Shingeki no Kyojin – 16

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -2 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -13 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -25

That was a pretty atypical episode of Shingeki no Kyoujin, but I’m not complaining.

There are times when Jean Kirschtein seems like a character from a different series, he’s so unlike anyone else in this cast.  Seriously – the dude has the common sense to be terrified of what should terrify him, and the self-awareness to think about the implications of what he does (or doesn’t do).  He doesn’t make rousing speeches and spout a lot of rah-rah BS like a high-school football coach at halftime.  Jean’s role, as I’ve said before, seems to be as the guy who acts like a normal, sane person would act while all the AoT craziness is happening, while everyone else just acts their own brand of crazy.

As such, it’s not surprising that the episodes where Jean is given a lot to do (there haven’t been many lately) feel quite different than the rest of the series. It sounds funny to say about a series where the biggest problem was that nothing of consequence happened for about 8 eps, but it’s nice to see AoT take a breather every once in a while.  The issue isn’t that nothing was happening during most of the endless “Trost” loop, but that none of it really mattered.  The eps were loud, bombastic and violent – and generally changed nothing of importance.  Meanwhile the occasional episodes like this one, last week’s and the flashback to Eren’s meeting with Mikasa actually featured mostly people talking to each other in indoor voices, and moved the story forward significantly.  That’s two in a row now – hopefully a precursor that the rest of the series is going to feature action that actually matters, and not just to fill time.

I quite liked the entire sequence where Eren’s cadet class was forced to decide what branch of the service to join.  I loved Jean’s realistic assessment of the situation, and the fact that his reasons for doing what he did aren’t sugarcoated – he doesn’t want to keep hating himself, and he’s smart enough to be dismayed by what he’s decided to do.  I liked Erwin’s no-bull (well, I think there was some bull) recruiting speech to the class, where he gave what can only be described as an unglamorous sales pitch.  And I especially liked the scene where the vast majority of the cadets did what any normal person would do, and walked away.  It was superbly staged, with the few holdouts (mostly Eren’s classmates) framed in stark relief against the hordes of retreating cadets.

This scene also does a nice job of illustrating why the Recon Corps (or “Survey Team” if you prefer that translation) is such a weird bunch.  The only way you’d join it by choice is if you were ridiculously brave, had a death wish, or were certifiably bonkers – and preferably at least two of the three.  It’s a haven for oddballs and weirdos because no one else would join, but it’s also full of exceptional soldiers because the unexceptional quickly become dead.  That makes it inherently the most interesting group to hang out with as a viewer, and it’s why I’m glad the series seemed ticketed to follow it for the foreseeable future.  Of Eren’s class, only Annie – badass as she seemed to be – has elected to join the Military Police.  I suspect we haven’t seen the last of her.  As for the rest of them, again it fell to Jean to frame it best.  He’s willing to die for Eren, but not blindly – he needs to know if it’s really worth it, or he’ll hesitate when the moment comes.

There are still lots of mysteries left, of course – the whole plot is still mostly mystery.  Not even most of his colleagues seem to know what Erwin means when he asked Eren if he knew who the real enemy was (I have my own ideas).  And why did he choose to share the intel about Eren’s basement with a camp full of perspective recruits – what was the ulterior motive Armin sensed?  It can only be because he wants humanity to know – because he wants to shake up the status quo and with it, shake up the people’s faith in preserving it.  “We have met the enemy, and he is us” is the phrase I suspect will end up summarizing Shingeki no Kyojin when all its secrets are laid bare (which of course won’t even happen this season).

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -7 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -8 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -9
Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -10 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -11 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -12
Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -14 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -15 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -16
Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -17 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -18 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -19
Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -20 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -21 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -22
Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -23 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -24 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 16 -26


  1. p

    GE, I highly suggest that you do that RandomC has been doing with SnK threads and disable commenting for like the first few days after the release of each new SnK episodes.

    There are several MASSIVE spoilers involving the next few episodes that you and many others here, as viewers who haven't read the original manga, can easily get ruined by.

    All it takes is just a sentence to spoil things. So I suggest you either disable comments for the first few days or not allow them to get posted until after you've moderated them and checked them for spoilers.

  2. Well, there's a fundamental problem in that theory – in checking them, I get spoiled myself.

    I have thought about it, but disabling comments is something I really, really hate to do.

  3. m

    I had a suggestion, get a mod who has read the manga and can remove the spoiler comments before you check them, or something like that..

  4. S

    Yeah, it must be difficult writing a review and moderating the comments, when you have not read the manga. This is a story, where spoilers could definitely ruin your anime viewing experience

  5. K

    Annie picks the most human choice. Best character.

  6. I have no issue with her choice – I'll never say someone is wrong for declining to throw away their life. But I have no problem with Jean's choice either, because he's the only character in the whole series who frames the issues in a way that makes sense.

  7. R

    I'll stay with Annie when it comes to common sense. She was the one to point out the contradictions within the military's way to draft soldiers and humanity's fight for freedom.

  8. K

    Yeah I have nothing against her choice as well (I honestly like her character). I believe she made the most normal decision and applaud her for it. Though I will be sorry to see her go. Will miss her bashing human society and their ways. Though I do wonder, is she being hypocritical in that she calls out humanity on how the best at killing titans get to stay far far away and then becomes one of the best and accepts that same honor?

