All right guys, the time has finally come. Attack on Titan season 2 has snuck up on us after all these years. As you all know, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the first season. Far from it, the first one had a whole array of negatives and it was all just too violent and dark if you ask me. Does this season improve? I’m afraid that it does not. It’s just as violent as it ever was if not more so and the show is as dark as ever. People complain about how they don’t want to die just to up the grit factor and the scouts forget their training so we can see everyone die at once. The show is still quite epic though. Whether that is tragic or a good thing is really up to you. Prepare yourself as I attack this series from all sides.
The first season ended with the heroes managing to capture the Female Titan, but not learning anything new since she enveloped herself in ice. This installment takes place almost immediately afterwards as 3 more humans shift into Titans. It appears that they are serving another master and have been acting as moles on the inside for some time now. Their mission is to kidnap Eren, but he’s not going to go down without a fight. Can Eren fight the three of them off or will his allies get in his way long enough to prevent victory?
This season only has 12 episodes so it has to move pretty quick. Lets start with some of the positives. This season has a great soundtrack. It’s not on the same level as the first season, but the new tunes that it introduces are quite good. The theme that plays during the return of the Colossal and Armored Titans was pretty epic. We also got a nice lyrical song in the final episode which was just as solid. A number of themes from the first season show up as well like the iconic opera theme that plays during the Beast Titan’s introduction. There aren’t really any bad themes in the show and it has a cinematic feel to it from start to finish. I also liked the third opening. The first one is still my favorite by far, but this one does a good job of quickly getting fast paced. The music does a good job of tricking you into thinking that it’s somber before getting action packed. Not a big fan of this new gimmick where characters just stand around for part of the opening though. It’s not as bad as My Hero Academia, but do we need to see everyone putting on their boots and getting ready to go outside and start their battles? It gets more fast paced from there though.
The animation is also quite sharp. Again, season 1 may have looked a little better, but this one’s certainly as impressive as always. The animation really shines for the Titan battles. I think it may have been limited by the fact that the series always seemed cloudy. The first season had a lot of scenes in the daytime as well as the night which always stood out well. This cloudy middle ground didn’t work so well. I suppose it was supposed to subtly show you the desperation of the heroes but this show is never very subtle at all so you could gather that anyway. All of the character designs are pretty smooth and while the CGI effects for the Colossal Titan are humorously bad, it makes the taunts from the heroes hit a lot deeper.
You also can’t say that Attack on Titan is boring. The show never disappoints in how much it can get you engaged. Some episodes were underwhelming like the ones focusing on Connie and Sasha, but for the most part the plot always moved rapidly. The two episodes were Eren confronted the other Titans and found out their secret identities were the best two episodes in the series by far. If the series had just been those two episodes it probably would have gotten a high score. The fights were handled well and the series didn’t resort to getting super gritty. It was emotional enough that the two traitors knew Eren pretty well. I’ve seen the fight well over a dozen times at this point. Mainly because I forgot that Eren actually wiped the floor with the Armored Titan. I always thought he had lost the fight so it was nice to be mistaken for a change.
Eren is also just as great a main character here as he was in the first season. I’m tempted to say that he’s even better here, but it’s tough because he was a star in both. His stand out scene is when the Armored Titan tells him not to put up a fight and Eren puts one up anyway. Even without any hands, Eren buys the heroes more time and makes it difficult on the enemies. His never say die attitude is what separates him from the rest. He really makes the whole season better. Eren is always yelling and calling the villains out on their fake sob stories, but also continues to use strategy the whole time. He’s always thinking about the next move and ends up being a much more complete character than you’d otherwise expect. Pretty much all of his scenes are epic, but aside from his big fight, his scene in the last episode where he punches a Titan was just really great. It would be nice if he could keep fighting Titans like that, but it was basically a one shot deal as I understand it.
Mikasa is also a great heroine as always. She just wants to protect Eren and doesn’t care about the traitors either. Good call if you ask me. She won’t hesitate to take them down and is always ready to support Eren. She’s a consistently good character who can actually fight even if she doesn’t have powers. Mikasa doesn’t get a whole lot to do in this season, but she’s always around. Levi fans will be disappointed though since he really doesn’t get to appear for more than 5 minutes in the whole season.
