Well, this fucker’s taking a while to, uh, be legally purchased, so I might as well lay out the score.
I think this show’s been kinda struggling lately. My initial thoughts were: cool concept, the animation of the action scenes is great, the dramatic scenes come off as unfortunately melodramatic. My thoughts in the middle stretch, through the training and the gas raid, were: alright, cool, it’s pretty superficial, but it’s a fun action show and I like the idea of a sort of chessboardy squad-based tactical drama.
Man, these last two episodes really didn’t do it for me. The pacing has slowed to something well below a crawl – we’ve spent 40 minutes of screentime watching Eren, Armin, and Mikasa have a brief argument with a lunatic. There have been a lot of flashbacks, a lot of gaping, horrified expressions, and a lot of frantic repeated arguments.
I have not been impressed.
Fortunately, Pixis is apparently a huge plot-progressing badass, and he has successfully shoved us towards our next daring action gambit. This show occasionally pulls out some really superb moments that push character/plot development while also working as frenetic entertainment – I’m thinking of stuff like Mikasa’s resolution to live just before Ereoten (yeah, I’m rolling Commie) appeared, or Eren’s transformation sequence into Ereoten at the end of 9. But I think the show is most consistent when it’s using the ensemble cast for daring heroism – and this attempt to re-secure the wall makes me hope we’re getting more of that. Either way, more Pixis for me.
3:06 – “That plan I came up with is ridiculous, and we’re just running with it?” “I was thinking the same thing.” Yeah Armin, turns out Eren just wanted to make you feel included last episode. Congrats on your character development, though!
3:57 – “The Titans aren’t our only enemies.” Well, first of all, I was running Commie regardless, but I am very thankful they’ve decided to back down on that incredibly self-satisfied translation. But more importantly, this hopefully means we’re gonna get into the psychology of war stuff – either through needing to give the people hope, or through needing to make a terrified populace accept something like Eren’s power
4:22 – Man makes horrified expression and grabs own head. Commanding officer turns back, wearing horrified expression. Horrified expression count: 2.
5:30 – Okay, mocking this show’s one expression is fun and all, but that sequence actually did go into the fraying mental state of the soldiers, which will hopefully lead to the importance of symbols or something (omg Eren is Batman), which is a good place for this show to be going
5:48 – “If a powerful external threat were to appear, mankind would cease its squabbles and unite.” Alan Moore nods approvingly
6:30 – I like Eren’s “head in the game, scrub ” expression
7:10 – And Eren can’t hold his liquor. I swear, this show has the weirdest sense of humor. On that note, brb whiskey
8:16 – Pixis just keeps going up. Awesome that he’s immediately framing Eren’s trump card as a known top-secret project, so it’s just another encouraging, reliable piece of their military apparatus, and not a crazy what-the-fuck-is-that nobody knows anything about
10:33 – “There’s a limit to how much one can be motivated by terror.” Interesting choice of words, considering it seems Pixis’ speech is designed to keep the troops level-headed and removed from their fear. Is this getting back to the complacency of the first episode, where the lack of an immediate threat weakened the military into indolence? Not sure what else they’re referring to
11:26 – “Traitors? I’LL CUT YOU DOWN WHERE YOU STAND!” Oh man! Weirdy beardy might be a terrible leader and strategist, but he’s got Pixis’s back! In his own, poorly-thought-through, likely-to-cause-a-riot kind of way
11:40 – Hold the phone, isn’t that the lady of Pixis’s dreams?
12:17 – YES! Rally the FUCK out of those troops, Pixis! God, it is so good to see a goddamn general doing his actual goddamn job, and doing it well – I get pretty tired of all authority figures being incompetent buffoons
13:44 – This speech is fantastic. Maybe the best moment of the series so far. No complaints
13:45 – “I don’t know if I can move that boulder, but I do know my dick is diamonds after that motherfucking speech.”
14:07 – “I must become a symbol of hope for everyone.” What was that, Eren? I’m not sure I heard you – were you ratifying my suspicions about the entire point of this episode or something?
14:36 – Sweet, weirdy beardy’s glasses-pusher assistant will be joining us. I do love a good glasses-pusher
15:53 – Pixis knows the plan is a massive gamble, so he attacks the logical elites through their pride, not their intellect. He is taking this show the fuck over, and I could not be more cool with that
16:42 – Judging a man by the caliber of his drinking. C’mon Titan, I know when I’m being pandered to
17:30 – “I’m neither your little brother nor your kid.” It’s nice to see Eren directly address Mikasa’s very specific relationship with him. I think a lot of this show’s overwhelming commercial success lies in its avoidance of overt anime-isms, and “they have a weird super-personal relationship and nobody talks about it” is one anime-ism I am very happy to see die in a fire
19:25 – Excellent, excellent little piece of episode-specific storytelling there. That would-be deserter was given a full narrative arc: from urging others to justify his desertion, to leading the exodus himself, to being drawn back by his desire to protect his family, to acting as one of the most stalwart believers in the necessity of their plan. And he wasn’t even given a name. Fantastic storytelling
21:20 – Jesus christ, does this show burn 98% of its budget on these flying sequences? Not actually complaining
Damn! Not sure specifically what that ending implies, but it reeks of a cheap cliffhanger that will be resolved in the first ten seconds of the next episode, so I ain’t worried.
But fuck that noise. That episode was awesome! I think it was pretty easily my favorite of the series so far. My hopes for Pixis couldn’t have been better-placed – he kept the plot moving at an extremely satisfying clip, was full of entertaining one-liners and casually tossed off a ridiculously inspired and thematically relevant speech. Speaking of thematics, holy shit, this episode actually had some real ideas! For the first time, I felt this show moved beyond being entirely about narrative points moving to other narrative points, and dabbled in greater ideas of how our mentality and psychology can dictate our potential. It was pretty much the classic Batman stuff (the people need a symbol), but I’m not complaining. It also advanced several characters in a much less beating-you-on-the-nose way than Armin’s turn last week, outlined the greater significance of this conflict, and refused to wallow in tedious despair. Pixis, you’re a pretty cool guy. Keep on slapping this show into fighting shape