Shingeki no Kyojin Episode 26: Beast Titan
The plot thickens.
N.B. Oki’s away at Anime Boston this weekend, so unfortunately you’re stuck with me for this episode. Don’t worry, she’ll be back starting next week. In other words, you won’t have to bear with my waifuposting for long.
Jesus Christ, it’s been a while. Too little too late, in fact. I’ll be frank, my response to hearing about a second season of Shingeki was… non-committal at best. No matter what you think of it, it’s been a huge commercial success and will go down as one of the most famous series of the decade. Which is why a sequel should really have been green-lit about two years ago at the latest. I’m aware that there wasn’t enough source material in 2013 to immediately take advantage of the hype train, but four years is way too long. The hype has long died, in my opinion. Or at least, it’s nowhere near where it used to be. The original target audience of teenagers will have grown up by now. Many will have left high school. On top of that, incredulously, it was recently confirmed that we’re only getting 12 episodes from this season of Shingeki. Just 12. I can’t stress enough how underwhelming it is to learn that, after four years of waiting, Wit Studio would only be churning out a single new cour of what is objectively a massive mainstream hit. God knows why they tied themselves up with other projects. Nobody wants to see more Kabaneri. Mumei is cute, but Mumei won’t sell as much as Eren, Mikasa and Armin will.
Anyway. Let’s talk about this episode of The Eotena Onslaught. Just to be clear, in terms of my familiarity with the series, I’m technically a manga reader but I’m not very up-to-date. Still, I know characters, things and names that I shouldn’t. Like what’s in that basement. I’m aware that there are many anime-only viewers, so I’ll be careful to stick to terminology that we’re only aware of at this point in the anime, and I’m sure Oki will do the same. I was a little foggy as to where the first season left off, but it was the end of the fight with Annie, right? And they’d just discovered after the battle that there was a massive Titan in Wall Sina. You see, that’s precisely one of the reasons they shouldn’t have waited so long to make a sequel. As shocking as it must have been at the time, you kind of stop caring after four years.
That was one of the major plot points for the episode. There were two. The idea was presumably to introduce new mysteries and keep the suspense quite high, which generally worked. Also there was hardly any Eren, which was fantastic. This whole Wall Titan revelation is one of those things that you never really give much thought to, but realise the rationality of in hindsight. It can’t possibly have been that easy to create such beautiful walls all those years ago. They only came up with the 3D Manoeuvre Gear recently, didn’t they? Walls aren’t easy to build. Some leader way back then probably said something like:
We need to build a wall. A great, great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be the best wall ever. And we will make the Titans pay for it! Mark my words.
And then they started building their first wall and realised that they couldn’t build it high enough, and all the Mexicans, uh, I mean the Titans, could either climb over or smash through pretty easily. It’s not really all that surprising that an anti-Titan wall has Titans in it. Nor should it be too shocking that they seem to be immobilised and can’t really move (i.e. their properties are different from normal Titans) given that strange ones have been popping up left and right recently, not least of all the Colossal Titan. Instead, the bigger issue is that there are people like Pastor Nick and the members of the Wall Cult who have been aware of this all along, and deliberately chose to keep it from the Survey Corps. In other words, this brings up the notion of human traitors. Not Titans disguised as humans, like Annie, but instead actual humans who may or may not be acting in humanity’s best interests, whatever they may be. Suddenly, humanity is no longer as monolithic as it initially seemed.
The second half of the episode was about something equally, if not even more, important. It was, of course, the return of my goddess Krista. Krista is cute! I love Krista! I want to protect her smile!
Sorry. This is what I’ve become over the last four years. If it had been a cute girl and not Mike who’d died a gruesome death at the end of today’s episode, I’d have raised so much shit. Speaking of Mike and his poor horse, which is what I was getting on to before I was distracted by my qt blonde queen, the appearance of the Beast Titan completely upsets another of the premises that Season 1 spent its time establishing, which is that Titans cannot talk. Rather, they are unintelligent beasts that are incapable of communicating and only have an interest in human flesh. That’s why Mike was so shocked when the Beast Titan went after Fluttershy, because Titans aren’t supposed to give two fucks about horses. They probably don’t taste very good. On top of that, the Beast Titan threw Rainbow Dash at him, ordered another Titan to stop eating his legs and then started talking to him in a human language. Even the Titan Shifters we’ve seen can’t do that. Well, they can throw horses I guess. And now Mike and Twilight Sparkle are dead, so the Survey Corps are none the wiser that there exists this Beast Titan that can do all this stuff Titans aren’t supposed to be capable of. As far as episodes go, these plot developments are pretty good. There were also a few gratuitous minutes of gore and screaming as Mike got his limbs slowly chewed up and torn apart. I suspect it was meant to achieve a similar effect to Eren’s mother getting killed way back in the first episode, although everyone expected it this time and so the shock factor was diminished by quite a bit. I do wish he could have screamed a little quieter, he was rather noisy.
All things considered, it was a nice episode. It did what it should have in order to draw its fans back in. What generally went through my mind as the episode went on was the thought that Shingeki is best when adapted, not least of all because Isayama’s art isn’t the greatest. It’s a lot more compelling in animated form, and a dramatic Sawano Hiroyuki OST really adds to the atmosphere. It’s certainly still an entertaining watch even if I’m no longer as interested in it as I was during its first season, and I think that’s a verdict shared by a lot of people.
Also, I’m going to marry Krista. You’re all invited to the wedding.