Shingeki no Kyoujin – 23

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And the winner is…

I was very glad the end of the episode revealed that Annie was indeed the female titan, because I couldn’t help thinking that this post would have been pretty much impossible to write otherwise.  I can’t imagine there would be too many viewers that hadn’t figured it out by then, mind you, what with a random Annie episode at just this moment and all the massive hints we were struck in the face with.  Still, a spoiler is still a spoiler and a spoiler-free post if this episode had ended three minutes earlier would have been pretty much a recap and nothing more.

There were a few elements of the ep that drove me crazy in that special Shingeki way, but generally speaking it was another very solid effort.  Heck, we were even spared recap altogether – the entire thing was nothing but content.  I like the fact that we were taken inside the Military Police, who’ve been much-discussed but almost never seen in AoT, but I wish – as always – that we didn’t need to be hit over the head with such broad and cartoonish scenarios.  The basic backdrop is, as always, the perverse reality that the best cadets are skimmed like the cream from a vat of milk and sent off to the MPs, where they’re of no use in the fight for humanity whatsoever.  That alone should be enough of a clue that the enemy is within, not without, but this episode was really the first time we’ve been given a look inside the life of the soldiers who chose the path of safety and comfort over defending humanity at the likely cost of their own lives.

So far, so good.  The truth is, the entire conspiracy is likely built around the premise that most cadets, given this choice, will choose the MP route – which is almost certainly true.  And given the sort of winnowing process that choice is likely to produce, it’s not surprising that just as the Recon Corps are full of incredibly talented but very weird freaks, the MPs are full of the sort of soldiers we saw in Annie’s unit.  Or that it’s an organization built on self-preservation and corruption.  So did we really need the rather silly overdramatization we got, complete with soldiers selling weapons in broad daylight and pummeling the hapless gung-ho rookie who pledged to set everything right?  It was great hearing Sugita Tomokazu as Marlow, don’t get me wrong, but as usual Shingeki no Kyoujin goes for the chainsaw when the scalpel would have been a better fit.  I really wish there was more trust of the audience in this series.

That said, most of the ep was really about the enigma that is Annie – that, and the merry dance of deception she and Armin engaged in.  I never pictured the two of them together – hell, I don’t think the series ever literally pictured them together for more than a few seconds here or there – but there was a definite vibe in their interactions.  My sense was definitely that Armin (somehow I pictured him doing the shopping for his Grandma – watch out for the big, bad wolf!) set up the whole escape plan with the intent of testing Annie’s intentions – or more accurately, of giving her a chance to prove that he was wrong in what he’d already pretty much decided was right.  And I think Annie knew this too, after an initial spark of hope that this really might just be an old classmate coming to her for hope in a moment of desperation.  Once Armin sprung his trump card, though – seeing if she’d follow into the underground city (was that even real, or is that just a cellar or something?) all pretense pretty much dropped off the table.

“Why did Annie do what she did?” is certainly the question that dominates this episode.  Why did she decide to “fail to become a warrior?” as she says?  Why did she fail to kill Armin, when she could (and should, given her apparent loyalties) have done so?  Eren truly is the idiot she describes, and an annoying one – every time he opens his mouth I just want him to shut the fuck up, and he interests me only as a plot driver.  Mikasa is easy to peg – she lives to be Eren’s attack dog and guardian deity, and offers little else.  But Annie is interesting, because we don’t know why she does what she does.  And Armin is interesting because he sees farther than anyone else, and because he still presents a curious mix of childlike idealism and battle-hardened (probably unrealistically so) canniness.  So an episode built around the two of them playing cat-and-mouse with each other is a fascinating one to watch play out.

I could quibble with what happens at the end – how, exactly, did the townsfolk Armin presumably recruited to his cause get to Annie before she was able to bite herself?  But it’s generally a fun and interesting AoT clusterfuck, complete with Annie’s larger-than-life laugh and self-condemnation.  I don’t know if she actually has feelings for Armin and vice-versa, or whether that condemnation and her sparing of his life just amounts to the last remnants of her humanity asserting themselves, but if she does that would certainly spice things up nicely.  What happens with a titan revealed inside Wall Sina itself?  That’s going to be a tough one for the humans at the heart of the conspiracy to explain, and it’s yet another example of how Eren’s existence acts as a wild-card that’s scrambled the long-standing status quo, and why he represents the first real threat to the conspiracy that’s obviously at the heart of everything that happens in this series.

