Kakumeiki Valvrave gets a lot of flak (not entirely without reason) for being a bit of a scattershot affair, but I’m not sure why Shingeki no Kyojin seems largely immune from it. While certainly the better, his show is almost as much a non-stop assault on the brain as that one, and it’s certainly louder. To be honest, for me this series is a bit of a mess – the animation is all over the map, the behavior of the characters is borderline comedic even when it’s not supposed to be, and there are more holes in the plot than bean sprouts in a bowl of Jiro ramen.
I cut a considerable amount of slack on that last point, because it seems as if most of those holes are intentionally left for the moment. In fact, I find the strange inconsistencies in the mythology to be the most interesting part of the series – nothing about Attack on Titan is as compelling for me as curiosity over just WTF is going on here. I was especially pleased by one moment in this episode, when Eren and Annie were talking about how the top 10 scorers from the training class would get the right to be Military police in the interior. Why? Because she asked exactly the right question, at exactly the moment I asked it – why the hell would you take your best fighters and send them as far away from the ones you’re supposed to be fighting as possible? Yes, it could just be abject stupidity – but my suspicious are that there’s something deeper and more sinister at work here.
It’s not just that one point – the entire storyline is riddled with questions and suspicious anomalies. In fact, nothing about it makes any sense at all given what we’ve been told. Did the Titans simply appear out of nowhere? How did humans manage to build three massive walls big enough to keep them out without them being destroyed in the process? Why did we all of a sudden get mega-titans and armorerd titans – and why do they disappear for long stretches instead of simply finishing off all the walls and wiping out humanity (I do have a theory on that one – if you simply eat all your cows, you’ll starve to death soon enough. But if you only periodically cull the herd and then leave them alone to breed…)? If I thought all these intriguing questions were simply plot holes I’d be in despair, but I’m holding out faith that all this is intentional and leading somewhere.
I didn’t realize that this series and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure had the same head writer (Kobayashi Yasuko) when I connected the two in my head (though he also filled the same role on Pita Ten, so grain of salt with that one). It’s the tone that sparked the thought in me – the loud, relentless, heady mix of GAR and stupidity that defines everyone’s behavior. If this show had a motto, I think it would be “GRRRRRR!” Eren – via Kaji Yuuki’s trademark wail – is certainly the poster-boy, but it extends to most of the cast. “Dramatic” isn’t a sufficient word – there’s simply never a lull. When Titans aren’t snacking on Moms the 30 year-old 14 year-old cadets are beating the crap out of each other or squabbling over philosophy or their drill sergeant is ripping them new ones for perceived indiscretions. It’s heady but exhausting, and it’ll be interesting to see how it holds up for two cours.
In any event, it’s graduation time, and setting aside the absurdity of the fact that some of the characters we’ve met could have ranked in the top 10 based on what we’ve learned about them (indeed, it seems only poor Armin out of the named cadets didn’t make the cut) that means – surprise – it’s time for a shouting match and a lecture from Eren. He’s quite right of course that the system of sending the elite to the interior is bizarre, and thus to refuse the “honor” – but his lecture of the night before is apparently enough to convince even those who worked for two years to get that cushy job to abandon all that and do the right thing. Indeed, things are looking up – everyone is bright-eyed and ready to take on the Titans, and Eren can finally stare down the future with a sense of hope. But Shingeki no Kyojin is obviously the sort of story where the light at the end of the tunnel is usually an oncoming train, and his words could hardly have been a more obvious death flag for optimism than they were.
I can’t help but wonder if the location – and timing – of the Colossal Titan’s appearances are a coincidence. It seems connected to Eren somehow, and there’s still the matter of his father’s disappearance and those mysterious dreams. I smell a much deeper connection between the Titans and the humans in general than we’re being told – I’m not necessarily suggesting a Committee of 400 population control level of conspiracy, but something is definitely rotten here and Eren is somehow directly connected to it. Everyone of import will likely survive this current attack – we’re only at episode 4 after all – but then it will be time to decide the future. Given that Mikasa has already said she’ll do whatever Eren does and Armin has stated his plan is to join the Recon Corps, my assumption is that all three of them – and likely most of the other cadets who’ve been given names – will join the RC. Hopefully that will be the point when we’ll start to dig deeper into the mysteries that suffuse everything about Attack on Titan.