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Saturday, 15 April 2017

Attack on Titan S2E3: Distress


Attack on Titan
Series 2, Episode 3
Distress.



So, apparently the live-action Attack on Titan film did not do well. Old news, I know, but with Ghost in the Shell having just come out, and Netflix's Death Note adaptation due to come soon, it's worth noting that, as someone who is literally studying adaptations, I don't think adapting anime to live action films ever really works. There's a bunch of reasons for that, but the biggest ones mostly boil down to aesthetic and structure: It's difficult to reproduce the aesthetic of a animated series in live-action, and it's also nearly impossible to preserve the story in any meaningful sense when you're shifting from twelve to fifty twenty minute episodes to one three hour film.

Adapting anime to television series, meanwhile, can sometimes work really well, given the right source material. The structure is close enough that you're not having to completely rehaul the entire thing, and in a way, it's almost easier to rework a distinct aesthetic style from animation to live-action when you have a longer format with which to get viewers used to all of the changes you will inevitably have to make if you don't want all of your characters looking like cosplayers.

Anyway, yes, this anime. We left off after a Sasha focused episode that ended with Connie finding a Titan who is definitely his mother, so you'd think this is a Connie focused episode, right?



It's not a Connie focused episode.

Actually, Connie really only gets focus in the first scene, where someone cheerfully tells him that all the townspeople must have escaped (because there's no blood), while another soldier has an internal monologue about how that can't be true, because the buildings are smashed up and the horses are still in the stable. Connie gets his brief moment of nearly-having-his-impenetrable-mantle-of-denial broken by his new Titan Mother welcoming him home, before he brushes it off with the help of Reiner.

Thus ends Connie's focus in this episode, but I'm okay with that. Spending an episode on him discovering that his family are now Titans would have been harrowing, but him clearly knowing on some level but being in denial (and probably in denial forever) is somehow worse.

No, Connie, avoid the truth.

The rest of the episode splits its action between Ymir and Christa's group, and Eren, Armin, and Mikasa's group, but actually, not a lot happens with either. Ymir and Christa's group look for holes in the wall, don't find any, and then rest up at a castle, only to have it attacked by Titans; while Eren, Armin, and Mikasa's group theorise that Eren might be able to block the holes in the wall with crystalline protrusions from his Titan form, before getting told by Wall Cult Guy that there's someone who knows a ton of exposition somewhere in the 104th.

That's not actually a lot of plot. If anything, it's set-up for plot: 20% set up for Eren to block the holes in the walls, 20% set up for someone to give an infodump later on, and 60% set up for the penny to eventually drop that there is no hole in Wall Rosa. The Titans are coming from within the Walls, courtesy of the Beast Titan.

His arms and head really bother me.

Seriously, we even see the Beast Titan, spindly arms and all, clambering up one of the Walls, thus demonstrating that he doesn't need a hole. This isn't a mystery anymore so much as it is heavy dramatic irony, as we all know roughly what's going on, and are just waiting for all these characters to realise it. Which they will, probably quite soon, I'd imagine. Probably by episode six, if I know my anime series four-act structure.

So, it's an expository episode, a bridge between the focus episodes of the first two episodes and the much more combat heavy (by the looks of it) next episode, and that's fine, even if it doesn't give me much to talk about. It's necessary connecting tissue, and the episode does a fine job making it entertaining -- we even get a bit of a comedic moment with Sasha bursting in and interrupting a serious scene between the Wall Cult Bro and Eren's group.

Eren's eyebrows are also kinda weird.

Next episode is, apart from being action-y, apparently focused on Reiner, showing us more of his past -- and actually, I only just realised that we know absolutely nothing about Reiner's past. I think Connie and Sasha at least mentioned that they had families prior to this point, but Reiner's kept pretty quiet about his (undoubtedly tragic) backstory. By my reckoning, though, that will leave only two focus episodes to go: One for Reiner's friend, whose name I can't recall, and one for both Ymir and Christa as a unit.

Incidentally, it's now incredibly obvious that Christa is who the Wall Cult Guy was referring to, since it wasn't Sasha or Mikasa, and since Ymir is apparently some kind of servant or bodyguard for Christa.


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