Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 (Attack on Titan Season 2) Review

Attack on Feelings

  • Episodes : 12
  • Genre : Horror, Fantasy, Action
  • Airing Date : Apr. 2017 – Jun. 2017
  • Studios : Wit Studio

Contains Spoilers


Shingeki no Kyojin Introduction and Story (Spoilers)

The first season of Shingeki no Kyojin closed with the battle between Annie Leonhart and Eren Jaeger. Backed by Mikasa Ackerman, who keeps Annie from running away by climbing Wall Sina, Eren is able to defeat Annie, but not capture her. Indeed, using Eren’s brief but careless moment, Annie crystallizes herself leaving the Survey Corps with nothing. However, a piece of the wall Annie had tried to climb just a moment before falls, revealing a titan hidden under the bricks. Season 2 picks up from here and starts with the incredulous Survey Corps waiting for Hange Zoë’s instructions. Hange is shocked as well by the revelation, but there is no time for her to recover. Pastor Nick, devoted member of the Church of the Walls, pleads her to cover up the broken portion immediately to prevent the creature from awakening. Hange realizes that the Church knows the truth behind the Walls but has withheld it the whole time.

What We Liked About Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2

Since it first came out, Shingeki no Kyojin has always been called an epic series for its spectacular animation, accurate graphics, well-structured characters, great music, and amazing plot. Season 2 keeps on the same wave of its predecessor, but shifts the emphasis away from the old heroes to introduce us to the inner world of characters who were marginal in the first season. Indeed, Ymir, Reiner, Bertolt, and Christa are a revelation and could be said to be the real protagonists of this second season. In particular, we know more about the background of the first three, who will reveal themselves as the “bad guys” sided with the titans. However, despite the big revelation, it is quite impossible to treat them as real villains.

In many anime, villains are often the ones who were abused or have a hard past they can’t get rid of. They become evil to get back at people who have made them suffer, or because they became incapable of feeling emotions. In Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2, we find out that the “bad guys” are actually pawns in a psycho’s game, and have no choice but to spread death and despair to the human race, even if against their own will. A good example of the “bad guys’”’ humanity could be the scene in the Forest of Giant Trees where Ymir says about Rainer’s confusion that he had to convince himself to be a real soldier of the Survey Corps to be able to carry on his mission without going crazy with despair. Bertolt himself says to Armin, Jean, and Mikasa who are trying to convince him to give Eren back that he and Rainer have no choice but do what they have to even if their only desire is to go back home. Thus, there are no bad and good guys in Shingeki no Kyojin, just people who can’t help but fight.

Ymir is similar to Reiner and Bertolt, although her reasons and role are different. Scenes dedicated to her and her past are more than any other else’s in Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2, and her story is absolutely moving. Ymir was taken from the streets and raised to be a goddess, then blamed for her human sins by the same mysterious people who had previously idolized her. Ymir calls herself selfish and takes no sides except for Christa’s to whom she thinks she is similar. Both betrayed by the world, deprived of their identity and then thrown away, Christa and Ymir’s specular relationship destroyed by human selfishness is surely one of the greatest achievements in Shingeki no Kyojin’s second season.

Finally, in this second season Eren’s radical change is one good element to consider. In the first one, we had to deal with an immature and reckless Eren, who acted by instinct and rarely thought about what he was doing. Now, Eren is slowly becoming a more rational character capable of questioning himself and his real abilities. In season 2, Eren suffers for his incapability to change things around him as he was sure he could do when he was just a child. Thus, he ends up having self-doubt and thinking about how to become stronger. On the contrary, his best friend Armin grows up more confident, becoming one of the cornerstones of Survey Corps’ strategies against the titans.

Great fighting, cool music which plays with perfect timing on the background of the most beautiful scenes, and moving characters’ past stories are the secret behind Shingeki no Kyojin’s huge success, and the reasons why we liked it. All of these go hand to hand with the tragedy of human race which finally starts to understand the real enemy is not a metaphysical entity, but the evil of mankind itself.

Discussion Time

When we talk about shounen anime, we talk about a type of animation in which the story is mostly focused on action and great battles, while characters’ relationships are almost completely left aside. Unlike many other anime of the same genre, Shingeki no Kyojin magisterially succeeds in balancing them both, combining characters’ feelings, hopes, dreams, reasons, and their personal and interpersonal growth with bloody fighting, death, destruction, strategies, physics, and logic. Shingeki no Kyojin is not an anime for everyone; in fact, following its plot requires an extreme attention to details and a great ability to reason, since all events occurring has a deeper meaning and don’t happen by chance. Each segment of the story is designed to snap right into place, even if between two scenes occur a long time. Thus, an arc never completely ends and watching the previous episodes is often necessary in order to find all the information hidden in the story, clarify doubts, and make the puzzle perfectly fit in your mind.

Shingeki no Kyojin is a smart anime, well-built both in the plot and characters, so let us explain better why it is absolutely worth your time.

Why You Should Watch Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2

1. An Intriguing Plot Which is Food for Thought.

One of Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2’s strengths is undoubtedly in its plot. The first season left us with too many unresolved doubts, and some of these mysteries gets revealed in season 2. Indeed, we finally come to know about the Colossus and the Armor Titans’ real identity, that there is more than just a single known civility in the world (in Utgard Castle’s scene, Rainer is shocked by the fact that Ymir can read the strange symbols of some canned food), about the mindless titan’s true colors, about what the bad guys want and why they infiltrated the Walls. Thanks to these revelations, we learn that the story Isayama has in mind is way more complex than any of fans’ assumptions or predictions, and they become a catchy premise of the future plot. Thus, one of the best parts of Shingeki no Kyojin is its capability to catch up watchers with its fascinating and interactive story. Indeed, watchers are asked to cooperate in order to reconstruct it deeply. And the more you watch it, the more you want to know about the rest. In a story like that, action and battles become even secondary.

