After having gone through two face towels to clean all my sweat away, I’m ready to let you know that this is the best episode in the season thus far. Yes, even better than last months masterpiece. Never have I watched an entire episode a second time before reviewing, nor have I spent 15 minutes trying to get screengrabs due to the sheer number of gorgeous compositions to choose from. Not to mention th- … ugh, damn it! I’m starting to sweat again!
Characterisation should be the forename of this chapter. Which might come as a shock given that my major criticism of last week’s venture was covered with doubt in regards to character portrayal. But I’ve now been won over. Reiner and Berthold’s plight is definitely becoming more engrossing, between the scouts screaming at Bert and questioning his loyalty, followed by Bert then wielding his resolve with grit – pledging not to fail his mission after coming so far.
Speaking of resolve, we need to bow down to Erwin for being a fucking legend on the battlefield. There was no better way to display what kind of man he is than to have him lure the titan horde to Reiners position, completely nulled to the fact that the only thing they would be serving would be themselves, providing the titan with their afternoon supper. Screaming “Advance!” to the surface of the moon and not showing an ounce of hesitation in anything he did. Then continuing to scream “Advance!” even after losing his right arm!… What a god.
Once again, we’ve been gifted another sequence that’s nudged our memories, reminding us that the reason we love this series is for the action set pieces. And my god, they went full Battle of the Bastards on this one! I won’t bore you with what you already know. Yes, the animation was stellar and there was an impressive number of really beautiful shot compositions but it was all the little things that allowed this episode to stand above the rest. We had scout wires being snagged causing them to fall to their off-screen demise. We had soldiers looking shell-shocked on the field, getting knocked around by their own horses who weren’t looking to stick around and die any longer.
Scouts were either cherry picked from their horses if they were lucky or stomped on with a size 55 foot if they were unlucky. Or maybe getting squashed in zero seconds flat is the better way to go? I don’t even know. But it was beautiful to behold. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Reiner starts chucking titans like mortars so now we’ve got biological explosions happening left and right. Like.. dude, Wit Studio really went in on this one. I can’t say I’ve seen an anime do the whole fantasy war thing right, where showing the environment of the war front and all the soldiers dying is just as important as the main characters doing the heavy lifting. And there was a lot of that too, thanks to the goddess Mikasa.
This girl really is becoming my favorite character among any action oriented show. I could be biased because for the longest time, from as early as childhood, I’ve had a thing for badass females that are badass just because they are. It’s the reason why Toph is my favorite character in Avatar and why I didn’t have as much of a problem with Rey in The Force Awakens as many others did. I do admit that the whole Mary Sue thing can be a problem as it’s usually used to try and hide a writers inability to show why said character is so perfect within the tools of the narrative. But sometimes, entertainment deserves a seat in front of logic.
Sorry, I’m not quite done gushing over Mikasa though. Can we talk about how this episode basically introduced power levels to the series!? I needed to get a glass of water after Christa told Ymir to calm her shit or else Mikasa would end her. Super Eyepatch Wolf was spot on in his What Makes Attack on Titan Popular video. The whole David and Goliath aspect is what makes the fighting so absorbing so there being a character that most titans would fear if fear was an emotion they possessed is such a cool concept.
We’ve established the action was great but its greatness is furthered when you look at how it linked to characterisation, bringing us back to my initial point of praise. I particularly like what they did with Armin, who is a character that hasn’t done a whole lot on the combat side of things. Bertholdt basically calling him the child of the dark lord Beelzebub was pretty much accurate when you think about how sinister, yet smart it was for Armin to tease them about leaving Annie behind. The guy’s prowess is the reverse of Mikasa, holding his strength in his mind instead of his body.
But this wasn’t the only great Armin scene. After watching it a second time, I noticed a hilarious moment that again, showcases the visual ways a writer can build character. If you head to minute 14:00 in the episode, just after Hannes tells the scouts to jump off Reiner, you’ll see Mikasa landing perfectly on her horse like a pro then Armin pathetically misses his horse, looking like a fish trying to climb a tree. It’s a quick shot that’s easy to miss yet does so much if you think about it. It reminds you as to what these characters are good at without someone verbally saying “hey Armin, you suck m8.” Whoever wrote and directed this episode gets a thumbs up from me.
In typical effective cliffhanger fashion, the rodeo comes to an end after Eren and Mikasa come face to face with the same titan that ate their mother. As if the episode couldn’t get any more epic. What more can I say? Actually, there is something to add: This might not be the best episode in the season – it might be the best in the series! Yeah I said it. Fight me.