Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 9: To Kill A Titan

Attack on TItan Episode 9

Credit where it is due to this episode. Firstly, it reminded me that Attack on Titan is very good at making me really dislike humans. One of the things that really bugged me in season one was the absence of characters I could care about because everyone just seemed to be a truly horrible human being, and that included the huddled masses.

Attack on Titan episode 9

Well, season three gives us this episode where the military are lying to the people about running a training drill and the people get all huffy not because they are being lied to but because the people who are fighting to save their lives are inconveniencing them. Seriously, are the military sure anyone in this world is worth saving? Still, the generally despicable nature of people in this anime is part of what makes it interesting to watch when contrasted with all of those anime of fluffy and happy people who just try to make everyone smile so I’m actually pretty happy that we get this solid reminder that this anime is not about sweetness and light but about a very gritty and sour reality.

Attack on Ttian Episode 9

Secondly, thanks for the reminder that Titans are horrific. I mean, Rod Reiss’ Titan form looming at the wall is one truly disgusting image and one that isn’t going to leave me anytime soon. It has been awhile since there’s been any real repulsion or emotion at all felt toward a titan (curiosity about the still missing in action beast titan isn’t quite the same thing), so the genuinely moment of recoil when we got a look at this thing was fairly welcome.

Attack on Titan Episode 9

Thirdly, Eren. I know I’m normally all for beating up Eren and I really don’t like him as a character but it is like he’s finally turned a corner and grown up just a little bit. Whether he ruins it all by doing something utterly stupid in a couple of episodes remains to be seen but it is almost as if he’s come through the ordeal of the past 7 episodes finally seeing the world just a little bit clearer. It if sticks I might even have to look back at Eren and how that growth happened over the course of all three seasons, though I’ll wait and see if it sticks before I revise my opinion of him as a character.

Attack on Titan Episode 9

And finally, Historia. For a character that had never left much impact on me, even when they spent a lot of the second season trying to find Christa, she’s really stepped up as well this season and with both her and Eren having fairly solid character growth this is pretty much the best I’ve seen from Attack on Titan since its beginning.

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So, yeah, credit to a fairly solid episode of great moments. Still want to know why they even bother having the other soldiers standing around firing canons. It never works and the other soldiers seem woefully under-trained which makes sense but is still pretty pathetic. This episode certainly gave us enough spectacle and with the set up at the end for next week things seem to be rolling along nicely for the season so far.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 8: They Finally Remembered Eren’s Basement – I’m So Happy Right Now

Attack on Titan Episode 8

I probably shouldn’t be so hung up on the whole Eren’s basement thing but it was the one carrot season one left me with that made me want to keep watching this franchise. And then season two was delayed, multiple times. When we finally got to season two, no basement. It was kind of frustrating, so imagine how happy I was when after a series of pretty great episodes they finally mention getting around to the basement. You know what, that hope alone could probably keep me watching another season without a rewarding pay-off though I hope Attack on Titan isn’t cruel enough to its viewers to do that.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 8

An unbound and ungagged Eren actually manages to really seem small and pathetic this episode until I kind of tried to actually think about his situation. As much as I dislike his particular brand of ‘shout-fest protagonism’ that has been on display since the beginning of this series, Eren’s really been through a lot and his drive to kill the Titans to get out into the world, before that transferred into kill the Titans for revenge, has suddenly become quite hollow even to him. Basically the humans have always had the power to end the titan threat and for 100 years they haven’t and for whatever reason Eren’s father stole that power away from the Reiss’ which left humans completely vulnerable. I kind of actually felt pretty bad for him and really his momentary idea of let’s just let Reiss eat me and then fix things actually doesn’t seem like a truly a terrible plan.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 8

However, we would not be watching this sort of an anime if the rest of his ‘friends’ didn’t rally around and give him a good kick while he is feeling sorry for himself leading to him choosing instead to protect them as the cavern falls down. There’s a lot of plot convenience here in that firstly the right vial fell out of the bag, secondly Eren even in his distressed state and with blood and tears in his eyes read it, and thirdly Eren managed to successfully use the new power in the instant that he gains it, but you know its the kind of spectacle you can dissect or just enjoy so let’s just go with it for now.

