Monday, June 30, 2014

Attack on Titan Episode 2 Recap

Right off the bat, let’s start with some disclaimers. THIS IS NOT FOR CHILDREN, NOR THE SQUIMISH. I know, I know – you’re a paragon of steely resolve, your sinews are made from Wolverines cigar gristle and are Ford tough. Congratulations. HOWEVER, this is an anime that is brutal right out of the gate. That’s what makes it so interesting; this is a world where humanity is on its last leg and the audience is left on the edge of their seats hoping that SOMEBODY is going to survive.

Obviously major spoilers, we will be looking at the series in depth, poking at nooks and crannies and looking at characters and plot and why AoT has gained such insane popularity. There will be cursing, there will be blood. Some of the screen caps may be graphic (I will actually try to not and be too graphic with them, I don’t know who is looking at my blog).

Attack on Titan is unique and phenomenal story telling which includes many elements; fantasy, mystery, politics, military campaigns, camaraderie, sacrifice and hope. If you can get past the brutal nature of the narrative its worth watching. All right, let’s get into it:

Attack on Titan Episode 2 Recap: That Day/ The Fall of Shiganshina Part 2

Previously on Attack on Titan:

After a century of peace from the relentless hunger of the Titans, the outer wall Maria is suddenly forcefully taken down, opening up a reign of terror and bloodshed as thousands are trampled, killed and ‘eaten’ by Titans.

Our Trio – Eren, Mikasa and Armin, are mere children who witness the horrific event and barely escape with their lives. What will happen after the wall has been broken?

Oh dear, the city of the outer wall, Shiganshina, is decimated and overrun with Titans. As with any emergency (if you could call being rent limb from limb and then digested WHILE YOU ARE STILL ALIVE an ‘emergency’ and not some kind of level of hell) you get all sorts of strange behavior. Good ol’ Jayne from Firefly put it best, once upon a time – ‘There’s people gonna die - and with people dyin' comes guts and screamin'. That can bring on all sorts of screwed-up behavior, a person ain't used to it.’

Well, that applies here as well – as the streets are flooded with terrified and panicked people one brave soul screams about retribution and sin and bla bla bla, somebody eat him already. Oops, he IS eaten.

Farther away the soldier Hannes is still bookin’ it with Eren and Mikasa tucked under his arms when Eren finally snaps out of the horrific shock of seeing his mother eaten before his eyes. How can an eleven (? twelve?) year old even begin to deal with the appalling things happening around him and to him? Eren attacks Hannes, screaming – why did you stop me, we could have saved her?

Hannes stops Eren’s fists and tells him the hard truth – you couldn’t have saved her because you are small and weak. ‘BUT’, as he looks into Eren’s face, Hannes is crying miserable tears as well – ‘I am weak too.’

Ugh, right in the feels.

Hannes takes them both by the hand and leads them away again and Mikasa looks back upon the ruined town. We see a glimpse into what was her past – a scene of destruction and blood.

Ah, she thinks, it’s happened again. hinting that she comes from a traumatic and brutal background.

The crisis isn’t over yet; an entire city needs to be evacuated immediately before they are destroyed or eaten by the oncoming onslaught of giants with only the mindless intent to eat humans.

Whoever wrote the series has an outstanding understanding of psychology and human nature. We see what happens to people during a crisis when a brutal and horrific death stares you in the face; most people flat out panic, their minds are nearly gone with terror and they do foolish things. Some people mow down others in the effort to survive. Some people help those around them.

Armin has boarded one of the giant boats that follows a track into the recess of the second wall, Rose. From where he stands he sees Eren and Mikasa, being delivered by Hannes. He stretches an arm to wave to his friends but stops as he looks at their faces –

Eren’s absolute desolation, as though he has been carved from the inside out and Mikasa’s absolute stone wall blank face, trying to distance herself from what she has just witnessed.

The sun sets, our Trio survives but humanity has taken a terrible blow that may spell extinction for all.

Boy, if you though Eren had Crazy Times before, NOW he’s got a purpose and a drive; he vows to destroy every last Titan and reclaim the world.

And so the beginning of the fall of humanity is marked with a loss of 20,000 people and the outmost defensive wall. The government draws everybody back behind Wall Rose.

We also have the introduction of two different types of Titans, if anybody was paying close enough attention, which I admit is difficult given the fast pace of the series.

Firstly, we have the Colossal Titan – the giant being that kicked a hole in Wall Maria and opened the path for the smaller Titans.

Secondly, in this episode we have the Armored Titan – which is exactly as it sounds. His body is armor plated as to allow him to cannonball his way through the walls directly behind Maria.

This is important and will be explained later – for now, just note that not all Titans appear the same.

Eren awakes from another nightmare and we are faced with the question, is what he dreaming real or…?

He dreams of his father, holding a syringe while Eren screams for him to stop and asks, has his mother’s death driven his father insane? We don’t know what happened. We only know that Daddy Yeager is desperate, appears to have experimented on Eren and impresses upon Eren that he MUST reach the basement with the key, NO MATTER WHAT.

Eren awakes, and was it a dream? But ho ho – around his neck is the key! Mysterious!

The survivors of Shiganshina are faced with another reality of survival; the mass numbers of people creates a terrible tension on populations already strained behind Wall Rose. There isn’t enough room, there isn’t enough food. A food shortage was already underway.

The governments way of solving this is ‘volunteering’ a third of the refugees to fight Titans. Well, you can imagine how well THAT goes over.

Armin is crafty and smart and manages to grab three whole loaves of bread (one loaf of bread being an entire day’s ration) to give to Mikasa and Eren and Eren hits his boiling point (again).

He’s angry at himself, angry at the world, at his helplessness and he lashes out at Armin, crossing a line calling him a ‘coward’.

MIIIKAAASAAAA PUNCH!!!

She lays down the harsh truth, ‘we are all weak’ and points out anybody who can’t even procure his own provisions doesn’t have the right to fight Titans.

Eren must survive this and Mikasa is going to make sure he does.

Let’s also take a moment to explore the dynamic of the Trio as things have been flipped upside down in a matter of days. Their parents are dead. The world they knew is dead.

Many people speculate romantic emotions between the Trio but to me, the most obvious answer is that they are family with ties deeper than blood. Surviving terrible tragedy together often ties people together with the strongest of bonds. There are no romantic intentions behind any of the Trio’s actions.

The Trio are now Family, who will do anything and everything for one another.

All right, Eren says, next year I am joining the military and starting the first step in destroying Titans. This time, Mikasa and Armin are right behind him.

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