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Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 110 Review

Attack on Titan manga chapter 110 overflowed with interesting twist and turns this month, that culminated in one of the best chapters this year:

 

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110 opens with a possibly unnecessary flashback to the day of Zeke’s initial attack on Ragako village. We, as the audience, already understood that all this occurred and the only possible justification for the inclusion of this scene is that it introduces the gas weaponry. We will see this is the future and it needed to be established so Isayama incorporated it here. Also, in this scene Pieck distinctly has her eye on Zeke. This is seemingly subtle indication that Pieck was always suspicious of Zeke and never entirely trusted him. Pieck has demonstrated very observant behaviour in the past, she quickly caught onto the plot on Marley and escaped the trap, so she’s clearly incredibly insightful. Additionally, the framing and artwork in that panel is excellent, it truly emphasises the suspicion from Pieck and the arrogance from Zeke. (Who said Isayama can’t draw?) Zeke in his explanation to Levi, has an interesting line, “The power of the titans will be sent to them,” this referring to the transformation from human to a mindless titan. This still implies that someone or something is sending the ‘power of the titans’ to these coordinates, they are sending the mass or the titan body. I always assumed the legends about Ymir were just fictional anecdotal myths not something to be taken literally, so this phrasing was peculiar. Bolstering this point, Isayama doesn’t seem to be fond of religion, so I always doubted the Ymir legend as an explanation for the origin of titans and shifters. Ultimately, I’m unsure who or where ‘power of the titans’ is summoned from, but I don’t think it’s a literal deity called Ymir.

 

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Levi further demonstrates his absolute humanitarian ideology by correcting and reminding Zeke that the name of the village he massacred was ‘Ragako.’ Levi may come across as cold sometimes, but it’s important to remember that a key characteristic of his is absolute sympathy for human beings, even when someone is a complete fuck-up like the soldier that went to retakes his dead friends body and ended up getting another scouts killer in episode 22 of season 1. Even in that situation instead of scolding that soldier, who clearly fucked up, Levi comforted him. That’s where the fundamental disagreement between these two lies, because Zeke views that incident as necessary for the betterment of Eldia, whereas Levi views it as the unnecessary murder of a village. Zeke follows this up bizarrely by commenting that Levi mustn’t be popular with woman; (alright old cancer-ridden man…) which sort of undermines the gravity of the scene. I’ve seen this line, or something like this line, in many anime/manga properties and it has grown into a pet peeve of mine. Additionally, nobody talks like that, that’s not a line ever uttered by a serious human being, its unnatural dialogue, something this series seriously struggles with. The point trying to be communicated by this line was that Levi couldn’t begin to understand Zeke or his motivations in this war. Zeke then stresses that he wants to start the experiments with Eren and warns Levi that if they (paradise), believe that they have time to waste they are sorely mistaken, to which Levi agrees and the scene ends.

 

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We cut to Pyxis’ ongoing interrogation disguised as a conversation with Yelena who admits to meeting with Eren ‘that day.’ She throughout this scene explains her supposed motivations for all her shady actions, but an indication that all this is a fabrication is that we only get her explanation we never get a contextual flashback to her meeting with Eren or her careful manipulation of Flock, which I think we will inevitably get one when actual the truth is revealed. Consequently, Pyxis throughout this portion of the chapter is completely justified in distrusting her recount of events. She mirrors Zeke’s sentiment that paradise doesn’t have time to be messing around and says that Eren understood this sense of urgency and that’s why they were so agreeable upon their meeting. Pyxis inferences that Zeke must have promised something concrete to Eren for them to be so agreeable that tentatively. He then accuses her and Zeke of manipulating Eren, in response to this Yelena has an emotional outburst, aggressively jumping to her feet stating that all she wanted was for Eren to recognise her efforts and respect her. This outburst doesn’t paint Yelena well at all in the eyes of the view, in this situation for which there are only two possibilities; either she’s telling the truth and she’s an insane fanatic who can’t be trusted or she’s just a liar, double agent that can’t be trusted. After the outburst everyone soaks in the awkwardness and Yelena resigns saying that Eren gave her and all the volunteer soldiers hope that Marley could be toppled, just like Zeke once did. She also says Eren did a wonderful thing in Marley, and that her and Pyxis were watching history being written; “I just wish to witness it by their side.” Ultimately, she’s an insane and loyal individual that lusts for glory and purpose, weirdly just like Erwin. Pyxis summarises her story by concluding that she is saying that it was all for curiosity, but it’s clear that he doesn’t buy her story. She says that yes it was, and that Flock acted as the intermediary between her and Eren, claiming that all the goings-on were her fault only. Basically, she breaks it down to all being for the greater good of Eldia and that only she is to be blamed. Pyxis tells her outright that he doesn’t believe her and that she’s a bad liar for not injecting some truth into her story and the scene ends as he asks her again to recount the entire story.

 

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We cut to a conversation between Hange and Onyankopon, who is explaining that he’s disappointed in the Eldian government’s doubt of the volunteer soldiers. He cites everything they have accomplished together as reason for her to not distrust them. Notably in this opening panel Onyankopon is shuffling a deck of cards, possibly indicating symbolically or subconsciously to the audience that he is not to be trusted and that he is the manipulator in this situation. Unlike Yelena his culpability in this mess is unclear, and I’m unsure whether he is trustworthy after many re-reads of the chapter. He states that he refuses to believe that Zeke could be a double agent for Marley. At this point of the conversation the guarding officer of Onyankopon’s house arrest is shown. Notably he is of the Garrison regiment meaning he likely reports back to Pyxis and may be gathering covert information for whatever Pyxis is planning. Also, he looks to be having the time of his life with an apple and an alcoholic beverage in hand each hand, maybe Hange gave them to him so he was distracted as the conversation went on. Onyankopon then criticises Hange dividing the military at an inopportune time and announces his further distaste for all the volunteer’s soldiers being held hostage. All Hange has to say in response is to advise him to just hang in there a little longer while they figure things out. Hange then explain to Onyankopon, who was seemingly unaware of the situation, that Yelena conducted a secret meeting with Eren. He seems shocked upon hearing this and through his body language and expression allows Hange to gleam that Onyankopon believes Yelena may be capable of doing something like that. Hange asks for Onyankopon to tell her everything he knows about Elena…

