「絶望の中で鈍く光る ―人類の再起①―」 (Zetsubō no Naka de Nibuku Hikaru ―Jinrui no Saiki ①―)
“Shining Dimly in the Midst of Despair ―Mankind’s Recovery (1)―”
When faced with the prospect of death, animal response can be typically generalized as either flight or fight. As we see with this week’s episode of Shingeki no Kyojin, it’s something that applies especially to mankind, and something that manifests itself in the difference in views between the soldier recruits. Ultimately though—whether the reason for joining was to just live a comfortable life within the inner most walls or wanting to take the fight back to the Titans—the important part is this: you can’t blame anyone for believing what they do, and it’s a notion that really highlights the uniquity and free-will of the individual. Suffice to say, it’s a darn powerful notion, and something that really contributes to making this episode one of the best developmental ones I’ve seen in a while…
…because as we find out, all of our recruits―Eren, Mikasa, Armin Arlart, Thomas Wagner, Jean Kirschstein, Marco Bodt, Connie Springer, Sasha Braus, Reiner Braun, and Berthold to name some―come from a variety of different backgrounds, all possess their own trauma, and all possess their own unique personality as a result of the experiences only they have. Needless to say, it’s an exceptionally large cast, and something where the mere fact they were able to introduce all of them in the span of one episode―while not rushing and providing some great moments of hilarity to boot―makes this episode superb already. Yet, not only do we get all of the above, we also get the revelations of the initial aptitude tests necessarily to see if the recruits are even capable of starting their training…
…which serve as quite the device for hammering in the fact that emotions alone cannot do anything, and you can’t just go in saying things like “those with no strength have no right to be here.” Eren finds this out the hard way this week by failing to properly execute the proper maneuvers in the first go, and it’s here that the episode really shines. Because as they say, “the journey is just as important as the destination,” and what Eren’s realizations here demonstrate is the fact that Shingeki ain’t just gonna hero status Eren as a guy who’ll dominate from the start. Indeed, he gets tossed to the ground (both literally and figuratively) multiple times this week―to the point where he even begs for help―and it’s just great to see that Eren’s really getting proper development before hand. I mean, it’s pretty much all but confirmed he will become the dominant force he says he will be in the future, but at the very least, Shingeki’s not falling into the trap of just saying “well, he has natural talent, and so he’s just going to fly through everything and end up being an epic Titan slaughterer.” There’s definitely a lot of things building up to the realization of his potential and it’s something that’s done absolutely splendidly this week… contrary to a certain other show last year where the hero merely became one without proper development and with the help of quite a bit deus ex machinas.
Ultimately, Shingeki’s shaping up to be every bit as great as expected, and it looks like next episode will hold more of the same―if not more, considering the grim foreboding in the preview. Before we leave things off for today though, I’d just like to attach a blurb from the opening’s lyrics below―lyrics that are well, quite symbolic in nature to say the least. You’ll see what I mean.
They are the prey and we are the hunters.
Prayer won’t change anything
What you need right now is the resolve to fight.
The pigs that laugh in the shadows
At the will to move forward
Are no more than peace-befuddled livestock
In a world of false prosperity
That stifles the freedom of the hunter.
The humiliation of captivity
Serves as the signal for retaliation
As he moves to slaughter his prey
That waits beyond those walls