Meanwhile, Reiss’ titan form is… interesting? Okay, we’ve had some really disturbing variations on titans over the course of two and a bit seasons but a giant incapable of standing that literally burns everything around it and leaves a path of destruction just by passing through an area is a new one. It also raises the question of how they intend to fight it given you can’t exactly just swing around and chop it in the neck when you would burn before you got near and it is lying on its back (or is it lying on its front, it wasn’t very clear). Either way, not a great plan.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 8

What was nice was seeing Historia taking charge of the discussion as they rode in the wagon and correcting Eren’s false assumptions that somehow having Reiss eat him would be a good idea. Given where the series seems to be pushing her character, this was a nice set up for it.

All and all, this was another pretty solid episode with about the only down side being that Kenny and his group ended up being even less significant than expected. So a lot of build up for very little actual reward before a large number of them got buried in the rubble. It will be interesting to see if any of them come back later but even if they do, they’ve now lost their backer so I doubt they are going to be of much importance (could be wrong on that one but it seems really unlikely).

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 8

But, and here is the most important part, we get a solid reminder of the basement and even the characters make a joke that seems to reference the fact that it has been all but forgotten for a very long time by this story. So happy.

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Friday’s Feature: Why We Need To Stop Mocking Stories For Trying

It’s become a fairly common criticism of a number of shows. It’s trying too hard to be…It’s just trying to be edgy…It’s trying too hard to be deep…And this week we added the question of whether or not Banana Fish was trying too hard to be shocking.

As I read these sorts of comments and questions, I just have to wonder if we’d all prefer writers didn’t try. If they all just settled into a generic status quo where you never stick your neck out, never take your plot too seriously due to fear of someone accusing you of trying too hard, and where every character has that knowing and self-deprecating personality so that they could never be accused of trying too hard.

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Honestly that doesn’t sound like such a fantastic alternative and even while I might agree that some shows miss their mark for what they were attempting to achieve or came across to ham-fisted in conveying their emotional angst rather than providing a nuanced watching experience, I still find the comment ‘trying too hard’ to be fairly meaningless. Of course they were trying. They may not have succeeded but you can see what they were aiming for. And that is where more useful criticism can come into the equation. Why haven’t their efforts hit the mark? Why aren’t you moved emotionally but rather being critical? Was it all too far removed from reality or was it more that they hadn’t developed the characters sufficiently for you to care about their overwrought experience?

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So do we address the question of whether or not Banana Fish is trying too hard to be shocking? Not really. What we need to ask instead is does Banana Fish succeed in being shocking or has repeated rape attempts, violence, and torture of characters we’re still only just getting to know (because the plot hasn’t slowed down for even a moment) diminished the impact of the shocks? Opinions will vary on that and that’s just fine but saying the show is trying too hard to be shocking doesn’t help. Quite clearly it is trying to shock. Whether it is succeeding is the question of the day.

Your Lie in April

Likewise, do we address the question of whether Your Lie in April is trying too hard to hit audiences’ in the feels? Again, that is exactly the purpose of the writing, the narrative, and everything else in the show. Of course it is trying to make audiences feel. So let’s ask instead, does it succeed? Given the huge fan base (and my own personal experience in tears toward the end) I would suggest for the most part, yes. Then again, there will still be viewers who are either more cynical or just don’t connect with these particular characters would say no. And there we can have a discussion about what does and doesn’t work. When we just accused the show of trying too hard didn’t further the discussion in the slightest.

You mean they tried to do something?

Shocking Truth

We could also look at the regular criticisms of shows like Attack on Titan and Tokyo Ghoul as trying too hard to be dark, edgy or whatever else the buzz word of the week might be. Now, those two descriptors in and of themselves (dark and edgy) have been used to the point of almost meaninglessness and again you have to ask whether or not it is succeeding at making something that is dark in its themes that is still enjoyable for you to watch or whether the need to repeatedly throw blood and violence at the screen is something that detracts from the viewing or not. And again, answers will vary and these are ideas that can be shared and discussed with evidence and reasons.

