ATTACK ON TITAN PART 2

Posted On October - 21 - 2014

ATTACK ON TITAN PART 2SYNOPSIS:

Eren Jaeger vowed to rid mankind of the bloodthirsty giants who devoured his mother and destroyed his city.  Now, after discovering that he has the ability to turn into a Titan, the world Eren promised to protect looks at him like he is the monster.

 

Narrowly avoiding execution, Eren’s fate is entrusted to the Scout Regiment where he must prove capable of following orders.  But on an expedition outside the wall, a unique female Titan appears and cuts through the Scouts, leaving a trail of carnage and splintered bones behind her and making it difficult for Eren to control his rage.  As it becomes obvious that a traitor is sabotaging the Regiment from within, Eren must ask himself who humanity’s true enemy really is.  Bloody revelations await beyond the wall in this jaw-dropping series i09.com calls “Japan’s equivalent of The Walking Dead.”

 

If you haven’t watched the first part of this series, we strongly suggest that you do as there are major spoilers for it in this review.

REVIEW:

So much for the information about Eren I was trying to avoid spoiling in my review of Part 1.  That’s just how the cookie bounces sometimes.  Another thing to note:  This collection does not include special recap episode 13.5; if you want to see it that badly, it’s streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation’s website.

 

This collection starts with everybody still in an uproar because of the discovery that Eren can turn into a Titan, and when he does, it’s not to consume human beings whole, but to kill as many Titans that do as possible in the world’s biggest fit of rage.  Unfortunately, this occasionally results in collateral damage, which is only one of many kinds of hell that war is.  It is that hell that the second part of Attack on Titan puts lots of emphasis on and forces you to witness, with little respite.  Eren is now a major concern for the people behind Wall Rose; it’s great that his bad side has a hobby that actually helps lots of people, but just how much control does he have over himself when he’s in that state?  During a near-farce of a military hearing in which he is restrained from moving and arguments break out between members of factions in the crowd, Captain Levi of the elite Special Operations Squad of the Scout Regiment’s Survey Corps steps up to Eren and explains to the courtroom in his flat, deep voice how the boy really needs the sort

of discipline that the Survey Corps can supply—all the while beating and kicking the living daylights out of him.  Harsh, to say the least, but Eren is released to join the Corps, which it’s safe to say all concerned prefer to him being killed by the State.  It is here that Eren gets to know more about the inscrutable and abrasive Levi and the other (mostly quirky) members of the Squad, including Zoë Hange, a commander and scientist whose excitement towards capturing Titans alive and experimenting on them borders on the sadistic.  When she names two captured Titans Sawney and Bean after a legendary robber and cannibal in 15th or 16th century Scotland, she makes several Regiment members visibly upset and even physically ill by animatedly telling Sawney Bean’s very grisly story to everybody gathered around, narrowly avoiding being chomped in the process.  She gets very distressed when she finds out that somebody has killed the two Titans, and cadets are grilled and have their ODM gear inspected to try to find the culprit in their own ranks, since that’s where the evidence points.  The Recon Corps gears up for an expedition outside Wall Rose, with the goal of reclaiming Shiganshina and finding out what secrets are hiding in the basement of Eren’s childhood home.  Recon Corps Commander Erwin Smith gathers the recruits to get then to join, and many leave when they realize that it’s far from a plum placement, but Eren’s friends Mikasa and Armin, among others, swallow their fears and become members.  They are in this for duty, not glory.

