Shingeki no Kyoujin – 14

Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -5 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -11 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -26

Now that’s more damn like it.

While enduring the seemingly endless Groundhog Day that was “Defense of Trost”, I couldn’t help but think of the succession of chapter titles Togashi-sensei used during the “Greed Island” arc of Hunter X Hunter:

“To Masadora! Part 1”
“To Masadora! Part 2”
“To Masadora! Part 3”
“To Masadora…?”
“Are They Really Going to Masadora?”
“They Got to Masadora, But…”
“Already Been to Masadora so Next Time Let’s Use Some Other Title!”

Now in point of fact Togashi wasn’t actually repeating himself at all in story terms, just laughing at his own laziness and the conventions of shounen chapter titles.  Shingeki no Kyoujin, by contrast, was recycling both literally and figuratively for the better part of ten episodes – and it was only with the vastly improved episode 13 (which probably should have been about episode 7, and from what I’ve heard would have been if the manga had been adapted more literally) that things took a turn for the better.  Like a great wounded beast, Attack on Titan lumbered to its feet with a thunderous groan and the story finally jerked forward, and things actually got resolved to the point where the story could progress.

Having had a week off because of the recap episode, it was interesting to reflect on AoT.  In truth, it wasn’t a show I thought about much because it’s been so long since it was really riveting that I’d almost forgotten what I liked about it.  Almost, but not quite – and when we see taut, smartly-written material like we did this week it’s easier to understand why this is such a popular series.  I happened by a doujin fair today and as they’re free and air-conditioned, stopped in.  And while this was primarily a fujoshi-themed event judging by the row after row of Inazuma Eleven and Prince of Tennis circles, one entire side of the hall was dedicated to Shingeki no Kyoujin.  This is a series that seems to have limitless commercial reach, with appeal to every corner of the demographic market – but it’s been too long since we’ve seen any of the substance to back it up.  We got a bit in episode 13, and more this week.  May the rest of the series follow in their footsteps.

This show seems to be at its best when it focuses on the ugly, petty nature of the state of its humanity (all the more reason to suspect that humans are the top boss).  Predictably, Eren’s miraculous transformation has become a political hot potato and grist for the rumor mill, with each group seeing it through their own selfish perspective.  The folks inside Wall Sina see him as a threat, as he might team up with that Wall Rose trash and attack them.  The unwashed masses on the outside of Wall Sina see him as a potential savior to retake Wall Maria and with it, give them a chance to spread out and thrive again.  The police want to dissect him – The Recon Corps wants to use him as a weapon.

And into the middle of all this steps Supreme Commander Dallas Zackley (Tezuka Hideaki).  In a show full of larger-than-life characters (that’s the charitable term) Zackley is pretty low-key – a dour, bearded old fellow who betrays no histrionic character traits.  He’s in-charge of all three armed branches – police, recon, garrison – and it’s his job to decide who “gets” Eren, and indeed whether he lives or dies.  I thought the sequence leading up to Eren’s court-martial was rather well-done – it was tense, and struck a balance between bombast and believability that this series has often struggled to find under the hyper-aggressive Araki Tetsuo.  I’m not exactly a fan of Levi – he seems like a psychopath to be honest, though I’m not so sure Eren isn’t too – but Erwin is Sphinx-like enough to be an interesting mystery (holding his cards close to the vest makes him a real rarity in this cast, where unspoken thoughts are as rare as four-leaf clovers), and I’m always glad to hear Paku Romi.  Her Hanji Zoe is immediately interesting in a way few characters in AoT have been so far – weird without being psychotic, amusing, and clearly smart.  I hope we see a lot more of her.

There was never any doubt the Recon Corps would “win” the trial – clearly they have the edge in brains over the police, and the merchant and priest were buffoons to the point of being comic relief.  The only question for me, really, was whether Zackley was on the up-and-up or whether he’d decided the whole thing in advance with Pixis, though the execution of the “plan” – namely Levi kicking the shit out of a shackled Eren and enjoying himself – seemed to indicate the decision was legitimately uncertain.  In any event the prospect of the story following Eren and the Recon Corps in a mission outside human territory seems to offer promise to take the series in an interesting direction – they’re more interesting than most of the cast, generally, and I’m more drawn to the prospect of events unfolding in the badlands than spending more time cooped up behind city walls.  I’m not ready to declare Shingeki no Kyoujin all the way back, but I’m more optimistic – and interested – now than I have been since the defense of Masadora Trost began.

Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -7 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -8 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -9
Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -10 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -12 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -13
Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -14 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -15 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -16
Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -17 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -18 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -19
Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -20 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -21 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -22
Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -23 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -24 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -25
Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -27 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -28 Shinegeki no Kyoujin - 14 -29


  1. J

    They're taking the hobbits to Eisengard

  2. i

    I stopped watching SnK around ep 8, it was like watching Transformers 3 or Fast and Furious 6, so much action with little meaning that I just got bored and stopped watching. I really am thinking about whether I should pick it back up again. What do you think? Has Eren and co. (or K'OD) gotten any better or is it the same nonsensical action?

    I still feel regret either way that something like SnK is popular when SSY was a flop, despite having better art, characters, story, pacing… everything in truth.

  3. It's not AoT's fault SSY was a flop, though. SSY certainly deserves far, far better, but I guess for me whatever its faults this show is a big step up from most of the top-sellers in recent years.

    As to whether you pick it up, I would say if you're doing so looking for character development, no. There are mildly interesting second-tier characters but the main trio is what is, and this is a show that's strength is very much its plot. If you do pick it up I think you can safely skip to episode 12, and then pick up with this one (13 was a recap) and you really won't miss anything of consequence. 12 was quite good, and 14 excellent.