2. Great Character Study.

Since the first season, another of Shingeki no Kyojin’s strengths has been the way characters are conceived. Lines have been spent talking about how beautifully main characters such as Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi, Erwin were planned and realized, but what makes Shingeki no Kyojin a revolutionary anime is its wonderful detailing, especially when it comes to transition characters. We have seen many characters make an appearance just to die few episodes later, but it is still surprising how the most part of them could grasp watchers’ heart by communicating strong emotions through their unique traits. In Shingeki no Kyojin, everyone is someone and possesses a complex personality which is mostly the result of a difficult past.

In particular, the second season give space for supporting characters to express themselves, and set them in a precise context which will help the plot to advance. Let’s take Hannes, for example. Still tormented by the fact he let Eren’s mother die out of cowardice, Hannes is given his moment to try to fix his past mistakes. His failure is heartbreaking, but becomes the reason for Eren to find out about one of his sleeping powers. Or Mike, special friend of Erwin with whom he shares the past with, and loved by many due to for his habit of sniffing things. His defeat by the hands of the Beast Titan will become the reason for viewers to understand that the huge monkey is actually a man possessing the Power of Titan. By watching Shingeki no Kyojin, we are not just following the events relating to Eren’s revenge against titans, but the story of every single soldier in the Survey Corps who gave its life for a higher purpose, and of their antagonists.

3. Protagonists’ Interpersonal Relationships.

For the most part, shounen anime doesn’t leave any room for interactions between characters, their personal growth, or their feelings. However, Shingeki no Kyojin is different and makes human relationships, characters’ shared experiences, mutual trust and respect the cornerstones of the plot. Indeed, most of the characters in Shingeki no Kyojin find their reason to go on and fight other characters. Mikasa, for example, fights for Eren, Levi for Erwin, Ymir for Christa, and Jean for Marco’s memory. Some get closer and grow up together, like Armin and Jean, while some others find solace in each other, like in Eren and Mikasa’s case. In Shingeki no Kyojin, every character relates to another in a deep and spontaneous way to find comfort in a cruel world where ties are ephemeral since life could end at any time.

Ties between characters are interesting because they are not only meant to add gloss to the story, they also have a utilitarian function, as emotions are often used by characters themselves as a mean to obtain something from other characters. For example, near the end of the season, Armin uses Bertolt’s feelings for Annie to buy time for his comrades to rescue Eren. Hajime Isayama didn’t leave anything to chance, offering us a story which features a perfect balance between the characters’ outer and inner world.

Why You Should Skip Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2

1. It Doesn’t Always Follow the Manga.

Even the best series have some flaws, and flaws in Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 mostly relates to the manga it is taken from. Indeed, the manga is more detailed and rich in elements without which some points of the plot weakens or become confusing. Of course, faithfully reflecting the whole content of the original work is impossible in just 12 episodes, so many scenes have been cut while others adjusted to justify the biggest changes. The are many parts added to give more consistency to some marginal characters in the 104th Cadet Corps such as Annie, Connie, and Sasha, which presages possible huger characters’ role changes in the next seasons. Furthermore, some arcs distant in the manga, like for example Eren’s kidnapping and Ymir’s past, have been merged in this season, even if they made more sense in the original order. The merging creates confusion about the events which relates to new cults that will be introduced later in the manga. Thus, the second season of the anime differs from the original manga, sacrificing important scenes, adding new ones, and anticipating some others.

2. Where are Erwin and Levi?

Those who read the manga know that the arc on which the second season of Shingeki no Kyojin is based lacks in scenes dedicated to Erwin and Levi. In fact, in this arc, Levi is a wounded soldier while Erwin plays a big role on the background of the Survey Corps’ strategy. The real problem is that the few moments meant for these two characters in the manga have been reduced or even cut in the anime adaptation. This is the case of the final scene of the season, for example, when Hange explains about the titans’ true colors. Erwin and Levi’s discourse after the Commander’s reaction has been minimized, while the previous scene in which he gets back to the Walls wounded has even been deleted. So, bad news for Erwin and Levi fans who will have to wait for the next season to see more of them in action.


Final Thoughts

What do you think about an experimental Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2? Successful, except for some minor defects. Could the authors do more? Well, yes, if we consider the season’s length which is only of 12 episodes. However, this anime’s hotness is undeniable. Let’s hope for the third season to be released soon, but in the meanwhile let us know your opinion about this second Wit Studios’ masterpiece by leaving a comment!

Dareka Nobody

Writer

Author: Dareka Nobody

I’m an Italian dirty little girl obsessed with Japanese language, culture, literature, anime, manga, games, but also with writing, reading, and travelling, in general. I lived in Japan and I’m about to be moving there forever. When I’m not working, I translate yaoi light novels for a hobby. I’ve recently started a partnership with the website Novelleleggere.org where I publish my works. I run a page on Facebook about my translation and I’m also a blogger who likes to write about her experiences in Japan. Akiba addicted and enthusiastic Honeyfeed’s writer!

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