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I don’t mind shows that try. I want them to. I want them to aspire to achieve great things and to tell their story with conviction. I want the writers and directors to have a vision, commit to it, and bring it to life. I want people to try so hard to produce something and then I want them to try some more. The end results may not hit the mark. They may have more ambition than talent. Their aspirations may rise far above their budget.

But you know what?

If they stop trying we’re going to have a lot more bland stories out there as no one is game to take a risk or to try to be anything.


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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 7: Two Things I Didn’t Think Possible

Attack on Titan Episode 7 - Mikasa

Season three continues to be a surprising delight though not without some issues, as episode 7 drops yet more information about the walls and the world even while the scouts continue to fight to get to Eren.

Attack on Titan Season 7 - Hange

The fight at the start of this episode is brutal, but over fairly quickly all things considered as the second half of this episode has bigger fish to fry. Seeing some of the scouts in action against other humans is both unsettling and all fairly exhilarating. What amazed me more was how few casualties the scouts seemed to take but they kind of saved all their shock for a single character getting taken down and that is where they were left with the enemy retreating to another chamber. The action in this sequence is good and the smokey visuals plays well into it. The sounds of the ODM are fantastic as are the shots and the sounds of the blades. Where I will criticise it is where it brings in a music soundtrack though that is probably more personal taste because I found it both distracting and fairly uninspired. Still, in terms of follow ups to cliff-hangers this delivered plenty that was worth waiting for.

Attack on Titan - Episode 7 - Kenny

 Still, the greater part of the episode lay with Eren, Historia, Reiss and surprisingly Kenny. I kind of thought they would drag out Kenny’s motive for working with Reiss for longer but apparently not, and apparently, Kenny is the kind of guy that kicks over the sand-castle when he doesn’t get what he wants. Realising his own plan is going to come to nothing, he throws a serious spanner in the works of Reiss’ plan.

Attack on Titan Episode 7 - Historia

Meanwhile, Historia seems to be going along beautifully with Reiss’ plan before she suddenly asks the most sensible question I’ve ever heard come out of an Attack on Titan character’s mouth and I’ll applaud the show for this first moment that I absolutely did not see coming. And this, while we see an Eren who for the first time ever actually made me feel bad for him as a character. This was a serious moment where for the first time ever, I didn’t enjoy seeing Eren restrained, emotionally hurt, and essentially the world’s punching bag.

Attack on Titan Episode 7 - Eren

If I were to make a list of characters I don’t mind seeing get beaten up, Eren would be fairly high on that list (Ichigo from Bleach probably tops it out though because Ichigo getting beat up usually means he’s about to do something awesome). And yet in this episode Eren is at perhaps the most pathetic I’ve ever seen him. He doesn’t shout or yell, but resigns himself to letting things happen because no matter how you want to spin it, a lot of people have died because of his father’s choice. Maybe just as many would have died anyway but we have no way of knowing that.

So two things from Attack on Titan I didn’t think possible, plus Historia’s coolest moment ever, plus a cliffhanger that actually seems like it could be kind of cool and if last week to this week is any indicator, we won’t be left disappointed (hopefully).

By the way, I reserve the right to go back to hating Eren the next time he starts shouting.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 6: So Many Puzzle Pieces

If the second half of season 1 and all of season 2 just kind of made me disenchanted with this show because Attack on Titan didn’t seem interested in exploring its own mysteries, the last few episodes have definitely got me back onside, even if the characters and this world remain as horrible and bleak as ever.

Attack on Titan Episode 6

It is undeniably true that a large part of Attack on Titan’s screen time seems devoted to showing us the very ugliest side of human nature. After weeks of having the ‘good’ guys (or at least those attached to the protagonist), torturing, murdering, and generally being ruthless in order to survive the snares laid by those who were even more inclined to protect their own interests we finally had the coup and a rescue mounted for Eren. And yet, this episode still takes time out from explanations and reveals that literally reshape the audience’s perception of the world in order to have one of the allies from the coup shown to be torturing those taken captive for no other real reason other than he really wants to and is enjoying it. It’s a little disconcerting.

