Shingeki no Kyoujin – 37 (Season Finale)

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 37 - 02The big news in this final episode of Shingeki no Kyoujin’s second season wasn’t so much the episode itself, but what came after.  Namely, an announcement that a third would be coming in 2018.  Maybe if that had happened the first time and we’d gotten a sequel in 2014 or so, Shingeki wouldn’t be staring at one of the biggest sequel sales declines in Blu-ray/DVD history (though the first season was such a monstrous hit that still leaves plenty of room for this one to be profitable).  Here’s hoping that in addition to the shorter wait, we get a better overall series too.

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 37 - 03This announcement will understandably leave millions of Shingeki fans pleased – what it means for me personally is a little harder to define.  On the one hand, Attack on Titan remains a singular anime experience – weird and almost psychedelic in a way that’s quite unique.  On the other, this season at times (including this week) approached an almost Blood-C level of “Please God, let this be intentional self-parody – but I don’t think it is”.  Frankly, it was at times incoherent and unutterably stupid – and there are limits to how much of that one can take and still consider a viewing experience enjoyable, especially given the healthy doses of simplistic jingoism running through the series.

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 37 - 04I would also question, frankly, just how much was really accomplished this season.  Yeah, we found out Ymir, Reiner and Bertholdt were titans – but after the Annie experience (which was far better in every respect from a dramatic standpoint) we already knew that titans were people, which is the salient point.  Was there ever really any question that Hannes was going to die horribly?  Of course not, the only surprise was how long it took – and yet Erwin lives on despite every catastrophic failure.  WHY WON’T YOU DIE, DAMMIT!?  We didn’t even get to spend much time with the main characters (not that Eren and Mikasa are any kind of grand literary creations, but still).  Whatever advancement took place in the plot could have happened in two or three eps, and this isn’t a show that will advance characters even if you give it a thousand.

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 37 - 05I just don’t know…  If one can’t appreciate a scene like Eren and Mikasa having a tender moment as the motherkiller titan (who’s just devoured Hannes) grins down at them as anything but absurd, can they possibly still be in the target audience?  The problem is, I want to be.  Shingeki no Kyoujin is a genuine cultural phenomenon (less now than it was, admittedly) and one of the few anime-related ones that’s close enough to my stylistic zip code that I can ever consider being a part of it.  I want it to be a guilty pleasure, I suppose, but this season the pleasure side of the equation got smaller and smaller as the episodes ticked by.

But you know, I sure as hell can’t watch Love Live or Nisio Isin.  There’s always Osomatsu-san, I suppose…

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 37 - 06I think my favorite moment of this bizarre, cattywampus clusterfuck of a finale was watching Eren take huge bites out of his own flesh, desperately trying to turn himself into a titan.  It was definitely one of those “Is it or isn’t it?” moments (I’ll give Araki the benefit of the doubt and say it was) and in addition the ironic timing of it, giving us as it did the full range of the Kaji Yuuki quality spectrum on the same day was rather delicious.  Isayama and Araki-sensei are nothing if not fearless, I’ll give them that – and all mockery aside, there is something to be said for that.

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 37 - 07So where did we end up then, when the wheel of insanity stopped spinning?  Well, Ymir decided in the end to go with (and in fact, probably save) Reiner and Bertholdt – as a repayment for them having been responsible for her own salvation, so she says.  More than half of Erwin’s soldiers are dead (that’s pretty much a given with every decision he makes).  There’s a weird guy standing on the sasquatch’s shoulder, looking back at Eren.  And Eren, apparently, is in possession of the Coordinate – and that, it seems, gives him the power to control the titans at least on some level (which makes him the most important person in the world, I suppose).  Oh, and Mikasa sort of confessed.

Shingeki no Kyoujin - 37 - 01There does come a point with a show like Shingeki no Kyoujin, I guess, where one is pot committed.  Once you’ve soldiered through all the bad dialogue and militarism for long enough, you figure you may as well stick around and see what happens – see what’s showing when all the big secrets are finally revealed.  That’s about where I am now – still vested enough in the conspiracy plot to be curious despite the constant jerking around by the writing, and still hopeful that the few characters who do have enough depth to be interesting survive and get their due in the plot.  At least this time around we won’t have to wait four years to jump back on the crazy train.