 

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This panel shows Elena’s brutality and her willingness to do anything for her goal, or Zeke’s goals. As well as indicating that she is Zeke’s second in command or at least more informed than all her other comrades. Additionally, Onyankopon explains that he didn’t know anything about why/how they arranged and pulled-off a secret meeting and that all the other volunteer soldiers just followed her example. They also notice that her behaviour and demeanour towards different groups alters to support the oppressed or less-privileged group in a given situation. Examples are given of her mercilessly mowing down Marlian soldiers who came to learn the truth about they’re operation on the journey to Paradise Island, and her then juxtaposing behaviour, pleading for their human rights once they arrived on the Island, in front of the Paradise officials. Onyankopon concludes that she’s trying to retroactively atone for her sins against each group depending on the circumstance. Hange who now implicitly trusts Onyankopon grabs him and storms off, releasing him from his house arrest while he maintains his confusion. Hange must have had an epiphany of some sort and immediately understood that she needed Onyankopon because then the scene ends.

 

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We cut to Armin weirdly touching up on Annie’s crystallised body, until he’s interrupted and caught read-handed by Hitch. The clear attraction Armin has to Annie in this scene is interesting because it’s questionable if Armin always had these feelings for Annie or maybe that Bertolt’s memories are shaping him more than we initially believed. Either explanation is plausible with the limited information we have, and we have seen that Armin’s view of Bertolt has changed since he ate him, he seems much more sympathetic. If we can divert for a second: Hitch’s post time-skip redesign is fantastic, look at her go! She notifies Armin that touching the crystal is strictly off limits. It seems she has been put in charge of guarding Annie’s crystal contemporaneously. Armin freaks out like an absolute weirdo and I hate him, this was an uncharacteristic outburst comparable to Yelena’s from earlier in the chapter. No one overreacts like that; this outburst is completely unnatural and breaks immersion. Hitch then playfully feeds into this overreaction and explains that she wouldn’t ban Armin from coming to see Annie because then she would have to listen to Hitch inclusively day in and day out. This lets the audience know that Armin is the only one that comes to see Annie in her crystallised form, and the only one to have contact with her besides Hitch. Then to cap off the scene in Annie’s underground holding cell, Hitch delivers the most meta line in Attack on Titan history, “Seriously, why are so popular, even though all you do is sleep.”

 

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We cut to Armin and Hitch walking outside the cell at the Eldian military headquarters. Hitch reads the media headlines to Armin wherein they bash the establishment for imprisoning Eren without explanation. A common motif in this chapter is a demonstration of the institutions and ideas that the scout regiment pioneered coming back to bite them in the ass, our first example of this is the freedom of the press. Hange ushered in a new philosophy of journalism and freedom into the Paradise press, and now using the very freedom she granted them, they are criticising her, and she can’t do anything about it because then she would become the ultimate hypocrite. Hitch says the military should have given the media some sort of satisfying information to quell the rampant speculation and distrust. Armin argues that providing satisfying information may have been impossible. He says (rightfully) that the rumbling ability must be kept top secret and that the Eren situation is so convoluted that it would have been impossible to give a satisfying answer. Armin concludes saying that they must figure out this Eren situation quickly. Urgency is another reoccurring theme throughout this chapter. He plans to do this, as we would later come to find out, by attempting to reason with Eren by talking to him with Mikasa.

 

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Their conversation is interrupted by the overwhelming commotion at the front gate of headquarters, where a protest mob has gathered and are screaming for Eren’s immediate realise. Just as the freedom of the press example was used previously in the chapter, now the patriotism and nationalism the scouts once prided themselves upon, is being bastardised and used against them. This creates for some incredibly compelling television. Hitch is asked to assist with the quelling of the crowd by her fellow military police officers and separates from Armin who immediately and conveniently runs into Mikasa. Hitch demonstrates her maintained aversion to work by complaining about having to do this. This portion of the chapter served as a neat re-introduction to Hitch as a character which was needed, plus to show off her fantastic knew redesign. While Mikasa and Armin are heading inside they notice some suspicious looking recruits roaming in the area who will be important later in the chapter. Mikasa tells are that they haven’t got much time and they need to hurry. (Urgency)

 

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We cut to their meeting with Zackery who is acting as the authority figurehead of the military on Paradise. (Not sure if that was mentioned in previous chapters or if I had just forgotten) Zackery’s favourite chair is shown to be present at the meeting and this is another instance of the incredible coordination between the Attack on Titan manga and anime units. I talked all about this is a previous article, but Isayama has planned the realise schedule of his manga to correlate with the anime unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. An element that would have gone completely unremembered by the manga audience is reintroduced in a recent anime episode and then Isayama brings that element back up and resolves it with the element still fresh in the minds of his manga audience. He used this strategy with Ymir’s backstory and with the reveal of the Beast Titans abilities last year, and now he’s done it with Zackery’s weird sex/torture chair. Perfect execution (pun intended) and timing on his part. Armin thanks Zackery for taking the time to see them, and Zackery apologises that it’s on a day like today. This line is accompanied by a great shot of Zackery overlooking the mob protest assembled outside of headquarter through his window. (See Below.) He notably refers to Mikasa and Armin as heroes of Shinganshina, which is interesting and shows the weight of what was accomplished by the scouts when they defeated Bertolt, Reiner and Zeke, it Mikasa and Armin’s legacy. They comment on Hange’s recent developments with Onyankopon showing the linearity of the chapter. However, Zackery ultimately doesn’t permit the two of them to meet with Eren. He believes that its too risky for them to see him with the current situation, but we know this is all sophistry to disguise that Zackery has already given up on Eren and wants one of his people to inherit the Founding Titan. He does drop the line, “We believe Eren is being controlled by Zeke,” which is highly unlikely due to Erne’s motives and that throughout the chapter Isayama is clearly trying to portray this possibility, but I believe it’s a red-hearing. Mikasa showing her true motivation just asks what will happen to Eren going forward; no one in the room answers her and then she inadvertently changes the subject to the chair. Zackery avoids the question about the chair and exposits that some ‘new recruits’ helped him move it up here. It is implied that he had them do this, so he could use it on Eren, with the intent to break his silence. Armin attempts to argue that Eren may open up to him and Mikasa because of their established history, Zackery ignores him and ends the meeting.

