Attack on Titan – Final Review

Welp, guess I better review the heavyweight.

Attack on Titan arrived at the head of quite the hype train this spring, based on both praise from manga readers and this impressive PV. Its OP inspired countless parodies, its sales were enormous, its cultural penetration extended far beyond the reach most anime could dream of. With good reason – most anime essentially self-marginalize themselves through overt anime-ism aesthetic choices that cut off significant potential markets. Titan does not do this – it’s an unapologetic action blockbuster with an evocative western aesthetic and a fundamentally compelling premise. Humans live in a massive renaissance-era walled city, titans try to break in, humans fight using sweet spiderman-esque maneuvering gear, action ensues. Let’s start with those strengths.

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Summer 2013 – Week 13 in Review

And so the summer ends. I really couldn’t be more burnt out on talking about anime, considering I just finished three 8+ page essays on TWGOK, Uchouten Kazoku, and Gatchaman Crowds, but I’ll at least wave my hand in the direction of final impressions.

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Attack on Titan – Episode 25

Hey guys it’s me. All caught up, just in time for this freakin’ finale. I’m excited. You guys excited? I guess everybody’s excited.

These last couple episodes have easily been my favorites of the series. Though Eren’s development still lags, I’m loving how they’re putting Armin and Jean’s character growth into practice, and the side characters of the Survey Corps are just extremely fun to see in action. Things are moving fairly quickly, they’re burning animation budget like nobody’s business, they’re bouncing effectively between flashbacks and action setpieces… just lots to love at the moment. I hope it finishes strong.

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Attack on Titan – Episode 24


Alright, I’m sure the army has some kind of backup plan here. And last episode managed the excellent trick of being an extremely entertaining twenty minutes without spending absurd amounts of animation budget. So I’m quite excited to see where they go with this – frankly, the fact that the army went so completely all-in on their Annie hypothesis (putting the words of Erwin and Armin into action) is by itself quite exciting, and demonstrates the overall military apparatus being both more intelligent and more decisive than we’ve seen previously. Does this mean we get more Pixis? Possibly a spirited brofist between Pixis and Erwin? A boy can dream.

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Attack on Titan – Episode 23

Alright, Survey Corps. You’re really in it now – morale is low, the public hates you, and like fifty people just got eaten by giant abominations. If ever there were a time to prove you’re secretly harboring a human-formed titan spy, just like that other human-form titan you swore wasn’t a spy, it’d be…

Well, actually, might want to keep that one under wraps. Good luck out there, Survey Corps! I’ll be right here, a healthy and anonymity-ensuring distance behind you.

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Attack on Titan – Episode 22

In my continued quest to put off watching more Fate/Zero (yes, I am determined to antagonize every anime fan, thanks for asking), it’s time to continue catching up on Titan. Last episode was awesome, and I mean that in the least ironic way I’ve ever used the term (meaning “only lightly tinged with irony”) – the action was sweet, the deaths were unexpected and fairly chilling, and the action was sweet. Though I know episodes like that are paid for in a whole lot of episodes like #19, here’s to hoping this show continues to do what it does best – spend money like a motherfucker.

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Attack on Titan – Episode 21

Welp, time for episode 21, or as I’ve surmised from reactions around the internet, “The One They Spent All the Money On.” Sweet! My body is extremely ready to see a lot of money turned into a lot of animation. How will they handle the spy?!

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Attack on Titan – Episode 20

Alright, episode 20. Last one was bad, not gonna lie. The sum total of its progression was “Eren runs through forest, decides to actually follow orders for once,” it engaged in a bunch of redundant characterization, and the characters finally learned Titanification is triggered by injury PLUS a specific goal. That’s… not a lot of content, for twenty minutes of anime. I guess if I watched more shounens I’d be used to this, but I don’t, and I’m not. The pacing sucked.

However, when this show is good, it can create either solid dramatic moments or at least sweet action setpieces. So let’s get to some of that.

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Attack on Titan – Episode 19

Yep, fell behind again. What can I say, I’m pretty lukewarm on this show, and it comes out right in the middle of the Gatchaman->Monogatari->Uchouten Kazoku time frame where my anime-watching time is actually monopolized by serious business shows. Plus, like most shounens, the show just works better when you build up a few episodes anyway.

Anyway. Big female titan in the trees. What do?

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Attack on Titan – Episode 18

So I’ve finally caught up on this show, and I’ve actually been really enjoying it lately. I think this second season has been much faster-paced and more full of interesting developments than the first half, and has been basically doing everything I could have hoped for – broadening the character focus, introducing multiple concurrent conflicts (the traitor, the original squad’s troubles, Eren’s own issues), and consistently adding new ideas. And I’ve got the goddamn words to prove it – if you’re interested, you can see writeups on 16 and 17 here[1] and here[2] . But screw that, I’m up to date. Let’s watch some Titan.

Episode 18

2:47 – That shot of Mikasa acting all stoic and badass always makes me wonder what she would have done if Eren had decided to be a banker or something. Would she just be running the surviving human economy at this point? I guess maybe she could do her own thing if Eren weren’t so goddamn intent on getting himself killed

2:56 – Titan is Serious Business[3]   Sorry, sorry. Sorry.

4:07 – I really think the show needs a balance between Titans as immediate obstacles and Titans as source of constant, invisible threat[4]  . I think this setup provides for a much more even horror/action mix than Trost did

4:16 – Man, Jean can get down on himself about anything[5]  , huh?

4:53 – Another war story staple.[6]   “We survived the battle, what justice is there in cold/starvation/lack of medical treatment killing us?” I’m not knocking it – knowing what sources to draw on is a key part of storytelling, and this is a good call for this kind of story

6:56 – Though this war has taken all else, moe must not die[7]  

7:17 – Moe was saved. The sun shines upon this day[8]  

7:26 – This show really is pretty funny[9]  . I think I actually love stupid jokes as long as they’re incredibly inappropriate to the tone and really stupid

9:31 – I like this.[10]   After all the chaos of the last episode, just letting us see it from Eren’s incredibly limited, claustrophobic perspective

10:09 – A nice demonstration of how much better[11]   the recon team is than the rookies we’ve seen so far. That gear is quite the superpower

12:33 – Recon team: not the best at naming things[12]  

14:09 – One of these days, Armin is gonna figure these things out[13]  

17:03 – Half-off sale at Macys you guys[14]  

17:27 – Awesome.[15]   Not only is this much more practical “intelligence” than most allegedly intelligent characters, it’s also my first rule of worthwhile criticism – assume the people making decisions aren’t complete idiots, and make deductions from there

18:24 – “Lol 2deep4u shit… wait… oh my god[16]  

Man, I’m being a dick tonight, huh? Apologies, I hit the bottle a little early

18:50 – And then the show provides its own counter-meme[17]  

19:44 – These titans[18]  . Reiner is not amused

I do like this strategy, though. They can use the trees to basically create a fence of titan-bait with the outlying soldiers, and reduce the fight to the best soldiers versus the female titan in the most fortuitous possible environment. I approve

And Done

Oh man, those fuckers. They dragged out that last moment there, but the female titan’s reentry was top-notch action drama. I think this episode was a bit of a step down from the previous one, but it was still exciting and propulsive – no true standout moments like the female titan’s introduction, but a lot of fun action and back-and-forth between the members of the various squads. They’ve probably got another couple episodes of sweet drama to draw from this female titan, as long as they keep shifting up the variables (like this episode’s wider squad focus and introduction of the forest, as compared to last episode’s more personal focus and introduction of the female titan). I’m still having a lot of fun with this second half. Here’s hoping they keep it up