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Saturday, 1 April 2017

Attack on Titan S2E1: Beast Titan.

Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 1
Beast Titan.

Bafflingly, it seems that I never reviewed the first series, so here's my quick review of Attack on Titan Series 1: It's good; I like how sometimes walls are smashed; one of my friends got mildly traumatised because nobody mentioned that the titans eat people and then she saw a gifset of it; the mystery is A++; why is that uniform so impractical it must take, like, thirty minutes to put on; anime finishing part-way through the story vexes me.

Good, now that that's out of the way, let's talk quickly about the opening: It's no Jiyuu no Tsubasa, and actually, it's probably the least best opening in the franchise, which means it'll probably still be the best opening of this season of anime. The song itself is by Linked Horizon again, and the visuals have a nice turn drawing explicit comparisons between Titans and Earth's wildlife, which will probably be plot relevant later on. We also got shots of people putting on that absurdly complex uniform, so that's nice.

Onto the episode! When we left off last series, Annie had been revealed as the Female Titan and been captured, only to encase herself in crystal, and the wall had been damaged in the fight between her and Eren, revealing a Titan inside it.

In this episode, opening the second series, Zoe questions a pastor in the Wall Church about the Titans in the walls, only to find out that he's unwilling to talk. Meanwhile, south of Wall Sina, Connie, Sasha, Reiner, and Bertolt learn that Wall Rose has been breached, and are sent out to warn other towns -- while Connie fears that his own hometown may have been in the Titans' path. As Miche sets out to face the Titans alone, he encounters the Beast Titan, a warped, ape-like Titan with human-like intelligence and the ability to speak.

Look at its arms, man.

So, the Miche plotline, which probably qualifies as the main plot, has given us what might be the most disturbing scene of the franchise. Seeing someone terrified and in pain will always be more horrific than just seeing someone die, and the scene, while short, gets a lot of mileage out of that idea, playing up Miche's terror, making it clear that he's going to die, and then just barely dangling the possibility of hope, making it look like the Beast Titan is going to spare him, and Miche finding his bravery again -- only for the other Titans to jump in and rip him apart, with the audience treated to his terrified breakdown as they take him apart.

It's a truly harrowing scene, even accounting for the fact that Miche isn't really a major character, and it makes for a great introduction for the Beast Titan. The entire sequence, with Miche drawing attention to how weird the Beast Titan looks, to it picking up and killing a horse (when Titans are meant to ignore animals), to its slow and patient questions to Miche about his weapons -- all work in concert to make the Beast Titan absolutely terrifying, simultaneously seeming more intelligent than the other Titans and somehow just as alien.

The other threads of the plot revolve around Connie, Zoe, and -- briefly -- Eren. Despite being the protagonist, Eren only has one scene (which isn't a problem, because the rest of the cast are more than capable of carrying a story) devoted mostly to him interacting with Mikasa, and I admit, it was kind of the least interesting scene of the episode for me. Eren and Mikasa's dynamic has never been that engaging for me, so the two of them discussing her scarf, while layered with subtext, didn't do much to engage me.

... Tom Cruise? Why are you here?

Connie and Zoe's plot threads are a lot more compelling. 

Connie's is mostly set-up for the next episode, but we get enough backstory on his village and his life before the Survey Corps that his horror and anxiety over the Titans coming from the same direction feels very real.

Zoe, meanwhile, gets a great scene early on where she questions a pastor in the Wall Cult, dangling him off the edge of Wall Sina and trying to push him into revealing the truth of the Walls -- only for him to demonstrate how much of a fanatic he is, willing to die rather than tell her anything. I admit, I was a bit confused as to why Zoe didn't just threaten to expose the Wall Titan to sunlight, since Pastor Nick was clearly desperate for that not to happen (for obvious reasons), but I suppose it was sunset by that point.

Ad card image get.

All in all, it's a really solid start to a second series that a lot of people have been eagerly waiting for, and I'm really interested to see where things go from here. There are so many directions this could split off into, after all, although I'd guess that 'blocking the hole in Wall Rose' is going to be an important plot thread.


  1. I always see people praise the mystery...when the mystery is solved in episode 8...

    I'm not a fan.

    1. As I recall, episode eight was an action-heavy episode that didn't solve any mysteries at all.

      But either way, mysteries that haven't been solved at all yet in the anime: What's in the Yeager basement, the origin of the Titans, why Eren can turn into Titans, what Annie's backstory is, why the Walls are just full of Titans, the role of the Wall Cult, and so on, and so forth.

      I know some of those mysteries have been solved in the manga, but saying 'the mystery was solved in episode 8' isn't remotely true.