I’ve always tried to be deferential to official naming conventions wherever possible, so from here on out I’ll be going along with Wit on Shingeki no Kyoujin’s episode numbering. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me given the four-year gap between seasons, but be that as it may, this is Episode 27. And to be fair, it really does feel like there’s a continuity here – for better or for worse (or perhaps for better and for worse is more to the point) this is very much the same series.
One thing that strikes me a bit odd is that this season looks, if anything, a bit cheaper than the first one. If any anime should have a huge budget to play with, you’d think it would be one of the most commercially successful multi-platform hits in history. But there’s more CGI than ever (and Bahamut’s is the better Shingeki CGI most of the time), and some of the movement scenes (especially involving the horses) are frankly subpar. Maybe this is really a matter of scheduling more than budgeting – Wit had their share of time crunches on the first season. But with four years to get ready for the first few episodes, I’d certainly have hoped for better.
Content-wise, this episode suffers a bit as Attack on Titan generally does when it focuses on its more idiotic characters. Sasha never did much for me, so I wasn’t all that wrapped up in her back-story, though it was interesting to hear her father talk about the social changes brought about by what amounts, effectively, to a refugee crisis. And the shock value of scenes like a mini-titan eating a woman alive while her child watches accompanied by comically gross sound effects tends to dull with repeated exposure. And we’ve certainly had repeated exposure.
That’s an essential problem with Shingeki no Kyoujin for me. It is, essentially, a roller-coaster – but eventually all those dips and loops lose their shock value. The conspiracy plot is the more interesting element of the series even if it is largely predictable, but Isayama is so stingy with the details that there are times when I just want him to get on with it. This show desperately needs to focus on its smarter and subtler characters, perhaps more than any other anime I can remember – it’s just so much better when the focus characters aren’t preening for the camera like Levi or generally acting like morons. But it doesn’t happen often enough, which is why I was pretty fatigued by the time the first season disgorged us back at the gate. Hopefully Conny’s backstory will prove be more interesting that Sasha. I’m not sure how much endurance I’m going to have for the lulls this season of Shingeki, though the fact that it’s a single cour probably helps.