Shingeki no Kyojin – 03

Shingeki - 03-1 Shingeki - 03-21 Shingeki - 03-24

An enjoyable episode on the whole, but there’s some pretty freaky stuff going on with Shingeki no Kyojin.

Some folks questioned why I once referred to Shingeki as science-fiction, but after this episode I’ll stand my ground.  How else besides time travel do you explain Mikasa suddenly being a 35 year-old woman?  She’s still hot, I’ll give her that.  But even more absurd is that I’ve learned that the cadets we meet this week are supposed to be 12 years old.  I don’t know what’s more bizarre – that, or or the fact that it means before the timeskip, they were supposed to be ten.  Yes, that’s right – in this mythology, this is a 12 year-old.

All levity aside, I really do wonder if there’s an explanation behind this glaring disconnect with reality – perhaps rapid evolutionary changes in the human species – or it’s just some of the strangest character design on record.  If I didn’t know it wouldn’t be an issue, but I can’t un-know it now, so it’s an irritant – and so are the super-thick character outlines that are now beyond doubt an artistic choice and continue to be a distraction.  It’s an odd move for Production I.G., which normally shows exquisite taste in matters like this even in their weaker series.  I suspect it’s supposed to be a homage to the manga, which is all well and good theoretically, but an anime is not a manga for a reason.

Well, all that is what it is, and it obviously isn’t changing.  Apart from the visual quirks, for me Shingeki no Kyojin remains what it was – a series with a very compelling premise without any breakout characters so far.  This week we moved ahead two years and pick up the action in a sort of medieval Full Metal Jacket setting, complete with the sadistic drill sergeant.  What this episode does do – somewhat surprisingly, given the circumstances – is inject an element of humor that’s been absent in the first two.  It’s bleak humor, to be certain, but it’s there – a kind of grisly absurdism that works best in the scene where simpleton Sasha Braus (Kobayashi Yuu) tries to explain to the drill instructor why she’s stolen a potato and decided to eat it during the initial muster.

Most of the scenes this week are pretty standard for the scenario – the characters are introduced, they tell their stories, we get an idea of how harsh basic training is.  Joining the cast are Reiner Braun (Hosoya Yoshimasa) and Bertholt Huber (Hashizune Tomohisa), two mountain boys who’ve tasted the wrath of Titans first-hand, as well as Connie Springer (Shimono Hiro), a cocky little smart-mouth who calls himself a genius but doesn’t know how to salute.  There’s also the extremely cynical Jean Kirstein (Taniyama Kishou), a potential Eren-foil who joined up because he didn’t want to look like a coward and hopes to land a cushy job as a cop in a city in the interior, kind-hearted Krista Lenz (Mikami Shiori) and calculating Anna Leonhart (Shimamura Yuu).

Predictably, Eren comes into camp with both vocal chords blazing, bragging about how he’s going to kill every Titan there is, and just as predictably is unable to back it up.  But when he fails the mobility gear test that even Armin passes, there are some suggestions that something odd is going on – can it really be a coincidence that Eren’s gear was the first to fail in all the time the drill instructor has been on the job?  It seems likely that Eren will wind up being capable enough to join the corps (we wouldn’t have a series otherwise) but there are many others in camp with more obvious skills.  Eren’s behavior is toned down a bit after the timeskip, fortunately, and while he doesn’t exactly endear himself he’s at least a bit more tolerable and sympathetic.

I’m still waiting for someone in the cast to give me a reason to care about them as much as I do about the overall struggle of humanity, and it’s too early to tell if any of the large character dump this week will be the one (or get enough development to have the chance).  I do like the tone of the series better with a bit of humor in the mix – I think the best moment of the episode was when Kirstein saw that Mikasa was with Eren and “wiped his faith in humanity” off on Connie’s shirt.  We seem to be entering what’s effectively a training arc, with the story destined to return to the real plot of taking the fight to the enemy.  Hanging over all this is the question of Eren’s father – is he alive or not, and what’s up with the strange dreams Eren had with his father seemingly injecting him with something against his will?

Shingeki - 03-8 Shingeki - 03-9 Shingeki - 03-10
Shingeki - 03-11 Shingeki - 03-12 Shingeki - 03-13
Shingeki - 03-14 Shingeki - 03-15 Shingeki - 03-16
Shingeki - 03-17 Shingeki - 03-18 Shingeki - 03-19
Shingeki - 03-20 Shingeki - 03-22 Shingeki - 03-23


  1. A

    The characters looking so old at 12 was weird in the manga too, but I honestly didn't notice it as much there because this is a flashback that they significantly moved up in the anime instead of putting it where it was in the manga. Here, though, it feels more jarring, and I'm surprised that IG didn't change the designs a bit.

