「少女が見た世界 ―トロスト区攻防戦②―」 (Shojo ga Mita Sekai ―Torosuto ku Koubousen ②―)
“The World She Saw ―Defense of Trost (2)―”
It’s amazing just how big of a tone shift Shingeki no Kyojin made. You could almost say the shift was titanic. (Alright alright. I won’t do that ever again.)
Coming from the pulse-pounding action and brutality of last week’s episode, the first thing that struck me about this week’s Shingeki no Kyojin is just how overwhelmingly sombre it was. It wasn’t just in the narrative –which I’ll quickly get to– but in the presentation in the episode as well. The colour palette is noticeably muted, the pacing feels far more deliberate, and moody piano pieces punctuate the general dreariness of what we’re seeing on-screen. There’s almost none of the asserted bravado that’s been so predominant in the past month; except of course, in the depiction of just how tragic a world this is. Even so, this episode feels far more subdued than anything that came before, and I’m thankful for that. As much as I’m enjoying string of high-tension episodes we’ve been getting, having a breather here has brought some much needed tone balance to Shingeki no Kyojin.
To talk about the manga, this was the point that really sucked me into the series. Director Araki captured this moment of transition from Eren’s death brilliantly, the moment where Shingeki no Kyojin showed it could match its high-note action with an equal amount of human drama. We see a devastated Armin topple over himself in guilt, before coming upon a bereaved Hannah trying to resuscitate the dead Franz. It’s a deliberate moment that punctuate the scope of tragedy Shingeki no Kyojin seems to be aiming for– and what can I say? It works damn effectively to show us the realities of Shingeki no Kyojin‘s world. Through the clutter of this narrative comes the notion of just how insanely cruel the world is, and it isn’t just in the Titans that perpetuate this. Episode after episode we get examples of the atrocities humans are capable of; from the dispatch of the refugees to Titans land to the noble who wanted to forsake the commoners last episode, and the greedy merchant here who prized his cargo over the lives of others. As Armin so aptly puts it, “The world’s been hell all along”.
If you’ve been clamouring for more Mikasa, you’re won’t be disappointed with this episode that puts the spotlight on her. It’s surprising then, to see how relatively normal a girl she was in the flashback; before she’s put through the trauma of watching her family get killed by slave traders. With this, her backstory finally sheds light on the critical details the narrative’s been holding back; such as why she was adopted by the Jaeger family, and why she’s been so overprotective of Eren this whole time. Eren was her saviour during her darkest moment, and gave her the will to live once again; it’s no wonder she would do anything to protect the person that amounted to her reason for living. And I suppose that’s how she changed into the aloof guardian we see in the present. But the really interesting part is what would come after this. Throughout the episode, Eren’s death hung at the back of my mind as grim reminder of the present, and I’m more interested in watching how Mikasa would eventually react to this news, especially in light of the flashback.
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the flashback, one that underlines the overarching mood in the episode, is just how simply the two children killed the slave traders. “You must fight. If you win, you live. If you lose, you die.” Eren’s words and Mikasa’s subsequent realisation struck at the merciless, live-or-die truths of Shingeki no Kyojin’s world. And up till this point, it’s through their acts of killing that this message gets most effectively conveyed.
Coming from the manga, it’s great to see all this material hasn’t been lost in translation; in fact, Araki’s superb presentation of the adaption seems to be adding so much more to it. There’s no doubt Shingeki no Kyojin will continue to excel. Araki has now shown with this episode that he’s perfectly capable of handling both the bombastic and nuanced sides of the narrative, and I’m hoping he’ll be able to keep this balance up till the end.
Zephyr will be returning to continue coverage on the series next week on. It’s been really fun covering Shingeki these two weeks, hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did.