Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 12

Review – Yes Spoilers:

Okay, I’m still kind of annoyed that we don’t know what’s up with the Beast Titan (but hey, there’s a nice tease at the end of the episode in case we forgot he was supposed to be significant), we don’t know what’s in Eren’s basement, we don’t know why some Titans can shift and some can’t and why eating someone transferred that power to Ymir, but credit where it is due, they did answer something in this final episode of season 2.

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Levi, I totally agree with this point given the speed of reveals compared to the speed of the deaths in this show.

The episode began with the smiling titan advancing on Eren and Mikasa. Hannes swoops in to save them and after putting up quite a good show manages to die heroically and bloodily right in front of Mikasa and Eren (because those two need more trauma in their lives). This actually led to a fairly nice moment of near silence. For a show that normally pelts us with sound from everything (horses, wind, capes, weapons, screams) the sudden silence was jarring and probably one of the most affective things it has done in terms of creating a moment. Still, hard to take Hannes’ death too seriously after watching some of the other deaths from other scouts. Why does this one smiling titan insist on splattering the surrounds with blood and gore while others manage to eat in a way that looks like they belong in a Saturday morning cartoon?

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This is the cartoon version – I will never stop laughing at this image.

But, I will say this for Eren. He is the type to never give up. He’ll just keep doing the same stupid thing over and over even when it doesn’t work. But he will get really angry with himself and need a pep-talk from Mikasa. And points to her, she actually seemed to be a real person for about two minutes in this episode with a real and genuine personality.

I’m totally overlooking the Ymir and Historia bit but to be honest they didn’t do anything with Christa/Historia. Ymir ultimately went with Reiner after a touching farewell, but weren’t the scouts looking for Christa as well because she knew something about the walls? Why didn’t they even hint at that later in the episode? We got confirmation about Connie’s village and Levi and Ervin now know what the audience has known for a few episodes that the titans inside the walls were the people from the village (did someone poison a well, or how does that happen?) but Christa’s story never gets mentioned.

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So last point I’ll touch on is the actual answer we got. A while back Reiner mentioned that Eren was a coordinate (or might be) and we had no context for what that might have meant. This episode, we get to see just what that means even if Eren is too dumb to figure out what just happened. And I guess Reiner’s point of view about Eren having the coordinate is pretty understandable given Eren is not the person I’d want to entrust with that sort of power either.

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Anyway, I now have to think back over the whole of this season and figure out where I stand on it. There have been some good moments but my overall impression is really mixed. I’ll write a full season review soon.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 11

Review:

There were so many moments in this episode where I just had to stop the episode and ask what on earth they were doing. Admittedly, the first half of this second season seemed like it had finally taken the hint and was working to develop the world and characters as well as lead us toward some answers. It was really, really enjoyable and nicely done. This second half however has devolved into more or less the mess that the second half of season one fell into. Events occurring and then more events (with some shouting in between).

There’s only one episode left of this second season. At this point there is zero chance of anything happening to allow this to end well (or logically, sensibly, or satisfyingly) and that is a real shame. Unfortunately, they will always choose cool over substance in this plot and as a direct result we have a mess.

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When did Attack on Titan start doing panels? I’m thinking back through all the previous episodes and when this style might have been used and I’m drawing an absolute blank. Why in the second last episode of the second season would you suddenly decide to do this? A more appropriate time to try this would have been back when Reiner pulled Eren aside to reveal he was a titan. A reveal of that magnitude would have deserved an artistically different choice and wouldn’t have felt as out of place as this moment did.

Then we have Mikasa revealing what we already knew. Her sole reason for existing in this anime and in this world is to save Eren. While I wouldn’t mind her wanting to save Eren while accomplishing other goals, her absolute single minded focus makes her an incredibly dull character. She doesn’t talk much, but she wastes what few words she has this episode on threats and lines you would expect a b grade villain to utter. Her absolute dismissal of the situation for the other characters also pretty much shuts down any possibility that we might find out their actual motives because you know, we still don’t know where they are going or why they are wanting Eren or Christa other than vaguely knowing they are going ‘home’ and that Christa knows something about the walls (not sure what), and Eren might be something but that point hasn’t been explained and yet:

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Where did that come from? And why does everyone just buy that? Since when was Eren being held up as humanities only hope? So frustrated right now.

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But hey, looks cool. Okay, some people will really enjoy this because we’re back to fast paced action for most of the second half of the episode and it is a cool fight (even if a lot of what is going on makes very little sense and once again a lot of the ‘extras’ get mowed down without drawing a weapon – aren’t these guys trained).  The titan throwing at the end was particularly cool to look at. But cool does not make for a good storyline and to be honest, the parts of the story I’m wanting to see kind of get buried here.