 

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Hard cut to Armin and Mikasa standing outside Zackery’s office with the doors closed. Armin concludes the military higher ups (Zackery, Pyxis, Nile and Hange) have already abandoned Eren and chosen a successor to the Founding and Warhammer Titan. That is if Eren truly has the latter and didn’t inadvertently give it to the Jaw Titan. Mikasa says she’ll go listen in on the conversation between Zackery and some suspicious looking military police officers that’s ongoing to gather information. Armin argues against it and implores her not to break military law. She ignores him and once again explains that she’ll do anything to protect Ere… EXPLOSION! A bomb that was planted in Zackery chair by the new recruits successfully detonates and kills Zackery and the 3 supposed candidates for the inheritance of Eren’s powers. This was a shock to me the first read-through, it was a great twist that I certainly didn’t see coming. It seems all the new recruits for the Scouts regiment have successfully been indoctrinated by Zeke and Eren’s agenda, which means they must have systematic people in place to spread their ideology in the training system. Consequently, Zackery was assassinated and is now dead and there’s a lot of surrounding intrigue.

 

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We cut to the ground floor of the explosion to see the aftermath. Armin, Mikasa and Hitch are all shown alive and are clearly overwhelmed by the entire situation. The image of Zackery half blown off body is brutal and is asking to be censored by the anime. As the trio regroups they notice the fanatical mob outside the gates are roaring in victory. They begin to realise the stupidity and brutality of mob justice; no thought or logic has gone into their parade. Mikasa and Armin finally realise that the tribalism mindset has taken over Paradise. This demonstrates to the audience that if something massive doesn’t change then the cycle of oppression and hatred is going to continue between these ethnic groups.

 

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We cut to a military meeting called in response to the attack with a variety of characters present, including Hange, Onyankopon, Nile, Mikasa and Armin. It’s exposited that explosion was planted in the chair and that a total of four military officials were killed. They state that the motives and the culprit are unknown currently, Hange then points out that Onyankopon was with her all day, and that all other volunteer soldiers were under house arrest, giving them all an alibi. Armin tells the group that Zackery said that new recruits from the scout regiment had moved the chair earlier in the day, placing the blame on them. Nile begins to respond saying that the survey corps must have been infiltrated and are leaking information when he is interrupted by a soldier who lets them know that Eren has escaped. He goes onto explain that Eren used his titan abilities to break out and everyone looks shocked at this, how did they not expect him to break free immediately? Why didn’t Eren break out immediately? This prison business isn’t making too much sense. To end the scene Mikasa asks Armin what the hell is going on…

 

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We cut to a shirtless Eren walking towards a group of his comrades who are seemingly stationed in the middle of nowhere. How did they know where he was going to be? How did he know where they were going to be? Eren comments that there is a lot of new people in the group, including the newly introduced characters from last month’s chapter. Flock who seems to be coordinating all these people explains that they are even more of them and that they have some (as Nile excepted) double agents on the inside. Flock then claims responsibility for blowing up Zackery, something Eren seemingly wasn’t aware of. But nonetheless Eren has no reaction to Zackery’s murder or any of that information. Flock explains that they did it because Zackery wanted someone else to inherit the founding titan, while they believe that Eren must be the one to topple the Marlian Empire. Eren responds to none of this and only says that he will locate Zeke. I believe Isayama’s intentions with this scene were two-fold; to mislead the audience into believing that maybe Eren is currently being controlled by Zeke and to tease a possible Levi vs Eren fight in next month’s chapter. The latter is extremely exciting, if Eren locates Zeke, Levi will be forced to intervene.

 

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We cut to Hange, Onyankopon, Armin and Mikasa riding in the back of a chariot. They all seem to believe they can convince Eren if they are able to talk to him. Plus, Zackery isn’t around anymore to deny them the privilege. Then the camera wonders and we get the most interesting twist in this entire chapter. To close the chapter out Peick is shown to have infiltrated the walls and is gathering information as she is reading the newspapers. This is a clear parallel to what Eren did in Marley and it’ll be incredibly interesting to see what exactly she has planned. Is she alone, or are other shifters or soldiers with her? The closing statement from Isayama ending the chapter is, “Internal conflict, and a visit from a foreign invader.”

 

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Ultimately, this was great chapter of Attack on Titan, we got satisfying progression for a patient month’s wait, and we got a whole lot of intrigue moving forward. If Eren and Zeke team up can they subjugate Levi? I would love to think Levi destroys them both immediately and continues being infallible, but even I doubt him in that situation. Gabbi and Falco were absent from this chapter, what have they been up to? Is Peick planning to attack Paradise in a similar way to how Eren attacked Marley? Once again Isayama has teased Annie’s return to us, will it happen next month? Whose side will she be on when she emerges? Has she had a secret mission the whole time? So many questions and so long to wait, Isayama you’re killing me with these month-long waits, this chapter was great.

