Attack on Titan returned for the second week in a row and it still doesn’t feel real. This episode focused on characterisation of Sasha, who in season 1 was relegated to an internet meme, so this was much needed. Her development revolved around her understanding who she was/is and to take responsibility for her actions. This episode was highly successful in this characterisation and that’s why the rating at the bottom of this review is so high. The only negative aspect of her development in this episode was that the first flashback with her going mental over the food, which was decently distracting from the overall seriousness of the show and did push my willingness to suspend my disbelief as a whole. Also as a bonus fact that you’ve probably already aware of, and that is that Sasha originally died in the first draft of this chapter in the manga, but Isayama’s editor talked him out of killing her off, presumably because her popularity was beginning to rise because of the recently realised anime adaptation. (Yes that’s how long ago this chapter was written!)
This characterisation was also greatly needed for the overall quality of the show because the show is often criticised for its very generic main cast of characters. Critics correctly complain that the Eren is the generic Shonen lead with the power to defeat the villains in the show for no reason other than him being the main character, Mikasa is the generic dark haired character with a shocking and tragic backstory revolving around death and Armin is the weak one that’s only real value is his mind and overcomes his weakness when its convenient to the plot. All these character types have been used to death in anime and entertainment as a whole. Up until this point Sasha was also a generic comedy relief character that’s fascinated and fixated on food but now that her character has been fleshed out we can relate to her because there is more to her that is relatable. Even in the cadet flashback in this episode there was further characterisation for Christa and Ymir whose roles are being increased significantly because they will both become more important characters later in this season and the show.
Finally I would like to commend Isayama, as an author, for not feeling the need to kill either Sasha or the girl she save in the episode/chapter because it really shows that he has restraint and is not a trigger happy author willing to unnecessarily kill off characters with further potential for a cheap shock. It shows that he has devolved as an author because, as has been noted all over the internet, the original ending of Attack on Titan basically revolved around everyone dying. But Isayama recently said that he altered the ending and believes his original ending was ’irresponsible.’ Another aspect that is prevalent in the anime, which is carried over from the manga, is the constant foreshadowing that is so subtle that no non-manga reader would ever understand. This includes the entirety of the ending theme’s visuals and many aspects, which I will be vague about, in this very episode. Sometimes the foreshadowing is nothing but the positioning of a characters eyes in a scene or as small as a smirk, which seemingly fit in the ‘context’ of the scene, but the audience at that point in time couldn’t possibly understand the entire ‘context’ of the scene.
Ultimately this episode gets the very high rating of 8. This is because of the much needed and previously mentioned characterisation and the tension that was created between the small titan and Sasha as she was running away from it and charging directly towards it. Also there was a lot of confusion online about the titan’s height in this episode, even though it was previously mentioned in both the show and the manga that titans can be approximately 3m tall. Also the terrible CGI for the horses in the establishing shots were back in this episode. But overall this season is shaping up to rival the first one even though it will only be 12 episodes long. Quality over quantity right?