Shingeki no Kyojin – 10

Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -5 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -21 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -27

Nope, definitely not getting any less silly.

My reactions to Attack on Titan continue to be somewhat different than with most series.  I find myself laughing at seemingly inopportune moments with alarming regularity, yet it doesn’t make me dislike what I’m seeing.  I’m not sure whether this is because I sense that on some level that the show wants me to laugh, or because the atmosphere and dialogue is so absurdly grandiose that I don’t mind it emotionally misfiring.  I suspect it’s a combination of both, but the further we go with Shingeki no Kyojin, the more I get the feeling that Isayama-sensei isn’t taking this all that seriously.  I sense a trollish sense of humor lurking underneath this story.

The one thing we can say for certain, pretty much, is that AoT is going to be with us for a very long time.  When shows sell as much as this one – the manga numbers are already astonishing, and it seems possible the anime could rival or even surpass Nisio Isin numbers – the powers that be will extract every once of life they can.  Shingeki was announced as a two-cour series but you can bet there will be more, and soon – perhaps a continuation as soon as Fall or Winter.  And movies, and OVAs, and more tie-ins like the Pizza Hut ad campaign blanketing Japan right now.  This is a series that’s already made the transition from hit to phenomenon.

In his own way Armin is every bit as over-the-top a character as Eren and Mikasa.  Among the main trio each of them are rather absurd in their own way.  Mikasa is the stone-faced superhuman killing machine with maniacal loyalty to Eren, the send-up (and I’m more sure than ever that’s how he’s intended) of every over-the-top cliche of the bad shounen male lead.  But Armin is just as much a caricature as the others, as witness his perpetual expression of wide-eyed, slack-jawed terror.  The brainy but weak sidekick who forever frets about being a burden to the lead?  Check – except here, Armin actually blurts all that out aloud (to us, anyway), practically writing a summary for the audience.  Again, the growing sense for me is that he’s an intentional parody of the trope he represents, as is Mikasa – which makes you look at the rest of the cast in an interesting light, when you think about it.

All of that is what makes me kind of hope Jean becomes more of a focus character, because he’s the one person we’ve met so far who seems more of an individual than a caricature – but this probably isn’t that sort of show.  Looking for realistic characters here is probably as futile as it would be in JoJo or Level E, series which exist to elevate the absurdities of shounen to comedic levels.  And anyway, this week was all about giving Armin his showcase moment.  I found the whole exercise of Eren coming up with “two plans” and then giving Armin 15 seconds to decide what to do pretty silly, but not quite as silly as the reactions of the soldiers to Armin’s speech.  The initial gung-ho stampede to blow the three of them up seemed hasty to me, but all it took was a simple reminder from Armin – “Hey, did you notice that Eren’s titan was actually killing other titans and they were attacking him?” – to make the rank-and-file come around.  Fortunately we have Verman to go into full asshat mode and restore insanity to the moment.

All of that, though, is really just a setup for the return of Dot Pixis to the scene after a five episode absence.  He too seems cut from a very well-established mold – the brash and witty eccentric with the flask always at the ready, a military genius who plays by his own rules.  He sets things to rights quickly enough, sending Verman off to organize reinforcements while he sets about trying to figure out just exactly what he has in Eren.  The sheer strangeness and military potential of Eren would seemingly have been obvious to anyone, but it’s interesting to consider what Pixis may or may not know – I think that’s a key question when it comes to how he sees Eren.  I wonder whose side Pixis is really on, when push comes to shove – which is all the more critical when you consider that we don’t even really know what the sides are, yet.

I found this week’s eyecatch infodump – all about the special yeast that keeps supplies from spoiling – to be quite interesting.  All of these eyecatches have been spoilers and teasers to some extent or another, but this one especially seemed to come out of left field, which leads me to think it’s going to be a very significant plot point.  The truth certainly seems to lie in that basement but as to how quickly the story gets there, I think that boils down to whether Pixis wants that truth to be revealed.  If he’s on the up-and-up, finding a way to use Eren’s power to his own benefit should seemingly be priority #1-A – it’s not as if the war against the titans has exactly been a winner so far.  A holding action at best, a series of disorganized retreats at worst – and if Pixis is both as smart as we’re seemingly being led to believe and loyal to the cause, why hasn’t he been able to make more of a difference?

Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -8 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -9 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -10
Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -11 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -12 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -13
Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -14 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -15 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -16
Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -17 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -18 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -19
Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -20 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -22 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -23
Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -24 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -25 Shingeki no Kyonjin - 10 -26
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29 comments

  1. R

    There's definitively some self-awareness hidden there in this title (at least inmo). Keep looking out for them.

