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Anime Review: Attack on Titan (Season 2)

I've been an anime fan since the 90s and have blogged about anime since 2010. I've seen it all, done it all, and gotten the t-shirt.

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When Attack on Titan's second season was announced, fans did a dance for joy. But this joy was quickly stemmed by the announcement that, unlike the previous season that had been 25 episodes, this one would only be 12. Ouch.

Another issue fans might have had with this segment of the Attack on Titan story is that it shifts focus away from Eren, Armin, and Mikasa. They're present, and they're active, but the real focus of the story is on Ymir and Christa. The season's story arc is about exploring Ymir and Christa's pasts as a way of giving us hints about the nature of the titans and the vast, unexplored world outside the walls.

New Plot Twists

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For manga readers, many of these concepts are not new. But for people like me who've only seen the anime, Season 2 hits the viewer with shocking reveal after shocking reveal.

The major shockers include:

  • There are more titan types than we think.
  • There are more humans who can become titans than we think.
  • Some titans show intelligence, and even the capacity to speak.
  • There are titans in the walls, and perhaps titans even are the walls.
  • The government is probably lying and keeping back big secrets about titans' nature, purpose, origin, and life beyond the wall.
  • Titans are not as one-dimensional or pure evil as once thought.

But, in only 12 episodes, the main problem is that we see a lot of things that raise questions, and yet very few answers are given. So press on to the third season, or read the manga, but don't expect the conclusion of Season 2 to tell you much.

Review

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I almost hated Eren throughout most of this story arc. He has a hot-blooded combative nature, but that doesn't suit this situation well. You can't simply punch the facts out of someone with good reasons for not sharing those facts just yet. Mikasa, in a single-minded display of devotion to Eren, was not much better. I think the kids need to settle down and let the grownups speak. Eren gets more character development in Season 3, which also does a better job of Season 2 of explaining why he's important to the story at all. In Season 2, Eren is kind of a side character and kind of a living soccer ball for other characters to argue about.

The length of 12 episodes was a bit of a let-down, considering how strongly I was anticipating more Attack on Titan. But, what I got was entertaining, exciting, dramatic, and tear-jerking enough. I kept watching it and kept wanting more. Weakness and lack of character development in Mikasa and Eren are more than made up for in the deep character exploration given to other characters, most strikingly Ymir. Ymir's story resonated emotionally with me, and I felt that it was well done, almost to the point where the main heroes of the first season seemed like interlopers.

It felt like they were doing what Game of Thrones does, focusing on the big historical picture, rather than the narratives of specific characters. But, it also seems to cling to the "chosen one" cliché with Eren, and that is regrettable. I personally hate "chosen one" characters in stories.That's because it's done so often, and is usually a lazy way to explain why the protagonist is important when they're usually some teenager who knows absolutely nothing and has no skills.

Luckily, reality keeps Eren humbled. He is taken down a peg or two in this story arc. While he may be important to others, he can barely comprehend his own situation. Some fans might be disappointed in the way Eren becomes almost helpless during this arc. But I feel that it's setting up a stage on which Eren will shine in a big way in the future.

Likes:

  • Ymir and Christa
  • Zoe Hange
  • Fighting in new locations, and encountering new kinds of titans.
  • Greater moral and political complexity and more world-building stuff.

Dislikes:

  • Eren, Mikasa, and Armin
  • Constantly finding keys without finding the doors they go to (metaphorically speaking). Reveal after reveal, but with no answers to questions raised by each new reveal.
  • Is everybody a titan? Is that cow a titan?

I made peace with the 12 episode length.The main reason for this was at the time Season 2 was being produced, there was a lot of other anime series in production. But it didn't seem to me like the quality of most of these anime justified that their production should cause Attack on Titan to have a shorter second season. There's this real drive right now in the industry, it seems, to crank out lots of new shows each season and see what sticks. Which is okay, but also hinders the process of continuing the established anime series fans want to see more of.

This season has a great opening song, and it had a satisfying finale. But it sometimes felt like the creators of the show were more worried about attracting us with shiny lures than they were about giving us meaningful satisfaction after biting. But, considering their production restrictions and limitations, this is a pretty good effort.

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Gotta give it credit just for this amazing theme song!

© 2017 Rachael Lefler

Comments

Peggy Woods on July 10, 2017:

This is one show that I have never watched but appreciate your review of it.