One more to go. I’d cross my fingers and hope for a worthwhile conclusion but I’d really hate to end up disappointed so at this stage I’ll just kind of hope for a really cool fight and maybe I’ll get that.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack On Titan Season 2 Episode 10

Review:

I’m pretty sure I said this previously, but they are really stretching content now. Last episode they just hung around in the trees chatting without revealing a thing and this week they snatch Christa and run which essentially means other than Christa having been taken, nothing was accomplished because the scouts are still chasing the titans down trying to recover Eren.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we didn’t get a little bit more this week.

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This is probably the first time they’ve actually addressed the issue of why they even want Eren in the first place and you know they aren’t even certain he’s the one they want. That would actually turn out to be pretty funny given they blew their cover and went to a lot of trouble to kidnap him and then it turns out, nope, just another person who can turn into a titan. And is the number of them starting to seem insane to anyone else? I mean, the implication this episode is that all of the titans are essentially people who’ve transformed and just lost sight of themselves (if you’ve read the manga and know the answer please don’t share, I’m just speculating based on the anime).

Eren continues to be my biggest problem with this series, though I did get a good laugh out of this sequence.

And then Reiner using unconscious Eren as a backpack was also pretty funny. Eren’s best look ever.

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Though did anyone else find it weird how little attention Reiner was actually paying the trees as he was flying through them. Given the speed he was moving if he actually wasn’t looking forward my assumption would be he should have collided more than once during that sequence.

Anyway, I moved Attack on Titan back out of the ‘must watch’. It’s amazing how much fun I was having earlier in this series when it seemed like we were focussing on the background characters and the mysteries but since we’ve gone to fight, run, fight, run and having to put up with Eren front and centre again, my overall enjoyment of this show has dropped back to finding it fun enough but I could really take it or leave it. I actually read several reviews of this episode prior to viewing and previously I’d made sure to watch the episode before reading anything about it. This week, I didn’t really mind because I wasn’t really expecting much.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 7

Review:

Well, we’re back to fighting though as usual I have to wonder how much gas they actually have and what that translates to in terms of combat time. Mikasa seems to endlessly fly about and other than the one time where she lost her mind a bit, she’s never seemed to run out. She did at least run out of blades through her futile hacking at the armoured titan’s neck and Armin’s handed over his spares. Let’s be honest, Armin is not getting into this fight anyway.

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The fight is pretty fun to watch, though like with a lot of the fights toward the end of season 1, this one is heavily interspersed with flash back and once again Annie’s training of Eren (or beating him up during training) comes to the rescue. There’s plenty that could be said about all of those relationships but I actually want to focus in on Eren because his character is what actually stops me from really loving this show.

Once again we’re subjected to his inner monologue and seriously it sounds like we are listening to a petulant 12 year old who has been sent to his room. The blame, the over generalisations, the lack of any kind of introspection, it all just get’s on my nerves.

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That isn’t to say that Eren hasn’t had terrible things happen to him. Nor is it to say that Reiner and Bertholdt aren’t to blame for some of those given they did in fact break the wall leading to Eren’s mother’s death. But still, humans have done some pretty dreadful things and just because this dreadful thing happened to Eren, he makes grandiose statements and villainizes them as the worst in all humanity.

So while I enjoyed this episode, part of me wanted the armoured titan to pound some sense into Eren’s head and make him stop his monologues for awhile. Then of course, we end on a cliff hanger, almost literally, as the colossal titan is falling off the wall to land strategically somewhere unfortunate for Eren.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 6

Review:

If you haven’t watched the episode and are worried about spoilers, I’d pass on this review.

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Okay, Attack on Titan has always been good at sensationalism but characters and narrative didn’t fare so well in season 1. Episode 6 finally brings all the elements of this show together at their very best. For the characters: Eren denies something without having to scream and yell about it (actually he’s been relatively shout free most of the season), Armin gets to use his head and put things together, the story with Christa and Ymir continues, Reine and Berthold finally prove they have a reason for existing, and Mikasa gets to pursue her favourite pastime of loitering near Eren and then defending him when he gets in over his head. The story also brings together bits and pieces that have been spread over the last season and a half to give us a reveal that I’m guessing everyone who read the manga knew was coming and those of us following the anime had started to kind of suspect but it was still kind of cool. What I liked about it was how casual this came across.

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For a show that normally maxes out on the drama of the moment, this low key reveal was actually superb and just left you with your mouth open as the story charged into the second half. Which is where Attack on Titan did what it is known for doing well nad that is we entered a major fight with three characters transforming into titans and falling down the wall.

That’s a lot to pack into twenty minutes and yet the pace felt good this episode as the dialogue kept things moving in the early part, the flashback gave us enough reminders and new information to figure out where things were going, the reveal was perfect, and the action to end the episode just capped off what is probably one of the best episodes of this series I’ve seen. Very enjoyable watch this week.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Season 2 Episode 3

Review:

Sometimes this show gets its logic just right. While I still think my theory that the people in Connie’s town turned into titans is sound (and nothing this episode refuted that even overly optimistic girl) the group continued onto the wall to look for a hole. At that moment I started thinking if the villagers turned into titans there wouldn’t necessarily be one. And sure enough not long after group coming down the wall one way runs into group going the other along the wall and neither group found a hole.

