It’s really not as bad as all that – in fact, this OVA was rather enjoyable in a lighthearted sort of way. It’s just that the word “Trost” sends shivers down my spine after the endless cycle of time-wasting the Shingeki no Kyoujin anime spent there, milking the manga for every second it could in an attempt to drag the season finale out. Fortunately this episode was set before that narrative nightmare began, and has next to nothing to do with the “Trost” arc itself.
I believe that this is anime-original material, but either way it’s a pretty entertaining diversion. The spotlight this time is squarely on Jean, with Armin and Sasha as the primary supporting characters. Apart from a few gags about Mikasa’s abs (Abu!) and Eren’s wimpiness there isn’t much focus on them at all – in fact Pixis is far more important. Given the relative interest level I have in those cast members that’s a good thing, though this is certainly a side of Jean that plays quite differently than the one in the main series.
I could quibble about the characterizations here, for certain. Jean is the best character in the cast partly because he’s normally free of the juvenile histrionics he displays here, but the fact is that this is clearly played for laughs and may not even be canon, so it seems pointless to stress out over that. The plot finds the 104th in training in Trost, pre-attack, with Jean stressing about bad memories of being the “problem child” and declining to go visit his mother. In fact he’s more focused on scoring brownie points in the training exercise, only to have targets poached again and again by the others. His ire falls especially hard on “Potato Girl” Sasha, and they end up bickering noisily on the streets. That prompts Pixis to intervene because he’s bored, and to tell them to settle it with a cook-off – because he likes to eat.
After that things get pretty silly (sillier) mostly in a good way. There’s a hunt for a giant boar which Sasha wins, lots of overacting and shouting “Niku!” by Kobayashi Yuu, Jean’s Mom coming to barracks and embarrassing the hell out of him, and a very special omelet. Armin gets some good comic moments in, like landing himself (conveniently) in traction by slipping on the stairs. It’s also kind of interesting watching Armin and Annie interact, knowing what’s coming. Mostly though it’s just an excuse for a lot of self-parody, which is by no means a bad thing for a series that invites it as much as Attack on Titan does.