[This review was first published on 10th April 2017 in The LUMS Daily Student Vol.1 Issue 4 – Print Edition]
Attack on Titan Episode 26: Season 2 Premiere
The arrival of April marks what anime enthusiasts have been looking forward to for nearly 4 long years; following a post-2013 hiatus marked by many release date speculations and countless delays, Attack on Titan Season 2 has finally seen the light of the day and made its way to our computer screens.
Shingeki no Kyojin, also known as Attack on Titan, is distinct in the quick following it has acquired for itself within a vast range of audiences – from the most ardent of otakus to the casual consumer of Japanese animation. While already acclaimed as a manga, the series has been propelled to ridiculous heights of fame following the launch of the anime adaptation; it has now established itself as a household name within pop culture to the extent of being dubbed mainstream by the snobbier of the anime “connoisseurs”, and despite varying opinions on the merits of the show itself, one thing remains undisputed: we were all dying in wait.
Beast Titan, Episode 26 of the post-apocalyptic dark fantasy, picks off right where we left the story hanging at the season one finale: the Stohess District of Wall Sina is struggling with the destruction and civilian casualties following the encounter between the Titan forms of Eren Yeager and Annie Leonheart; a very crystallised Annie is now in state custody; Erwin Smith has been cleared of all charges; and most importantly, there’s a Titan inside the wall.
The first half of the episode sees the immediate aftermath of the crisis at hand, with Hange Zoe’s character getting some quality time to shine as she confronts the ever-shady, ever-disgusting Pastor Nick about the clergy’s knowledge of the muddled history behind the walls. Our main trio of heroes – Eren, Mikasa and Armin – is given little screen time, but enough to set the tone in motion, while the popularly beloved Levi Ackerman also gets a brief comeback (and very beautifully so, if I do say so myself).
We are then transported a few hours back in time, where the 104th Scout Regiment recruits – consisting of familiar faces like Connie Springer and Sasha Blouse – are currently under watch by Section Commanders Nanaba and Miche Zacharius. Their peace is disrupted by an apparent breach of Wall Rose by a fast approaching group of rouge Titans. What follows is what makes the show what it is: anxiety inducing action of the very top notch, sprinkled with graphic, gruesomely awe-inspiring imagery and just the right amount of existential conflict. Meanwhile, the titular Beast Titan, in its first appearance, offers a wild turning point within the narrative and promises conflict of an entirely new variety.
Overall, the season is off to a promising start that has laid the seeds of issues that will likely be dealt with soon – those of political intrigue, moral ambiguity and human weakness. New pressing questions now seem to be rising within the plot (Who is the real enemy? Are the Titans self-serving? … and why are there dinosaurs in the opening?) while older ones are yet to be addressed (What’s in the basement?).
What now remains to be seen is how well this arc is fit into a mere 12-episode season without compromising on detail, and if the studio manages to satisfy longtime fans who have been left hanging by a thread for way too long. With the manga – now nearing a hundred chapters – at least three story arcs ahead in terms of plot, it will be a challenge for the studio to keep fans engaged for the long-term. WIT studio’s attempts to placate fans with an oddly similar show last year largely failed to impress, while consecutive production delays as well as present budget cuts add to the uncertainty.
None of this, however, reflects in the way this season has managed to kick off: the animation is brilliant, the OSTs are impressive (the OP easily meets the standard set by season one’s Guren no Yumiya), and the pacing is appropriate. Here’s to hoping that the action, intrigue and horror the rest of season is sure to bring keeps older fans engaged and ropes in an even greater audience; everyone loves a weekly adrenaline rush, after all.
Season 2 of the show aired from 1st April to 17th June 2017. Season 3 is slated for a 2018 release.
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