 

After working out an elaborate formation to help protect the main group (which includes Eren, of course), everyone heads out and encounters and battles several Titans, but they are caught by surprise when the Female Titan enters.  Its blonde hair and bodily proportions make it look like an attractive woman, albeit one whose body is missing a lot of skin, but she is no pushover.  She is faster, more intelligent (she knows to cover the nape of her neck when under attack by Scouts, since a blade strike there takes them out) and more agile than any Titan they’ve encountered before, thus, she is incredibly dangerous and difficult to fight.  While she doesn’t eat people (sorry about your little fantasy, Commander Pixis), she swats Scouts left, right and center like mosquitoes and the kill count rises sharply.  Even Eren going into Vengeance Titan mode and fighting her tooth-and-claw doesn’t help, as her intelligence includes hand-to-hand combat skills.  Armin (who is now a lot surer of himself than when he started) comes to the conclusion that she is a Titan Shifter like Eren and even has a good idea of who she actually is.  There is much work to be done here, and the rest of this set covers that to its conclusion—plus a teaser for a second season, which I hope we’ll get soon after the business with the two recap movies.  Perhaps Funimation will license and release the prequel OVAs that have come out in Japan in the interim, since this is looking to be their second biggest cash cow after Dragonball.  For now, while Part 2 has a little less action than Part 1, it’s much more intense, as seasoned soldiers go up against difficult enemies.  The overall tone is a lot darker and more horrific, as Eren has to deal with distrust and fear from many people, the pressure of his fellow Scouts putting their lives in his hands, the loss of many of those lives, being at the center of a miserable return from the expedition like the one he and Mikasa ran to watch a mere few years earlier, and his unpredictable Titan Shifter ability—especially when the Female Titan’s human identity is deduced.  Many characters get further development, which makes things even bleaker when some of them meet untimely ends.  We also get to observe a bit of the political corruption that is going on behind the scenes, which holds the possibility of getting blown open…but might also just go on to become business as usual.  All we can do is wait and see, or read the manga (which is being released here by Kodansha Comics, and Crunchyroll online).  I have yet to read it, but I hope that it won’t seriously affect my enjoyment of any further seasons of the TV series if I do.

 

Hiroyuki Sawano’s score continues to strongly underpin the action, dread and drama of the series, and more insert songs are introduced.  They’re good songs, but the placement of one of them during a critical scene late in this part came off to me as cheesy more than anything else; thankfully, that’s the only bit of au gratin I found here.  Linked Horizon are brought back in to do another opening theme, a blend of anthemic classical and blast-beat-driven but accessible metal entitled “Jiyuu no Tsubasa.”  Yes, it contains more bad German lyrics.  Ending theme “great escape” by cinema staff is more on the alternative rock side of things.  While the music is driving, the singer expresses his wish to be free, but also his fear of what might happen to him and others during the uncertain journey there.  In other words, it’s an excellent song to represent Eren, and a great counterpart to the ED used for Mikasa in Part 1.

 

EXTRAS: Episode 14 audio commentary by Mike McFarland (ADR director/Jean Kirschtein), J. Michael Tatum (ADR scriptwriter/Erwin Smith) and Matthew Mercer (Captain Levi); Episode 25 audio commentary by McFarland, Lauren Landa (Annie Leonhart) and Bryce Papenbrook (Eren Jaeger); Eyecatch Gallery (which translates the Japanese in them; good thing because they’re walls of text in ep. 25); Textless Songs; U.S. Trailer; Trailers; Marathon Play option.  Like with Part 1, a couple of extras are only on the Blu-Ray discs:  Attack on Titan at Anime Expo and “Chibi Theatre:  Fly, Cadets, Fly!” Days 14-25.  Why Funimation didn’t at least include the Chibi Theatre on the DVDs is something I’d like to find out.

 

IN SUMMARY:

If you thought that the first part of Attack on Titan was grim at times, things get downright depressing during Part 2.  However, the threads of hope, friendship and loyalty still run through this, and the action scenes maintain their high level of quality.  Attack on Titan is possibly the most gripping anime produced in recent years, and I (and many, many others) are now waiting impatiently for more.  Heartily Recommended.

  • Released By: Funimation Entertainment
  • Available on BLU-RAY + DVD Combo Pack
  • Running Time: 300 minutes
  • Rating: TV – MA
  • Release Date: 09/23/2014
  • Reviewed By: Neil Ellard

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