  2. A

    I.G is doing a phenomenal job. At this point I'm honestly am glad they did this not any other studio(especially A-1)

    The only thing they have really changed up so far is the placement of this arc. Instead of doing it like a flashback they decided to do it chronologically, which I believe may really help since it seems to be making the character development that much better.

    They really brought this chapter in the manga to life with this episode. Getting every facial expression right and not missing out on any important parts that this chapter had in the manga. Great job, please keep it up I.G!

  3. K

    To be fair, I don't remember them ever saying that Reiner was 12. But if Mikasa was supposed to be 12 in that photo… then yeah, I see the problem.
    And you keep insulting the character designs, and I love them. I love how heavily shaded they are, the pronounced outlines, they look so much better than regular anime characters. I think this could go down as the most beautiful series that Production I.G. has ever done.

  4. Considering the other shows I.G. has done (including Seirei no Moribito) I'll just say I disagree with that last bit wholeheartedly and leave it at that.

    I have no issue with the character designs themselves – they (and the backgrounds) range from perfectly fine to stunning. The animation quality is generally very good as well. It's that these character designs look way, way too old and the stylistic choice of the thick outlines (not the character designs themselves) that makes me feel like I'm watching the Thermae Romae adaptation. That's an artistic decision and obviously subject to personal opinion – they thought it was a good idea, and so do you. For me it's a significant mistake.

  5. i

    Agree with Altritter that one character design was made for what I'm guessing will be a 15/16 year old Misa and they weren't going to change it for a 12 year old one, so at least we know that for most of the series she's anime hot. I guess that's the same for all the other characters that look older than they should. Bit cheap of them considering what a good job A-1 did.

    Also even when trying to learn something from other, Eren feels over the top. I think someone commented in previous posts that his big mouth gets him into trouble so I guess its just his major character trait, an annoying one, in full flow. Ultimately that mouth will somehow inspire his less suicidal comrades to battle.

    Also I agree that thick outlines are annoying but these constant still shots that look like they are straight from the manga are also quite jarring for me.

    Love hearing the Taniyama Kishou – Hiro Shimono comby again.

    Last thing is why do they use swords against the giants. I mean the capability of a sword attack depends on its sharpness and the strength behind it so wouldn't it seem unlikely to deal major damage on its own.

    On the other hand the Riders of Rohan showed in their battle against the Oliphaunts in TLOR that you have to 'aim for the eyes' to 'bring them down'. Wouldn't a sniper or rifle be a far more effective weapon in this sense. They have guns, we see this in the opening, but I find it alarming that no one thinks to use them against an obvious weak point. Unless this is an intentionally left out so that Eren can prove he's so great by using this method which no one else in the last hundred years was smart enough to use.

  6. E

    But swords are the most efective one so far, I thought many people should have told you that "it will be answered later".

  7. i

    More likely the Mangaka didn't have the answer when writing this part of the series, heck probably didn't know anyone would question it.

  8. C

    I believe the intro has the answer to the sword thing… seems they try to go for the neck area… the aorta maybe?

    although the intro shows a cut on the wrong side… maybe they make many passes trying to nick major blood vessels.

  9. A

    "Bit cheap of them considering what a good job A-1 did."

    Good job A-1 did with what?

  10. Presumably Shin Sekai Yori, which had two timeskips with completely new (and realistic) character designs.

  11. C

    forgot to add that the "strength" would come from gravity (falling down as in the intro) and/or momentum from their multiaxle gizmos.

  12. i

    And this rotational momentum, strong enough to cut through what is probably extremely thick skin, has no effect on a human body?

    If they use their own weight, when falling, to drive the sword into the giants, won't they break a few bones just from the massive deceleration when in contact with it? And if the excuse is they used their cables to protect themselves from the impact won't at least a few rupture internal organs or shatter their pelvis?

    I know I shouldn't nitpick on internal logic like this but it's something I think should be questioned. In most Shounen series, people are superhuman so applying normal standards doesn't work, but these characters are all just normal humans (Misa and Eren possible aside) so our standards can be used. Shinjeki no Kyojin, at least for me, is supposed to be the act that follows on Shin Sekai Yori but all it has proven is that proper novel material is at least more sound than manga material.

  13. t

    You'll likely get an infodump on the titans at some point (hopefully next week) that should adress your question.

  14. i

    Thanks for the heads up. A weak internal logic is as annoying as plot holes for me.

  15. R

    I always just simply assumed that their equipment is adjusted to prevent those probelms in the same way that pilot uniforms are crafted to help the body deal with acceleration.

    I don't really care too much about any scientifique explanation given, because like Gundam, Star Trek and all those other ScienceFiction shows, then you take a moment to think about any of the Explanation given there, most of them wouldn't stand the Test of Reality anyway.

  16. K

    My theory on the guns is that they may be in immensely short supply. They don't seem to be that technologically advanced, and I suspect that firearms and ammunition are perhaps a rare commodity only given to the elite. With swords, by slicing them over and over again you can make them bleed to death. If guns are in short supply, then I suppose that having 20 people attack them with blades all at once would be the best method.