 

 

 

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Media Consumption Month #2 (September 2018)

Welcome to the second month of my media consumption diary, were I briefly vent about all the media I’ve consumed in the previous month including, films, video games, tv shows, anime and manga. Look for a heading you’re interested in and have fun…

Attack on Titan Season 3:

Attack on Titan Season 3 has continued with its break-neck speed and has already concluded adapting the Uprising Arc, in only 10 episodes. Overall, it was all fine and dandy, nothing made me mad and the Kenny backstory episode, which is the highlight of the arc, was handled appropriately. I’m entirely satisfied by this adaptation and even further impressed with its continued coordination with the manga (See my article of chapter 109 of Attack on Titan for further details on that aspect). Since I am a manga reader there isn’t much for me to speculate about, but I am interested to see how they stretch the following arc across 15 episodes when I think the material is only enough for 8-10 more episodes. We will have to play patient fellas with Attack on Titan Season 3 and you’ll have to wait until next month for an update.

 

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My Hero Academia Season 3:

My Hero Academia Season 3 has concluded, Season 4 is already confirmed, in case anyone somehow was still questioning that fact. Last time I made one of these I wasn’t too high on the boring exam we were in the middle of, but I can proudly state that by the end of the season the show had entirely won me back, largely because of Episode 24. This episode hit every quota for my personal enjoyment of My Hero Academia. It was nearly entirely focus on the villains and character interactions, my two standout wants from My Hero. The opening segment that focused on a mysterious, yet interestingly introspective man was truly entertaining and when later he was revealed to be Twice, gave that character some much needed depth. It engaged me with a forgettable comic relief character and reintroduced him as a tragic introspective villain. The plot further grew in that episode with the introduction of Overhaul, a new villain with a signature look. Now I’m unfamiliar with the manga for My Hero but I have seen these ‘Peak boys’ around the internet and I like their aesthetic, so I’m interested to see his role in things moving forward. However, I’m currently internally debating if I should wait for Season 4 or just go ahead and read the source material.

 

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Steins; Gate 0:

I saw someone literally decapitated in Steins; Gate 0, and asked myself, ‘what the fuck is going on?’ The narrative surrounding Steins; Gate 0 remains unchanged, I believe this is a show unsuitable for weekly consumption and binge watching it is the only way to properly understand the series. But I’ll continue to watch as it is Dubbed weekly and then once it is all realised I’ll re-watch it all from the beginning and revaluate my opinions. In the meantime, I would like to further empathise my hatred for Kaguri and uneasy feeling about a superhero decapitating someone in a Steins; Gate related show, it was quite disconnecting from the usually grounded nature of the series.

 

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Vinland Saga:

Vinland Saga continues to impress and has maintained my interest through a drastic genre change. There are no more battles in Vinland Saga, if you came into this series excepting an action series, you haven’t been paying attention and its likely this series will lose you at this point. It seems like the message of Vinland Saga is absolute pacifism. Vinland Saga is seemingly about Thorfinn learning what it means to be a true warrior, meaning laying down you weapons.  This is thematically presented to him by his father and by Askeladd in his recent dream/nightmare adventures, that he’s be having every night but not remembering. It is exposited to him that it’s never ok to strike another human being, by his father and Askeladd presents the horrors of Valhalla to Thorfinn and how he’s managing to escape this hell through his recent lack of murder.

 

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To explain to those uninitiated for the first 50 chapters Vinland Saga is a clearly Berserk inspired manga about the horrific nature of medieval society and war. A scene that cannot stop thinking about, that incapsulates the tonal dark nature of these initial 50 chapters is where the band of Vikings Askeladd leads, and Thorfinn is a part of, is staying in a small village and are running roughshod over the area. And in this commotion, there is a moment of reflection from the typically empathy-less Thorfinn for a young girl who is tied up with her clothes ripped off, clearly about to be raped by his Viking comrades. Now it is important to point out that Thorfinn is only comrades with these people out of hatred and the Askeladd despises all of them, so they aren’t horrible people for surrounding themselves with the people in this situation, they both secretly hate them all. But the effectiveness of this scene is in the implication of what’s happening, and the desperation mixed with acceptance in the girl’s eyes. It’s a hauntingly effective scene that demonstrates the brutality of the world of Vinland Saga and now, the series has become about humble farmers, and SOMEHOW it works incredibly. We have collectively transformed the tone from that to a farming show about the horrors and struggle of slavery and directionless life. I stopped after finishing chapter 72 and can’t wait to see how the story further progresses with the new cool characters like Snake, Einar, Arneis and the old master of the farm. Vinland Saga is great!

 

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Devilman:

My continuation with Devilman has been significantly affected by Vinland Saga, whenever I decide to spend time reading a manga I’ve always opted to read Vinland Saga. I’m still extremely early in the Devilman manga, Akira is still yet to become Devilman. The set-up of the series is much more expositional in the manga, Rio is just dumping plot details on the audience and Akira. In Crybaby I remember just being thrust into a night club, sex party and then suddenly we had ourselves a spooky Devilman. I don’t know which alternative method is better but there’s got to be a happy medium that limits the lazy exposition but doesn’t assault the reader with imagery. I hope to further understand Devilman by the time I return to you next month.

 

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Cowboy Bebop:

I’m still slowly forcing my way through Cowboy Bebop, and it’s your fault… I don’t what to continue, I’m over this episodic boring nonsense, but I have to be able to say I’ve watched it to appease you people. I’m watched up to episode 15, and I still don’t care about these characters, Spike is still uninteresting, and I maintain that his backstory and everything in reference to Vicious should have been left in Episode 5, the only good episode of this series so far. Faye is still the hottest anime bitch I’ve ever seen, but I don’t care about her, Jet is the same and Edward is funny. Episodic shows just remind me that I’m wasting my time watching and I don’t like to have my wastefulness reaffirmed by the media I’m consuming. Tune in next month to see if I have turned around on Cowboy Bebop and maybe had a revelation about this series’ supposed brilliance.

