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. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about
After a few incredibly slow, introspective episodes, we get an insane all-out titan fight. Soldiers are zipping around, running up walls, watching their buddies die, and saving their comrades in a whirlwind of violence, pain, and badass stands. This felt like a season finale, and in a way it was. Not only did a ton of stories reach powerful conclusions, but this is the end of the Battle of Trost, and our last episode with “Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen” as our theme song. If you’re gonna do a mid-season finale, this is the way to do it. I’m totally amped.
2. Eren gets off his ass
A ton of self-doubt comes to an end as Eren stands up and schleps that rock to the hole (as Pixis puts it) in titan form. Armin and Mikasa run out ahead to create a path and Sergeant Glasses leads a costly charge to defend Eren in his final push. Will he make it? Like a goddamn pro. Glasses sheds a single perfect tear and tells her dead friends that they did not die in vain, that this was the day that humanity finally won. My fist just can’t stop pumping.
3. The wings of freedom
The Scouts were already introduced, but this is where they finally collide with the rest of the cast, in epic, fascist style. Captain Levi swings in to save Armin and Mikasa from a final titan, and poses on its corpse, his cape flapping in the breeze, the sun dappling his hair. A beat and bleeding Eren sees the symbol on his cape and manages to whisper “the wings of freedom” before passing out. They are symbols that inspire humanity. Armin even calls it “the first true victory” that humanity has ever scored against the titans.
When Eren wakes up, he’s in jail. Erwin, the leader of the Scouts, flanked by his trust number two Levi, question Eren’s motives. Why is he doing all the crazy stuff he does. Eren’s smile is so crazy, the Joker sued for trademark infringement. He says he wants to join the scouts. Levi’s eyes gleam with reflected crazy, but his face is totally motionless. Erwin just shrugs and is like, “Fair enough dude. You’re a Scout. Whatever.” The plan is to do the exact same thing they just did, but in Shiganshina, Eren’s hometown. If they block up the hole in the wall there, they can expand outward and take back the outer wall, and get a good look into Eren’s dad’s creepy basement.
4. Goodnight sweet prince
We also get our first real casualty. Sure, Eren’s mom got fridged in episode one, and we’ve been introduced to soldiers only for them to die, but this was a friend who’s been with us since training, a member of the 104th. Poor, sweet Marco perishes here.
Jean finds his body in the cleanup after the battle. It’s as harrowing as you’d fear, made worse by the fact that a no-nonsense medic forces him to swallow his feelings and identify the body so she can get through her day. She’s the “first line of defense against a secondary disaster,” meaning disease. Everything about Marco’s death hit me hard. It’s senseless and pointless; we didn’t even get to see it happen. By the time we see him, he’s been dead for two days, with a bad case of rigor mortis. The sudden time jump jarred me as much as it did Jean.
5. Ashes and meatbags
No that’s not the name of my metal band, that’s how I’d describe the end of the Battle of Trost. After a voiceover from Armin, explaining to us what happened after Eren’s victorious schlepping, we spend some time looking at the aftermath of the battle. Ashes are still falling from the sky days later, and Trost is totally destroyed. It looks like a post-WWII Europe, liberated but utterly destroyed.
The worst/grossest/worst part are the soggy piles of human flesh. The titans don’t have buttholes remember, and thus don’t digest. They just eat and eat until they can’t, and then vomit up moist wads of limbs. It makes no sense, but more importantly makes no sense to the characters. It reflects the pointlessness of the conflict, and the mystery of their suffering. It’s not the last thing that happens in the episode, Eren in prison is, but to me it represents what Attack on Titan has to say about war and its ugly aftermath.