 

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14 comments

  1. s

    hahahaha you’re trapped in the void just like the rest of us Enzo; dont fight it. All jokes aside, Attack on Titan always has a well be that solid 7/10 series for me. It’s filled with high octane action, ridiculous moments of writing, intrigue and Sam Raimi-esque horror, ridiculous moments of writing, some moments of genuine emotion, ridiculous moments of writing; now that’s entertainment right there. It’s got the whole package; what is there not to like feel me? The show is good at making it seem like its moving forward with its plot and there are quite a couple of times where i find myself actually nodding in approval of some of the writing choices. Ive been sucked into the void of the attack on titan thrill ride; it’s an effective action adventure comedy horror thriller cyberpunk advate garde parody satire and im in it for the long haul. I genuinely enjoy this series

  2. “…you wrapped this scarf around me.”
    “DAMNIT MIKASA WE’RE ABOUT TO BE EATEN BY THE SAME THING THAT KILLED MY MOTHER CAN WE FOCUS HERE?”
    “Ok, take care of it. Then we’re going back to the scarf-wrapping *wink wink*. I really want you to wrap my scarf again *wink wink*. Repeatedly, roughly, and RIGHT HERE.”
    “We’ll get down to it. Since I can’t transform into a Titan, I’ll have to tap into my TRUE self… my hidden strength… KAJI YUKI SCREAMING POWER, AWAKE!”
    *the Titans are so aggravated they start tearing at each other to end the suffering*
    “There, done. Now, let’s go back to that scarf wrapping *wink wink*…”

  3. M

    Erwin’s saying of how it’s a small step to truth just completely describes this whole season for me. Just like you, I felt like the plot doesn’t advance much especially it’s obvious plot contrivances are being used purely to make the protagonists doesn’t know the truth. Imagine if Reiner and Bert didn’t reveal themselves, Ymir can just already told them that Titans are humans 6 episodes ago. In fact, they still don’t know that Titan can turn back into human if they eat a Titan shifter, only the audience know. So there goes one episode next year just to focus on this.

    When I think the whole season actually happens like in three days in total within the anime, I can’t help thinking there’s a lot of unnecessary padding here in the story just to drag out the mysteries. That’s why I enjoy Season 1 more than this season, at least I didn’t feel like they just intentionally dragging out the mysteries even though it has the same problem of bad pacing.

  4. K

    Believe that pacing was in the manga, though I guess for Animeonly people that wait is even harder when you are waiting years to get the next detail of the greater plot. I’d say the biggest facepalm I had in that regard was Ymir. I don’t think it’s a spoiler that Ymir knows exactly what’s going on, but she decides to keep her mouth shut because of her dumb decision to help out Reiner. So they dangle everything in front of you only to take it away.

  5. O

    Some random thoughts:

    1. Several years back, in your series review for the first Attack on Titan, you made particularly great insight that has resonated with me ever since. It was this: the central mystery is what gives energy to the series, and what happens after the big reveal will be a lot less interesting than what comes before, incentivizing the Isayama to take his sweet sweet time building up to the big reveal. As a manga reader, I gotta say, I think you nailed it (though Isayama has done a fairly decent job pivoting the series into a new direction post-reveal). It certainly helps to explain the pacing of both the manga and the anime (though I’m sure it’s not the whole story).

    2. I too feel trapped. I kept on reading for the mystery, and at this point I’ve invested so much that I might as well stick it through till the end. It’s not that bad though.

    3. This half-assed production quality in the anime adds to problems already present in the manga, leading to a focus on the parts of the story that Isayama fucked up, distracting from the stuff he’s done right. Now I can’t actually pinpoint what this good stuff is, but it’s there, I swear.

    4. At this point, it really feels as if the anime consists of 3 minute (ehh, more like 30 seconds in the recent episodes) gems of pure awesome that can only be found by sifting through a lake of muck (or by checking youtube for the highlight moments). That’s cool I guess, but it all just teases at what Attack on Titan could have been had the adaptation reached its full potential, which makes me sad (though not as sad as when I watch the current adaptation of One Piece. Now THAT is wasted potential.).