  9. One could counter-argue that as the one calling things so bluntly as they are, she's less hypocritical than the others who accept positions in the M.P..

  10. K

    I wouldn't say it's less hypocritical, in that the hypocrisy is in the strong being placed furthest away from fighting. It's just that she knows the dichotomy and still chooses it rather than the rest of the ignorant lot who do it unwittingly. In the end she's just a frail weak little girl I guess you could say but she's still a good character and this can't be the last time we see her.

  11. But hypocrisy is basically saying one thing and doing another. The system itself is many things, hypocritical tangentially among them, but how is Annie hypocritical? She's doing exactly what she said she would all along.

  12. K

    I guess I will have to concede my point then.

  13. K

    Jean is definitely my favorite of the series. I hope there will be a lot more of him.

    That being said I did enjoy the moments with Annie too and hope this isn't the last we've seen of her either.

  14. S

    You can definitely tell that Jean is Isayama's favorite character (he says as much in an interview, actually). The only people who aren't afraid of titans are crazy people, and this episode did a pretty good job of communicating that to us, I think. Jean really does seem to be playing the "only sane man" role, although in a much more stark and harrowing manner than it's usually presented in anime. Regardless, SnK has had 3 good/great episodes in a row, and none of them have featured any action. Considering that starts next week, hopefully they can keep up the standard of quality going into this arc as well.

  15. R

    >Regardless, SnK has had 3 good/great episodes in a row, and none of them have featured any action.

    Nor any retardedly long recap segment.

  16. S

    That may actually be the best part. The fact that the recap segments are missing, not the recap segments themselves, of course.

  17. G

    I think they spend a little bit too much time introducing characters and giving them screen time only to feed them to the Titans fairly quickly (like Marco). I really like this series but it moves too slowly sometimes with all the discussion ad minute detail about this and that. They need to pick up the pace a wee bit I think.

  18. K

    Jean is definitely the best character. The others are still so blank. Sasha so far is pathetic now that her gimmick is up. Jean seems to be the only side character who's had an arc that leads right into this mission where 60% might die. I still don't care about the others. They're just scared which is nothing special given the world they're in.

  19. q

    I don't think we will ever care about the other characters in the series like Sasha, they will likely die somewhere along the line and we won't really notice because so many others also met their fate. The series is about the world essentially controlled by titans (or the possibility of a conspiracy where people created/are controlling them). And of course there is some emotional investment surrounding Eren/Mikasa/Armin, which all ties back to the original storyline in some way.

    I feel like this is kind of obviously, but if you're looking to care about these types of small characters (in retrospect), this series isn't going to make you do it.

  20. K

    It does seem like they do try to get me to care though. The writing just isn't there. I mean the other classmates are all over the opening and ending so it seems like they're supposed to be important.

  21. G

    I really only care about Eren, Mikasa, and Armin.
    I figure everyone else is either Titan food to be or a possible villian (something else is going on here as was seen this week with the 2 Titans killed and no trace of killers).

  22. q

    @Gary, I think that's what the writer wants you to feel 😉

  23. To be honest, I don't really care that much about Eren, Armin or Mikasa either. Armin to a certain extent because he has some of Jean's believably human qualities, but Eren and Mikasa are so over-the-top that they seem to function more as plot-movers, at least for me.

  24. S

    Basically though, the only people who aren't afraid of the titans are really almost crazy, in a way. Mikasa is just inhumanly devoted to another person, whereas Eren is so singularly focused on killing all the titans that that is all there is to him. People like Jean, Sasha, Connie, and Armin are at least more sympathetic than the other two.

    The other characters get fleshed out some more, but I personally do admire the fact that they have the conviction/bravery to join the Scouting Legion despite their fear.

  25. R

    I am one of those who didn't care much about AoT but simply came in for the bombastic actions. However, the show has made a very positive turn recently. I still can't associate myself with the main trio, but there are identifiable side characters — Jean, Erwin and Hange — that I want to know more about. I have liked Jean for a while, but it's just that he has too little screen time. Erwin feels so grounded and yet there's a mystery about this guy — what exactly is he plotting? Hange — well, enough said with the last episode…she's simply unique, and I love the performance of Paku Romi. All in all, this is a nice change, and I hope that these three characters won't get killed off.

  26. T

    It isn't a spoiler to say that most of the characters grow over the course of the series- even Eren (heh, to some degree) and potato girl Sasha.

    Isayama Hajime is excellent with small details, but IG/Wit is doing AoT no large favors by adapting the manga so damn closely. I feel like the continental drift pacing will bleed most of the interest and thus budget from this series before we reach the meat of the story. Good grief, if one was to judge from the OP, just as Trost took up Season 1, the 2nd season will be confined to one mission as well.

    Btw Enzo, I believe the more commonly used romanization of the name is Hanji Zoe. At least, that's what usually appears in tags.

  27. M

    That moment when Jean told Misaka off by saying that not everyone is like her,willing to die for Eren…probably my favorite this episode.Maybe that's also because Misaka has annoyed me more & more with each passing episode.We're at episode 16 and she's still as incredibly one-dimensional as she was right from the start.

  28. Agreed, that is an excellent moment – called it out in the post. Jean = win.

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