It’s the Multiversity Summer TV Binge! Although I’ve never been deeply into anime, I’m totally in love with Attack on Titan. Having already watched the first season with subtitles, I thought it would be cool to return to the dubbed version of the series. Be warned, here be spoilers!
1. The Harrowing
We open with a guy who I’m sure has a name, but is only called the Captain on screen. He doesn’t directly do a lot in this episode, but his decisions end up driving a lot of the action. His face is the photo reference for the word harrowed, and he doesn’t seem in his right mind. His crappy orders are preventing supplies from getting to the battle lines, so the actual soldiers fighting the titans are running out of juice for their ODM gear. One of Captain Harrowed’s soldiers also offs himself with a musket in a disturbing battlefield suicide.
2. “I’ve Come To Accept My Impending Demise”
This is probably Jean’s biggest episode to date. The whole 104th- or what’s left of them- gather on a rooftop to freak out. They’re looking to Jean for guidance and leadership. That makes sense, he’s a tall, confident alpha male who projects swagger and competence. Unfortunately, he’s losing it too. Not because of the horrors he’s seen, but because he can’t take the pressure of leadership. He gets a sort of cute moment when he thinks of his only regret- that he never told Mikasa about his stupid crush on her.
3. Armin’s Brief Little Coma
As if summoned by Jean’s thoughts, Mikasa shows up. Sasha is the only one who retains optimism and tries to play it off as “hey everyone! Mikasa probably knows what to do!” Bless Sasha Blouse.
Mikasa goes straight for Armin, who’s eyes are glazed over and he manages to recite the casualties from his failed operation, including Eren Yaeger. I was expecting Mikasa to totally lose her mind, but she gets quiet. Scary quiet. And she delivers a speech, but not quite the one Sasha was hoping for.
“I’m strong,” she says, “Real strong. None of you come close. I am a warrior.” She tells them all how disappointed she is in them, and how they’re all a bunch of loser babies. Finally she repeats Eren’s words from last episode’s flashback: “The only way to win is to fight!” And she flies off.
Everyone is really turned off by this, but it works, and the ironically heroic music make it sort of awesome. Each member of the 104th realize that they don’t want to disappoint each other, so they all get off their asses and fly in one of the best animated sequences yet. It doesn’t seem like the healthiest attitude, but it’s really real. I’d be more motivated by letting my friends down than any highfalutin sense of duty.
4. Mikasa Literally Can’t Stop Fighting
Mikasa is out of gas, she’s out of swords, but, most of all, she’s out of control. She swings around taking out titans, until she totally runs out of juice and crashes. She has a quiet moment where she decides to die. And that’s that right? Nope, we zoom back into her brain and literally see her fight or flight impulses play out as electric signals. She wants to give up and die, but she compulsively keeps being freaking awesome. She wonders why she should live on if she has no reason to when she realizes: if she dies, her memories of Eren die too.
In the bleak world of Attack on Titan, that’s one of the most beautiful inspirational things I’ve ever heard. Mikasa doesn’t need to learn the lesson that her loved ones live on inside her; that’s obvious. She needs to step up and get over her selfishness and continue to fight for her loss and pain. She values that pain more than she values the quiet release of death. And that weirdly inspires me. This show is messed up.
5. The Manifestation Of Humanity’s Rage
Then… elf ears titan appears. At the moment that Mikasa realizes what she has to live for, but probably won’t get to, a mysterious titan shows up and kicks the crap out of her would be killer. In fact, this seems to be titan-hating titan. It karate chops one titan’s head straight into a bell tower. Armin and Connie swing in for the rescue (hey, nice one Connie!), and Armin makes Mikasa promise to be more careful. Having just figured out what she has to live for, Mikasa agrees. But what’s the deal with this strange and weirdly sexy titan? Could it be used to help win the battle? Will the rest of the 104th be good for something? We’ll have to tune in next time to find out!