Capturing Attack On Titan's Massive Scale Was A Struggle Behind The Scenes

"Attack on Titan" has always been a show about scale, about facing something bigger and hard to beat. From the very first episode when we get the iconic shot of the Colossal Titan towering over the giant walls protecting the city of Shiganshina, the anime has always used the imagery of the small humans and the monstrous Titans to create terror.

But things reached a new level this season, when Eren activated the Rumbling and unleashed all the millions of Titans hidden inside the walls and sent them to flatten the Earth. It is a powerful, monumental scene for the show, one with huge consequences, and wonderful visuals. Turns out, unsurprisingly, that the Rumbling was as big a problem for the production behind the scenes as it is for the characters in the show.

The Rumbling that will flatten the world

After an incredibly tense couple of episodes that culminated with Eren taking control of the powers of the Founding Titan, he asks the founder Ymir to help him tear down the walls of the world. In the span of seconds, Eren's disembodied head grows into a behemoth Titan, the walls around Shiganshina crumble, and all the Titans in the halls awake and start walking. It is straight out of a Godzilla movie, an apocalyptic moment of sheer awe and horror.

And it was also a moment of sheer awe and horror for the production. In an interview between director Yuichiro Hayashi and CGI producer and screen designer Yusuke Tannawa, the two talk about crafting the scene and translating it to the big screen, knowing it is arguably the biggest event in the entire show. 

Indeed, the Rumbling is a pivotal moment for the show. It signifies the point of no return for Eren, who took a plan to do a small-scale Rumbling sample to hold the world hostage and buy time, and instead made a declaration of war on the entire world. Tannawa said of the sequence:

"When we were asked to work on 'Attack on Titan,' one of the themes we were thinking about was how to animate the Rumbling. How to portray it, how to stage it, how to show it. Well, we're still trying to figure it out. I don't know if it's okay to say that in this interview, so I'm a little worried, but that's how it is."

Well, they definitely figured it out.

A monumental apocalypse

The scene of the Rumbling itself is gorgeously animated and staged, but it's what comes after that solidifies its impact. Beyond the initial moment of shock, "Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2" never lets you forget about the Rumbling. 

We hear the resounding footsteps of the millions of Titans in every episode, and we see them in the background of every scene, towering over everything. They literally turn the sky red due to the heat and steam emanating from the bodies of the Titans. Likewise, even if Eren is not on screen for most of the season, his presence is felt in every single scene, casting a large shadow over the whole show.

Speaking of Eren, that was another challenge as big as the Rumbling itself. You see, after he had his head 360 no scope-d by Gabi, Eren's new Titan form is unlike any we've seen before. He's now less human, and more like a whale skeleton.

"We were wondering how we could animate them," Hayashi said. "We did a lot of testing to create the look, so it wasn't a rush job, but we planned out a long prep period to create them."

Tannawa continued:

"We can't quite tell how he moves in the manga, so we imagined how he'd move from his shape and size, and we tried to recreate him and move him based on our imagination. And you and I go, 'Oh, this is how it looks. He makes quite big movements. What should we do when we look at it from afar?' That's something we're really working on."

The result speaks for itself. When we finally get a good look at Eren's Titan in the final moments of the season, it is an unnatural monstrosity, devoid of any humanity. What little we see of Eren in motion is primal, driven by a single purpose: destroy everything. It is scary, it is menacing, it is enthralling.

"Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2" is now streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation, with Part 3 set to be released in 2023.