Everyone’s favorite typical emo JRPG teens versus the most atypical giant naked people anime series is back (FINALLY!) after a nearly five year hiatus filled with more and more manga, a crap Japanese live action film, and endless speculation and rumors over when the heck the show would start again. But here it is! Season 2 begins with all the bloody zip-line fighting, teen angst and junk-less nudity you can handle! What will we get?
At the end of season 1, Eren titan had beaten Annie titan and she cried herself into a crystalline-cocooned sleep. Makes total sense, right? As the Scouts cart her away, Mikasa takes him home to heal, Armin and Jean wax philosophical over the sacrifices to their humanity that were made to beat back the titans this time. Erwin is examined by the government over his failed mission and cleared of wrongdoing. Levi remains a stoic badass. Oh yeah, and some of Sina Wall crumbles to reveal a titan inside. Good news everyone! The walls are made of titans!
SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 BEGIN!
As we open, Annie’s body gets carted away as Pastor Nick of the Wall Cult urges the Scouts to cover the exposed titan from sunlight (guess they are solar-powered? Elon Musk would be proud. Solar powered people are probably his next project). Despite Hange’s death threats, Nick refuses to tell her why she should. Then, wall-breaking news! Wall Rose is compromised and titans are coming! Then there is a flashback to 12 hours earlier, when the 104th regiment trainees are out on patrol. Consummate man’s man Mike Zacharius deploys his trainees to warn the city and nearby villages while he deals with newly encroaching titans, which the viewer can assume are the ones that breach Wall Rose 12 hours later. Already this is not looking good for them. He starts off well enough, dispatching one or two before a new type of titan appears: an ape-like, hairy titan with an even larger difference in store. HE CAN TALK! Too stunned to respond, Mike listens in horror to the titan, asking him about his 3D maneuver gear and if he can look at it and take it back. Mike is so shocked he allows himself to be chomped by a smaller titan, once the ape titan orders him to. That’s right, the ape titan has psychic-like control over the lesser, smaller, human titans. Another mystery!
Meanwhile, Eren chills in bed, while Mikasa tends to him. Yawn…
Levi remains a badass.
So, now that the plot is spoiled, what does it mean? What do fans want out of the long-awaited season 2? Here is how it looks to me.
Season 1, while exciting with awesome battles, had a long drawn out period of emotional baggage, especially with Eren and Mikasa, who, while they are supposed to be the main characters, actually entertain me the least and have the slowest progressing stories and arcs. I would like more of a balance between the awesome battles, of which the closing of season 1 and opening of season 2 had great examples (see Eren v. Annie, Levi v. anything, and Zack v. a titan hoard), and logical, more quickly paced character development. I understand that anime’s main characters have a certain amount of angst to deal with as a matter of pandering to their tween and teen audiences, but man, season 1 laid it on thick. Season 2 must have balance! More assertiveness and new character challenges for Eren, less mothering and more self exploration and discovery for Mikasa, guilty-informed decisions leading to mistakes and an eventual redemption for Erwin, Hange to calm the hell down, and Levi, well Levi can just be Levi. Have I mentioned he is a badass?
The first episode of season 2 gave us a good start as far as setting up more mysteries about the titans, which is what I feel is the MOST important plot element of the show, as many of the human character arcs are already kind of trite, though if they can find a way to make them new and fresh, then please, put those in the forefront. But given what happened in season 1, and how things are looking after the first episode of season 2, I doubt that will happen. The revelation of the Wall titans, the talking ape titan, the potential for humans to transform into titans, and how and why this can happen is going to be the core, driving engine of this season. That, and the awesome bloody zip-line battles. Attack on Titan is new and exciting because of its premise and its mysterious story and setting, and the novelty and creativeness of its excellently animated and choreographed 3D zip-line, and visceral and explicit battles. It is NOT new and exciting for any of its “unique” characters or their arcs, though. Levi’s archetype may not be new to anime or storytelling in general, but this show makes him damn fun to watch. If anything, this show’s supporting cast seems more fun and entertaining, more dimensional and vivid, than it’s angst ridden, slowly progressing mains. Perhaps that will change in season 2, but I doubt it. What viewers can expect is at least more of the same from last season, which is totally great, but can hope for near perfection if they can fix the main characters up and progress them through better, more dynamic arcs at a faster pace, deepen and widen the mystery with moderate pacing, and focus the plot on these things with less filler episodes. And keep Levi a badass.
Attack on Titan airs in English on Cartoon Network’s Toonami, Saturday night into Sunday morning. Check your local listings!