It’s the Multiversity Summer TV Binge! Although I’ve never been what you would call an anime person, I’m a huge fan of Attack on Titan. I first fell in love with the subtitled version of the show, so I thought it would be fun to revisit the dubbed version. What along with me, but be warned, here be spoilers!
1. Trainees no more
This is a slow, quiet episode, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. We’ve spent time with Eren and the Survey Corps, but what about the rest of the 104th? It’s time for them to get their permanent assignments in the military. Those in the top 10 get to pick where they serve; everyone else will get assignments. Every moment of dramatic choice is framed by smoldering pyres, which make the quiet scenes visually arresting.
The most fraught choice belongs Jean. He’s really messed up from Marco’s death and his voice is even raspier than usual. He always longed for the safety of the Military Police, but now he has doubts. Unlike nearly everyone else, he doesn’t believe in Eren, but he wants to serve like a patriot. He convinces himself to take a Survey Corp position.
Annie has no such compunctions, she decides to join the MPs no problem. “The only person I’m looking out for is myself,” she says. We also get to check in with Armin, who immediately volunteers for the Scouts (even though he wasn’t top 10). Not only does he believe in Eren, he’s willing to sacrifice himself for his fellow man. It’s pretty badass, and Armin has come a long way from the nerdy kid in the neighborhood. Finally, we check in with Connie, who is mostly really scared, but also swept up in all the patriotic fervor.
2. CSI: Sawney and Bean Unit
The hunt for the titan killer is fruitless. No one used equipment without permission. Perhaps more intriguingly, all the hubbub about the two titans doesn’t sit well with the jarheads. Soldiers like Eren and Armin are trying to see the big picture in the war effort, but most of these men and women are here to kill the enemy, not to understand them. We’ve mostly spent time with the 104th, who are patriots through and through. Seeing less committed professional soldiers is a new wrinkle.
3. Operation Creepy basement
Erwin makes a big speech as a last chance to get soldiers to volunteer for the scouts. He sells them with his big plan: the Scouts will retake the wall and push out to Shiganshina, where they will find the secrets in Dr. Yaeger’s creepy basement. The idea of understanding the titans and why they are what they are satisfies people on a near-existential level. Maybe they can make some semblance of sense out of their endless trauma. Still, Armin has reservations, and he disapproves of Erwin laying it all out there, especially when there are potential traitors in their midst.
4. No turning back
Then Erwin reads off some stats. He predicts that a third of the new Scouts will die in their first mission, and more than twice that will be dead within four years. The rest he promises, will be the best soldiers ever. This triggers massive PTSD flashbacks in the survivors of the Battle of Trost. Barely able to stand upright, Connie, Sasha, and Jean all stick it out. So does Mikasa. We get almost nothing about her internal struggle, but presumably she doesn’t have one. She goes where Eren goes. More surprisingly, Krista and Ymir volunteer as well. Krista was top 10, and doesn’t seem like the most hardcore of the soldiers, but you don’t have to have swagger to want to serve. Erwin sounds genuine when he looks at the volunteers. “This is a genuine salute soldiers. Together we give our hearts.”
5. Class reunion
Eren finally reconnects with his friends! This scene brings the whole episode together in a way that most Attack on Titan episodes don’t. We get a series of callbacks that make the various characters reflections seem like arcs, especially with Jean. He tells Eren of Marco’s death, who can’t believe it. Jean yells at Eren, to his face, about all his misgivings, and Eren is blown away how far Jean has come. And he wasn’t even privy to Jean’s internal monologue!
We also get Mikasa swearing vengeance on Levi for mistreating Eren. Good like with that buddy. I’d pay good money to see that fight.
The episode ends with the new Scouts donning their freedom capes as a couple of kids watch on. They echo Eren’s hero worship from the first episode, and act as a stunning reminder of how far we’ve come. The Scouts were these mythic badasses; now we know that they are only mortals. Connie Springer is a Scout, and that dude is a goofus.
The whole Survey Corp rides out to begin the 57th recon mission! This oughta go well.