  17. g

    I believe all of this information is shown later in the manga during an eyecatch infodump, so I'm sure the anime will show it as well. The material of the swords itself I don't think is a spoiler, because doesn't really have any plot significance, but I'll leave some space and then explain it. As for the "why swords not guns" question, that is also explained later.

    The swords are made of a certain type of steel that is very hard, probably almost diamond-like in terms of quality. However, there is a trade-off involved in that it's very brittle and quick to shatter and break, which is why you see every soldier carrying the large rectangular sheathes (if they can be called that), each with 6 slots– they carry a bunch of these thin blades because they all break easily. These swords are the only things that can cut through the titan's skin.

  18. E

    "Who's 12 years old? I think woman is 35 years old!"
    Hahaha. I don't think they experienced early aging or anything. It's just the mangaka's artstyle. Which is I think is quite disturbing as well. Anyway, I hate the baldie old man instructor the most. He's all bark and no bite. I believe Mikasa can easily wipe the floor with him.

  19. R

    They dolled her up for the Anime.
    In the manga she looked more plain.
    True she still didn't look like a twelve year old girl but at least she still looked like a teenager.

  20. E

    Although we are unable to tell when it's black and white, but yeah, she should be more plain, she's not the type to use lipstick anyway. I don't know what's gotten into the anime maker's mind, giving her lip gloss and all.

  21. M

    Sex appeal. And the fact that she's 12 will have lolicons either raging or salivating.

  22. D

    I wrote a comment and deleted it 3 times now. I keep trying to say things without spoiling anything, but… can't find a way to do it. It will all make sense, and there are some shocking revelations coming up. don't know how far the anime is going to progress either.

  23. I appreciate your restraint.

  24. l

    I'm fine with the artistic direction in terms of character design, background, etc. Something's bothering me about the story. They are going at it a bit too forcefully.

    From the first 3 episodes, I suspect that the titans are humans but chemically modified – could Eren's dreams about his father injecting him with something in Episode 2 be the chemical that is being worked on to duplicate whatever is making those titans? If the titans are chemically modified humans, would the effect be temporary or permanent? And if temporary, the enemy walks amongst them. If permanent, could they be convicts who are sent outside the realm, tested on, survived and now wanting revenge? The most damaging of the speculation is going to be that the effect is temporary and the enemy walks amongst them. So, I'm going to presume it is that. Hopefully I can come back to this later on to say "Obvious is obvious". XD

  25. l

    Just a quick note that I have not read anything about the show. Just watching what is being shown. What I have posted is pure speculation. Please, if you do read the manga and my speculation hits close to home, don't spill it here. Just message me.

  26. e

    @leongsh: well, one of my theories after episode #1 was that there is that humans and Titans may very well be the same save for a bit of a Hulk* effect going on, and after Eren's dream/memory last week with his father and the syringe I think both you and I are on to something.
    *add to this both the OP and ED lyrics (burning desires, raging and possibly getting lost in them) plus this week Eren's 'why I want to jon the corps? because killing them all is my passion' added to the factor that one of the recruits seems to have experienced some memory (or rather consciousness? ;D) loss when the Titans invaded his mountain village and one of the possible scenarios is that Titans are this universe's spin on going berserk like the Norse warriors were famed to do :p.

  27. Anyone here seen "Forbidden Planet"? Shame on you, if not – it's a classic – but something in reading these comments brings it to mind for me.

  28. e

    @GE: funny you mention that. It has been in my 'to watch' list for a while and you're the second one suggesting it today.

  29. e

    I dont mind the characters looking older frankly (and are we sure everyone there is supposed to be 12 yo? Given the situation I thought that we would meet new recruites with a range of ages. As long as one have the talent and his body can keep up why reject them after all? ). I'm bothered by the trend in anime being mostly the opposite in more recent years actually. I miss seeing actual noses and lips on my characters and some less stylized pole stick-y body templates, thank you very much ;p.
    That shot of Mikasa really reminded me of Balsa btw. And without the lipstick she would look about right for an early bloomer :D. Talking about the bold lines, production I.G. have used them at least once before, in my beloved if flawed Library Wars series. I realize it's pretty much personal taste but I like that stylistic choice – it was one of the distinctive features in Uta Koi too – .

    Among the new characters I quite enjoyed potato girl, ahah. Eren is more tolerable, Mikasa is still Mikasa and as I quite like her so far I'm fine with that. Still, the way she ate that bread was cruel. Way to crush potato girl's soul XD.
    The sergeant looks like Titan material :p.
    And – as I wrote in my reply to leongsh above – the more I think about both song lyrics the more I found them filled with clues. And if that turns out to be indeed the case the potential ambiguity is quite delicious, especially in the OP. Ah the penetrating smell of speculah fuel. And in the world of hunters you could become the hunted hello role swap and tomatoes in the mirror… *ahem* And this reminds me HxH is out. Madhouse here I come!