  2. q

    It's sad that you didn't appreciate Armin's speech as much as I and many others did. I thought the scene was touching and very realistic. Not to mention, the faces drawn and animations used were absolutely spot on. Maybe they just appealed to me and I could understand them better? Who knows. I too have laughed at various parts of this show where the mood was set to be serious, but that was mostly early on in episodes 2-4. I think as this series continues, I am getting more engrossed in the plot and treat it with another level of seriousness.

  3. H

    There's definitely dark humour imbedded in the series, and it seems that Isayama loves to insert characters that constantly question the logic of the plot and people around them (specifically two female characters you've been introduced to but are yet unnamed).

  4. E

    Nah. I totally agree with Enzo. It's hard to treat any of these characters as realistic human being, only Jean qualify as one, for one. Other than the main cast, there is a potato girl; Christa the moe girl, Ymir the manly girl, Connie the monk. Levy the clean freak and his trap companion. Can somebody really self-insert himself/herself as one of these, I think it's pretty hard.

  5. J

    How is Hanji a trap?

  6. There does seem to be a considerable disagreement in the fanbase about that, from what I'm told. I certainly assumed he was a woman.

  7. E

    If I am not a manga reader, I would definitely think he is a trap/reverse trap. Please look at previous episode once again.

  8. Z

    Who cares whether Hanji is male/female? Doesn't really matter.

  9. W

    Hanji isn't a trap. So far, Hanji's gender hasn't really been announced, and when people asked about it the maker said that Hanji's gender did not affect the plot and so it shouldn't be an issue. Most people prefer to think of Hanji as a gender-fluid character and refer to Hanji as they/them/etc.

  10. J

    The earliest that we can expect a Season 2 will be late next year. There's no way there would be enough material before then.

  11. They're covering barely over a chapter per episode, aren't they? Not that I couldn't be going on wrong information, but that's what I'd heard. The manga is going to at 50 chapters quite soon, so I would think by Winter there'd be enough for a second 2-cour season if the committee decided to push one.

  12. R

    There are many chances that this season will cover up to Chapter 36, which is the best spot from all the candidates around that point of the manga.

    That would leave only 10/12 chapters manga chapters for a new season, barely enough for 12 episodes. The current arc is far from being over as well.

    But I think they could make OVAs out of the new material that's being released in VN form.

  13. R

    Sorry, Chapter 34, end of Vol 8.

  14. l

    Enzo, Shingeki no Kyojin is not going to be a character-led show. Accept it for what it is – a show driven by story/plot. I know that does not mean it can ignore having decent interesting and well developed characters but it has taken this route.

    You are better off watching and posting about Space Battleship Yamato 2199 (utterly shameless plug). You get a good overall story with interesting mini-stories within, great characters, fascinating battles, and superb quality art and animation, which is a labour of love by those involved.

  15. e

    @leongsh: I seem to remember he's both watching and enjoying Yamato 2199. A series review post if any seems a more likely option by this point.
    Wil you do it Enzo? *big pleading Apo eyes* I can pay you with (fan?)art of your choosing XD.

  16. I agree 2199 is good, very good, but I don't see that blogging it serves any essential function at this stage. Maybe a series review post, we'll see.

  17. M

    I concur to your claim that the director of Shingeki has overdone the dramatic effects (otherwise like in the original manga it could have been significantly more subtle and self-aware, and Isayama certainly has a strange sense of humour).

    I have to oppose though, for my love towards JOJO, to the statement that the characters in JOJO are unrealistic. It really comes down to the suitable definition of reality when you talk about the "realistic characters" in a fiction, but I personally think that the characters in JOJO are very human, maybe over the top GAR, I admit, but quite relatable and purely interesting. I recommend anyone interested to read the manga. Just bear the first three arcs (which are about 30 volumes unfortunately) then the depiction of characters will reach the next-level genius. It's the only Shounen manga that I know where in the first episode of an arc, a female protagonist enters the opening scene with crying over some random guy witnessing her masturbating. Yeah feminists should be happy. It's ridiculous but certainly not a 1-dimensional depiction of a Shounen heroine that you see everywhere.

  18. e

    @Mac: hmmm, that would be mighty imbarassing/mortifying if the lady was not planning to show any of that to any dude – or especially to a specific dude – in that moment or ever XD. Crying is not beyond the realm of possibilities.

