My Top 10 Favourite TV Shows of All Time

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This list serves as a list of my Top 10 Favourite TV Shows of All Time, wherein I recount my favourite tv shows, but this video also functions as an experiment I’d like to play out over the coming years here on the channel. Every year in January I would like to remake this list and compare how the list changes over time. Particularly in this list you will notice the overbearing amount of anime, by this time next year I hope to have watched more classic western television. With that being said let’s start the list:

  1. Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones would undeniably be in the Top 3 of this list if there were only 4 seasons of this show, but because of the abject failure of anything following season 4, it’ll have to settle for 10th on this list. Seasons 1 through 3 of Game of Thrones is some of the best television I have ever seen, the performances, story, cinematography, music and surprises were revolutionary, it captured the worlds excitement. But seasons 5 through 7 and likely season 8, have ruined this show, now it contradicts itself thematically and places importance of things like linage that are antithetical to the moral of the story. No characters ever die anymore, and half the episodes are just fan service another aspect the beginning of the show intentionally subverted. But we aren’t here to talk about the failings of Game of Thrones, but to highlight the positive aspects of the series and justify its placement here on the list. Game of Thrones, in the beginning, is all about the art of subversion and therefore the show created something fresh. The brave King who conquered the kingdom and overthrew a lasting dynasty, is sad about his lost girlfriend and drinks himself to death. The honourable stereotypical hero is eaten alive by the realistic political tactics of the capital. The beautiful Queen is paranoid constantly and sleeps with her brother, the prince charming esk knight has his fighting arm mutilated, the disgusting looking Dwarf is the best dude, the grand speeches before medieval battles are undercut by realism. Now this inherit freshness isn’t enough to create a successful tv show, but tie that together with all the other grand elements I mentioned, and you have yourself one hell of a story… until they fucked it all up.

  1. Naruto/Naruto Shippuden

Your eyes are not deceiving you, Naruto/Naruto Shippuden is rank higher than Game of Thrones here on the list. Immediately if you’re made and if you’ve been paying attention you should be yelling about me criticising Game of Thrones for contradicting itself thematically when that is maybe just as true of Naruto. Everyone’s pointed this out at this point, Naruto’s inspirational speech to Neji about linage being meaningless only for it to be revealed that Naruto and Sasuke are from a linage of ninja that were destined to battle throughout time. But in defence of Naruto, at least Naruto addresses this in the narrative. When Neji is killed in the great shinobi war his symbolic bird is impaled by the falling spikes as well. This maybe a brief call back, but at least Kishimoto is addressing the battle the two had in the past instead of ignoring it. At least Naruto addresses its contradictions instead of acting like nothing’s changed.

But once again we seem to be getting side-tracked in the negative, instead of justifying its placement here on the list. Naruto, even more than Pokemon to me, is the fictional world I would choose to live in if given the choice. Naruto has the coolest powers in all of fiction to me. Obviously, the hand signs are a genius inclusion, every kid want to emulate these hand signs because forming them, at least in the show, looks cool as fuck. Not only this but the actual fighting techniques are also amazing, my favourite being Minato’s fly risen jutsu, where he teleports around using the indicators. Not only is the world of Naruto captivating but the on goings are great as well, some of my favourite moments in fiction happen in Naruto. They’re were literal moments on my initial viewing where I couldn’t believe my eyes. The slow reveal of Obito being Tobi was unbelievably handled in the anime, I had already been spoiled when I first watched it but the direction of the 10-minute opening stretch in unreal, the music and visuals give the perfect representation of the rise and fall of this character. Later in the best fight in the series between Obito and Kakashi I couldn’t believe my eyes, the stylised combination of their fight as children and their contemporary fight is brilliant, and as the fight builds to the moment were the two cross over you feel the literal weight of their relationship and how much this fight means to the both of them. Overall Naruto has some outstanding moments in its historic run and shouldn’t be underestimated to the extreme it is by series critics. This show means too much to me for it to not be given representation here.

