So the latest episode of Attack on Titan just dropped, and my feeling’s are extremely mixed – I do like the direction season 2 takes opposed to season 1 (That being the Horror/Mystery feel of the show), but it would certainly still be nice to see some of the epic action scenes we got from the previous season. Exposition is alright when done well, but I think Wit have a little bit to work towards on that front. Maybe they should go watch some Monogatari, or something. Other than that, there is actually a gem of a scene in this episode, which I’ll get to later.
The episode starts off with a small scene of a group survey corps looking around Conny’s old village. It’s quite clear by now what has happened to the villagers, but I’m not going to harp on this because at the same time it’s rather important to establish the fact that people outside of the main group the series follows are starting to figure out that something about the titans isn’t quite right. Although, I do think this scene is a little un-necessary, does it really need to take up a whole minute?
Next we’re right in to the talking, and this is what I mean by Wit not really making their exposition particularly interesting, although it is improved upon later in the episode, that I will eventually get to. The backstory they’ve got here is actually pretty solid, but now that we’ve had essentially two episodes of people talking in tree’s, it’s difficult for that to carry my interest. Nonetheless, it continues with this trend and we kind of have to put up with it and hope for a spectacular payoff. Now, whether that payoff ends up happening is rather questionable, which I’ll talk about next…
So chatting’s done, we’re about halfway through the episode and this is the part I expect things to get intense. A whole squadron of people from multiple different sections of the human military (army? What do you call them as a whole?) are about to enter the forest and the group of human titans are making a run for it. Well, in Eren’s case unwillingly. But here’s my slight problem, things just don’t get intense, at all really. Animation feels lack-luster, it’s no longer the incredible movement animation that the manoeuvre gear shines in. It’s just kind of characters layered on top of a moving background, like you’d see in a top down shoot ’em up. I’m not particularly happy about this, but we’ll have to see what the future has to hold, as budget isn’t exactly unlimited and perhaps it’s being held on to. I wonder whether, even if they wanted to hold on to budget, this scene could be done better though. Perhaps have more close-ups, and less janky mid-shots of characters just floating in the air.
I think the biggest shame about this animation and way of presenting exposition is the fact that there’s a real gem hidden inside here, and it’s difficult to appreciate amongst what you’re visually seeing for the most part of the episode. What is this gem? Ymir’s backstory. There’s some really clever directing going on in this little scene, and that combined with the rather touching sound-track that attack on titan doesn’t usually offer, actually got my emotions going. I think this whole section is sweet. It doesn’t have incredible animation, or even impeccably tight writing, but the directing and story tell it in a way where you can understand the character and the torture she’s been through. But this just makes me wonder what they were doing with the previous scenes, since they’ve now showed that they can in-fact make exposition interesting – even in something that’s technically a flashback. A writing technique not particularly known for how interesting it is. The shot that made this whole episode, not only memorable, but also enjoyable to me was the rather simple scene in which Ymir wakes up naked on a wasteland, simply looking up to the stary sky above. The colour palette here, sound design, angles and timing with the story telling is great. I honestly can’t get enough of this one scene, it feels slightly abstract yet important to the character’s story as a whole – and I adore that.
After this elegant scene we get straight back in to the action. Personally, I think they could have just rolled the credits there, but this is indeed a show, and it must go on. We have many un-answered questions, and deserve to get to the show’s final climax, which itself feels like has been building up since the first episode of season 2. Now, the next sections of the episode certainly aren’t perfect, but they’ve most definitely upped a notch since the first half. The camera focuses more on close-ups and less on janky mid-shots, but it’s still a far stretch off perfect. The moment, however, Ymir returns to titan form it gets a little better. Specifically speaking, the scene in which she eyes over our (semi?) main cast of characters, grabs Christa then jumps through the trees to safety. There’s not much I can say about this scene, it’s just okay. Not janky like the first part, not great like the middle. It’s ‘aight.
From here, I’m still expecting some kind of big payoff. I think if the show can deliver in the final few episodes then it will have been an all-around good series, but it needs to happen soon. Hopefully, the slightly lower quality parts of this episode just mean the climax will blow us away, but for now I’ll stay cautiously optimistic. And, even though the episode was far from perfect, if we just put the spotlight on Ymir and say it’s all about her, then I can’t say it’s terrible due to that beautiful middle scene.
Hopefully I’ll be writing about the last few episodes too, so if you want, stay tuned for that. Until then, I hope you enjoyed the post. Perhaps I shouldn’t let these run on for almost 1,000 words though.