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This Is The Correct Order In Which To Watch Attack On Titan

Based on the manga series by Hajime Isayama, the hit anime "Attack on Titan" has been captivating viewers since its first season aired back in 2013. The show takes place in a world inhabited by dangerous and terrifying creatures known as Titans, huge and often grotesque humanoids known to devour humans. The remnants of humanity have lived inside walled cities for more than a century by the time we join the story, but their relative safety is about to be shattered. We follow a young man named Eren Jaeger as he overcomes personal tragedy and becomes a leader in the fight against the Titans, uncovering secrets about their existence — as well as his own.

There have been several seasons of the show, as well as a number of original video animations (or OVAs, made especially for release on home video rather than on TV or in cinemas). Watching the seasons in the correct order is simple enough, but fans are often confused about where all the OVAs fit into the timeline. Well, we've got you covered. This is the correct order in which to watch "Attack on Titan." Minor spoilers ahead.

Season 1

The story starts — where else — in the first episode of Season 1. We're introduced to Eren, who reveals that it's his dream to join the Scout Regiment, the military branch that ventures outside the walls to study (and often battle) the Titans. However, the battle is about to be brought to him. When the Titan nicknamed The Colossal Titan because it's so big appears and breaks down the gate of Wall Maria, smaller Titans are able to enter the town of Shiganshina. They make their way through the town, killing civilians. In a shocking and heartbreaking moment, Eren's mother is eaten by a Titan right in front of him.

The survivors retreat inside Wall Rose, where they are begrudgingly housed as refugees. There's a shortage of food, however, and it soon becomes clear that they will have to fight to regain the territory lost to the Titans. Eren, hellbent on revenge, joins the 104th Cadet Corps. A lot goes down in the first few episodes, and you'll no doubt be hooked right from the get-go. There's a lot more to Eren than meets the eye (in fact, even he doesn't know the truth of his true nature), but to say any more would be getting into spoiler territory.

A Sudden Visitor: The Torturous Curse of Adolescence (OVA)

Chronologically, the first batch of "Attack on Titan" OVAs take place between the events of Episode 3 and Episode 4, though to fully understand them (and to avoid minor spoilers) it's best to complete Season 1 before you dive in. Once the first season is out of the way, you'll want to start with the OVA "A Sudden Visitor: The Torturous Curse of Adolescence," which focuses on Jean's prickly relationship with his mother. "There is a small comedic pay-off to this OVA later on in the series so it's best to watch 'Sudden Visitor' after season 1 so you'll get that joke," Anime News Network notes.

In a prelude, we see a younger Jean arguing with his mother after she enters his room without knocking to give him some supper, her special omelet. A few years later, after a training exercise leaves Jean feeling sidelined by his teammates, he broods. He calls Sasha and other Scouts cheaters for stealing "his" targets. When Connie says Jean must miss his mother, Jean almost loses it. When Commander Pyxis walks in on Jean and Sasha arguing, he (drunkenly) decides that the fight should be resolved with a cook-off that very night.

It's far from a high stakes story (in fact, this is as close to an all-out comedy as "Attack on Titan" gets, not including the non-canonical "Attack on Titan: Junior High" spin-off), but it gives viewers more insight into some interesting characters and helps explain why Marco's death has such an impact on Jean.

Ilse's Notebook: Notes from a Scout Regiment Member (OVA)

Next up in the viewing order is the OVA "Ilse's Notebook: Notes from a Scout Regiment Member." This OVA details the 49th Exterior Scouting Mission, which becomes hugely important in understanding the Titans. We follow members of the Scout Regiment as they clash over how to approach the mission. Hange believes they need to capture Titans alive so they can learn more about them. This approach ends up putting other members of the regiment in danger, but it's ultimately the right move — after following a Titan, they notice that it's bashing its head against a particular tree. To their shock, they discover the corpse of Ilse, one of their comrades, in that tree.

Before the Titan killed her, Ilse was able to jot down several vital pieces of information in a notebook. She confirmed that she managed to converse with the Titan, who called her a "subject of Ymir" and bowed down to her. It eventually turned on her once she started yelling. The revelations in the notebook convince Commander Erwin that capturing Titans instead of slaughtering them is the way forward. This OVA is technically episode 3.5, but, like "A Sudden Visitor," it's best to finish the first season before viewing it. "It's not as if you can't appreciate the overall series without having seen 'Ilse's Notebook,' but watching it after Season 1 will give you a safe sneak peek without showing you too much," says Anime News Network.

