Attack on Titan ep10: a reliance on cooler heads, not bigger balls
Is there even need for a synopsis this week? This episode could’ve taken place in your backyard. I’m not exactly complaining mind you. Things still managed to be as riveting and intense as I’ve come to expect. I just felt like this was a tad drawn out.
The episode starts with us seeing just how close to panic and collapse the soldiers outside Trost are right now. With one dude basically straddling the fence between a panic attack and suicide. You get to see things from Jean’s perspective for a moment as he can only imagine the chaos that would ensue if word got out that a human could turn into a titan. Of course that situation isn’t far from reality as we’re brought back to the pressing matter of Eren, Mikasa and Armin being surrounded and having a cannon fired at them.
I don’t particularly love this part, and that is very much because the tension of the scene felt like it bled out of the scene the longer it went on. The titan skeleton that Eren materialized surrounds Armin and Mikasa now. And while Armin is understandably terrorized into paralysis (along with every single bloody soldier who witnessed this), Mikasa is amazingly, but not surprisingly still at the ready. Man this chick is amazing! Her dogged determination to protect her adoptive brother is damn near god-like!
With the surrounding soldiers and their cowardly commander still paralyzed in fear, it gives Eren time to come to his senses and notice that he’s lodged inside the titan. We’re treating to a very creepy, surreal moment as we see Eren wriggle out of the titan’s cervical spine and look at the back of its skull from Eren’s perspective. I shuddered a little. It was just weird. Anyway, Eren climbs his way down and meets his friends amongst the smoke. He starts going off on a tangent about his tad, the secrets in their basement and his anger starts to boil over, and he starts to bleed out of his nose. As the others have noticed, he’s clearly not well. He may be anemic or something else blood related.
The real problem here isn’t his blood, at least right now. The real problem is that even as the titan crumbles around them, the cowardly commander is planning on blowing them away the moment the smoke clears. Why is he doing this? I have no clue. There’s nothing stopping them from just firing and checking afterwards. They got plenty of time for forensics and clean up.
Eren has two plans. Haul ass on his own to the basement of his old home, with or without Mikasa. Though he prefers to go alone because he’s an a-hole. The second plan is to rely on Armin’s intelligence to convince their fellow soldiers that he’s not a threat, and that he can be of some use to the army. This is enough to get Armin to snap out of his twice-daily bout of depression and give it a shot.
Armin bravely steps out of the smoke at the risk of immediately being shot or blown up, and makes a daring case for Eren’s stay of execution. It almost falls through, despite his attempts to remind everyone that there are witnesses that he never attacked a human, only titans; and that the titans attempted to eat him themselves. The cowardly commander still attempts to fire the cannon, but his order is stayed, literally, by the hand of General Pixis. He’s that big shot officer that was playing chess with the most powerful noble in the land a few episodes ago.
General Pixis takes command and despite being someone who is perpetually tipsy, has a firm grasp of the situation. He takes the three of them atop the wall that is now under siege by hungry, ugly titans and basically asks them if they can actually do what Armin said they could when they had the cannon pointed at them. In short, can Eren transform into a titan and plug that gaping hole that has allowed titans into Trost. Eren isn’t sure, but when General Pixis shows him all that titan-free land behind him, he says he’ll do his damnedest to see the mission through. He is still a soldier after all. And how do you turn down not only this powerful and sincere man, but your very mission in life?
End of episode.
As I stated in the beginning, parts of this was terribly drawn out. Eren and Mikasa’s arguing and Armin’s flashback fit both seemed to drag on a little too long. Anime as a medium has mastered the art of making still images come alive and tell a story. But all that is an illusion that only works if the audience plays along and doesn’t focus on things like the camera panning and zooming. Or the fact that a character could be drawn completely still with only the background looping the same image to show movement or progression. It’s often not done well in American animation. So I’m very willing to play along with it. And parts of this episode just had me winding my hand back and forth, telling the production to move along. In the end, it’s a minor thing so long as it doesn’t perpetually repeat itself throughout the story. I just hold my anime to a ridiculously high standard at times.
Whining aside, it looks like the show has taken a very positive direction when it comes to the narrative. Instead of operating as loners on the run from the military and the titans, Eren and his friends will be working with it so save humanity. And their first mission will tackle some very important questions. How durable is Eren in his titan form, and how much control over it does he really have? Will or can the soldiers trust Eren and place hope in this mission? Hell, can most of those soldiers even summon the strength of will to go back into combat? I can only imagine the number of suicides their force has had up until this point.
Something that I picked up watching these episodes is that we can probably learn a lot from the titans, even from Eren’s form right now. Often in this story, major hints and plot points are dropped in the beginning that will pay huge dividends later. It’s way too early to say, but the fact that the Colossus Titan and the Armored Titan both lacked skin may show that those titans may be more like Eren than we think. Are there malicious humans with Eren’s abilities roaming the planet? Are two of them actively walking among the titans, or even humanity, working towards its destruction? It’s all very unclear immediately. Though I’m willing to bet that we have enough evidence to show that the titans are likely somewhat man-made. So far we have more evidence of science than magic in this world. So as each episode passes, I’m pushing the idea of these things being a punishment from gods further and further out of my mind.