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Shingeki no Kyoujin - 23 -31 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 23 -32 Shingeki no Kyoujin - 23 -33
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34 comments

  1. S

    That life was played out very interestingly in the manga, and it was a pretty interesting take for the anime…again, Araki Testurou. But there was no laugh, nor blush sticker in the manga, just a smile, for reference. I'm in the camp that pretty much dislikes the way it was done– it shows Annie as more "crazy" than it should, really, in my opinion. Again, though, just my opinion.

    I think the townspeople are Scouting Legion folk disguised as townspeople, though– that makes more sense than just recruiting townspeople to the cause, I don't think any townsperson would sign up to try to restrain a titan shifter.

  2. E

    Actually, she did laugh in the manga – if you look at the sound effects on the page in question, they translate to 'snicker'. But both her laughter and smile in the manga were much more controlled, not at all like what the anime went with.

  3. S

    No, they don't translate to "snicker," it's "dokun" which is a pulsing heartbeat sound, not a laugh.

  4. i

    Well I guess it the same episode as the Nice-Ass's arrival so I guess I pulled an atari.

    The melodramatics in AoT really are worse than the most sappy and angsty shoujo series and that was on full display for the first half of the episode (skipped it all out of pointless boredom, we should all get at this point that the world is full of scum). Armin's ploy though was interesting one and shows why out of the original trio (along with his joke about Eren and Jean's similarities) he is the best character.

    Eren's few lines this week were carried out in typical 'I wish Kaiji Yuki had been at Fukushima' style. But I also give discredit to the mangaka for making something as disgusting as him. It's interesting to know which most people think is worse: Eren or Emiya Shirou?

  5. K

    At least Shirou had some pretty badass abilities to beyond up that mouth of his. I agree with Enzo that Eren needs to stfu everytime he talks. It's bad enough that the seiyuu is Kaiji Yuki.

  6. K

    to back up*
    Eren is just a broken record that won't shut up.

  7. R

    The most interesting parts of the first half were Annie's lines.

    Shirou is hated mostly by low power level /a/utists and anime-only viewers. He's not a bad character, specially in Heaven's Feel and UBW. Eren doesn't compare, he's just a trope. Stop showing your new.

  8. E

    'I wish Kaiji Yuki had been at Fukushima'? Really? I understand that you dislike his performance as Eren (hey, I do too), but saying something like that is way over the line.

  9. M

    Having played the VNs. Eren is definitely more annoying. Shirou is only really very annoying in the Fate route. In the UBW and Heaven's Feel route, he is much, much better.

  10. Z

    Fukushima? Just wow. I think we are all underestimating the hatred some people have for certain VAs. πŸ˜‰

    I mean I could go on and on every week about all the VAs that I dislike, but I don't because it becomes as much a broken record as complaining about Eren's witlessness.

  11. R

    The whole scene with the soldiers selling their equipment to the black market in broad daylight was again a scene not in the manga, but like the scenes last week added to the anime by Araki to get the point through.
    And as we all now by now Araki doesn'r rely on subtetly but rather on punching the viewer in the face with it while yelling at them.

  12. i

    I hope Araki isn't married. Imagine he walks in to the living room with his wife and kids and yells at the top of his voice, "Kids I'm gonna give you a little sister tonight," grabs his wife and does it right there. That's how subtle I think the guy is.

  13. N

    Glad to see you became an Armin fan, it's good to see him growing. It's normal to see Armin and Annie interacting well together since there was a timeskip, they know each other well, the relations between the 3 MCs and the others are obscure for that reason. And I know you hate Eren but he really doesn't deserve it IMO. He is not a great character like Armin but he is the only one who tried to fight titans since his childhood, he has an unflinching will in a crappy world like that. It's true he has many flaws but Mikasa(bland character) and Armin are here to compensate. The events like the annihilation of Levi's squad(which was similar to HXH 85 for me) permit to develop his character.

  14. R

    I think Enzo wouldn't hate Eren so much if the character had a different seeiyu.

  15. There probably aren't many characters in anime who wouldn't be less annoying with a good seiyuu than a bad one. But I have no problem with Kaji if he's contained in the right role, like he was in SSY or Zetsuen. The problem with Eren is Eren – Kaji just exacerbates it.

  16. C

    Subaru from Ro-Kyu-Bu

  17. M

    I hate the way this anime is paced at. Usually cliffhangers leave you to anticipate how the following episode is going to be played out but for Shingeki no Kyojin, somehow the cliffhanger at the end always make me feel frustrated. It comes off to me that the writers are trying to drag the story to fit it to 25 episodes when it could actually be told in fewer episodes instead.

  18. G

    I can't help but notice the similarities between this anime and the real world. The poor join the core to be cannon fodder vs. the Titans. IRL politicians are so quick to send our soldiers (mostly poor white kids and minorities) all over the Middle East to die while none of those Senators and Congressman's kids go. They go to college, live the good life, and avoid that fate.

