Still hopelessly backlogged and I’m going to be playing catchup for a while, so short posts look like the norm for a few more days. That said, it’s been a pretty solid weekend for anime, and Attack on Titan continues its very solid run of episodes over the last few weeks. You have to figure the anime was pretty much preaching to the choir with this episode – lots of cartoonishly gory and silly carnage and non-stop action – but that’s fine, as this is a mode the series can obviously pull off very well.
As usual, there’s a strong sense here that there’s much more happening in Shingeki no Kyojin than meets the eye. Even without the veritable avalanche of troll spoiler comments after last week’s episode a lot of us had a good guess about just who the female titan might be, and nothing that happened this week seems to argue against that theory. But the main wrinkle this week is trying to figure out just what Cmdr. Erwin has in mind. The purported aim of caching supplies seems like a cover. That most of his troops seem to be in the dark about his intentions is obvious; that he gave conflicting information to his own forces is indisputable. Why? It seems likely he’s trying to smoke out the traitors responsible for killing Sawney and Bean, though it isn’t immediately clear just yet what his trump card is, or how far he’s willing to go – and how much he’s willing to sacrifice – to achieve his true goals for the mission.
It’s interesting to see Shingeki seemingly turn more and more to Armin as a point-of-view character, though it was always suggested by the fact that he seems to be relaying the events of the series in retrospect. He’s certainly more interesting than either of his friends, at least so far, but it’s nice to know that Isayama seems to get that too. Armin is the one who always strives to see both the forest and the trees (he had plenty of both this week), seemingly adroit at both strategy and tactics (which is relatively rare). He doesn’t always share what he knows with the audience right away – AoT isn’t that sort of show – but he’s usually the one in the lead when it comes to sniffing out the truth. My gut instinct is that while that makes him potentially useful to guys like Pixis and Erwin, it also makes him dangerous to them – and to the other forces controlling events in this mythology.
While this episode was quite good start to finish, it was really the last five minutes or so that stood out. When the center column disappeared into the forest and the recon formation basically disintegrated as the flanks had to detour around it, there was a delightful sense of all hell breaking lose. Almost no one knew what was happening, death was closing in, and events were spiralling faster and faster (much like the poor sap who fell victim to the female titan). It was tense, thrilling and gruesome – all things Shingeki no Kyojin tends to be when it’s on-form. Unlike the violent thrashing about that went nowhere for weeks in Trost, this wasn’t simply noise – it was driven, focused action that drove the plot forward and presented a set of real consequences that felt like they mattered. That was true right up to the “Cover your ears” cliffhanger ending, which strongly suggests that while his cohorts might now know, Levis is in on whatever scheme Erwin is perpetrating.