Shingeki no Kyojin – 12

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At this point, it seems as if you can pretty much fill in the blanks of an episode of Attack on Titan before it starts.

I’ve been trying to remember another action shounen that moves as slowly as Shingeki no Kyoujin does, and it’s not easy.

It is a tale.
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.
Signifying nothing.

With apologies to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, I wouldn’t quite so that far – Isayama-sensei is no idiot.  But there does seem to be a remarkable amount of running in place with this series.  In any given episode, you pretty well know you’re going to get:

  • Eren yelling
  • Armin looking terrified and being confused
  • Mikasa doing superhuman things
  • Slow-motion shots of screaming soldiers approaching titan gullets
  • A rousing speech in the middle of a battle, which pauses to allow the speaker to finish

Consistency is fine for what it is, but the problem that’s developing for me is that the routine seems to be taking the place of any actual plot progression or character development.  It wouldn’t be fair to say there’s been none of those, but considering we’re twelve episodes in – basically halfway through – it’s remarkable how little.  And what there has been was mostly in the first six or seven episodes – Trost in general has been a lot of sound and fury and not much significance.  People get eaten.  People make speeches.  The main trio do what they do.  Next episode.

We do get the occasional lurch forward – the reveal of Eren being able to turn himself into a titan certainly qualifies.  But what’s happened with that development since it happened what, four episodes ago?  I think my track record with anime is pretty good with series that take their time, but this one seems to be in another category.  If you’re going to have a slow-moving plot, you need interesting characters to keep the show engaging.  Otherwise – especially in an action series – there’s a risk that what you end up with is just a lot of noise.  And that seems to be a real risk with Shingeki at the moment, if things continue at the rate they’re going.  I get that the manga is also a pretty slow mover – there’ve certainly been enough spoilers to that effect – but I really wonder if there’s any way for Araki-sensei to pick up the pace a little.

Sorry to offer so little in terms of response to the new episode, but to be honest there really isn’t much to say because there wasn’t much in it we haven’t already seen.  It was nice to see Armin be proactive and try to salvage the situation, but it’s not as if we haven’t seen him show courage before.  A few moments with Jean always offer the most believable human reactions in the cast.  Mikasa’s blush was effective fanservice.  And I suppose the perspective of Eren while he’s in titan mode amounts to the most important exposition of the episode, though it was pretty much as you assumed it would have to be.  Next week is the finale of the first cour, so I guess it’s more likely we’ll see something major happen – maybe a cliffhanger.  I certainly hope so, because anything that breaks AoT out of the Groundhog Day mode it’s currently in would be a good thing.

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  1. i

    Basically nailed it. SnK has been increasingly repetitive and while there are some fresh moments here and there, the fact that there's little character development and interaction and more dramatic screaming and yelling makes SnK a loud but ultimately, empty chamber for me. Hopefully the cliffhanger next week will mark a turn, but considering that we've nearly entered halfway into this show, I'm not holding myself to such high beliefs.

  2. T

    I actually liked this episode more than the last few. For me, at least, the reminder that Eren and Armin's initial interest was in exploring the world, not killing the ^&(* out of all Titans was quite something. So far, Eren's Titan has been running purely on anger, which failed because his anger at Titans got put aside for a moment by his anger at Mikasa. Armin's opened the door for Eren!Titan to be powered on something other than anger.

  3. H

    I just want Trost to end. It encapsulates everything that is wrong with the series: The boring main trio, the sometimes poor pacing, repetitiveness, poor dialogue etc. It was a semi-entertaining read, but as a show it's seriously tortuously paced. The next arc is much better and I hope it doesn't get the same treatment the latter parts of this arc did budget wise.

    One of the main things to take away from this episode in terms of character development is that Mikasa is seriously delusional when it comes to her relationship with Eren. Note her telling Armin that since she couldn't bring Eren to her senses, clearly no one else could. Yet Armin manages it.

  4. G

    can't be any worse then Aku No Hana.

  5. M

    Aku no Hana is a psychological drama. You'd be foolish hold it to the standards of an action horror, especially in regards to pacing.

  6. l

    Actually, Aku no Hana is a petulant, pretentious piece of nonsense that thinks it's psychological, so Gary's somewhat right. You can't really do worse than Aku no Hana.

  7. M

    That seems to be the overwhelming consensus of the self-righteous 'connoisseurs' on here. Not that it matters.

  8. Z

    Aku no Hana is certified gold compared to this dawdling.

  9. Z

    And that's not a knock on AnH btw.