 

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Serial Experiment Lain:

I have a very weird way of consuming new media that makes it impossible for me to form an intelligent opinion on anything during my first viewing. I subconsciously must have known it for a while but now I’m consciously aware of my deficiency. It takes something incredibly straightforward for me to evaluate everything on a first viewing and Serial Experiments Lain is definitively not a straightforward show. So, as I was slowly digesting this show, sort of disinterested, I knew that it would immediately become one of my favourite shows after I’d finished it and reflected on it slightly. I don’t know what it is about me that hates nearly everything on the first time; I’m constantly looking around, not paying attention and secretly hating myself because it feels like I’m stationary in a seat wasting my time. However, re-watching anything is much easier and way more enjoyable to me. I didn’t like the Godfather until I quickly re-watched it a few days later; I didn’t like Evangelion until I thought about it over the following few days. It must be me understanding what I’m getting into before watching the re-watch that puts me at ease and allows me to enjoy the experience, maybe it’s about understanding.

 

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Serial Experiments Lain as insane as it is awesome and I’m in love with it. The aesthetic is an instant giveaway that this show is outwardly interesting, Lain’s character design is near perfection, she’s incredibly cute and endearing and when her appearance is slightly manipulated, her character design is also near perfect as a malicious psychopath. The opening is already downloaded on my phone, what a fitting song, I love that it mocks the audience (intentionally or unintentionally). The first line just rubs in that the abstractness of this show is flying immediately over your head, “And you don’t seem to understand”. The shows ability to understand what would become popular internet culture is astounding. The wired takes over people’s lives and integrates itself into the real world, just as the internet has become another layer of our contemporary world. The VR headset prediction was also impressive and it’s incredible that the show introduces the idea of ‘memes,’ creates a ‘meme’ within the world of the show in, “Let’s all love Lain,” and then for that to become a widespread ‘meme’ in our reality is some legit metatextual shit. This show is fantastic, already one of my favourites and I’m currently going back through it in the Sub because this is going to take a while to fully understand and comprehend.

 

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RahXephon:

RahXephon is one hell of a fun ride, but I don’t know how much RahXephon itself contributes to my interest level. My interest in this show is somewhat predicated on the fact that it is basically a retelling of Neon Genesis Evangelion, and I love to identify the similarities and differences between the two shows and see how RahXephon decides to alter the story idiosyncratically. So, in that statement am I praising RahXephon or Neon Genesis Evangelion? I don’t know, but I am enjoying my time with this show nonetheless; the imagery is fun the symbols are being set-up and I’m fascinated by the characters. The winey elements that are prevalent in Shinji but weren’t as evident in our main character in RahXephon, have started to become apparent in recent episodes. I left off on Episode 5, they introduced all the soldiers outside of Tokyo Jupiter, a neat homage to Tokyo 3. The Pink haired girl seems interesting, Misato’s counterpart seems interesting and may or may not be hooking up with that girl fighter pilot that was introduced, and the mysterious Rei girl is interesting. I like how our main character and our Rei interact differently in this show, they actually talk and relate to each other for a scene or two, nearly immediately, whereas Rei and Shinji took episodes to come to an understanding and then Rei just got reset and we had to start all over again. RahXephon is at the top of my list for things I’m interested in continuing in the coming month.

 

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Vision of Escaflowne:

Sadly, because of my overbearing focus on Serial Experiments Lain for most of the month, and my last-minute fling with RahXephon, I haven’t followed up with anymore Escaflowne. Interestingly enough, last month I was most interested in continuing Escaflowne, but because of the appealing short length of Lain and its overall density, Escaflowne was sadly left on the back burner. I still have every intention of continuing my journey with this show and will hopefully have more for you next month.

Revolutionary Girl Utena:

Unfortunately, Revolutionary Girl Utena has fallen into similar trappings as Vision of Escaflowne, and I have come to you a month later with no progression. The difference is I’m entirely unmotivated to continue Utena, I will because I always force myself to do things, but that first debacle of a Dubbed Episode 1 fucked me up. I have at least some faith that the show will increase in quality going forward and that the Sub will pick up the slack of that nightmarish Dubbing job I was exposed to.

B Geta H Kei:

The show is among the greatest pieces of art ever created. It’s so endearing and so sweet but it’s all wrapped in a hilarious sexual outer layer. Yamada is the best female character in amine, she’s clearly written by a writers-room of men projecting their fantasy perfect female personality onto the attractive anime girl, but that’s entirely what their target audience wants so it works perfectly. The conceit of the series is fantastic, a girl with the goal of sleeping with 100 high school boys over her high school career, but by the end wasn’t even gone all the way with a single dude but, has instead fallen for one dude. The only negative here is that Cosuda is a boring audience surrogate who could have been much more interesting or dynamic. But the endearing ending is entirely satisfying to the audience even though she has entirely failed on her initial goal, because in the end it wasn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.

 

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But last time I talked about the sensation of ‘forgotten nostalgia’ and how it related to my experience with this show immensely. This was true for the entire re-watch, up until the end I had an overwhelming nostalgic experience that has definitely clouded my judgement when it comes to this series. I would like to delve deeper into this nostalgic overwhelming experience and this show at a later date and leave you with these thoughts for now… It’s fantastic.

Final Fantasy 2: (PS1)

My struggle with Final Fantasy 2 is finally over with. It was a lengthy journey of constant starts and stops but finally I’ve conquered the JRPG behemoth. It took me 29 recorded hours to beat the main story of Final Fantasy 2, (I wouldn’t dare attempt a 100% run) and likely 40+ actual hours, because in this game dying means your kicked back to menu and all your unsaved progress is gone and not recorded in the timer. I took a massive break throughout this playthrough, I’m talking months between sessions and by the end I was dying for it to be over. I did a very similar thing when I played through Final Fantasy 1 and wonder if this will be a reoccurring theme as I delve into longer JRPG experiences as we progress through this series. I found the infamous levelling system of this game very hit and miss, I think that’s the common consensus. In reality it ended up working similarly enough to a normal levelling system, that it didn’t bother me enough to widely detract from the experience. The villain was much cooler in Final Fantasy 2, taking over hell is pretty cool, then coming back to Earth more powerful to fuck over the people that sent you there, is cooler and that’s what the Emperor does in this game. That being said, I think I will more fondly look back upon my experience with the first Final Fantasy. I don’t regret my time spent with this game but it’s certainly not an experience I would lookback upon with thirst. But the workload never ends and now it’s time to move forward to Final Fantasy 3, exclusively for the Nintendo DS! (YAY)

 

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Final Fantasy 3:

I’ve played literally 5 minutes of Final Fantasy 3. All I can tell you is the art style is already annoying me and I will have more for you next month.

