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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Holmes of Kyoto Episode 9: And Then Nothing Happened

And dropped.

Holmes9a

Last week I was already comparing this story to about as exciting as watching paint dry and episode 9 was, if anything, more dull. So what analogy can I use for this one? Maybe like following lint flowing on air currents with your eyes? Potentially like waiting for a monument to erode from old age? I’ve got it!

Like being asked to read a compendium of political speeches from the last hundred years on tax reform.

And in case you are wondering why I haven’t gotten to the review yet, that is it. In a nutshell. I was so incredibly bored while watching this. The off-model characters and the fact that the background characters are faceless and almost motionless doesn’t even come into my decision to drop at this point (though – really?). Because nothing about this episode made me care in the slightest.

Holmes9c
Please let it say ‘run away’.

Holmes and Aoi go to some market and along the way Holmes tells her about some shrines in Kyoto that they could see on the walk (and really this is just one more moment that makes me believe that somewhere some tourism board were behind the funding of this anime). But instead of that being any kind of focal point we just kind of get a mashed up montage of Holmes and Aoi doing shrine like things with the random guy who tags along because he was in one episodes once and maybe we care about him.

Then we meander to part two where Aoi wants to see Holmes’ room because he saw hers and they are at his house, and oh no he is not a neat freak. Shocker. Then we go to the party where a staged game gets interrupted by Ensho because why not? Ensho challenges Holmes to a game and for some ridiculous reason he agrees but there’s just no reason to care.

Holmes9b

I was done with this series about five minutes into this episode and by the end of the episode I can clearly state that I have zero desire to watch any more. It isn’t broken, but it also isn’t good.

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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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Holmes of Kyoto Episode 8: It’s Christmas and Alibis

I’m not sure that there was any real focus this week. We have Aoi asking Holmes about what he meant to tell her, some random hiring at a cafe, some I’ll help you study moments, before we finally get a case, and even then it is all just all over the place. Despite all that, I’d argue this was a long, slow twenty minutes watching the tedium unfold.

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 8 - Aoi

You know when someone tells you something is about as interesting as watching paint dry, they are probably referring to something that is about as exciting as episode 8 of Holmes of Kyoto. Once again we have a contrived set up where Holmes is working at a cafe for four days leading up to Christmas Eve, even though he already has a job and doesn’t really get anything out of it. I’m not even really sure that working in the cafe added anything to the plot given they did discuss the ‘case’, such as it was, in the cafe but they could have as easily done that in the antique shop.

Holmes8d

We also get some stuff about Aoi and her parents with Aoi’s still unseen mother inviting Holmes over after he tutors her and Holmes goes through Aoi’s grandfather’s collection to determine everything is pretty much a reproduction. See that story alone could have actually been a story. Instead it was just kind of another thing that happened, nothing came of it, and then it got swept up in the debris of everything else that happened that nothing actually came of.

Holmes8b

Throw in some weird facial issues for both Holmes and Aoi and you have the makings of an episode that doesn’t even manage to scrape average. Even if I judged this anime purely as a slice of life rather than a mystery, romance, or any other genre, this episode is incredibly dull, poorly paced, and generally unfocused. All and all, not a highlight of the season and for a show that was barely managing to remain mediocre, episodes like this are not great.

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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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Holmes of Kyoto Episode 7: Ensho Appears Again

Well, our resident counterfeiter who for whatever reason has decided his life’s goal is to humiliate Holmes as turned up again, this time playing a fairly obvious game before confronting the young appraiser. I’m just not sure this is as thrilling as it sounded in someone’s head before it became an anime.

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 7

In terms of heroes, Holmes leaves a lot to be desired given he isn’t exactly motivated to do anything beyond his job and he doesn’t have a great personality. It kind of makes sense that the rival character introduced to play Moriarty to his Holmes is equally uninspiring and that their clashes, while undeniably one of the more interesting elements in the series, are pretty underwhelming.

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 7
Thank you, Captain Obvious. Why are you even in this episode?

It’s a shame, because the idea of Holmes being an art appraiser and Moriarty a counterfeiter by trade actually works quite well on paper. If the series had exclusively stuck to actually building up this binary opposition and these characters it potentially could have been quite interesting. Instead though we’ve spent far too much time on Aoi who is as generic and forgettable a character as they come (though seems to have some kind of knack for appraisal) and now it feels like we’re supposed to accept an epic rivalry between two characters that don’t really have enough presence to carry it off.

Holmes of Kyoto episode 7
What is going on with their faces?

It isn’t that this episode was bad. Except perhaps the visuals (because what was going on with some of these characters in this episode). It is more that there is so much unrealised potential with the concept and the show itself is strictly remaining pretty ordinary.

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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.

Titan5f

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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Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6: Something About Pride

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6

Last week I mentioned that Holmes of Kyoto suffers from very little happening in each episode, and episode 6 is a prime example of not much happening. Not sure that’s a good a thing.

Holmes of Kyoto Episode 6

In episode 5 we were introduced to a potential villain/rival but much like the gap between episodes 1 and 5 where the story meandered about doing very little of consequence, episode 6 decides it is time for Holme’s grandfather to have a birthday party with a petty bit of mystery tossed in during the final five minutes just so the episode didn’t feel totally empty. While I guess you could argue that there are some character interactions and introductions that might be important, the bland nature of most of this episode with an excess of panning over still images means that all I could see this episode as was downtime for the animators. Maybe they used up all their energy with that minor action sequence last week where Holmes went to hit the guy with his fan.

Holmes of Kyoto episode 6

That isn’t to say that learning a little more about the grandfather is bad as learning about his time on TV and the fallout when a professional maintains his integrity in the face of ratings and the pride of others is interesting enough. Yet the meandering pace of the story and the yawn inducing locked room mystery that is solved in an instant really kind of kill any kind of goodwill I may have felt towards the slightly more intriguing parts of the episode. All and all, not sure this one needs to stay on my watch list, and yet it isn’t horrendous enough to really be bothered dropping either.

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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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