Attack on Titan: Season 2 Review
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.
Twists and Turns
For manga readers, many of these concepts are not news. But for people like me who've only seen the anime, season 2 hits the viewer with shocking reveal after shocking reveal. I'm not going to give everything away, but 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, even having 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, of course the major failing of this is, we get to see a lot of things that raise questions, and yet very few answers to them are given. I almost hated Eren throughout most of this. 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.
Having 12 episodes was a bit of a let-down, I'm not going to lie. But, what I got was entertaining, exciting, dramatic, and tear-jerking enough that 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's kind of doing what Game of Thrones does, keeping the audience's attention on the big historical picture, rather than the narratives of specific characters. But, it also seems to cling to a "chosen one" cliche with Eren, and that is regrettable. I personally hate "chosen one" characters in stories. 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.
- 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.
- 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. But honestly, anime being produced right now does not seem like its quality really justifies this current drive to produce so much new anime, which was the main reason given for the shortened season.
This season has a great opening song, and it had a satisfying finale. But, it seemed for a while 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.