Octopath Traveller:

Last time we spoke I had barely started Octopath Traveller, but now that I have put a few more hours into the game I’m enjoying myself and have become quite engaged in the experience. I mentioned last time that I choose Therion as my first path, but in my opinion, it took far too long, nearly a full hour of gameplay, to enter any combat. The story writing in this game so far is entirely uninteresting, so this long stretch without any gameplay was boring me to death. The same issue interfered with the pacing and my enjoyment later when I had to sit through H’aanit’s storyline. However, I loved the non-linearity of the game; I could have gone north or south after completing chapter 1 of Therion’s story and visited any of the other characters. Both the dry mountain and lush forest area’s I’ve journeyed through so far, have been dynamic and interesting, but I’m thirsting for a proper dungeon. Additionally, Therion levelled up 10 levels from one battle when I effortlessly killed a supposedly high-level enemy, all while I was barely paying attention; that was cool. I will report back in a month with hopefully quite a bit more progression and with a lot more to talk about.

 

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NJPW Destruction Tour:

There wasn’t anything that catered to my specific interests on this tour, the Tomohiro Ishii vs Kenny Omega match was quite predictable, even if I hoped beyond hope that he would win, I and everyone else knew the outcome of this match. Naito vs Suzuki has been done to death at this point, and the final night didn’t get interesting until after the main event was over. I had no stakes in the Okada vs Tanahashi match, my interest level in them is equal, so I watched this match half paying attention and without a horse in the race. But the most important talking point retrospectively from this tour is the big Jay White and Gedo turn on Okada after the Okada vs Tanahashi match. It was a brilliant swerve that I was kicking myself for not seeing coming. New Japan isn’t fucking around when it comes to Jay White, he’s young, has the character and charisma to carry a main event program and so I’m eagerly anticipating the direction they go with him and Gedo moving into Wrestle Kingdom 13 and beyond.

 

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Hell in a Cell 2018:

Boring! I liked absolutely nothing on this show besides the result in the SmackDown Woman’s Championship match. Becky Lynch won the championship just like I told you she would last month, because after all only heels are successful in WWE contemporaneously. Besides that, I have no understanding of why the praise for this show has been so universal. Ronda Rousey sold for Alexa Bliss for 10 minutes for some reason. Fuck the tag title match, I will never care about Dolph Ziggler again, you’ve burnt that bridge WWE, and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are currently uninteresting and directionless. The only wrestler I care about in this match is Drew McIntyre. Why was the main event of this show McIntyre against Reigns? Both Hell in a Cell matches was forgettable and drawn-out bore fests. AJ and Joe had another disappointing match, AJ’s 20th disappointing match of the year, and their feud was unnecessarily propagated by a finish that made both look like morons. And I didn’t even pay attention to the mix tag match, give me a fucking break.

 

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Mae Young Classic 2:

I’m liking the second annual Mae Young Classic a whole lot. I don’t like Rhea Ripley’s new gimmick, she’s a national relative of mine coming from Australia, but her persona feels like she’s playing the bad guy. She can’t quite sell the authenticity of her character and that’s largely the issue with everybody in this tournament, with only one standout exception. Even the other home-country girl Toni Storm is overly goofy and a bit cringy in her interviews, it still seems like she’s playing an unconvincing character she doesn’t quite believe in. But Io Shari is the obvious aforementioned notable exception. She looked like the superstar she absolutely is in her first-round match with Xia Brookside, who also has the makings of a superstar. She demonstrated in this solitary match that she and Sasha deserve to Main Event WrestleMania before Ronda and Charlotte even begin to sniff it. Io Shari is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world and her intensity and charisma were on display in this match. I can’t wait to see her other matches in this tournament. Other names that stood out and impressed me, were Xia Brookside, who I already went over, and Killer Kelly who I’m interested to see develop on the NXT UK brand. I thought she excelled in her first-round match. I’ve spoiled myself on both the Mae Young Classic finals and the inaugural United Kingdom Woman’s championship tournament, and I’m exceedingly happy for my Australian girls and feel deeply sorry the main roster girls that are going to have to compete with the finals of this tournament on the Evolution card, because that final is going to be outstanding.

 

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Pokémon Emerald:

I peered over to my DS Lite and saw the cartridge of a threequarters-completed Pokémon Emerald game and then suddenly I was playing it again. I have long pronounced this game (and gen 3) as my favourite in the Pokémon series, with secretly never having actually completed a playthrough of Pokémon Emerald, only having completed playthroughs of Ruby and Sapphire. So, it was in my ideological best interest to finally finish this game of this save file I started sometime earlier this year. And let me say I’m the greatest Pokémon team creator of all time because this team is fun as fuck. Sceptile, Claydol, Camerupt, Crawdaunt, Exploud and Armaldo is fucking menacing team and every time I open up my party in the menu screen I’m rewarded with a glimpse of a satisfying group of captivating monsters ready to fuck shit up. While I was traversing the back half of this game I was reminded that I’m absolutely correct and these are the standout games in the franchise. The unique ways that water routes are crafted in this game is insane, it justifiably has the best water environments in any Pokémon game. The pulling currents puzzle, the diving puzzles, the waterfall inclusions and the variation in scenery with the rocks in certain areas, these are all elements integrated satisfyingly into this game. This game is the best what else can I say.

