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Attack on Titan ep4: what’s the point?

Episode 3

So it’s already the big graduation day.  Time flies in a world where giant beings are roaming the earth, eating people.  Normally you would expect things to focus on the human interaction, their motivations, and all their back stories.  I mean, you have to save all that chaotic titan stuff for later right?

We were given a substantial number of characters last episode.  And we’re being allowed to live with them for now.  As the training continues for our… heroes?  I don’t know if that word describes the characters very well.  I’ll go with appetizers today.

As the training continues for our appetizers, we see Armin struggling to keep up.  He’s the brainy one in the group, so that’s no surprise.  I am surprised to see who some of the elites are in Eren’s training group.  We get to see the recruits train with their three -dimensional gear, and practice on taking out the titan dummies at their weak point.  It’s pretty strange weak point now that I think about it.

This isn’t just an episode full of training montages though.  We see during some person to person hand to hand combat training that some people are much more clear headed than others.  A recruit by the name of Annie asks Eren to think about why everyone trains so hard not to fight the titans.  It’s pretty clear, once you look at the geography of everything.  Humanity’s last territory is essentially their prison, and also the King’s giant panic room.  Thousands of people in between him and the titans, with the very best soldiers nestled behind his innermost walls.  In Eren’s mind, once he realized this it must have seemed like cowardice.  Then again, anything short of the survey corps is unacceptable to him.

Upon graduation, we see that only the top ten recruits in a class may choose which of the three corps they wish to join.  Common knowledge and unofficial tradition dictates that they choose the safety of the Military Police Brigade, which stays behind the innermost walls, closest to the king.  Though Eren’s inclusion into the top ten, and his speech before the selection changes things quite a bit.  He unintentionally convinces quite a few of the scared and the elite to join him.  Of course Mikasa and Armin are coming along for the ride, too.  And of course Mikasa is the graduate at the top of the class.

So the team is all grown up and graduated now, assigned to their respective areas.  We see Eren, Sasha and some others atop a wall doing maintenance.  Since the graduation, the show has permeated with this baseless hope and positive atmosphere which comes from people just grasping onto peace and a bad memory.  Even Eren thinks that things are gonna turn out for the better as he looks over the city.  Right then we see it.  It!  The Colossus Titan that ruined everything at the end of episode one has returned.  And just like that we’re at it again!  A hole in the wall, and a lot of dead people on the horizon.   The only difference this time?  Eren’s there with a sword in hand, and that damned titan in his face!  Let’s go!

As the show progresses, I’m rapidly starting to remember some of the critical aspects of the manga that I read a while ago.  I’m remembering lost limbs, panic, terror, gore and blood freezing intensity.  This episode did everything it could to cram something memorable into these characters before some of them inevitably die horrible, horrible deaths.  And I think it’s important to show that even though there was some genuine rivalry in the group, no one actually disliked the other person.  Sure Eren and Jean butted heads as if they were magnetically attracted to each other, but even they had some measure of respect.  If any more time had been spent on this little arc, I fear there would be come complaining about the pacing of the show for those who aren’t in love with the manga.

I also found it interesting how the episode asked the characters and the viewer to not just think about the titans they will be fighting, but to think about who is sending them to war.  And why they are doing it.  I’m sure there are instances when it’s best not to think about things like that, and I’m sure they won’t be when they’re covered in the blood of their friends and titans.  But it is pointing towards a larger and more complex world in the future.  Are these soldiers fighting to protect the people, or just the richest and most privileged?  Maybe not right now, but it will be addressed.  For now, just get ready to see Shingeki no Kyojin live up to its name.  It will be quite a ride.


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