  1. Baccano!

Baccano is stylised madness and the first of two examples on this list of a standout Dub performance making an already great show even better. The dialogue here is intrinsic to my overall enjoyment and even if you here some of those annoying familiar voices throughout the shows cast, the accents and stylisation here bring the show home. (Play Digibro clip) Baccano is famous for its non-linearity, the story is told across three separate timelines that do interact, even if maybe not directly, this complex method of storytelling is not only difficult to understand but even more difficult to pull off to this effective of an extent. Somehow even though on your first viewing you’re not going to fully understand the overall narrative, you still enjoy yourself and find the show thoroughly entertaining. Baccano also is very rewarding to go back and rewatch, I’ve seen the show four times from start to finish and every time I pick up on another extraneous detail. The atmosphere of authentic 1930s New York is the selling point here, when I’m watching Baccano, I’m watching Baccano it feels holey unique and could not be mistaken for any other show. Baccano is a must watch thrill-ride of complexity and action and that lands it a spot on this list.

  1. Attack on Titan

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Attack on Titan at all. It’s been with me since the beginning, it was my first conscious anime experience and the first manga I decided to follow. I have deep nostalgia for this series and I’m sure that clouds my judgement in some ways but I still with argue the validity of the series’ quality. But the anime is another level of confusion for me, because in some ways it out does the manga and in other ways I much prefer the manga, because of the bombast and over-the-top nature of the anime. But still this anime has some fantastic moments that lend it a spot here on the list. The reveal of the Armoured and Colossal Titans is so well handled in the anime. I get chills whenever I watch that scene, and at this point I have to have seen it at least 20 times, but it never fails to captivate me. Everything about the direction and the music in that moment furthers whatever effectiveness the moment had in the manga. Additionally, some of the action set-pieces are amazing in the anime. Levi’s chase scene from the beginning of season 3 comes to mind as an outstanding piece of animation. The camera work around the 3D manoeuvre gear throughout the series is always of high quality. These outstanding depictions of some of my favourite moments from the Attack on Titan manga earn this adaptation a spot on this list.

  1. Steins; Gate

Steins; Gate at one point in time, I would’ve stood by as unequivocally my favourite tv show of all time, and though my position on the show has wavered as you can see from its positioning here on the list, I still love this show. The characters and the music are the standout elements in this show, Makise Kurisu is one of the most beloved characters in all of anime, or at least she was at a time, and it’s because of the great writing in this show. The different character interactions in this show highlight the powerful writing. Every character talks fluidly, the conversations between them flow, whereas in other anime it feels like two expositional tools blabbing and the visuals are left to show the relations between them. Okabe is a great main character, he’s a socially awkward university student who entertain himself and others through his over-the-top persona and watching him in the slice of life beginning of the series establish relationships with everyone else hold the viewer attention. But when the twist happens in episode 12 and the series takes a turn into darker territory it’s even more fun to watch this over-the-top persona be ripped away piece by piece. This show also shows its strengths in the plot, with an interesting and far more plausible take on time travel and fantastic pacing. Overall Steins; Gate thought I may not love it as much as I once did, remains among my favourites of all time.

  1. Serial Experiments Lain

Serial Experiments Lain is peak experimental media. This show is insane and you’re not going to understand it, and that’s the main conceit, watch the imagery and insanity and try and piece the puzzle together, and rewatches aren’t only encourage but basically mandatory. I’ve only gone through this show two and a half times and I still have no idea what’s going on with the alien. The art and direction are a clear selling points for this show, its breathtaking and inspiring. The artistic flair you’ll likely first notice is the weird pattern in all the shadows, and it’s tantalising. Enjoy trying to figure out what that symbolises over your journey. Now a show like this that’s incredibly experimental and trippy in nature benefits heavily by its short length, if this show were much longer it might be too overbearing. But the concise 13 episodes leans perfectly into the shows watchability. This shows other worthy claim to fame is its phenomenal understanding of what the internet was both like in 1998 and has continued to be to this day. The show understands how internet culture has developed, the super-hacker group, the knights are all very different people living very different lives, showing the grand nature of the internet and how it brings people together. The show understood meme culture and how a stupid, clever saying can become incredibly popular with some audio manipulation. The show was so clever in creating an in-universe meme in the ‘Let’s All Love Lain’ chant that it transcended the universe within the show and has become a meme in real life. This show is a late 1990s commentary on internet culture and somehow because of the cleverness of the writers remains completely relevant today.