Attack on Titan Episode 6

As for reveals, there are many but none of them seem fully realised yet as we’re still getting pieces from people who either don’t know the full story or aren’t yet ready to share. Still, this one episode packed in more backstory for Eren, Mikasa, and Historia than we’ve gotten in pretty much every episode up to this one combined so I guess we can’t be too critical of it.

Attack on Titan Episode 6

Despite the dense nature of this episode it didn’t feel rushed and it didn’t feel like a continuous information dump. The set up over the last five episodes of this season has naturally led the characters and the audience to this point where finally information has become available and there’s enough chopping and changing going on between scenes of characters discussing events and characters preparing to join the fight to keep things interesting.

And I was wrong about Eren shouting this episode. He’s still gagged though we did hear his thoughts on a number of occasions. I’m thinking he’s just saving his voice for when he’s really going to let loose with some shouting, but in the meantime I’ll enjoy the fact that even though clearly the plot is still focused on Eren his actual presence in the story is still pretty minimal. He may as well be some enchanted ring in a magic cave the Scouts are trying to rescue given he’s done nothing in the last few episodes. Admittedly, unlike an enchanted ring, given even a little leeway he’ll probably attempt to fight his own way out so I guess we’ll see what happens next.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 5: Yourself or Humanity?

I’m sure it is pure coincidence that the last three episodes have been among the best Attack on Titan has delivered and Eren being bound and off-screen for the majority of it is not the determining factor. However, I do have to wonder if this should have been the story all along, dealing with the commanders and the politics that have always been behind the scenes, with Eren and the other soldiers simply being the side story. I know which one has been more entertaining so far.

Attack on Titan Episode 5

There was a lot to love about this week and how Erwin’s plan, or at least his hope, came together as the selfish and egocentric natures of those in power was demonstrated in its full glory leading to a coup d’etat. However, in case you are thinking we are done with the self-serving and fragmented rule, those who were at the centre of orchestrating it all admit in their own way that they are only acting on their own self-interest. They don’t know that their actions will actually lead to the survival, or even a better outcome, for humanity. All they do know is that they either opposed those in charge, or in Erwin’s case he had come to the end of his road unless he incited this action.

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And while Hange might try to put a more positive spin on it by saying individuals all made small choices that resulted in a positive outcome, the outcome is only briefly positive and only for those characters we’ve been asked to care about. We still have no overall plan or understanding and ultimately there’s no guarantee that anything these characters are doing will work out. For all we as the audience know, the false king and those who ruled him might very well have actually been the ones keeping humanity from extinction and now that they are gone its inevitable that they will lose.

Attack on Titan Episode 5

I think though, what I loved about this episode is that at first it presented Erwin as a martyr, then as someone who would incite a rebellion and a potential future leader, before admitting he was just doing as he pleased because there was something he wanted. Whether or not he’ll be judged as good or bad in the history books of this world will entirely depend on how his gamble plays out and how many lives are lost or saved.

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We could try to put the characters on a sliding scale and we’d probably realise that those who were overthrown were significantly worse because they didn’t even try to pretend that other lives mattered, but ultimately, Attack on Titan reminds us once again about the very ugly side of human nature. While the scouts in the forest might cheer at the news that they are no longer wanted criminals, let’s take a moment to remember that they have in fact killed and tortured to get to this point and they’d do it again in a heart beat if they needed to in order to accomplish their goals. These are the heroes this world has given us and while they fit the world entirely, it paints a pretty bleak picture.

Attack on Titan Episode 5

Though, speaking of bleak pictures, things are not looking so great for Eren. If he wasn’t the main character, at the centre of the OP, and if we hadn’t started the season with a vision of him looking much older, I might even be mildly worried for his safety.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4: A Time For Everything

Attack on Titan Season Three Episode 4

Sorry. I stuffed up the schedule on this one and it came out earlier today than intended. Here it is at the intended time slot.

