Shingeki no Kyoujin – 31

Wait – what?

Shingeki no Kyoujin- 31 - 01Heh – if you were popping in and out of Attack on Titan, this probably wouldn’t have been the episode to skip.  In terms of exposition it gave the impression that this series is very much like a fault zone between two tectonic plates – unless there are occasional smaller quakes to relieve the pressure, it just builds and builds and when it finally goes, you get the big one.  And it certainly was that – though stylistically, it was one of strangest reveals I’ve ever seen.

Shingeki no Kyoujin- 31 - 02The development itself is straightforward enough, no matter how seismic (and one possibility I’d considered) – Reiner is the armored titan, and Bertholdt is the colossal titan.  But I’m struggling to understand the way it was finally revealed.  My God, it was casual – Reiner just dropped that truth bomb on Eren in the background of the scene, with the camera focused elsewhere.  It was incredibly mater-of-fact, like he was telling Eren what he’d had for lumch that day.  Even Bertholdt looked stunned by the whole thing – which is easily enough explained at least, if he wasn’t expecting his friend to choose that moment to come clean.  As for Eren, he just looked sort of dazed – but then, this is Eren…

Shingeki no Kyoujin- 31 - 03Is there a deeper meaning behind this bizarre staging, or is it just a stylistic choice by Ishiyama and/or Araki?  As best I can make out, it seems as if Reiner just kind of lost it – he reached some kind of breaking point where his old self and his new self were irreconcilable, and he snapped.  I don’t think he suspected that Hange knew (or at least strongly suspected) the truth – at least if he did, he gave no indication of it.  I’ve never really understood Bertholdt’s role in the narrative – he’s always just sort of stood at the edge of the frame looking uncomfortable.  But Reiner was as solid and grounded figure as this cast offered, so his true identity certainly is a game-changer.

Shingeki no Kyoujin- 31 - 04What’s also crucial here is of course Reiner’s preface to his statement to Eren – “Our mission was to make sure humanity was wiped out”.  It’s even more inexplicable that he said this just as casually as the rest of it of course, but be that as it may it fits with the larger conspiracy narrative Shingeki no Kyoujin has been laying out.  The real question now, perhaps, is whether the anime is going to complete the reveal – to even suggest otherwise would have seemed ludicrous not that long ago, but if this season tanks on disc as badly as Stalker suggests I guess nothing is impossible. I would think between international licensing, merchandising and miscellaneous extras this is still enough of a cultural institution to generate the revenue for future seasons (frankly, it’s already generated enough profit to pay for ten more seasons if they were needed), but it’s not the sure thing it once seemed to be.

Shingeki no Kyoujin- 31 - 05I have to reiterate again just how much the success of Attack on Titan seems to wax and wane depending on which characters it focuses on.  Reiner was one of the good ones, so if he goes the Annie route (gone from the narrative, for the most part) that will be a major loss.  But this show really needs more Armin.  His face is often the most dynamic sight in the series, because it reveals the wheels turning behind it.  In a cast split between characters who are either ignorant and/or stupid and those who know all the secrets, Armin Arlert is the one perfectly placed to be interesting – he knows very little, but he’s so smart he’s always figuring stuff out…

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8 comments

  1. b

    “Is there a deeper meaning behind this bizarre staging, or is it just a stylistic choice by Ishiyama and/or Araki?”

    That scene was borderline off-panel in the manga, and I’m glad the anime managed to capture that. I’m pretty sure it was just Ishiyama trying to be funny by making the big reveal so casual.

    The fact that Bert and Reiner both looked unbelievable uncomfortable with the situation–especially after Eren pointed out that it was weird for Reiner to bother asking for permission to kidnap him–was funny too. Sometimes it’s hard to tell if that’s intentional or not with Ishiyama.

  2. F

    I really liked the way how Ishiyama and the anime handled this reveal, in fact I do think that this episode was one of the best of the series so far. In my opinion attack on titan is much more better when it focuses on the thriller aspect rather than the horror. The quiet unease that permeated the first half of the episode was portrayed almost flawlessly (though the placemant of the flashback was a bit jarring) and it gave the revelation and the outbreaking fight the depth that it needed.

    As a side note, I think it is pretty obvious that Ishiyama was inspired by the history of the nazi Germany before and during the WW2 to create the world of SnK, but (and aside from the mangaka’s personal take on nationalism) after thinking through everything that happened in this episode I found these similarities even more uncanny. The situation where Reiner told Eren that he is responsible for the death of the thousands died since the breach of the outer wall and now he needs Eren to come with him reminded me of the situation of those Polish and Hungarian Jews who were betrayed and taken to concentration camps by their fellow countrymen and by their own acquaintances who willingly or by force lent a helping hand to the occupying nazis. The repeated use of the word “warrior” describing Reiner is an eerie take on the blind faith of those German soldiers who unquestioningly believed in those ideologies and made the nightmares of WW2 into reality. The shift from “warrior” from “soldier” maybe symbolizes the change of Reiner’s thought process as he starts to realize the graveness of his deeds and how he is stuck between the conflicting worldviews of his ideologies, the fact that he has to follow orders from his superiors and his newfound humanity or whatever it was that made him finally snap. So all in al my point is that those few minutes could have been a part of a war drama which is a good point in my book and I really do hope that Reiner (and Bertholdt) will remain significant in this story since their perspective is neccessary for it to have some real depth and be more than an action-horror flick.

  3. I don’t know what the end game will be concerning Reiner’s faction, but frankly everything seems to me like it’s not pointing to them being full-blown villains, but rather some sort of ‘rebels’ using extreme terroristic methods to fight a corrupt government. I’m pretty sure the darkest secret is hidden by the rulers of the Wall cities, NOT the rogue human-Titans. And considering how much horror and slaughter the latter have unleashed on humanity, that must be a very dark secret indeed.

  4. On Sat nights CN (Cartoon Netwok) shows the previous weeks episode in English. So last night it was Ymir/Historia’s arc. Quick turnaround.

  5. Y

    That was such a weird reveal… I thought the subs had gone out of sync or something. I rewound a little and paid more attention to the Japanese (I understand just enough to recognize the subs are more or less accurate). Weird!!! I’m still trying to figure out WTF just happened.

    So the second season is not as successful as the first?

    It sorts of make sense I guess. I liked the first season, but it’s been so long… I lost interest and I find it difficult to get back into it somehow…

  6. Heh, my reaction was I thought it was a joke sub at first.

    We can’t say “not successful” based on Stalker, because Stalker is just a prediction. But it’s almost certainly safe to say it won’t be nearly as successful on disc as the first season. And if Stalker is anywhere remotely close to accurate, that’s a massive understatement.

  7. s

    What the hell?? CG colossal titan?? dammit; I get that the second season is doing okay with its production schedule but i wish it didnt come at the sacrifice of the colossal titan’s visuals. I guess they didnt want to deal with the task of animation such a colossal figure this season (probably as a result of the issues pertaining to getting the second season out of production hell. There is a usual misconception in the anime fandom that the use of cg implies that there is budgetary problems but its quite the opposite. Cg cost more but its used when trying to keep a production on schedule due to it’s less time consuming nature (most of the time anyway).

  8. m

    I’m more surprised you haven’t spoiled about this reveal. Even I have never read the manga, but both of them are Titans spoilers were everywhere during Annie’s reveal. And yeah having the second season after 4 years after the first one also doesn’t help.

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