A few weeks ago, I mentioned how Shingeki as a series works a lot better when it’s moving along and led by its action rather than exposition and story-telling. Episode 32 was a great example of this, letting the fight between Reiner, Bertholdt, Eren and the rest tell the entire story with fisticuffs rather than words, and it ended up being one of the best episodes of the series to date (and definitely the best of this short second season). Unfortunately, this week’s episode ends up being the exact opposite, and the frustrating nature of everything that happens—or rather, doesn’t happen—is likely to make this a turning point in terms of who will stick with the anime, read ahead in the manga, or stop with the series altogether.
After all the fighting and bush beating in regards to answers about the world and what’s going on, this is all we get? An insanity plea (*more appropriately “fugue” or associated identity disorder per comments)? The whole reason he suddenly reveals himself to be the Armored Titan and everything he’s done recently all boils down to that? Emotional instability brought on by an inability to stomach the guilt of his past deeds? I mean, it’s an explanation for at least some of what he’s done, but there’s a reason why the insanity plea’s so well known right now, and let’s say it’s rarely because it leaves people feeling like it’s all’s right with the world.
Couple that with over 10 whole minutes of face-to-face discussion that reveal almost nothing, a Ymir that suddenly clams up when presented with the most important question of all—who’s the real enemy!?—and an Eren that’s arm-less just because Reiner happened not to pay more attention to where he was clamping down on, and this was the single most frustrating episode of any series I’ve watched in a while. From what I’ve heard, the explanations do come at some point, but count me as someone who just can’t stomach how they’ve essentially used up two straight episodes (in an already short one-cour) to tell us nothing but the potential association of the Beast Titan with Reiner/Bertholdt’s actions and the state of their hometown. That’s on top of the first few episodes of the second season doing nothing but attempting to build suspense with exceptionally slow pacing, and it’s clear that the payoff isn’t matching what’s expected of the series at this point in time.
And so, in the interest of keeping things rather positive for the time being, I think the thing to do is to just look forward. With the Scouts arriving, there’s definitely room for the series to pick up and do what it does best before it’s all said and done, and here’s hoping that this week’s episode ends up more of an aberration than the expectation in regards to story-telling and key revelations. Until next week.
Author’s Note: Once again, please refrain from spoilers of the source material past what’s been covered so far. Use spoiler tags if you absolutely need to mention something that wasn’t explicitly shown/covered, as there is a zero tolerance policy in effect and comments with spoilers will be immediately deleted and bans handed out where necessary.