This week Attack on Titan seems to want to  look at all the possible choices and outcomes of the current internal conflict. And so we have a characters finding their time to fight, their time to run, their time to listen, their time to gloat, and their time to shout, in an episode that is undeniably a bridging point and yet perhaps one of the better episodes from a narrative point of view that this series have ever delivered.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Jean

With the exception of the newly introduced antagonist, Kenny, and the currently held hostage Eren and Christa, this episode runs us through almost all the major players in the current internal conflict. The titans have definitely become a footnote to those in charge rather than an actual threat that needs to be dealt with and while that might diminish some of the horror felt earlier with the appearance of the titans, it does go a long way to explaining this world and why only a small group of Scouts were ever interested in actually expanding territory or exploring beyond the walls. Those in charge are looking only inward and only to their own lives. It seems a terribly flawed and short sighted approach to leadership, and it is framed that way, and that is why as an audience we can continue to tolerate the violence Levi, Hange, and other characters we’re supposed to like unleash upon the people that technically their role is to protect.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Levi

It isn’t as if this human on human violence came out of nowhere. Season one brought us the horror of titans, but also showed us Eren’s savage treatment when his nature was revealed, refugees being sent out as fodder to reduce the number needing to be fed, and the general broken nature of the command structure of the world. One of the earlier scenes with Levi involved him literally kicking a tied up Eren so the fact that he is capable of extreme violence is hardly news.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4

However, what differs in season 3 to season 1 is the context. In season 1 we constantly had the threat of the titans breathing down the necks of characters who were desperate to fight them back. Season 3 so far has none of that. The only threat presented in this season has been other humans and they are doing a fine job of supplanting the titans as the real monsters (and again that was pretty clearly hinted at in both previous seasons).

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 4 - Erwin

So while we’re getting no closer to Eren’s basement, I can’t say I’m unhappy with the direction this has taken so far this season. As plot and character points start converging and a real picture of this world comes together, it makes the viewing a far more satisfying experience. And if the characters would stop shouting that would be fantastic, though I did mention that this episode a lot of characters found their time to shout. Eren being gagged last week and absent this week apparently left an opening and every character except Armin and Erwin decided to take their turn at shouting. Now if only anyone was listening.

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Friday’s Feature: Baiting the Hook

There’s been a lot already said about the proliferation of anime, seasonal watchers, and the general idea that there’s just too much content so I’m really not going to get into that. However, in that sea of content, creators know they have to get the attention of their very fickle audience and then they have to catch us and reel us in. Mostly because seasonal watchers tend to demonstrate a number of common traits: a short attention span and limited tolerance for ‘filler’.

While previously shows have had episodes to build a world and characters, now many viewers make snap judgements with some cutting episodes before the first scene is done. Where the three episode rule used to hold true, and current narratives seem to be well aware of such a rule with more and more shows either moving a mini-climax to episode two or making episode 3 a two-parter to draw their episode back (How Not To Summon A Demon Lord), less viewers seem to actually hold to this rule these days. To be honest, they just don’t want to sink an hour of their lives into something they are ultimately going to drop.

DemonLord3e

As such we are getting more and more first episodes and more and more characters with quite distinct traits designed to draw the audience in with the hope that then the rest of the story will hook the in for the season. While sometimes this works beautifully as the audience is dragged along on a wondrous adventure before being cut loose to go and bite some other line, other times it leaves the audience feeling like they got reeled in and left high and dry.

This isn’t exactly new. Entertainment has always been competitive and most shows have always realised they needed something to distinguish themselves from other titles. Yet in the age of streaming and simulcasts this has become more important than ever and it is starting to show in the way first arcs are feeling more and more compacted and rushed and mid-seasons are feeling a little bit empty before we escalate toward a climax.

Now, there are some obvious baiting moves. If we look at Darling in the Franxx, well we already know how they baited their hook, the glorious Zero-Two. She was such an energetic enigma of a character in the first episode. Throw in some nudity, a bit of danger, and a sense of her rebellious nature, and you have the perfect bait for a community to go crazy on social media. And so they did. I also really loved Zero-Two’s initial characterisation particularly the way they built up the idea of her being a partner killer. However, this was definitely a case of bait and switch as little came of the partner killer idea beyond the first arc and Zero-Two became a progressively less interesting character as the season continued.