  30. m

    i didn't think the character designs in the manga were that old, mikasa defintely looks more grownup with the lip colour and somewhat more detailed face structure. still, it didn't occur to me they were 12 O.o, i might have forgotten along the way though

  31. Z

    Jokes aside, where are people getting this science-fiction stuff from? From what has been shown so far, even at a stretch, this is science-fantasy.

  32. Z

    "I'm bothered by the trend in anime being mostly the opposite in more recent years actually. I miss seeing actual noses and lips on my characters and some less stylized pole stick-y body templates, thank you very much ;p."


  33. T

    I believe Mikasa looks older because of the lipstick, and they added a bit more definition to her jaw. Apart from that people look pretty much the same, if less exaggerated than Isayama Hajime's designs.

    Characterization in Shingeki, now that one thinks about it, is… hampered. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that it always puts action first. There will be beautiful moments with certain characters that hit hard- suddenly you realize why. Eren and Mikasa however are difficult to 'like' in a sense. One has Titans on the brain and chases that obsession like a bull charges a waving flag; the other is a genius. I appreciate that main protagonist Eren is neither an idiot (sup, Naruto) or a genius- extremes do not make for a relatable figure. So pretty much the only thing we viewers have in common with Eren and Mikasa is that we, as humans, want to survive.

    In short, I agree with your general opinion on this episode, and say this story works primarily because of how sly the plotting is. However that is not to say the characters are unlikeable; they serve their purpose, grow and mature over time, and later on some rather… interesting folks enter the picture.

    I'm pretty sure you'll find someone to like, Enzo!

    I enjoyed this episode as well. There was really only one thing that bugged the heck out of me, and that was Mikasa's last line of dialogue explaining Eren's expression. My listening comprehension isn't great, and I had to rely on someone else's interpretation of the lines- but (this isn't a spoiler, but a fine point regarding lines in a chapter already covered by the manga, so please feel free to skip the bit below if you'd prefer to avoid manga references; it probably doesn't matter but it bites at me)

    in the episode, she says 'Now that we don't have to be separated, he's relieved.'

    in the manga, she says 'He's thinking about how he won't have to stay close to me anymore, and it makes him happy…'

    I've been wondering if this was translated 'as is' or if someone changed it up to make it shorter. In my opinion the line, coming from Mikasa, doesn't make sense. She goes where Eren goes- if he's sent to the potato fields, they'll be digging up potatoes together.

    My, that's a wall of text. I guess I take my Saturday shows too seriously…

  34. R

    Basically the ones who did the scanlation of that chapter got it wrong.

    Apparently that was a joke of the author to show how delusional Mikasa is when the subject is Eren. That's why Armin, Reiner and Berthfold have those stupid looking faces at the end xD

  35. s

    Regarding characterization: A friend of mine who read the manga explained to me that the focus is really on the mystery of the Titans themselves and humanity's struggle than it is on the characters. Humanity on the whole is the character versus any one individual, and there's a 'no one is safe' Game of Thrones-type aspect to it because the mangaka does not need to preserve any one character to tell the story.

    I welcome such a structure, personally, but I think your (speaking to Enzo) ability to fully enjoy this show is going to depend on to what degree it asserts itself independently from the manga where characterization is concerned.

    For my own part Attack on Titan (At least until this episode and it's unexpected humor) gives me strong Claymore vibes both stylistically and thematically. Hopefully it won't go the same way the Claymore anime did-a strong and engaging adaptation of an mature manga that becomes progressively messier as it reaches the end of its season.

  36. I keep seeing Claymore mentioned as a parallel, and I hope it isn't too close because frankly, I'm not that nuts for Claymore, never mind the anime's jinky ending.

    As I've said many times, there's nothing wrong with a plot-driven story and I'm perfectly capable of enjoying this or any other show without loving any of the characters as long as the plot is compelling enough. Am I capable of considering a show great if the characters never get past the utilitarian function they serve in the plot? Probably not, but you never know.

  37. G

    Oh Claymore…only if they followed the manga instead of that messy self-invented ending..=/..Now we'll probably never see a sequel unless they reboot the whole thing.

    Frankly, I don't see a big issue in characterization and with 21 episodes to go, that's lot of space to flesh things out. Eren is still a tad annoying, but again, his immaturity and general lack of composure is tolerable for me because of his age. I'm not banking on his personality to take a 180 degree turn and somehow become totally likeable, no he is what he is, but as things stand, I hope he learns to control his emotions better as the story unfolds.

    I'm on the same camp as Enzo with regard to the thick outline being a distraction…=/…But I suppose it's something we need to get used to.

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