  1. Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop and I have an interesting relationship. If you check out the backlog of my channel some of my earliest videos are about my initial reactions to Cowboy Bebop as a series and it’s interesting to see me go from liking only certain episodes and hating the episodic nature of the show to loving every second of what I consider now to be a masterpiece. Cowboy Bebop is exceptional in all categories, its tone and atmosphere are unique and flexible, Cowboy Bebop doesn’t feel like anything else even though it homages so much content and it’s different nearly every episode. The character, even though I still don’t particularly care for Spike, are meaningful depictions. Faye is my favourite in the entire show, watching here best scenes is unimaginably tragic, from the shower scene where she remembers everything, to the Call Me scene as she running to her old ruined home, to the Go Me scene, to her final scene where she begs Spike to stay, are all fantastically tragic. Everybody in Cowboy Bebop is a realised person with depth, and it’s all derived from the final quote at the end of the show, everyone is carrying excess baggage. Everyone has a sad story behind them. And the tragedy of that and the beauty in that reality is why Cowboy Bebop stands out as a medium defining series, one deserving of a high placement on this list.

  1. Neon Genesis Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is the most influential anime of all time, for great reason this show is palpable. You vicarial feel this show and the struggle of the characters within it. This show through all the mech elements and anime trappings is an in-depth, psychological character study of predominantly 5 characters, the three-iconic child mech pilots; Shinji, Asuka and Rei as well as Misato and to a lesser extent Ryosuke. These characters and their interactions and relationships with each other are the driving force behind this show, in the movies Shinji’s relationship with these people is the only reason the world doesn’t end. Evangelion thematically is about the struggle to make meaningful human connections and it’s not necessarily a happy one, by the end of the series all the characters are divided up, having failed each other. Misato is distraught over Kagi’s death, Asuka has lost her purpose in life when she realises she isn’t the best pilot, Rei was reset again and has to deal with her repeated existentialism and Ryosuke feels like she been taken advantage of and has ruined her relationship with nerve by leaking information. That leaves Shinji alone and with no connection. But how these characters slowly got to that point and how they come out of their individual depressions is the appeal of the show. As well as all this deep character writing and the shows interesting themes; the show also has stellar direction, but you can find countless of videos on the internet to explain that to you. Overall Neon Genesis Evangelion is another medium defining series, that deserves this ranking.

  1. Black Lagoon

Black Lagoon is my favourite anime of all time, and I will never backdown from this position. While Serial Experiments Lain, Cowboy Bebop and Neon Genesis Evangelion have things to say about humanity and the human experience overall, Black Lagoon’s story is much more person. It’s about two people and how they affect each other’s incredibly different lives. Rock and Revy are the driving force behind Black Lagoon, they are together the main character. Their relationship goes through phases and each one of them is equally as interesting. Initially they dislike each other because they are opposites, but through the famous cigarette kiss scene we begin to understand that opposites definitely do attract and then they’re on the same page. But then something interesting happens, Revy notices that Rock is losing himself to the city, Roanapur and the underbelly lifestyle is eating Rock alive and secretly he loves it, but Revy always saw Rock as her lifeline out of this hell-scape, so throughout the arc in Japan and mostly in Roberta’s Blood Trail Revy desperately fights to keep Rock for the darkness and this struggle is the highlight of this show to me. The scene where Yukio impales herself with the sword stands out as the biggest literal exploration of this struggle in the series, Revy pleads with Rock desperately to turn away, but he doesn’t, because secretly he loves the thrill. I could and in the future will go into far more depth regarding the relationship here between the two of these characters, but this isn’t even the best part of Black Lagoon the performances are. The dialogue for this show was completely rewritten for the Dub and it shows, couple that with the excellent performance from Revy VA and this show easily has the best dialogue in anime. Black Lagoon is so unbelievably great and is easily my favourite anime of all time.