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Clearly the writers knew how to grab the audience’s attention but then they didn’t know what to do with it. They’d created this perfectly researched, tantalising character, but had no message, point, or even solid arc for her to travel on. By the time she literally became a hollow shell before turning to stone while staring at the sky a lot of the love for Zero-Two had worn down and many viewers realised that they’d been hooked onto a show that ultimately didn’t suit them and what they wanted from an anime.

Other obvious baiting moves include the flash forward or flash back to some kind of massive conflict that may or may not become relevant later. The issue with this is it has been done to death and when done poorly, it mostly just eats up screen time with characters no one knows running around or shouting and there’s little reason to care what is going on (Lord of Vermilion – looking at you right now). However, this can be highly effective bait.

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Look at the opening sequence to season one of Attack on Titan. The birds slowly flying over the city to the wall where we suddenly see the titan emerging. The close ups on the character’s eyes as they widen in fear and horror. This sequence is brief enough that it doesn’t feel like wasted time and yet sensational enough to have an impact. The audience wants to know. When is this going to happen? What happens next? And fortunately, Attack on Titan knew what to do after baiting the hook. It delivered the titan by the end of the episode. No waiting an entire season just to get back to the original bait. For all that Attack on Titan might be criticised for some of its narrative choices, it knew exactly how to capture an audience and that really explains why its popularity exploded the way it did, even if the longevity of that massive fan-base wasn’t so set in stone.

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However, bait isn’t limited to first episodes. Supporting characters introduced later in their series need bait as well otherwise they get crowded out or forgotten. There are many shows where viewers would struggle to name any of the support characters even a month after the show finished its run. Yet a memorable support cast can really elevate a viewing experience.

That word memorable might be a bit of a double edge sword though with some shows simply giving characters insane designs or making them needlessly crazy but forgetting to actually characterise them in any meaningful way. The Musicians from Caligula would fit this bill. They were definitely visually distinct and yet their characters rang very hollow and ultimately I couldn’t tell you anything about any of them, except one of the guys had some complex about another guy being prettier than him. That isn’t exactly leaving an impression.

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My Hero Academia excels at building its support cast and baiting their individual story-lines so that when the main narrative turns its attention to one of these characters it doesn’t feel like filler but rather like a much anticipated story thread. Who didn’t want to know the story behind Todoroki’s scarred face? Who isn’t curious about Tokoyami’s dark shadow? And let’s be honest, if Twitter is anything to go by, Tsuyu is a character who has captured all the fan’s attention and the filler episode of season 2 was entirely a show about everyone’s beloved Froppy. These characters each have something about them that makes the audience want to know more and feel satisfied when they finally get it. They are talked about almost as much as the protagonist’s, and they are an intrinsic part of what makes the show feel like more than what the basic narrative of Midoriya becoming a hero really should warrant.

Hero25i

When a show does baiting right the audience feels satisfied and happy with the experience. When the baiting is just that and there’s no substance to back it up, then the audience feels cheated. When the baiting is poorly done the audience looks at the hook and then turns away looking for something better.

Of course, that does leave us all with the question of whether or not this is going to have a positive impact on how stories are told? While grabbing a reader’s attention has always been an important goal for a story, usually there was more time to do this. As we get increasingly more gimmicky, more violent, more zany and more over the top premises clamouring for our attention (and longer and longer titles on light novels) you have to wonder where it is all going and whether we’ve already gone too far. Has narrative integrity been abandoned for a series of point in time sensational moments that will be shared on social media?

The more cynical would say yes, but that is ignoring some fairly fantastic stories that have come out in recent times. However, there is definitely a shift occurring in the way stories are presented and as always it is the audience driving this shift, whether we’re doing it intentionally or not.

Over to the readers then: What is the worst bait an anime has used to hook its audience?


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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 3: Rewriting the Past Won’t Make It Go Away

After the almost breakneck action of last week, this week we hit the breaks hard as a very bleak picture begins to get painted. While some balance between the two extremes might have been nice, there’s definitely something promising about the direction this is heading.