Distress (OVA)

After "Ilse's Notebook: Notes from a Scout Regiment Member" you should check out the OVA "Distress," also known as Episode 3.75 because of its placement in the timeline. In it, the 104th Cadet Corps are split into two groups and sent out into the desert on a wilderness training exercise. Eren is assigned to the team led by Marco, as is Jean. The pair don't see eye to eye, with Jean favoring a slow-and-steady approach and Eren quickly growing frustrated with the lack of progress.

The two teams are to leave at the same time on different headings, get to a checkpoint, and return to base. It's supposed to be a pretty low-risk endeavor, but a caravan of thieves appears from nowhere to take Christa hostage and steal the group's equipment. After a high-speed cart race, the thieves decide to sell Christa off. The story follows the cadets' efforts to rescue Christa and complete their training. "Distress" is widely seen as the weakest of the OVAs, though it offers viewers the chance to get to know some characters outside of the military in the form of the bandits, who prove to be more than simple stock villains.

A Choice with No Regrets (OVA)

Chronologically, the two-part OVA "A Choice with No Regrets" takes place prior to Season 1 (the two installments are sometimes referred to as Episode 0.5A and Episode 0.5B), however, if you watch them before the first season, you run the risk of getting spoiled and confused. It tells the tale of how former criminal Levi Ackerman and his friends Furlan Church and Isabel Magnolia joined the Scout Regiment as a scheme to kill Commander Erwin on behalf of Marley, a secret rival nation.

The story begins in The Underground, a subterranean city beneath the capital. It's a dark place full of dangerous people that comes into the main story in a very matter-of-fact fashion later on — which is why it's best to familiarize yourself with it here. Levi and Furlan let Isabel join them in their criminal adventures, and they train her to use the ODM gear of the Scouts. Soon enough they get a lead: An anonymous job that will reward them not just with money but citizenship in the capital. They get caught by the Scout Regiment, led by Commander Erwin, who offers to overlook their crimes if they join the Scouts, and Levi reluctantly accepts the offer.

Tragedy strikes on the 23rd Exterior Scouting Mission, and Levi faces an Abnormal Titan, proving his worth. In the end, Levi dedicates himself to the Scouts, this time for real. This memorable OVA serves as his origin story — in the current timeline, we know Levi as the leader of the Special Operations Squad, and above reproach.

Season 2

The main "Attack on Titan" anime returned for a shorter second season in 2017 and deals with the mind-blowing reveal from the end of Season 1, which we won't spoil here. Eren and his comrades from the 104th Training Corps are now full-fledged members of the Survey Corps and are thrown in at the deep end as Titans approach the walls en masse. They meet the Titans head-on and manage to kill a bunch of them, but things get hairy (both figuratively and literally) when the Beast Titan appears — and can talk.

We learn a lot more about the Titans in Season 2, but there are also plenty of revelations about the humans desperately trying to keep them at bay. Ymir and Christa become close and the former realizes that Christa may be more than a simple soldier — she has a secret with huge implications. There's another big reveal at the end of the final episode, raising the stakes for Season 3.

Wall Sina, Goodbye (OVA)

An adaptation of the visual novel of the same name, "Wall Sina, Goodbye" is a two-part OVA. It tells a lengthy story about Annie Leonhart that begins the day before the 57th Exterior Scouting Mission. Annie is sent to investigate the disappearance of a rich merchant's daughter, which leads her to a tavern in the Stohess District where drug use is rife. The bartender directs her to the home of the missing woman's boyfriend, but the plot only thickens when she arrives — the house is full of the drug coderoin, and there's a dead body inside.

"Wall Sina, Goodbye" is more akin to a murder mystery detective tale than your typical "Attack on Titan" story (before long, private investigators show up to muddy the waters), but there's still plenty of action and fans of Annie will get a lot out of this. There's kidnap, there's blackmail, and the animation is stunning — this OVA is a collaboration between Production I.G. and Wit Studio. "Despite the original novel being packaged with the Season 1 Blu-rays, this anime adaptation adds specific content that makes it very clear it was made after Season 2 aired, so be sure to get caught up to avoid getting spoiled," says Anime News Network.

