Monday, November 10, 2014

Attack on Titan Episode 21 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 a unique and phenomenal story 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 21: Iron Hammer/The 57th Expedition Part 5

Straight up warning folks, this is one of the hardest-to-watch episodes of the entire season. This is going to be brutal so fair warning.

The last episode left off after all sorts of goings on. The Female Titan chose self-destruction and Erwin had to concede to defeat and called a retreat, BUT not before ordering Levi to resupply before heading after his squad.

Unbeknownst to the Levi Squad a Mysterious Stranger in the woods hunts them, and we ended that episode with the death of Gunther.

The shock of the loss of Gunther throws everybody into a momentary panic but they recover quickly and tell Eren to start running (or flying, with the gear) but too late!

It’s the return of the Female Titan!!

And this is a good place for an ‘oh shit’ moment, because here she comes, like a freight train and as unstoppable and a mountain slide.

Eren, for the second time in one day, attempts to transform to his Titan self but is stopped again by Petra Eyes, choosing to again place his faith in the Levi Squad.

We’re going to have a small dissection of this decision momentarily but first –

The Levi Squad is ON IT!

They earn their reputation by ripping the Female Titan apart in seconds, blinding her, which forces her back against a tree while protecting her nape, then cutting the tendons and muscles in her arms to drop them.

They HAVE it, but they-

Don’t.

The Female Titan is like a freaking combat genius as she prioritized Titan healing into ONE eye and used that seconds-wide window to take Eld out by biting him in half.

Petra and Bozal barely have time to react. The Female Titan has already healed the damage and comes after Petra.

She’s dead.

And Bozal goes down quickly after.

In a flash the Levi Squad is annihilated.

Now, I want to talk about Eren’s decision a little. He chose to put his faith into his comrades, who are indeed strong and dependable and should have been able to take out ANY Titan that attacked them. So it makes sense that he wants to believe in them, SHOULD believe in them.

But Levi also put it very aptly; you just don’t know what the right answer is until you choose.

This time, Eren might have chosen poorly.

But I want to look at his belief that by changing into his Titan form, he would not have lost any comrades. A clash between Titans is insane; the power behind it, the absolute chaotic force – can you really say that Eren would win?

That he wouldn't accidentally killed someone trying to help him?

This is a very realistic look at hindsight being 20/20 (except, it isn’t, not always). We don’t know what decision would have been the correct one. They might have died even if he HAD transformed.

Not that is matters now because Eren has lost his teammates in the most brutal way possible, witnessing each and every one of their deaths.

The Rage Beast comes screaming out as he transforms and shakes the entire forest with his screech of outrage.

Immediately, Levi and Mikasa realize something has happened and both take off towards him.

Female Titan versus Titan Eren – BEGIN!!

Ha ha, clash of the Titans. Ahhem. Firstly, though, we follow Levi as he finds the remains of his squad. He pauses over Petra, face dark, without emotion and drawn.

This is interesting. What does this say about Levi? About his background as a soldier, his life as a supposed criminal?

I see a man who has seen so much death, so much violence that he only functions by not letting emotion touch him. He’s almost like an animal. At least he doesn’t feel emotion, not consciously, I think he shoves it so deep inside of himself that he might have a psychotic break someday but for now he has a mission to carry out. It’s very interesting to think about the psychology behind this. I know he’s a fan favorite, but he really isn’t a healthy person, nor I think, an entirely good one. Not bad, but not exactly good, either.

Anyhow.

Back to the fight between Titans, Eren ain’t doing so well.

I LOVE this about Attack on Titan. The Shounen Fight of RAAAGGEEE trope is one that is a staple in anime and AoT ignores it.

The Trope goes like; our protagonist is attacked/faced by a much MUCH stronger adversary. By all accounts, he should NOT be able to win; the antagonist is smarter, stronger, more experienced BUT –

The antagonist kicks his puppy, or kills a friend, or lover and BEHOLD!!

THE POWER OF RAAAGGEE COMPELLS the protagonist who then, for reasons beyond common sense, pulls a win out of his ass because … he’s the protagonist in a Shounen series with RAGE!!! Well, here the creator was striving for realism because the POWER OF RAGE makes Eren weak against the Female Titan.

Think about it.

Eren is still a teenager; he’s still GROWING for God’s sake. He’s still emotionally immature, inexperienced and knows next to NOTHING about his Titan form other than SMASH!!! And it bites him in the ass. The Female Titan has utter control of the fight. She doesn’t allow any emotion to enter and she WIPES THE FLOOR WITH EREN.

Didn’t you ever hear that phrase ‘you lose your cool you lose the fight’?

Eren is exhausted, having repeatedly taken damage but he pauses – almost as though in shock.

The Female Titan takes advantage and shears the top of his head off with that skin hardening thing she does and Eren in down for the count, having lost the battle.

She bites Eren out of the neck of his Titan forms and juuuust Mikasa finds them the Female Titan ‘swallows’ him (or, at least, stores him in her mouth).

Remember out little talk about spring-wells? Well, this one breaks as Mikasa witnesses Eren’s ‘death’ and she goes full psychopath Beast Mode.

DAMN, Mikasa is a monster – she does what the entire Levi Squad cannot; comes after the Female Titan like a blender with legs and cuts out the tendons on her feet/calves, felling her.

The Female Titan won’t go down so easy though and Mikasa gets ready for a second attack – but! Levi has arrived and pulls her back.

The Dream Team has arrived.

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