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Have you ever felt that strange feeling? The odd vibe of being away from somewhere familiar for a very long time, only for it to feel like you were away for a just single day after stepping back through the door? That’s how I felt after getting done with this first episode. And seeing these guys zip through the air once more was like watching my pet cat play with that toy with the exact same enthusiasm it had 4 years ago. Yep. It’s good to be home. Let’s talk about it!

Oh and btw… SPOILERS!

After a much appreciated recap, we’re back where we left off. Titans are inside the walls, everybody’s shitting bricks and Annie has gone all pre-Zerg Kerrigan after crystalising herself. We got titans freaking out running like they got ants in their pants, questionable priests with questionable motives and a reminder that the only people that can ride off into the sunset to face off against titans and come back alive are probably Captain Levi and Mikasa. Boy, it really is good to be back!

Given how much money this franchise has made, I was fully expecting Wit Studio to treat this episode like a grand return to the universe but I was surprised to how much this felt like just another episode as if the last one was only shown last week. But before I get into that, we gotta pour some henny on the sidewalk for Mike.

This man performed his duty as both a soldier and as a solid character, putting a lot of weight on the narrative despite not being on screen for very long. It’s always good to see a person with a strong personal code of conduct only to have that idea completely trampled on. But why stop there?

Panel from the original Manga

After Mike’s hesitation, he mustered the strength to remind himself of his own words. “Never give up. Never surrender”. Sure, he didn’t stand a chance and was literally eviscerated by the titans but this is what you call a character arc. They don’t always have to take place over 26 episodes and can be done even with a total NPC that doesn’t have much importance to the main story. I always find it compelling to see those who think they are strong, become privy to just how tiny they are when reality rears its head.

Moving into a different realm, I need to mention that comparing this debut to Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Wit Studio’s previous work) is almost like night and day in terms of quality. Not that the animation was bad per se but it didn’t feel like it was baked in the oven of season 1’s success. Just like they did quite often 4 years ago, they’d save their budget for the fight scenes and have everything else looking mediocre, whereas Kabaneri’s initial episode looked fantastic throughout its entirety.

In fact, I’d be willing to wager that this episode might have been finished back in 2013 with intent to be the final episode of season 1. Ending it with the reveal of the deviant titan being able to talk might have been the original plan, which I think would’ve made for a cliffhanger more potent than the one we got.

Speaking of the previous season, I was also a bit disappointed on how bland the intro was. Not only was the song easily forgettable but the visuals weren’t as well put together as both intros from season 1. I mean, surely they know just how popular those openings are right? Why wouldn’t you come into this with all guns drawn? Get all the O.G keyframe guys, grab the best inbetweeners then summon the after effects squadron and make the sickest sequence. I don’t know… it just feels a little out of touch to not realise that what made the original show so hype was partially the intro.

But with that being said, the intrigue is also what made the show interesting and this episode had its fair share. I’ve read the manga up to chapter 50 or something but had totally forgotten about the talking beast titan. Actually, aside from a few key moments, I’ve forgotten most of what I’ve read – which is probably a blessing in disguise as I’ve quickly been reminded of what I love about this show. Solid action, plenty of likeable characters and a super creative world that really keeps you wondering just what on earth is going on.

Complaints aside, this was overall a good watch, particularly from the second half onwards. And knowing what I know thanks to the manga, I’m curious to see how they’ll handle some of the key moments I’m looking forward to. Bring on the next episode.