  4. S

    Actually, just wanted to point out that 13.5 was the recap, not 13. Nitpicking, but yeah, just wanted to point that out.

  5. i

    So I can skip right to 12 from 8 and 13 is a recap but is called 13.5. Thanks, I really wanted to know if I have to go through 9-11 as catch up but with only 12 and 14 now needed for the catch up, I'll skip ahead to good parts.

  6. h

    What is SSY? Shin Sekai Yori? Haven't been paying attention on the more recent animes, so this code talk confuses me.

  7. SSY= Shin Sekai Yori

    Sorry ishruns, Salmon is correct – 13 was the good ep, not 12, 13.5 was the recap.

  8. S

    How great this show would've been if episode 12 had actually hit around episode 7 (or maybe episode 8 or 9)…oh well. SnK is actually kind of in a precarious position– it's clearly very popular, but the manga is a monthly release and obviously the anime is going to catch up pretty quick. I'm certain they'll make a second series…but how long will they have to wait to make it? I can't imagine a show like this having any sort of filler or, god forbid, an anime-original end…it'll be interesting to see what they do from here. Maybe we'll see a far-better paced version of SnK released six years from now, a la Brotherhood? I can only hope, I suppose.

    And yeah, good/great episode this time around. Judging by next ep's title, we're getting into the really exciting stuff around episode 16, it seems.

  9. Yes, it is in a precarious position and that's likely the reason for the glacial pacing. I'm sure the production committee is racking their brains trying to figure out a way to keep the cash cow giving milk for as long as possible without interruption, but the reality is what it is. I would expect something akin with what we've seen with other very popular series (especially shounen) where the anime catches up: an anime-original but slightly open ending, a series of "semi-canon" movies or OVAs in alternate timelines to keep the pot on the boil and rake in some cash, and a comprehensive sequel 3-4 years down the line.

  10. S

    I'm gonna have to guess they'll do some alternate-timeline stuff in terms of OVAs or something. Part of the appeal is this show is that it's a mystery/conspiracy wrapped in the action package, and every single new detail that we get out of the outside world is a clue, which makes it hard to figure out how they'll make filler content without ruining the vision Isayama has for his story (or without taking some notes from him, I guess). Ah well. The manga will have to tide me over, I suppose.

    Alternatively, I suppose they could adapt some of the "before the fall" LNs that I believe are considered canon…that could be an interesting direction to take.

  11. R

    They could always make anime-original canon episodes. To explore, for example, the Scout Legion previous missions or the past of any of its more mature characters (Pixis, Riko, Hanji, etc). Also, the military genre leaves possibilities for many side stories about other soldiers in similar circumstances (Gundam, Macross), and on that, the mangaka is telling the story in a similar fashion than that of Muv Luv Alternative, a franchise that has around 10-15 related works, reaching out nearly all mediums, and all of them are part of the franchise and part of the cannon of a very big story with different timelines and universes.

    I don't see why Shingeki wouldn't do the same, I think it will eventually. An anime-original 12 episodes season focusing on a different cast but in the same world.

  12. S

    Well, the anime staff must end the adaptation at a certain chapter which won't leave the viewers on a huge cliffhanger. Thankfully, the manga offers a proper stopping point at the end of volume 8, chapter 34.

    They must fill 25 episodes of anime, therefore sometimes they made an episode from a single chapter of the manga. The result is that the Trost arc felt longer than the Endless Eight…

    I'd rather have a couple of anime-original episodes instead of dragging the manga material so much.
    The good news is that you can expect a much faster pacing for the second half of the anime.

  13. S

    Well, I suppose they could do past missions, but when you consider the fact that they hadn't learned anything about the titans in their past excursions, and that all they did was lose 90% of their soldiers every time, that doesn't seem like it would be very compellingРit would just be introduce a bunch of new characters, and watch most of them die. As for other soldiers in similar circumstances, there really aren't any. The military police stay inside the walls and drink all day, as do the Stationary Guard, which isn't very interesting. As far as we know, the society inside Wall Ros̩ is the only civilization left in the world, so we can't explore other areas of the world.

    I still think that the LNs are the best path for anime-original episodes, because they stretch back far enough so that there aren't any characters from the main SnK era, but the premises of the world are still intact.

  14. l

    This was one of those eps I actually wished the studio stretched out as much as possible, particularly the part with Levi kicking the crap out of whatshisface. I wanted that to last for at least 10 minutes :(

  15. G

    I wanted Eren to transform and eat Levi. I hope Levi gets smoked here pretty soon beating on Eren like that.

    I liken many of the irate people in the stands to our politicians in America. Our congress and presidency got no problem going to war everywhere and sending other people's kids to die in Iraq and Afghanistan but none of their kids go there and get killed.

    It was kinda the same thing with the people in the gallery so hot to kill Eren not grasping the concept that he is mankinds greatest chance to make some sort of a comeback against the Titans. That nutjob priest looks like he is gonna be trouble as well.

  16. C

    The way your interest in HxH is bleeding into this review is incredibly amusing. XD

    I think it was very apt to imply the plot felt cooped up inside walls.
    It fits snugly with the protagonist's ambitions of traveling outside of the walls, making real progress, and attaining freedom and glory. :)

  17. K

    While Zackley seems so far to be a competent leader, it's disturbing that one person has that much power.
    And you never remarked on something I found interesting, the priest declaring the walls to be a gift from God, which shows to me that the modern humans don't actually know how the walls were built. I suspect there must be some horrible secret to how they were built without any Titans getting in that only a few people know about. Perhaps the Titans themselves built them, or they were already there because someone knew what was going to happen.

    And I can't wait to see what happened with those two Titans they captured, they show Hanji with one of them next week.

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