  1. The Sopranos

The Sopranos is a sprawling, lasting experience, with a rich cast of character, interesting themes and houses some of the best performances in TV history. The Sopranos like Neon Genesis Evangelion is revolutionary, I highlighted this in a separate video you can find in the description. The anti-hero television craze is derived entirely from The Sopranos and the titular character Tony Soprano. None of these other anti-hero protagonists would exist if Tony wasn’t as captivating as he has. Tony is the deepest character I’ve ever come across. The Sopranos is a long show it’s 6 seasons and spans over 70 hours and Tony is explored as a character you it’s entire runtime. We learn everything about this character throughout the series through his introspective therapy sessions with Dr Melfei and his elaborate dream sequences, that are marvels in cinematography as well as tension. The Sopranos’ strength lay in the heart of its characters, the characters and their interactions through the fantastically written dialogue are what draw the viewer in here, this results in countless impeccable scene throughout the show. To list some of my favourites: when Junior Soprano sings at Jackie Jr’s funeral, to Christopher’s out-of-nowhere death, to Pussy’s death on the boat, to Silvio and Tony’s conversation about heritage, to Meadow’s exposure of Carmella, to Carmella and Tony’s visceral breakup, to Carmella’s philosophical awakening in France, to Richie’s death, to anything with Tony Blundetto, to anything in that unrivalled final episode, this series is too good. The Sopranos is required reading and if you haven’t seen it yet do yourself and the world a favour and get on that. The Sopranos is undoubtedly my favourite television show of all time.

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Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 112 Review

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Let’s not fuck around here: Eren definitely hates Mikasa! There are very few instances throughout the series of them interacting on an emotional level. In emotional scenes they share Eren is usually talking to Armin about the outside world or their grander goals and Mikasa’s just sitting there on the side with nothing to add because she isn’t interesting enough. There other interactions are all Mikasa babying Eren and Eren rightfully getting pissed off, remember that time she attempted that and he literally headbutted her. Now we as an audience may have collectively let out a nervous laugh but this wasn’t a scene played for comedy, he just headbutted her out of frustration. In the one scene everyone points to at the end of Season 2 he literally turns away from her clear inclination to kiss him. Eren has never shown favourability platonically or romantically to Mikasa, she’s just annoyed him and that’s why his words ring so true in this chapter. It turns out that the whole time the hair wasn’t the only similarity between Rei Ayanami and Mikasa they both had inherit servitude to the men they admire most, but in the end, Rei had the balls to kill Gendo, and Mikasa again rolls over for Eren this chapter by stopping Armin from attacking him.  Clearly, I have inherent bias here, I hate Mikasa, she’s always been boring and annoying, and I also have always hated Armin, so this scene was a vicarious thrill ride for me. Additionally, this is my favourite and the most interesting version of Eren we have seen in the story and moving forward I can’t wait to see how he develops.

Meanwhile, Gabbi has continued to be the most interesting and well-written character in this series. Don’t forget and don’t underestimate the importance of Gabbi’s presence at this meeting. She has now witnessed what she will become if she continues down this path, if she continues to be manipulated and repress the truth she will end up like the monster she sees in front of her. Eren represents to Gabbi, everything she ever believed about the devils on Paradise island. Everything she once hated was sitting in front of her and she did nothing, because she’s beginning to grow. The Gabbi of five or six chapters ago would have mindlessly jumped at Eren attempting to kill him, but in this chapter she clearly internally conflicted. The supposed devils on Paradise just saved her life and in the conversation with Armin and Mikasa before Eren barged in out of nowhere, they reinforced this by stating they had no intentions or want to kill anyone. Additionally, in that conversation she prioritised Falco’s life over her own and ask them to kill her and only imprison Falco, that’s something I don’t think she would have done previously. Gabbi has been showed the duality of the people of Paradise Island. She seen the good in the scouts and Sasha’s father who forgave her and the bad in Kia and Eren who wish to seek further vengeance on her and on Marley. And for anyone who has missed the tell-tale signs that Gabbi is a parallel to a younger Eren, Armin even mentions that her attitude reminds him of someone right as Eren wonders in frame. Eventually, when Gabbi saves everyone, I’ll remember all of you that doubted her.