  10. M

    One thing both shows share is their application of romance. It ties into the themes of AnH, but Mikasa and Eren share an awkwardly tense S&M relationship. He's always pushy and degrading to her, yet she keeps coming back for more for that head-butting.

  11. Z

    Mikasa has some weird form of Stockholm syndrome.

  12. M

    I concur about the pacing. Odd when you consider how Kobayashi plowed through Jojo, which worked. Usually I can relinquish poor characterisation if there's a meaty plot or invested intrigue to consume but this show isn't clicking on screen or off at this stage.

  13. l

    I'm just waiting for Levi to make more appearances.

  14. G

    I think they decided to have certain break points between the 13th episode and the finale (wiki lists it as 25 + OVAs). So they are padding and stretching out the episodes so it ends with an event at the 13th episode?

  15. A

    Seems to me that they are purposing slowing down the anime because they don't want to run out of source material while still ending on a logical point for a second season. But I agree this show has lost a lot of its magic, what captivated me in the first few episodes is now long gone. Its a good reflection on what happened to many shows this season, great starts that have lots of potential only to fall flat.

  16. M

    I found that to be the case with a lot of shows last year also. Seems to be an over reliance on premise.

  17. K

    Wait, so there's going to be a break after the 13th episode like there was with Fate/Zero?

  18. G

    Not that I have heard.

  19. No, but very often a two-cour series will offer some sort of conclusion or cliffhanger at the end of the first cour. There's also the possibility of a week-long break between seasons, though I haven't checked to see if that's the case with AoT.

  20. M

    Ep 14 is the necessitated recap.

  21. A

    Hm… Come to think of it, GE isn't really someone who would often point out the merits of the soundtrack or the quality of the action sequences.

    I guess the only point in blogging this and not Jojo would be to speculate about the secrets of the world, so it's understandable to be frustrated after a series of chapters designed to be driven by dramatic speeches and adrenaline. Granted, I'm also very disappointed about the slow pace and lack of action of what should be an urgent situation, but since the direction of the action scenes is a topic that is hardly ever brought up here, it's difficult to tell if anyone would've cared too much about it anyways.

    Well, hopefully once this arc is over they will have ran out of speeches about how hopeless everything is and how we shouldn't give up regardless. That should keep things moving.

  22. R

    There are so many adaptions out there that move to fast and lose therefor a lot of their magic, yet here we have a series that actually would benefit from moving faster and they don't do it. They still could reach their destinated stoping point after speeding up by using the gained time to give their characters a bit more development

  23. f

    I'm surprised that the most hyped anime of the season is being talked about like this. And honestly, I agree. This series really bores me right down to my bones =0. Seeing random mooks get swatted, smashed, and eaten was pretty awesome at first, but after five or six eps of it, it get old. I completely skipped over the dream fantasy parts for this ep; I just wanted to get to the darn meat! I mean, the highlight of the season so far was ep 3; Jean getting an unrequited love, Sasha(nuff said), Mikasa trolling, random s***-talking…kinda reminded me of an episode of MASH.

  24. Z

    That wasn't a highlight.

  25. S

    "I've been trying to remember another action shounen that moves as slowly as Shingeki no Kyoujin does, and it's not easy."

    Guess you already forgot about the good old times of Dragonball Z…

    But I have to agree that director Araki significanlty slowed down the pace of these past few episodes, and the filler parts he's coming up with are not that interesting, sadly. Reading this arc felt much faster in the manga.

  26. Z

    While I agree with the lackluster pacing, comparing a manga or book to an audiovisual format is naturally unfair. With a book/manga you can read at your own pace whereas with an audiovisual format you follow the story at whatever predetermined pace the director sets for you.

  27. p

    Like I said in your review of Red Data Girl episode 12, this show is basically a glorified advertisement for the manga.

    The pacing in the manga is nowhere near as slow as it is in the anime adaptation.

    One example of how pathetically the show is trying to pad itself as much as possible is in how just about every first 2-3 minutes of each episode is the narrator talking about how the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan reminded humanity of how fragile their existence was when they broke through the wall. Every episode starts off with variations of this repetitive narration.

    Again, they're trying to pad this out so that they don't go too far into the manga's story and risk raising a lot of mysteries that they can't answer.

    Hell, I have zero doubt that they can answer 99 percent of the big mysteries raised right now with only about 13-14 episodes to go. Even the manga, which is currently at chapter 46, can't do this. The anime, by the way, is around chapter 11-12, so as you can see, this anime adapts one episode per chapter.