All right, lets start talking about the negatives though. This is Attack on Titan so the usual issues apply. The series is just as violent as the first one if not more so. One new element that the show added was an effect that is supposed to resemble getting torn apart by a wild animal. It happens twice where the screen will start shaking
to save budget to emphasize the violence as blood starts flying everywhere and it’s meant as an optical illusion to seem worse than it is. I’ll take the bait though so that hurt quite a bit. Whenever Titans are around, the humans die horribly. People are eaten alive and always beg for their lives first. That’s a staple of Attack on Titan at this point. They always have to rub in the fact that the humans didn’t ask for this as they’re eaten and they’re eaten slowly.
It even comes at the expense of the plot. At the end of the series, a team of highly trained fighters decide to attack the Titans. Half of them forget that they know how to fight though as they calmly let the Titans snatch them up and have their dinner. This was really just for violence and to show how hopeless the situation is, but it made no sense. Honestly, it never made any sense how the humans haven’t covered more ground considering how many Titans they’ve destroyed at times. It’s a logistical issue that I’ve always wondered about. The series also has considerable animal violence as horses aren’t immune to the Titan attacks. It even showed up in the Beast Titan’s debut which prevented the scene from being as hype as it could have been.
I’m a big Dub fan as I always prefer it to the Sub. That being said, I could have done without some of the language. It was certainly overdone at some points and threw cold water on what was otherwise a pretty hype scene. Take Eren’s big fight against the other two. The whole thing was intense and awesome, but it’s hard to watch it as much as you’d like to since Eren is constantly swearing the whole time. It’s supposed to show just how angry he is and emphacize the whole thing, but you can do that pretty well without language. Honestly, with the stellar job that the VA does, it isn’t necessary at all. He’s always been good at yelling. Just about any intense moment in the show will have some language involved. I’m confident that it has spread a lot more compared to season 1 because I don’t remember it being quite so frequent over there.
It’s really a shame that some of the most epic shows always seem to have some kind of strings attached. They could end up becoming elites if they didn’t focus too much on being dark and gritty. Take Sonic Forces, it brings all of the hype without the negatives. It’s not out yet though so I’ll go more into that when it actually comes out. The plot definitely is engaging here so you’ll stick around but after it’s over, it’s hard to recommend the title. This season just had way too many gritty moments to actually recommend it to anyone. If someone asked for a good title to watch, I’d quickly have to offer up an answer like Naruto or Madoka Magica instead. Those had a better blend of epic scenes while still keeping themselves in check.
A good way to tell how epic a show can get is to check out the promos. Just look at the Attack on Titan Toonami promos for this season. Particularly the last few. They sell themselves and you don’t need to know anything about the show to get into them. I watched several of those promos over 10 times. The final episode promo I probably saw the most although it’s close. I can’t stress enough how fun the show can be. I need to savor this as well since the 3rd season is likely going to be a big step down since the political arc is about to start. It’s quite long and dreadfully bad so unless the anime can really shape it up, things are going to get tough until the 4th season.
Aside from Eren and Mikasa, the rest of the cast is mostly all right. I still don’t like Armin at all as just about every scene with him is annoying. He gives terrible advice like telling Eren to run and then 2 minutes later changing his mind and saying that it would be impossible. His most intense moment is him trying to act like a villain and using dishonorable tactics that I can’t respect. Sasha doesn’t really get much of an actual role here and I can’t stress enough just how bad her origin episode was. It was one of the low points of the series for sure. Connie is even worse as he panics for everything and is in a serious state of denial throughout the series. He needs to get his act together, but I fear that he never will.
Historia gets a big role in this season and she’s a good character. We finally have someone who is actually heroic and tries to be a bright light for the others to follow. The series tries to make the heroes almost as bad as the villains at times so she is a nice change of pace. Other characters claim that she is fake, but I feel like she’s genuine and the others are completely over analyzing her. She’ll always try to do the right thing even if it means dying in the process. She instantly became one of the best supporting characters. Ymir is another new character and she’s Historia’s opposite in terms of personality. She claims to just live for herself but in actuality she is always trying to protect Historia. Her speeches about how she is a real bad person can be a little repetitive at times like she’s trying to convince herself of that. It is nice to have another tough character in the show though and someone who knows the truth about the Titans as well. She makes most of the wrong decisions throughout the show as she defies logic throughout, but at least its her choices. She ended up making the decisions on her terms as opposed to the other Titans so that was good. She was a good character to have around. Annoying, but better than most of the others.
Erwin is one of those characters that I could never like. He doesn’t place much value in human lives as he’ll sacrifice them all to get one step closer to unlocking the Titan mysteries. He’s all about how the end justifies the means and is such an extreme character. His “Sasageyo” speech turned into a meme, but the joke was turned around since the anime had to translate it and there was nothing to meme in the Dub. He ended up doing pretty well for himself by the end, but I’m ready for him to step down.