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Attack on Titan this week seemed to go to fairly lengthy efforts to fill in some details about the world, lingering on Historia recalling her childhood, Hange explaining things to the other scouts, and Erwin’s current scheme and motivation (which is shot down almost as soon as it is formed, unless that was also part of his plan). There’s a lot of talking but unlike the episode in season two where we essentially hung around in the trees for a whole episode chatting, this kind of felt like it was bringing pieces of the puzzle into clearer focus even if it wasn’t yet ready to put them together.

Attack on Titan - Season 3 Episode 3

It has been a fair while since I felt the narrative of Attack on Titan was actually going somewhere so despite the lack of action this week, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the small character moments. Levi and Hange’s interaction after she kicks the table is fantastic to watch and there are a number of observations about their relationship and personality that you could draw from the scene. Although, that did make me wonder how much better things might have been if these two more interesting characters were the leads from the beginning rather than Eren and Mikasa.

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Did I mention Eren spent the whole episode gagged? An entire episode free of Eren speaking… I won’t say that made the episode better but it certainly prevented his usual shout fest or immature declarations. That said, his comments to Historia in the first episode this season did demonstrate that he had grown up a bit and it is kind of a shame that since then he hasn’t really had a chance to prove whether that impression was true or not.

Okay, I was cautious returning for a third season of this, but these first three episodes have done a lot to re-engage me. This might just be setting me up for future disappointments, but for now I’m pretty happy with how this is going.

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Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 2: Whatever It Takes

Attack on Titan - Season 3 - Episode 2 - Levi

This episode is breathtaking to watch for a number of reasons, though I’m still left wondering if this is the direction I ever wanted this show to go when I recall what was fun about season 1.

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Attack on Titan picks up this week exactly where it left off with Levi being confronted by Kenny (who I guess we’ll get more back story on at some point but they are pretty heavy handed already with making it clear Kenny knew Levi when he was kid) and the ensuing fight. Now, this is a fantastic fight sequence. It throws you right back to the very beginning when you saw the ODM Gear in action for the first time and this is one fast paced chase sequence with aerial combat thrown in. It also knows when to take a pause and a breath, like when Levi got cornered in the bar. It’s just a well thought out sequence that gets the audience excited, show-cases the animation that this anime is known for, and also gives us a clear new enemy and problem for our group of main characters to deal with.

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Does that warrant 11 minutes of an episode? Maybe not, but I will admit I didn’t really care the episode was half over and all that had happened was the end of a fight left over from last week. It was fun to watch and seeing Levi in action was thrilling (even if realistically there’s at least six occasions where he should be dead because people just don’t move like that).

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There’s also some attempt at dealing with the emotions of the kids as they come to terms with having to fight people. They trained to fight titans. Some of them even mocked combat training against humans back in season one because they didn’t see a point when they would be fighting titans. Now the Scouts are the clear target of the Military Police and this puts them on the back foot because they aren’t used to dealing with human enemies. Armin and Jean provide a wondrous look into the turmoil they are all feeling while Levi actually provides a voice of reason rather than comfort.

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A disappointment on the character front would be Mikasa. As usual, other than her obsession with Eren, she has very little to do in this episode. While she does provide some comfort to Armin after the dust has settled, Levi was forced to hold her back to prevent her from throwing herself after Eren despite losing any chance of victory.

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Of course, there’s no way to talk about this episode without looking at the torture that occurs. Levi and Hange torture the enemy for information. They don’t just threaten it, they don’t play act like they will torture, there’s no hidden element here. They just straight up torture to get what they want. And while they might not be thrilled about it, there’s little hesitation in their actions. It definitely feeds in to the question about who the real monsters are in this show, which at least thematically came about in season one, but at the same time might be a bridge too far for some of the more squeamish viewers. There’s a big difference between watching characters fight and get eaten by monsters and watching humans torture other humans.

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Then I just have my own mixed feelings about this as a direction for Attack on Titan. While this might indeed be interesting and the intrigue of heirs and politics could certainly make this season watchable, I kind of wonder where the monster slaying, screaming in defiance characters went and why it all needed to get this complicated.

Still, if this episode is a taste of things to come, there’s certainly going to be some fun to be found in watching Attack on Titan this season.

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Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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