  19. K

    Annie, best character.

  20. M

    Yeah, pretty much.

  21. L

    Yeah, pretty much.

  22. Z

    Yeah, pretty much.

  23. C

    Could Annie have acted out of self preservation? trying to get to Eren before everyone else realizes that Titans (at least some) are humans? or find a way to "test" for it? I agree that there is a conspiracy but somehow Annie feels to be too much "out of the loop" for someone with that much power.

  24. J

    I'm really surprised no-one has mentioned the fact that we jumped from last week's "Female Titan stole Eren, Recon Corps' tail between its legs" to "Eren is back with the gang, and there's some outlandish plan, and they know who the female giant is because deus ex machina".

    It annoys the heck out of me, that they set up multiple episodes of pointless cliffhangers, just to skip over the payout of the important cliffhanger. Aka, "Where is Eren taken?" apparently the answer is "Nowhere they can't break him out of between episodes after having been completely decimated."

    So let me get this straight, they send Annie out to capture Eren, but then continue to leave him somewhere the Corps can get back at him, and swipe him from under their noses. All while giving away their hidden agenda by sending Annie, and having her be completely unreal in how good she can kill people, and "oh no, she left someone alive who now will know the secret".

    The whole plot is contrived on every level. And you all complain about heavy-handed world-building?

    How about you get to the deeper problems with the series: The plot doesn't work. It's contrived, the cliffhangers are pointless, the character progression is non-existent, and the only reason anyone is still actually watching is to find out how people turn into titans, and how the elite think this plan is going to benefit them.

    Blegh, I've lost my taste for it, shame that took 23 episodes.

  25. i

    As a fellow critic I think your criticism is a bit off.

    Deus Ex Machina reveal was certainly spot on as was the jump you mentioned but the second point was no cliffhanger. In my case because I don't care what happens to Eren but also because it's quite Armin said what happened to Eren at the end of the last episode, he and the brass of Recon were ordered to the capital or somewhere.

    On the Annie bit, I agree that they should treat their secret weapon (or at least one of them probably) with more… secrecy but the rest of what you said is just jibberish.

    On the plot, did it really take you 23 episodes to work out that it was contrived? Did you not watch the Trost arc? That was even worse. I think from day one no one mistook SnK for SSY or HxH, it's written and directed by lesser lights in every aspect. And all your criticisms in the last paragraph were argued about 4 months ago, so now we've moved onto calling the lack of subtlety stupid.

    And I don't watch it for the titans, as I expect the most obvious reason for it (which I won't say as GE might get angry). I'm still watching it, having dropped it initially at episode 8, for the fun spidey battles. Almost everything else is a minus IMO.

  26. R

    John, ishruns.

    See you both next week.

  27. Z

    Only 3 episodes to go too.

  28. J

    Richard: I'm definitely out.

    Ishruns:
    Something being contrived is different from something being drawn out. The story arc of Trost to me felt incredibly drawn out, this isn't uncommon for lower tier anime, however it generally made sense and there weren't any major problems with payoffs of setups.

    'Eren got eaten, oh no!' lead to 'Oh a smart titan working for us' which finally lead to 'dun dun duuuun, Eren was inside.'

    Definitely not subtle, and easy to see coming, but not the butchery that we got between the last 2 episodes.

    You may not care what happens to Eren, but that's because they spent multiple episodes with 'Watch out Eren, something wants to eat you!' The fact they spent 6 episodes on the expedition building up to Eren getting captured, and then they completely undermine the tension across those episodes by just letting him magically escape and join back up with the party is ridiculous.

    There should have been fallout, Eren could have been captured and taken out of the story for awhile. You could have done this same episode without him, instead them asking her to help them get to a position to break out Eren.

    Breaking Eren out of his cell this quickly ruins the tension the story tried to build up, ruins the reasoning behind sending a titan to capture Eren, and he's still the most annoying thing in this episode. Why would you have him there?

  29. Z

    Bear in mind that Eren has been in the custody of the Recon Corps the entire time. They could have had him easily switched out with Jean at any time. There's no need to break him out of any cell. Shingeki no Kyojin isn't your cup of tea? Fine, but you're going to miss the inevitable background flashback. If it were me I'd just wait the season out.

  30. Z

    Ah I believe those people were Recon Corps disguised as citizens. One simply doesn't send untrained citizens after potential female titan.

  31. Y

    Yep. Seems pretty clear from the way they move in on here ninja style…

  32. W

    "What happens with a titan revealed inside Wall Sina itself?" Good question Enzo. We'll just have to wait and see.

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