As for the villains, well we can start with the Beast Titan. He gets a lot of hype since it seems like he is the mastermind behind all of the Titans. As a result, he doesn’t get to do a lot here since they have to build up to him. He’s the tallest Titan aside from the Colossal Titan and seems to have more intelligence than the rest. He keeps his speaking ability even in Titan form. There’s not much I can say about him, but in his Beast Titan mode he’s pretty interesting. I prefer the Armored Titan, but I’ll take him over the Colossal. His fans will be pleased since he looks pretty good during the season and is definitely a merciless villain.
The Colossal Titan isn’t my kind of villain as you can tell. He tries to justify himself way more than everyone else and like Eren I’m not buying it nor will I ever buy it. The Armored Titan is a little more accepting of the situation and is also more likable since he takes command of the situation. The other guy waits for his opportunity while the Armored Titan seizes it. He’s just more of a commander and takes on all of the tough jobs. Again, the dub is just really great and helps make all of these characters more engaging. I also have to give major props to the director because he manages to make all of the scenes more interesting than they would have been otherwise. Others could learn from his example.
You’ll exit the season with about as many questions as you had when it first started, but at the same time you’ll feel more progress here. The heroes are getting a lot closer to the truth and I think it’s safe to say that we’ll get a ton of revelations in season 4. I’m looking forward to the anime getting farther because it is much more enjoyable than the manga. Case in point, the Armored Titan’s fight against Eren was a lot more violent and extreme in the manga. I checked it out recently to compare the two and it’s just in a different league. While the anime is still much too violent, I appreciate the fact that they at least put a good effort into making it a little more manageable.
Attack on Titan is one of those shows where fans will have fun rewatching it as more seasons come out. After all, I certainly got to understand more of the hidden subtext since I’m caught up with the manga as characters reference certain things that are important later on. The author did a pretty good job of planning things out ahead of time now that I think about it. It never feels like these plot developments are really sudden or are coming out of nowhere. It’s all part of a plan even if the plan may have changed a little during the series. On a minor note, the unveiling of the 3 Titans in this season doesn’t feel as big as Annie’s reveal in Season 1. Maybe it’s just one of those cases where the first undercover Titan was always going to be more memorable than the others. I do think that the scene of the Colossal and Armored Titans revealing themselves was handled just about perfectly though. It was a scene that I liked in the manga as well since it was done in the background so it was easy to miss. It’s a little harder to pull that off in the anime, but they did a really good job.
On a final note, Attack on Titan is also one of the only shows that can effectively pull off flashbacks. The flashback of Annie teaching Eren how to use a spin move and then is occurring during his fight with the Armored Titan was smooth. In another anime, it would have happened sooner so that we could see the whole scene over again during the fight. The flashbacks in this series are minimal and all have a big purpose when they appear. Unfortunately, a lot of the flashbacks are pretty violent as you can probably imagine what Eren recalls during these moments, but the directing with them is on point. This show can seriously make an argument for having the best directing in all of anime.
Overall, Attack on Titan Season 2 is more of the same as you saw in 1. It’s still a technical masterpiece as the animation is on point, the soundtrack is stellar, and Eren is one of the best leads of all time. The show never stops feeling like a big budget movie and the plot is very engaging. However, all of these positives are nullified by how violent and gritty the series is. It goes way too far in expressing that point. Just about every episode has the characters talking about how much they want to destroy another character and murder is the only thing on anyone’s mind. The animal violence isn’t helping matters and this likely won’t change because Attack on Titan really wants to keep reminding us that there is no hope left. It could be done better, but at this point we all know the score. Attack on Titan is not going to change so it’ll always make for a pretty interesting watch, but it’ll likely never be a good anime. I’ll take this kind of “bad” anime over the other kind though. (One that is not enjoyable throughout in addition to getting a low score) At the end of the day I like being entertained so at least every episode went by fairly quick and I could still chat about it for a while. Really bad shows make it so that you can barely even talk about them. If this sounds like your kind of show, then by all means you should check it out. Otherwise, you should probably go watch Madoka Magica. I mention it a lot, but this title perfectly handled the concept of being really dark without crossing the line of also being really violent. I was quite impressed. Now, the 3rd season is supposed to come out next year and will likely be a full 26 episodes again so we’ll see how they handle it. If they can cut out a certain political scene, it could theoretically end up being the best season since there is a lot less Titan violence. After all, most of the characters can fight now and normal Titans aren’t a threat because of Eren’s secret powers. Only time will tell though.