 

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Pokémon Colosseum:

I got an itch and found myself for the 5th or 6th time, playing through Pokémon Colosseum, and after I finish it I’m planning on revisiting its sequel: Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness, for the 5th or 6th time. I’m continuously drawn back to these games, I get an itch every few months to go back to them; at this point they’re easily the Pokémon games I’ve played through the most time. To be fair they are also the shortest traditional Pokémon adventures and therefore 5 or 6 playthroughs of them isn’t as impressive as it may sound. Very superficial elements can draw me to any piece of media and the two superficial elements I can identify about these particular games, that keep drawing me back are, the battle interface’s aesthetic and having a team of large scale monsters rendered and realised in 3D console glory. I love both these aspects about both these games and it’s the reason I come back to them constantly, I’ll just think of having Aggron and Tyranitar back to back on my side of the battle, while traversing a sleek and smooth battle UI.

 

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Featured

Attack on Titan… Underrated? (Manga Spoilers!)

Attack on Titan has achieved astronomical success since it 2013 anime adaptation, so the claim that it is somehow underrated would seem dismissible but, I believe Attack on Titan is not given the recognition for its best elements. Attack on Titan is at its core a mystery series, disguised as a flesh-mech action, political thriller. The mystery elements and the nuance in its execution and the thoroughness of the authors attention to detail isn’t discussed as prevalently as it should be. Hajime Isayama has laid this story out phenomenally, I am constantly caught off guard by the call backs and intricate details that I only notice as a hardcore fan. The real strengths of the show go unrecognised and the not so great parts are overblown and overrate the show, because people are hyped up idiots.

 

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Attack on Titan is widely praised for elements like frequent deaths and heart-stopping action, but what it truly excels at is its set-up, mystery, call-backs and subversion of reveals. For instance: that random girl that Mikasa saves in episode 6 that was animated in 2013 and written even further back than that was reintroduced into the story last month (September 2018). That’s insane and the pay-off for me, someone who pays this series my absolute attention, was enormous, I was rewarded for my nearly obsessive interest in the series and shows that Isayama cares about his audience’s intelligence. There are countless other examples of definitive background characters that are reintroduced and given incredibly important roles. Historia is the most obvious example, a character that was virtually non-existent in Season 1 but is now a focal main character in Season 3. That random girl that Sasha saves from Connie fathers titan (another idiosyncratic recently revealed piece of information) is now a fully-fledge important character contemporarily in the manga. This coordination requires insane forethought and careful planning on Isayama’s part.

 

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Isayama’s ability to reference his most early material and reward his audience’s attention is only personified further with the handling of the reveals. Attack on Titan has no dramatic reveals, intentionally. Instead of bombastic expositional dumps, Isayama (usually) subtly drip-feeds information to his audience and allows them to slowly put it together. By the time Annie is revealed as the Female Titan, the audience likely has already connected the dots, the same for the Armoured and Colossal Titan. The subtle reveal that they were indeed the shifters was communicated through the background, its simple juxtaposition but also fits the thematic elements of Isayama’s leading strategies. Even the reveal in the basement was assumed by most fans before the big reveal; the Beast Titan was making references to baseball calls and Reiner and Berthold had to come from some other community, but these reveals are always satisfying. Isayama isn’t insulting his audience so the ‘grand’ reveals feel like natural extension of the story he’s crafted.

 

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These lesser praised aspects of Attack on Titan are what’s underrated by the wider community, while the less impressive elements are overpraised because people are stupid and don’t delve past the window dressing. Ultimately, I hope to see wider discussion about the truly impressive elements of Isayama’s mystery writing and call-back rather than the anime’s action. That’s why Attack on Titan is underrated.

 

 

Featured

Puck Became a Joke and That’s Fine

Puck never lost his importance to the story of Berserk. Everyone is mad at Miura because he supposedly ruined Puck by giving him the comedic relief hat to wear following Conviction. This viewpoint is flawed for two reasons; Puck was always comedic relief and is still important to the plot, he just isn’t being focused upon or developed contemporarily. I’m sure Miura will develop Puck more in the future. His role has become increasingly comically related as of late, but he still has serious moments and observations from time to time. He was focused upon plenty in the Black Swordsmen and Conviction arcs because he was Guts’ only travelling companion, but in the arcs since them Miura has spent establishing the 30+ other characters that were important to the story. From Farnese to Mule and from Zodd to Silat. Puck became a joke and that’s fine because it’s funny and it’s temporary.

 

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Puck in the Black Swordsmen arc served as our guide to this brand new and equally confusing and dark world. Puck was a newcomer to Guts and the world of Berserk just like us, he was a great parallel to the viewer and served as prime juxtaposition to Guts while he was at his worst. Puck served a seminal narrative reason in those early Berserk chapters and his sympathy for Vargas and disdain for Guts’ unruly behaviour endeared him to us. In the Lost Children chapters Puck further was endeared to the audience and eventually after he and Guts acknowledged each other as mutual, worthy travelling companions, and embraced others like Farnese, Serpico, Isidro and Schierke, those characters took the spotlight. Puck was just along for the ride. So, Miura, to keep Puck around as a relevant character, created the “Chestnut Puck” persona.

 

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But the criticism for Chestnut Puck further doesn’t make sense because Chestnut Puck is (objectively): best Puck. He’s hilarious, his chemistry with Isidro and Ivalera are off the charts and watching them interact gives me the finest of joys in my terrible existence. Additionally, his gimmick of believing the story revolves around him, along with the scenario of him and Magnifico trying to overthrow the Elfhelm system was also hilarious. So, don’t shit talk Chestnut Puck, he’s fucking great and in the future Miura will give him serious moments and make you the happiest boys in all the land. Puck’s a funny boy, leave him alone…

 

 

 

Featured

The Black Swordsmen Arc is Critical to the Overall Structure of Early Berserk

The first eight chapters of Berserk featured in Volumes 1-3 have become known as the Black Swordsman arc. This opening arc of the series has come to be undervalued largely by the wider Berserk community. It has largely been ignored by all anime studios in their adaptations and its importance to the structure of Berserk is also commonly undervalued. This is massive mistake on all anime adaptations of Berserk. The Black Swordsman arc is seminal to the overall structure of early Berserk (Black Swordsman and Golden Age) and the arc is designed to be shown entirely and then be followed up by the Golden Age, which should be presented as a prologue.