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It’s unbelievable that you can say this with a straight face because even if the villagers had actually fled, it’s unlikely they outran Titans.

This episode sets up quite a lot. The scouts by the wall for some reason take refuge in a castle ruin (why there is a ruin inside the walls where space is short is still something I’d question) and as soon as they set up there I just kept thinking death trap. End of the episode, they are besieged by Titans and half of them don’t have any gear or weapons. Awesome. Hange and Armin continue to theorise about Titans from limited and incomplete knowledge but at least they are trying to use their heads and the end of the episode sees them, Eren and Mikasa heading to the castle (though they don’t actually know that the other guys are there or that the Titans are attacking it). This could be an interesting next episode.

Also, Beast Titan makes a brief cameo doing a King Kong over the wall.

Attack on Titan is available on AnimeLab.


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Attack on Titan Series Review

Overview:

Eren Yeager has grown up in a city surrounded by walls. Three in fact and they are the only things keeping the titans (really large humanoid monsters) from eradicating what is left of humankind. However, Eren wants out of the city. Then, a titan breaches the gate and Eren’s world comes crumbling down. Training as a soldier, Eren eventually gets to fight against the titans.

Review:

Attack on Titan is another one of those shows that will blow you away with the opening. The music, the action sequences, the sheer horror and visual feast presented in episode 1 just kind of freeze you in place glued to the screen. It hits every nerve and makes you just sit and take it in. And that high emotion can carry you clear to the end of this first series if you let it. However, what you find when you step back from those emotions is that while Attack on Titan is amazing in so many ways, there are some issues sitting beneath it that just continue to threaten to unravel your viewing experience.

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Firstly, I have to be honest and point out that I fell in love with this series in minutes of watching the first episode. I rewatched that first episode so many times I lost count, but it kind of did everything you would ever want from a first episode in an anime. We met the characters, knew what the threat was, and felt that threat. We weren’t just told titans were bad or scary. We saw them literally tear Eren’s world apart and lay waste to the town. It wasn’t the gore that sold this episode (although visually it is quite confronting). It is the way we see this destruction from the multiple perspectives. We see it from Eren’s point of view as he is helpless to save his mother. We see other characters who are either running or hiding or crying or trying to fight and failing. We get down and personal with them even though we only know some of these characters for a short space of time. But we also see the bigger picture. We get the sweeping shots of the city and the overhead view. We see the titans looking down at the fleeing humans and you can’t help but see ants scurrying from the rain. It’s an intense first episode and sets up a world and a conflict that are inherently interesting and clear.

The rest of season one maintains this clarity of titans bad but it does spend a lot of time muddying its own waters by building in multiple human conspiracies. While this is not necessarily a problem in terms of narrative, and is in fact needed unless all you want is human vs monster conflict, the issue is that very few of the characters in Attack on Titan are anything more that the mouth-piece of whatever ideal is needed in that setting. Actually, if we are honest, most of the characters shout. A lot. Repeatedly. I really, really wish some of these characters would stop shouting (Eren particularly).

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Possibly if these sub-plots (although it kind of feels like some of these human conflicts are going to end up being fairly important to the main plot) had been handled better or if the characterisation had been up to it this could have been a really interesting way to flesh out the world established in episode 1. Instead it all feels like clutter and a distraction from something that was infinitely more interesting.

By the time we get out of the city with Eren (okay, and Levi who is probably the coolest character I’ve come across in a modern action anime) the level of excitement has gone down significantly but this is where they start turning that around. The speed at which the extras get knocked off in this sequence (even though they are apparently trained for this) is disheartening (which I think is the point given we’ve kind of been led to believe they have a chance and this clearly shows they don’t). At every stage after this you get the distinct impression that these characters are well out of their depth and that sense of shared helplessness really helps drive home the drama as they struggle against the fate of dying without accomplishing their goals.

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Of course, there’s no getting around the elephant in the room. It didn’t end and then season 2 got pushed back and back. Season 2 is meant to come out this year so let’s hope but at the moment no matter how amazing an experience you had with Attack on Titan all you’ve been left with are questions, spin-offs and adaptations.

I know I haven’t spent a lot of time on characters. There are actually some pretty cool characters in this story but all of their character journey’s have been cut short at this point and time due to the story just stalling. So I’ll do a better review of the series as a whole once I know where they go. That and any of the extras we meet are likely to just get eaten anyway.

Essentially if you like action with high stakes and a bit of horror, aren’t turned off by gore, and you don’t mind characters who aren’t fully realised, then Attack on Titan will amaze you. It’s beautiful, fast paced, and dramatic and when it is at its best it truly shines and those moments will carry you over the slower bits. If we actually get a continuation that matches the feel and quality of season 1 then this could be a very memorable anime. Otherwise I think it is one of those ones that had its moment in the sun but without finishing won’t have staying power.


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