  6. Y

    Pot committed, eh? So kind of like where we are with Game of Thrones now, I guess.

  7. There are problems with the GoT adaptation, but I think that comparison is hugely flattering to Shingeki. GoT is miles ahead in most respects.

  8. O

    Oh, you mean how GoT doesn’t largely consist of still frames and static one-note characters? Yes, I too noticed this.

  9. There’s plenty of room for GoT to have writing problems and still be way better-written than Shingeki.

  10. Y

    Forgive me, I did not mean to say they are of the same quality, or that they are equally flawed. Rather I was remarking that, at this point in time, a lot of the people who notice the (many and frustrating) problems with GoT still choose to stick with it simply out of curiosity regarding its ending and the fates of certain characters. Which is kind of identical to what you said in your review about your current level of commitment to Shingeki.

  11. With that I totally agree.

  12. b

    I loved Erwin’s creepy smile after the titans-are-humans reveal. It worked well (unintentionally, I imagine) with his dumb observation that they were “one step closer to the truth”–which is a dramatic ways of saying they’ve learning something that anyone should have been able to guess after getting half his men killed. [deleted – smells like a manga spoiler]

    Also, I hated Ymir’s reasoning for saving Reiner and Bert. She’s one of the few characters I can bring myself to like, and she goes and joins the mass murderers because she knows what they’re going through and doesn’t want them to go home empty-handed. That reasoning is frustratingly vague and irrational. I’d even say it was out of character, but I’m not sure that kind of logic can be applied to Isayama’s writing.

  13. I mean, it should have been a pretty obvious deduction just after learning about Eren and Anne. Yeah, they can keep their control and regular Titans can’t, but it’s a shorter leap to imagine that as a possibility than to think regular Titans must have some completely different origin.

  14. Comments re-added:

    sonicsenryaku

    in reply to Miyu Fan.

    Funnily enough, there is quite the large group of people who enjoyed this second season of attack on titan more than they did the first. From what im seeing, the consensus is split between the fans. Some who didnt find the first season all that hype liked this one more and vice-versa. For me, im not too sure; I would have to binge-watch this second season to get a better idea of its overall quality. I will say this much though: production for this second season was kinda messy but the thing everyone seems to forget was that so was the first season’s. Regardless of the shortcuts the second season took (cgi horses for one; although that works better than having the camera hover over the top half of the horses and just shaking the image to simulate movement; and colossal titan), it’s production stayed consistent through about 2/3’s of its run before getting really messy. The first season hit its pacing and production issues early (although that was a two-cour run so that’s to be expected) and required a good chunk of its eps to be outsourced while the second season stayed in-house.
    The reason for this second season not being handled as elegantly as it could have despite the 4 year wait seems to lie in the fact that the studio had a lot on its plate. It has nothing to do with Wit being lazy or not caring about its fans or them thinking they could get away with it since the fanbase is large (although i wouldnt put it past them if that thought crept in their mind for just a little). A lot of their efforts were going into the Ancient Magus bride (be thankful that effort is being allocated to this anime because its really being handled with care) and their other works coming within late 2017 early 2018 (like prepping up for Kabaneri season 2). With how early the third season of attack on titan was announced, it looks like the initial plan was to have this second season be two-cours before realizing that it would be impossible to do with all the other things on their plate; and thank god they didnt otherwise this second season would have really been a mess. It seems like they struggled to find the best way to handle season 2, and most likely decided it would be best to split the arcs into individual cours. Im not sure if season 3 will go back to being 2 cours (considering the content in the manga, it would make more sense for 2 cours cuz then the preceding arc can act as build up for the bigger revelations); at this point only time will tell with Wit’s production schedule; they are quite the messy studio unlike Kyo ani or Bones (well Bones is on point 95% of the time but you know what i mean).

    Guardian Enzo

    In reply to sonicsenryaku.