Season 3, Part 1

In Season 3 of "Attack on Titan," the Scout Regiment comes under the eye of the government, who are chasing Eren for reasons that we won't go into here. We know a lot more about our protagonist and his family at this point, and he's not the only member of Squad Levi that the authorities want to get their hands on — the truth about Christa comes into the light during the third season of the anime. Meanwhile, the Scouts discuss overthrowing the government. Squad Levi exposes a frame job that would have had the Scout Regiment in trouble for murder, and the military branches unite against the royal government in a coup attempt.

"Attack on Titan" gets very political during the first part of Season 3, with much of the action taking place in the corridors of power as opposed to on and outside of the walls. That's not to say it's boring, however — in fact, all the in-fighting among the humans adds to the overall tension.

Lost in the Cruel World (OVA)

Based on the second volume of the spin-off manga "Attack on Titan: Lost Girls," the "Lost in the Cruel World" OVA dropped during the first part of the third season, but it's best to wait until you've completed Season 3 Part 1 before you watch it to avoid spoilers. "Much like Annie's story, this adaptation frames the bulk of the story with content that came out after the original visual novel was created," Anime News Network explains. "Some scenes were almost directly lifted from Episode 49 a couple of months before Episode 49 even hit Japanese television."

It follows Mikasa Ackerman, who's starting to see Eren's weak spots in the real world — but in her dreams, she imagines they are children again, and her parents are alive. The whole story is dreamlike, as we move from Mikasa's memories of her friends to her fantasies of home and happiness, and back again. We remember the deaths of her parents, which is when she and Eren first formed their bond.

"Lost in the Cruel World" might seem like something you can skip on the surface, but it says a lot about Eren's nature — no matter what, he's destined to dream of going over the walls. "It's charming to watch these younger versions of the characters interact before death and burden take over their lives," Den of Geek said in a review. "'Lost in the Cruel World' may actually be the most important [OVA] of the lot due to what it implies about parallel realities."

Season 3, Part 2

When we return to the main story with the second part of "Attack on Titan" Season 3, the Scout Regiment is heading to Shiganshina — Eren's hometown — to repair the holes in the walls. Titans have been streaming through them, but when they arrive, they find the place deserted. The real reason they want to go to the Shiganshina District is so they can go to Eren's house and finally find out what his father was hiding in the basement, a revelation that could change everything.

There are a lot of big deaths on both sides of the fight during the latter half of Season 3, and the animation is spectacular (some fans criticized the CGI used to animate the Titans in Season 2). By the end of the third season of "Attack on Titan," fans and critics alike were blown away — it holds a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Season 4, Part 1

Enemy state Marley attacks Fort Slava after four years of conflict with the Mid-East Allied Forces in the first part of "Attack on Titan" Season 4 (also known as The Final Season), sparked by their defeat in Shiganshina. We meet Warrior candidate Gabi Braun, Reiner's young cousin who is sent to destroy an armored train protecting people from Marley's Titans. After the battle, the two sides sign a peace treaty, but Marley is reminded of their need to reacquire the Founding Titan, as at this time they only have control over seven of the nine Titans.

By this point in the timeline, the conflict is less about humankind fighting the Titans and more about humans fighting each other. The early part of Season 4 concerns itself largely with the assault on Marley and the rise of the so-called Yeagerists, a rebel faction made up of soldiers and civilians loyal to Eren. Our protagonist is on a slide towards villainy, and — just like the people he knows — viewers are left conflicted by his actions. Is he becoming what he used to hate?

Season 4, Part 2

In "Attack on Titan" Season 4 Part 2, Eren aims to move ahead with his terrible plan to secure his people's safety: The Rumbling, an apocalyptic threat he thinks he can control. The first part of the season was more about his increasingly zealous supporters, but in Part 2, the hero-turned-villain takes centerstage. The Rumbling (in which Eren sets loose an army of Titans to destroy his enemies and pretty much all life that he doesn't care about) is quite something to behold.

At this point, the Eren we know and love is seemingly no more. His switch is a slow burn, but it's still shocking to behold. "It has been Attack on Titan's biggest accomplishment to see Eren get one of the best heel turns not just in anime, but in all of fiction since Walter White," IGN said in its review. "What makes his arc so satisfying is how clear the show is about it not being a sudden 180; Eren is no Daenerys. Instead, the murderous rage inside him has always been there."

The story will continue in Season 4 Part 3, which is due to drop in 2023, per the show's official Twitter.