    A properly paced anime, on the other hand, would probably be two or more chapters per 25 minute episode, just the way JoJo's Bizarre Adventure did it. And, mind you, even at 2-3 chapters per episode, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure STILL had some padded sections stretched out to fit an episode.

  28. The major difference, of course, is that this story will be fully animated even if it takes years. RDG is never going to be finished in anime form.

  29. S

    Does anyone else think budget is a serious issue for this show? Not that there were specifically horrible moments in this episode as a whole, but in terms of determining the entire pacing of the show. Wit Studio is pretty much Production IG, correct? Well, it's unfortunate the SnK didn't get the animation budget that GC did, because as someone who read the manga, I feel the anime would be much, much better with faster pacing.

  30. I see some lapses here and there, though I don't think the pacing is a result of budget. I think I.G. had a pretty good idea this would sell (though not the 60K Vol.1 is projected to move). I think it's more an issue of trying to string the series along so as to get as much mileage as possible out of two cours, to give themselves a stopping point and get enough material for another season that much faster.

  31. S

    I see that, I guess. It's probably just me trying to blame external factors for the show really going down the drain in the recent episodes as opposed to a deliberate choice they made to direct the show a certain way. /sigh

    Really, I think I've enjoyed Valvrave far more than I've enjoyed SnK so far, which is a huge disappointment when I consider my love for the manga/the hype.

  32. E

    This is why I love Enzo. He never let himself become a true fanboy, or a true hater. It's a fact that AoT is a story with super slow pacing and plot development. Suuuper slow. I got into argument with a fanboy recently. I said that AoT barely has plot development in the latest chapter. Zero plot development. He got mad and call me ADHD. Hahaha.

  33. R

    Eren yelling
    Armin looking terrified and being confused
    Mikasa doing superhuman things
    Slow-motion shots of screaming soldiers approaching titan gullets
    A rousing speech in the middle of a battle, which pauses to allow the speaker to finish

    Maybe I'm missing something but none of that outside 4th point happened this episode. O_o

  34. Yeah, you're missing the fact that everything on that list happened this episode.

  35. R

    There was no point on this episode I recall Armin showing any fear, in fact he was bold assertive here. Something you pointed out yourself, but most importantly he didn't need anyone to prop him to do it. His clearly looks like someone who no longer needs Eren or Mikasa to baby him. I can see this defintely playing dividends more and more.

    Eren never yell at anything, his words at end were spoken with strong conviction not screaming.

    Point on Mikasa is close, but she didn't anything special here, just dodging.

    The closet thing to a speech here was lan's exchange with Rico which was a just conversation.

  36. Z

    Yes Armin was pretty proactive this episode. To his credit.

  37. s

    Honestly, it comes down to SnK's pacing is CRAP. Honestly we're 12 eps in and still creeping through THE FIRST BATTLE. I honestly think this battle was better when I read it because I was able to control the pace and keep my anticipation much higher.

    12 freaking eps, there are whole good series that would start wrapping up story threads at this point.

  38. R

    SnK is a 25 episode series, this is more of a mid point in relative to 12 episode show. It's like Gargantia to be done at ep 5 or 6.

  39. R

    To be fair, or rather to spread the unfair equally, even for the manga that battle of Trost was almost a quarter of the series so far. The pacing's slow in either medium.

  40. E

    Latest information that I got, episode 14 will be a recap of episode 1 to 13. Oh, joy~

  41. So no change from the last few eps, basically.

  42. s

    I was wondering why I put off watching episodes 11 and 12 until today, and why I don't rush to watch each episode as it comes out, as I do for Maou-sama and Railgun S. You've nailed it on the head.

  43. V

    My previous comment on Ep5 was: "Shingeki No Kyoujin has a nasty habit of withholding critical information in a very unskillful way. ".. I wished the anime adaptation would do better than its source material. Guess I was asking for too much. I have been following the manga and am already very frustrated by the poor pacing.

    The whole SnK story is a constant artillery barrage of "OMG we're so desperate! On top of having titans eating people left and right there are serious mysteries going on! But we won't let you know anything just yet." interrupted every 10 seconds with Eren raging and yelling.

    I fear that the author, upon knowing that his work has become a huge hit, is trying very hard to stretch things up to Naruto's level. I think he is masking the snail pace with exciting battle scenes. Even at volume 11 in manga there's still a LOT left to go and the audience is kept in the dark for most of the times. I doubt the 26-episode anime will ever cover them all.

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