide popularity of anime during this period, but all good things must come to an end. The show's fourth season will finish the series, but it's also got one key difference from its predecessors.
While the first three seasons were animated by WIT Studio, this one is handled by MAPPA, who is known for hits such as Yuri!!! on Ice. This jarring shift to a new studio caught many fans off-guard, especially when the show's final season had so many other production worries. Here's the reason why the show is in different hands for its finale, and what led to WIT Studio giving over the successful series.
Attack on Titan Season 4's Development
After three very successful and popular seasons, it was announced that Attack on Titan would be animated by a different studio for its fourth and final installment. WIT Studio had handled the series theretofore, and the result was simply breathtaking. The show's combination of traditional animation and CGI succeeded far more than previous attempts to do so within the medium and looked fantastic in its own right. Directors included Tetsuro Araki for the first season and Masashi Koizuka for the second and third seasons.
The show's success was felt not only in Japan but in the West as well, jumpstarting a renaissance of worldwide anime popularity. The show's fourth and final season was announced in July 2019 and was initially planned for a Fall 2020 release. Unfortunately for fans, this wouldn't happen, namely because of a very vital change to the production team.
Attack on Titan's Change of Studios
After Season 3's two parts finished airing and Season 4 was officially announced, it was revealed that Season 4 would have a different animation studio behind it. This didn't engender much positivity from the fandom, for various reasons. For one, other popular shows such as The Seven Deadly Sins and One-Punch Man changed animation studios for newer seasons and the result was noticeably diminished animation quality. Neither show had an animation or art-style as experimental as Attack on Titan's, either. There was also the fact that this final season could be shorter and potentially draw from an incomplete manga, making fans skeptical of how it would turn out in terms of writing.
According to the show's producers, the handover was decided due to the escalating scale of the series. Thematically, this was meant to represent a turning point in the show, represented by the third season ending with a look off into the sunset. Apparently, many studios refused the offer to finish the series, not wanting to attempt to fill WIT Studio's gargantuan shoes.
Eventually, MAPPA was the studio chosen to take the final season on. If the studio's track record of successful shows wasn't enough to alleviate fan concerns, its first look at Season 4 of Attack on Titan certainly did. Not only has the top-notch animation quality continued, but it's also actually improved in some respects. The general designs and even color schemes are closer to how the characters look in the manga. Hopefully, this will all come together to give fans a satisfying conclusion to one of the definitive anime series of the last decade.