Summer is long behind us, but the Multiversity Summer TV Binge continues! 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. Watch along with me, but be warned, here be spoilers!
1. Maximum Levi
Overall this was a very slow, introspective episode, dealing with the insane action of the last few. If there’s really a star, it’s probably Levi, who gets the most exciting and the quietest moments of the story. We pick up with the Super Levi and Mikasa Teamup, and it’s rad as hell. They actually make a great team, complimenting each other, and brutally striking at the Female Titan. Levi moves like Sonic the Hedgehog, a spinning blur who takes out the deadliest monster on the show yet, but once Eren is rescued, he orders Mikasa to retreat. They work together well, but he still outranks her. “We all get that you love him, but try not to act crazy,” he deadpans as they drag Eren’s disgusting, saliva-soaked body away.
2.RIP Squad Levi
I feel like we barely got to know Squad Levi at all, and now they’ve been killed to a man (besides Eren and Levi himself). It’s easy to empathize with the survivors, but it’s hard to feel their deaths more than the deaths of any other anonymous soldiers. We find out that Petra had a probably unhealthy obsession with her commanding officer, and that she told her dad that she was going to marry him. OK, yikes. Really, it’s just a lot of shots of tears soaking into the dirt and people saying things like “we can’t always carry the dead, but we can carry their memories.” The sad reflection on mortality is trite, but effective.
3. The bodies
The only other moment that could be construed as “action” was a grim and ironic titan attack. After all that ruminating on the meaninglessness of death, Armin realizes the only way for the living to escape from the titans is to throw the dead bodies to them, both to get rid of the excess weight, and to distract them with human meat. It’s gross and sad. Levi is the one who gets to feel the real feelings though. We focus on his face, as he gives the actual order to throw the bodies of his actual friends away like garbage. Not as exciting as two huge monsters punching the bejeebus out of each other, but I appreciate the character study of the resident badass of the Scouts.
4. A way to save money on animation
Eren has a nightmare, and while I get the purpose of the scene, it also serves as an excuse to rehash scenes from the first episode. This includes shots that looked cheap then, like the still frames of the scouts riding home. The only change is subtle, which is that baby Eren finds himself suddenly wearing the green cape of the Survey Corps. If you go back to that episode, you can see Erwin and Levi, and they just look like anonymous soldiers. It’s an effective reminder that every one-off character in this world is a full person, and even though we don’t always get to see their inner selves, the show doesn’t lose sight of the humanity in all the misery. Still, it looked cheap then, and it looks cheap now.
5. The new Eren
Finally, everything comes full circle when the current iteration of the Scouts, the one that includes Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Jean, Sasha, Connie, and all our friends do the same walk of shame. People shout the same things they shouted in the first episode. They’ve lost hope. They think the Scouts are a waste of taxes. Only now the Scouts are characters we care about, and the hurt isn’t in the abstract. It really stings.
The harshest moment is when Eren sees a little boy, beaming with excitement. It’s basically him 21 episodes ago, and he can’t wait to grow up and join the Scouts to show how tough he is. This basically breaks Eren, who crumples into Mikasa weeping. It’s bleak, heavy stuff, but it’s a really stark reminder of how much has changed throughout this show, and how much things are exactly the same.