    At best, I view FLCL 2/3 with trepidation. I’m too close to it, and there’s basically no creative continuity with the original staff apart from Sadamoto. My expectations are minimal.
    As for Shingeki, fair points I suppose. But at the time the first season was being produced no one knew they had a once-a-decade commercial blockbuster on their hands. This time around they did. Maybe I’m naive, but that does make a difference to me. Maybe it’s just a case of Wit gonna Wit, but they do have the Production I.G. machine behind them. You just don’t see this kind of production sloppiness from the likes of Bones or even MAPPA (the latter has their outsourcing and such, but not really any out and out dropped passes like Wit).
    And yet, there’s Mahoutsukai – which looks as good as any anime not on a theatrical screen. Go figure.

    sonicsenryaku

    In reply to Guardian Enzo.

    “And yet, there’s Mahoutsukai – which looks as good as any anime not on a theatrical screen. Go figure.”
    Yea exactly; precisely why Wit putting all its production efforts into it is paying off. And yea i agree with you that a popular IP such as Attack on Titan should have been treated with more care but like we’ve gone over before, the anime industry is a tough world. While Wit has got some talented people in-house along with being able to hire good talent, they just dont seem to have a good hold on their production schedules most of the time. Organization is very important in the anime producing world and they seem to stumble when it comes to that.
    I think with attack on titan, like you said, they weren’t aware of the mega-hit they had on their hands and in their desire to cash in on their hit, they promised the fans a second season sooner than they were able to deliver (aka they basically said 2015). This might have started to put pressure on the studio when they started realizing they couldn’t get to it as quickly as they wanted to (either that or they didnt think it was a priority). It’s probably why there was so much fluff in-between the 4 years wait in an attempt to keep the hype alive.
    The production companies behind the show must have realized at some point that the fans were getting annoyed and the hype was dying, making them feel pressed to put out a second season eveb though Wit was still not in the best position to manage doing the second season. Honestly, from a technical standpoint, i dont think it was that much of a dip compared to the first season but it is clear that there was some stumbling. It more comes down to how one feels about the direction the story took from season 1 to 2. The first season was like “go go go go fight for your life titan action” while the second season was like “let’s take easy for a good while…then go…rest a bit…then jog the remaining way to the finale”. Whichever tactic you think works best for running a long distance will ultimately decide which season you cared for more.
    As for flcl 2&3, i completely understand your concerns. FLCL is one of my favorite anime of all time; heck, i could write a mini graduate thesis paper on the series as with most anime in my top favorites list. The main factors going into why I still feel hyped about this project regardless of some of the signs telling me that it could go south is:
    1. My expectations for these sequels is for it to just be a good/great piece of anime. FLCL is phenomenal; if 2&3 can even capture a bit of its radiance, that’s enough for me to be happy. Im not expecting 2&3 to be on the same level or even better; I just dont want them to fuck it up. All i want is for the series to capture some of the spirit of the first series (without seeming like a simulacrum of the original) and just tell a good story. In the end, I only ask that it be a good piece of anime and not piss me off.
    2. There’s just something about the fact that they’ve announced the continuation as a pair of sequels. We’re not talking one FLCL; WE’RE TALKING TWO!!! The fact that the production behind this project was willing to give us two sequels right off the bat gives off this almost cocky sense of confidence like: “Hell yea you heard right: two FLCL’s; we are that sure that you’re going to love what we have in store for you guts that we didnt even wait for your reception before planning the third one.” Im sure the people behind this project understand how beloved and classic FLCL is. To step up and just announce two sequels like that; either you’re some reckless shit-for-brains corporate bastard or you have planet -sized balls with the mantle hardness of the earth’s crust with the confidence to back it up. That’s why i have hope for the sequels, but only time will tell. I actually cant wait to hear your reaction when the trailers go off.

    Guardian Enzo

    In reply to sonicsenryaku.

    Yeah see, that’s the difference – I’m fully expecting them to fuck it up. My over/under is “Fam”.
    As for AoT, well… At some point, with as much money as was at stake, I’m surprised the production committee didn’t just say “we need to get this fucker out NOW” and change studios to one who could get it done. Waiting cost them an enormous amount of money.

    sonicsenryaku

    In reply to Guardian Enzo.

    “Waiting cost them an enormous amount of money.” Yuuuuup…and they sure learned that lesson the hard way.

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