DVD REVIEW: ATTACK ON TITAN (PART 2) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: TETSURO ARAKI / SCREENPLAY: HIROSHI SEKO, NOBORU TAKAGI, YASUKO KOBAYASHI / STARRING: BRYCE PAPENBROOK, TRINA NISHIMURA, JOSH GRELLE, MATTHEW MERCER, JESSICA CALVELLO, LAUREN LANDA, ROBERT MCCOLLUM, DAVID MATRANGA, MIKE MCFARLAND, ASHLY BURCH / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
The first half of Attack on Titan primarily dealt with the fight back against the second titan assault and the emergence of central character Eren’s holy-shit ability to transform himself into a titan, but now a new and deadly abnormal titan makes an appearance. Although lacking eight-foot dongs dangling between their legs, thus far all the titans have been nominally male, but this latest threat is the first female ever seen, a skinless horror whose form is covered by corded muscle like the colossus, looking like a gargantuan and terrifying anatomy doll. Not only that, she also exhibits a dangerous intelligence; unlike the blank and barely-sentient faces of the mindless lumbering male titans, her eyes are sharp and focused and her every movement is deliberate and precise. It doesn’t take much to deduce that Eren is not the only one with the ability to transform, and whoever it is operating the female titan has far greater control over the form, fighting with agility and coordination as opposed to Eren’s rampaging bestial fury.
Carrying on where the first half left off, the second half wastes no time in picking things up, with Eren now in the custody of the Scout Regiment and roped into a reconnaissance mission outside the walls, the precise objective of which is a little murky to seemingly everyone involved, and where the female titan is first confronted and the fallout of the encounter is dealt with by those still alive when it’s over.
The human factor is still very much a significant part of the show, dealing with PTSD, survivor’s guilt, and takes pains to fully convey the emotional turmoil of soldiers forced to witness the horrific deaths of their friends and squad-mates. The series takes the time to allow you to get to know various characters (possibly even growing to like them) only to callously slaughter them without warning a few episodes later. It may seem sadistic, but it adds a degree of realism and uncertainty to events. To appropriate the unofficial motto of Game of Thrones, don’t get too attached.
We also get some idea of the attitudes of ordinary people living in relative safety behind the inner walls. Although the show’s perspective is from the military who train for years to fight titans, a vast majority of humanity have never even seen one, and consider them a vague threat at best. They believe the scouts are suicidal maniacs whose upkeep is a waste of resources that could be better spent on issues closer to home, deliberately echoing the real-life views of people who resent their tax money being used for government subsidisations from which they attain no personal benefit. On the less stable end of the spectrum are Wall Cultists, fire and brimstone fundamentalists who believe the walls protecting humanity from the titans are stone deities sent from on high to protect those worthy with mineral benevolence, and whose repent-ye-sinners ravings wield a disturbing level of authority.
The measured but nevertheless compelling pace of Attack On Titan means that several mysteries remain unresolved, most significantly how much of a part Eren’s father may have played in his son’s attainment of the titan ability and what secret is buried in the rubble of their house in what is now titan-occupied territory (also, where the hell is he?), but the stratospheric popularity of the anime and its source manga means that the series will doubtless return for a second season. It can’t get here fast enough.
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