    Anyway… JoJo – or at least the parts I've watched – are colourful entertaining and simpy fun in spades, both when the humour is on purpose and even when it's unintentional – but somehow I'm doubting the latter – . SnK so far is standing out for me for the speculah fun and the soundtrack, there are some lol moments but JoJo is simply… JoJo. It's Jojo over SnK for me so far.
    Anyway, didn't the bgm soared in this SnK episode. That brought the biggest grin on my face. Eren was quite calm and reasonable too. Merit of his blood loss? :p

  19. S

    It's interesting what you say about Jean because Isayama stated in an interview that Jean is his favourite character.

    As for Pixis, he is a good commander but he is bound by his idiotic superiors/nobles. You have to take into account that before year 845 they lived 100 years of peace, with only the fanatics of the Scouting Legion having any contact with the titans. They were content with living behind the walls. Only in the last 5 years they have been trying to find new ways to defeat the titans and recover the lost territory.

  20. M

    i can't agree more about the humour part, i don't know if anyone else find it funny, but i found my self laughing a couple times, :) . Especially the armin's part

  21. R

    This could moved faster than it did, but was pretty decent at the end. I can agree with you with some of humor, but not with caricature criticism though. I don't know what standard your using, but I think all 3 of character leads shown more traits and growth that don't pigeonhole them in one area regardless how much one can relate to them. At the very least just much most anime characters.

    -Eren is an intense person to be sure which leads him in-universe to be label as being anti-social in earlier episodes, but even then he's actually a reasonable person. He can think and make sound arguments, connect with others (like he did in episode 4), and be very selfless even at cost of his life (saving Armin, and as well as Mikasa). He may rash sometimes, and make moral questionable decisions, but he's actually logical at the core. Even in this episode he did nothing a hothead would normally do, instead assessed the situation and chose a non-violent path to resolve it. Let's not mention that Eren smartly caution Pixis and Armin on the use his Titan form rather than making promises he couldn't keep. You description make sound like he's bulled headed not matter what.

    -While Mikasa is deeply devoted to her foster brother and is generally afoot, she has a every justified reason to be so. She learned a lot earlier than most how terrifying and senseless the world can be. This a girl who has basically lost her family twice(biological parents murdered, foster mother killed, her foster father abandoned her, and foster brother nearly killed) in an extremely short amount of time (a year), due to no fault of her own or the others around her. Her worldview has been shaped by loss and misfortune and through those ordeals has come to understand that life is a fleeting thing and it can't be taken for granted. This hasn't stopped Mikasa form some connections with others beyond Eren like Armin and Sasha despite her reclusive nature, nor has it kept her having a sense of humor and other such things. The show does a good job of showing that Mikasa isn't a slave to Eren either, as she never hesitates to call him out when she thinks he's wrong and holds plenty of her own opinions and isn't content to just play second fiddle to him.

    -Armin's struggle with he's internal demons has been pretty well handled even if the studio overdramatize some of it in this episode. I don't think he's problems are over top at all and are very common. He's never had high self-esteem when he was younger and being constantly bulled doesn't help that. While he's grateful to Mikasa and Eren for protection, it only further highlights his own weakness since he can't repay them. Its his earnest personality and high consideration of others that has helped create his inferiority complex that blinds to his own self worth. It's only in this tense situation where for the first time Eren and Mikasa willingly put their lives in his hands that he unpretentiously and unequivocally see how their care and trust him. Armin can reasonably move beyond this stage of his life and fully embrace himself for himself as they do.

  22. A

    Yea, I think Attack of Titan does have some distracting features, in that shit just sorta happens because it does, but calling the characters caricatures is kinda bizarre due to the characters' tendencies to have significant implications about them. Eren's rashness not getting the desired results and to be unhealthy in some cases, and Mikasa's determination towards Eren to cause her to make bad decisions. These aren't caricatures. It's a deconstruction to some degree, if anything. To not read between these lines is to completely ignore the narrative. It's actually the very fact that the lines are more blurred and not as clear cut that actually makes the characters more human to me. Eren isn't always rewarded because shounen willpower bullshit doesn't counter all. Sure, regular people don't do this, but this is hardly a regular situation either.

    I do suppose when the anime does err, it's on those cliche statements that they make, such as Armin was pretty generic here. I do feel Titan is weakest in the dialogue, in that there's very little subtlety in this. And these two episodes have been less entertaining me due to a lot of talking. It has that kind of bombastic Hollywood style kind of presentation to it. In the end, it probably isn't capable of affecting me like Shin Sekai Yori can, but I doubt that was the intent either.

    The music is also great too.