 

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The Black Swordsman arc is an introduction to the world of Berserk, therein introducing the tone, characters, themes and imagery present in the main timeline of Berserk. This is necessary because it is seminal in that the Golden Age is presented as the tonal outlier of the series. The movies entirely present the Golden Age without the necessary juxtaposition which undermines the intention of the original manga. Everything from the characters to the tone to the overall world is juxtaposed between the Black Swordsman period and the Golden Age. Pippin, Judeau and Corkus have virtually nothing in common with Vargas, Theresia, Puck and The Count, those unfamiliar with Berserk may even initially believe they are from different stories entirely. The worlds are completely contradictory, one has monstrous demonic evils seemingly around every corner and the other is one of traditional medieval fiction, with Kings, Knights and Princesses and no magic or monsters anywhere. This instils in the viewer an unwavering intrigue making them wonder how we go from a normal medieval setting to one of dark fantasy, something terrible must happen?

 

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Thematically there is also an essential justification for the series to be structured with the Black Swordsman arc preceding the flashback to the Golden Age, because a central theme of Berserk surrounds fate. Whether it’s called fate or causality that is what Guts is truly fighting against, this is visually represented from the beginning with the brand on his neck and how he struggles against the will of fate. Additionally, the entire cast of the Golden Age arc is fighting against fate, the audience is positioned in the same way they are. We know that due to the absence of Judeau, Pippin, Corkus and the other members of the Band of the Hawk, that they will likely die before the flashback concludes, but still the audience wills against fate, we don’t want these characters to die but secretly we know it is unavoidable. Technically the audience somewhat wins their fight against fate through the unlikely survival of Casca and Rickert, many likely assumed they would also perish. This highlights Berserk’s most important thematic element hope. Casca and Rickert struggle to survive and in their survival the audience is rewarded with maintaining them in the story. There is hope in the world of Berserk.

 

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Ultimately, the Black Swordsman arc is necessary in any adaptation or read-through of Berserk to truly get the clearest picture. Muira wasn’t dicking around when he wrote these opening eight chapters and it grates on me that they are continuously overlooked and downplayed by would-be adapters and some in the Berserk fandom.

Featured

Naruto’s Fascinating Hierarchical Structure

Everything in Naruto works on a fascinating hierarchical structure of squads; one sensei and three pupils; two boys and a girl. These squads or teams are always made of three predominant personalities; a hyperactive male ninja (Naruto, Kiba, Kakuro, Jiraiya, Obito etc.), a driven strictly business male ninja (Sasuke, Shino, Gaara, Orochimaru, Kakashi etc.) and a usually useless, annoying female character (Sakura, Ino, Tsunade, Rin etc.). This is the core of Naruto’s structure and its fascinating how many different characters are created through this strategy. Additionally, this allows for a narrative through line between all generations of ninja in the Naruto universe. You can fascinatingly follow the learning tree up the ladder from teacher to pupil to teacher’s son to pupil’s son.

 

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In my opinion the most fascinating aspect of Naruto is whenever a flashback is enabled by Kishimoto. Naruto would be so much more interesting if Naruto was irrelevant and we focused on literally any other era in the history of Naruto’s lore. Naruto and Sasuke suck in comparison to Orochimaru and Jiraiya or Kakashi and Obito. But the fascinating core to every is the linage and how certain squads functioned and interacted with these other established personalities. How did Orochimaru interact with Jiraiya before the split, how did Minato interact with Orochimaru, how did Itachi interact with Jiraiya before the both left the village. All these interesting characters would have all lived in the Hidden Leaf Village before the start of Naruto and it’s so much more interesting than whatever-the-fuck is going on in the contemporaneous Naruto plot. Naruto’s fascinating Hierarchical structure with the squad system is genius and makes Naruto’s kayfabe past so much more interesting and easy to understand.

Featured

Attack on Titan’s Misleading Reputation with Character Deaths: (Manga Spoilers)

Sasha recently died in the Attack on Titan manga, and had a moment of reflection… No one ever dies in Attack on Titan! The internet narrative and reputation surrounding this series is that death is a series constant. Attack on Titan is commonly compared to Game of Thrones (Spoilers for Game of Thrones) in terms of quantity of deaths. Let’s run through the major character deaths in Game of Thrones, Ned Stark, Rob Stark, Catlin Stark, Tywin Lannister, Joffrey Lannister, Robert Baratheon, Stannis Baratheon, Magarey Tyrell among others. All these held significant value to the plot and died shockingly and seemingly out of nowhere. Attack on Titan’s major character deaths include, Sasha Blouse, Erwin Smith, Berthold Hoover, Kenny Ackerman, Hannes and Ymir; that’s it. Every other character death is of a nameless background character or is someone the audience never really cared about and had little impact on the plot. Marco’s death has relevance to the characters in the story, but the audience didn’t remember Marco when Jean found him. (Don’t lie)

 

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This reputation Attack on Titan has is misleading, but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Attack on Titan isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a meaningful character death when necessary and Isayama doesn’t go over-board with his itchy trigger-figure. Every character death feels earned and occurs tastefully, unless you’re a useless background character, in that case you brutally chomped on by a hideous titan. The purpose of this write-up is to share my absolute frustration whenever I hear this talking point online. No Attack on Titan doesn’t kill characters like Game of Thrones, stop being an idiot.