Sometimes, when the world grows ever more complicated, when those around you change and truths find themselves transforming into lies, the best solution is the simplest one. And what could be simpler than standing resolute in your beliefs and punching a bad guy really, really hard in the face?
Well, isn’t this a fine kettle of fish we find ourselves in this week? Except by fine, I mean terrible and by kettle of fish, I mean world of monsters. With Reiner and Bertholdt dropping all sense of care and subtlety, a Colossal Titan now stands half formed on a wall and an Armoured comrade plunges to the ground below, Eren in hand. At least until our furious protagonist reminds us all that he too is a Shifter and kicks off one of the most action packed episodes Attack on Titan has produced. However, it is a little more than simply explosive violence and screams. It’s choreographed…and also has explosive violence and screams.
For those who don’t know, Hajime Isayama (the creator of Attack on Titan) based certain important Titans on professional fighters. Though this may seem like a simple stylistic choice, the level to which these behemoths resemble said people is on true display in this episode. And it is awesome. Though Eren’s initial tactics revolve around blind charges and punching, his eventual realisation that such attempts are trivial results in a progressively more intricate series of grapples taking hold. In addition to the visual appeal of this situation and the pure visceral excitement of seeing the Armoured Titan receive some level of comeuppance, I was honestly most happy to see Eren learning from his experiences. After spending near every minute of this series screaming at how things cannot be true, simply witnessing him immediately spring into action against Reiner and utilise every piece of combat training he possesses is ultimately satisfying. You know, once you move past the uneasy feeling you get watching the Armoured Titan’s back begin to split open. Ouch.
Despite holding a much larger presence than Reiner, Bertholdt still manages to be quite the non-character this episode. As the Colossal Titan, Bertholdt stands as one of the most important foes to ever appear in the series. He began everything, he sparked the fire in Eren that burns ever hotter and he alone has shown the power to shatter the last defences of humanity. And yet, he simply sits there. Yes, he defends himself with a scream and intense bursts of steam, but that’s about it. And it’s not just in his Colossal Titan form, Bertholdt has remained remarkably unremarkable since day dot. Even as Reiner revealed every secret they held, he simply stood and stared. And it isn’t as if he has this overall vibe of quiet puppet master going for him, he simply seems to be someone who never wants to be anywhere. Whilst this may pay dividends in the future, as of now, Bertholdt is really just around to be taller than everyone else.
Filling the flashback quota of the episode, we are given a glimpse of some classic 104th training, training with direct importance to the present plot at hand. With the irony pointed out by Eren himself, it would seem that any proficiency he holds in combat is owed to the teachings of Reiner and Annie. Other than that, said flashback simply exists to try and cram a little more backing to the betrayers of humanity. After all, though they are important enough to have their names know, Reiner and Bertholdt have had little sway over the course of the series. Be it on purpose from the perspective of writing or a simple side effect of Eren being the main character, the reveal of the Titan’s identities really didn’t strike a loud chord with me. Eren acts as if it is a great personal betrayal, but we skipped over training back in season one and spent most of our time learning about the main trio. Heck, before a few weeks ago we didn’t know Ymir’s name and she is apparently important enough to warrant Bertholdt’s immediate attention. So, though the execution of this episode was exciting and well plotted, the set up leaves much to be desired.
Still, this episode sure was fun to watch. With a far more physical fight than has ever been shown in this series and a tremendous foe with an impenetrable defence pushing the plot forward, Attack on Titan is really holding nothing back. Which is good. After weeks of questions been thrown at us from every direction, it’s nice to finally see some answers come our way. Although it sure would be nice if those answers didn’t involve a giant skeleton monster hurtling towards our protagonist at the exact moment hope started to creep its way into this dark, chaotic world. But hey, it wouldn’t be Attack on Titan if we left feeling good about ourselves now would it?