  23. R

    I have decided to not treat Shingeki like SSY or Chihayafuru but simply to enjoy the blast, so an episode of mainly the characters talking seems flat to me. I know what it tries to do, but the results are just not as effective as when it's action-focused. I still can't connect with most of the characters — Jean may be an exception — and therefore don't feel the despair, fear or anger from the characters. Story-wise, the world building is done quite nicely, but I am still awaiting surprises from the plot — a plot twist, intricately woven layers, a buildup to a climax, etc. This episode doesn't do any tricks but only transitions the role of Eren — or gives some hope for human fighting the titans.

  24. V

    "I find myself laughing at seemingly inopportune moments with alarming regularity, yet it doesn't make me dislike what I'm seeing."

    You took the words right out of my mouth. I laughed at Armin's speech, how dramatic his poses were, his over-the-top expressions, all that, and yet I enjoyed that moment so much.

  25. S

    Is it just me? Or was about 15 minutes of this episode devoted to 30 seconds in smoke. I get flashbacks, but the conversations they had between cannon reloads must have been un****ing believable to get that much out.

    I hope they bring back some great scenes like where Mikasa goes nuts. (Probably the coolest scene of the season)

  26. H

    The whole show continues to be the equivalent of the kid from down the street riding his minibike in donuts on your lawn with devil horns up shouting "WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!" the whole time. You can enjoy it for that, but it's completely absurd and the whole show is just following the "Is it cool? Then put it in!" rule. I actually think it's surpassed Valvrave in every aspect like that.

  27. T

    I recently discussed this with a friend who has also read the manga. While I have only grown more cynical about Eren as the anime progresses (at barely halfway in, not a good sign) he pointed out that it's Eren's role to be angry on behalf of humanity. That doesn't really change over the course of the series, but overall becomes more tolerable because 1) Eren is shunted into the background of bigger plot developments, and/or 2) the introduction of more relatable supporting characters. While they don't have -that- much substance in their own they fill the role of packing peanuts (which probably doesn't sound good but our three major characters are as clunky and awkward as you can possibly get)

    I was frustrated at the point that this episode ended; there is a certain bit that would have redeemed the hamhanded delivery of the whole thing, but it looks like it got shoved into next week's offering, assuming they don't cut it out entirely.

  28. f

    This episode annoyed me to hell. I could have sworn Eren said he was going to escape using the smokescreen and go off and start his own fight against the Titans, but then he had to go and make his stupid plans and Armin had to have his stupid flashbacks and Mikasa had to start her stupid argument about letting him go alone. Thus I spent 15 minutes of the episode literally yelling at the screen for Eren to GTFO. Seriously, when you're in front of a firing squad and you're give the sudden good fortune of being behind a smokescreen, you don't just sit there and wait for the smoke to clear.

    The one thing I did like is Eren yelling at Mikasa that he's not her son or little brother. Her overprotectiveness of him is getting irritating.

    And Enzo, I think you give the show too much credit. This is no Jojo or Valvrave; I really don't think the show knows how silly it is. Maybe it's just me, but while I really enjoy the crazy nonsensical elements in Jojo and Valvrave, I'm not enjoying them nearly as much in SnK.

  29. M

    Okay, this has got to be the first instance for me where a character has proven a real detriment to my enjoyment of this show. Eren might seem disagreeable on the face of it, but he always is the force that propels this show and its grandiose ideals forward. He basically transcended the role of a character. Mikasa is certainly one-track minded but she's mostly an unobtrusive presence who gets shit done.

    But Armin. Dear god. What an unnecessary detriment you are. It was frustrating watching him puzzle out his self-worth in team crazy whilst lamenting his childhood. Also frustrating is that he was granted time to do this after Eren's supposed death. Didn’t he also get a character defining moment a few episodes back during his plan to defend the supply depot?
    One thing that can grind me about shows is when characters that are given 15 seconds to respond and define themselves, spend an extra 5 minutes evaluating themselves and their effectiveness in a tight situation. The time is now! Surprise us with spontaneity and ingenuity. Don't stew in the possibilities of failure – which he would have if Pixis hadn't been there.

    From a story perspective Arminius' role in all this feels rather redundant. All the more so when you've got interesting and varied side characters already filling his role who are trying to make sense of their own dependability in an extremely rough situation. Stunts like the one pulled in this episode really steal the shine off those more deserving of our empathy.

    It’s that, the obfuscating tone and the clunky plotting that has me torn about this show. I've been pretty forgiving of the series tendencies, but this episode crossed the line.

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