From what I’ve garnered from this chapter and the few previous chapters is that the Yeager Brothers are being used as a narrative device to ultimately unify the world, or at the very least Eldia and Marley, against them. They together are the ultimate evil and danger at the moment, they have the potential to flatten the entire globe and through Gabbi I believe the two sides with unite to defeat the common threat. Which is interestingly similar to the beginning of the series when humanity within the walls united against the titans as a common enemy. But in this chapter both Yeager Brothers dropped some insightful information. Eren explained the power of the Ackerman clan in a massive exposition dump and Zeke got things rolling with his patterned scream. Eren explained that the Ackerman’s can’t think for themselves and are reliant on special hosts that influence their behaviour, he even not so nicely refers to them as slaves. This explanation seems to fit all the Ackerman’s we have grown to know throughout the series; Mikasa to Eren, Kenny to Uri and Levi to Erwin. Levi seemingly proves his continued dependence on Erwin in this chapter when he talks about his regret to have not yet killed Zeke as he had promised to Erwin before his death. He also has a similar moment of reflection like Erwin did right before his death, all the dead scout members looking back. Many are calling a death flag on Levi now and especially after Zeke rained titans from the sky, its looking like Levi might be in some trouble. This is upsetting because Levi is one of the characters in Attack on Titan that I care about and I hope he continues to be infallible and destroys these 30 titans like it’s nothing, but Zeke has undoubtedly gotten away now because of this performance.

A massive element I think everyone is ignoring right now is Peick, she’s still on Paradise Island and she hasn’t made her move yet. If she hears the scream and the subsequent transformations I’m sure she will jump in on the action and it will be interesting to see what she does and who she helps. Additionally, has Falco transformed into a mindless titan? Or does Zeke’s scream have to be heard by those who have been marked? Maybe Falco wasn’t marked to begin with and will be fine. No matter what I doubt Falco is gone from the story, even if he is transformed into a titan I guarantee that he will eat a shifter to transform back; his character arc is not complete yet and the narrative demands his survival. I don’t know if he’ll eat a local titan shifter or if they’ll capture him, so he can eat one later. All in all, this marks five or six great chapters in a row and I can’t wait for chapter 113 so we can learn the fate of Levi and hopefully witness Peick’s plan whatever it could be.

 

 

 

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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.

 

Eren and Yelena fake meeting.PNG

 

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.

 

Hitch and Armin Talk.PNG

 

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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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.

 

 

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Reaction Channels that are Doing It Right

Reaction channels have been notorious on YouTube and in the YouTube community for a few years now. The main contention against the concept of reaction videos is that they steal content that isn’t there’s and profit from it, and people watch the videos because of the video being reacted to instead of the personality reacting to the content. Reaction videos have been largely dismissed by respectable YouTube viewing audiences and is seen as an immature thing to watch or create, but I would like to humour the counter-argument and present reaction channels that I personally enjoy watching and think are doing it right.

 

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You’ll notice that the three examples I give are all of a certain sub-genre of reaction channels that primarily cover television media. They aren’t usually ripping YouTube videos and adding nothing transformative, they are cutting sections of their genuine live reactions to the chosen show, and then at length, discussing the show afterwards. Patient zero for this genre of online reaction video seems to be Blind Wave, who got big mainly off their Game of Thrones reaction series. In this interesting endeavour Eric (book reader and Game of Thrones veteran) guided Calvin (an absolutely blind, first time viewer) through a watch-through of the highly acclaimed show Game of Thrones. This was an interesting and engaging dynamic that drew big numbers on YouTube and introduced me to their channel. Now they’ve continued this formula of brief reaction followed by long-form discussion into many other area’s and media properties like My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Death Note, Black Sails, The Walking Dead among others, in a continuously growing catalogue of worth-while reactionary content.

 

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Obviously, imitators of this formula began to sprout out on YouTube everywhere, but among them was one standout who also started with a Game of Thrones watch-through with a very similar dynamic. FilmBuff saw Im and the other guy (I can’t remember his name) go through Game of Thrones; and even if they never finished it due to conflicting scheduling obligations, it’s still worth a watch. But recently Im has proven his contents-worth with his solitary reaction effort with Attack on Titan. He’s slowly catching up and watching him slowly discover and unravel the idiosyncrasies of the series is fun. It’s also enjoyable to see as he continues to develop his ever-evolving catalogue of reactionary content with his analytical breakdowns post reaction.

 

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Finally, the last channel I would like to highlight as succeeding in creating worth-while content through reactions is Semblance of Sanity. These guys recently came to my attention due to their unique Berserk reactions, get on-top of the manga boys. They have some incredibly draw out and interesting conversations surrounding Berserk and seeing them try to analyse the complexity of Berserk’s themes with such an isolated and brief look into Berserk through the 90s anime is captivating. They might just be my favourite reaction channel and they have equally as impressive reactionary content and discussion with series’ like My Hero Academia and Attack on Titan. They’re signature lengthy discussions are what set them apart and it’s what attracts me most to their content, even if they can be over the top at times.

That’s my 2 cents on the reaction video genre on YouTube. Sure, a majority of the channel churning out similar content to these three highlighted examples are trash but, we shouldn’t collectively dismiss all these ‘reaction’ channels. Don’t through the baby out with the bathwater, there’s something of value here. What do you think about reactionary content? Is it all trash, or are their redeemable, worth-while creators out there?

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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.

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Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 109 Proves Attack on Titan’s Superiority

Attack on Titan’s immaculate attention to detail perplexes me, even contemporarily, but it shouldn’t. Isayama has demonstrated time and time again that he doesn’t forget any details, no matter how inconsequential they may seem initially, everything in the story is relevant and he doesn’t forget anything. Chapter 109 demonstrates this attention to detail better than any other single chapter in recent memory. The dumb kid with one line of dialogue from Episode 6 of Season 1 is now a legitimate call-back character, that’s insane! And it shows appreciation for those of us that pay attention to the intricacies of the manga, perhaps more than we should. Another example is the child that Sasha saved in Season 2 is now a real character, with motivations and a personality, it’s unbelievable and Isayama should be properly praised for this outstanding achievement.

But even further than that is how seemingly impossibly perfect coordination between the anime production and Isayama is. Zackery has been a prevalent force in the recent episodes of the anime and therefore Isayama reintroduces this refamiliarized character into the manga storyline. This isn’t the first instance of this, Nile was reintroduced last month when his influence of the anime was increased, and his character was being highlighted. Season 2 was no different, right after the Beast Titan initially appeared in the anime, Isayama finally explained how the whole incident occurred by explaining that the Zeke could control and create certain mindless Titans, in that month manga realise. But the most effective example of this strategy and coordination was with the reveal of Ymir’s backstory. The anime reintroduced us to Ymir and reexplained why we originally cared about her and then in the accompanying manga realise that month we got an explanation of Ymir’s backstory through a note she had passed from Reiner to Historia. If the anime hadn’t refamiliarized the audience with Ymir I doubt the emotional resonance of that scene would have been as effective.

 

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The preplanning and coordination that goes into Attack on Titan is outstanding and whatever critics may say about Isayama’s illustrations and the anime bombastic presentation, credit must be given to the hustle of these fine boys and their dedication to the series. Isayama has given us a reason to comb over all past, present and future seemingly insignificant details for clues about upcoming events and characters. I have the greatest respect for Isayama and his rewarding narrative style and am glad I’m along for the ride.