The award-winning anime Attack on Titan wraps up its run
with this second collection of episodes. Based on a manga series
that is still ongoing, some fans will be disappointed that the anime
doesn't wrap things up quite as well as one would hope, but given
the reception these 25 episodes received it's doubtless that more
will be made eventually. So how is this second half of the series?
It didn't knock me for a loop the way the first set did. While
there's still a lot of mystery and violence in the show, it seems to
be repeating itself just a bit.
Background: It's been over 100 years since the Titans appeared and
nearly wiped out mankind. No one knows where they came from, but
they are incredibly deadly. Ranging from 10 to 50 feet tall they
look just like large people (except for the fact that they have no
genitalia) but they're mindless and they only eat one thing: humans.
Titans regenerate at an incredible speed and are nearly unstoppable.
Even decapitating them with cannon only slows them down until they
can regrow their head. The only way to kill one is to slice a
section out of their neck, between the base of the skull and the
nape, anything else is useless.
Humanity was pushed to the brink of extinction, but was able to save
themselves by erecting huge 200 feet high walls and hiding behind
them. There are three concentric circular walls that hold all of the
Earth's human population: Wall Shina, the inner most, Wall Rose in
the middle, and the outer one, Wall Maria.
Eren Yeager and close friend/adopted sister Mikasa live with Eren's
parents near Wall Maria. It's a decent life and while Eren and his
friend Armin dream of someday traveling outside of the walls, they
know that will probably never happen. While the Titans are a deadly
threat outside of the walls, inside life is good and even the
soldiers have grown complacent.
That all changes one day when a new Titan appears. 200 feet tall and
without any skin, the "Colossus Titan" breaks a hole in the outer
wall and a smaller, but more powerful creature, the Armored Titan,
rips a hole through an inner wall allowing the man-eating giants to
gorge themselves on people. Eren sees his mother devoured by a Titan
and though he, Makasa, and Armin all manage to make it through Wall
Rose, many people are not so lucky. Twenty percent of humanity dies,
and those that survive face starvation since the fields inside Wall
Rose can't support all of the refugees. After seeing his home ruined
and loved ones killed, the three friends enroll in the cadets and
train for years in the difficult art of killing Titans. Eren is
driven by one goal: to kill every Titan there is.
This set: As the collection opens, Eren is in big trouble. The
government know that he can turn into a titan himself, the problem
is that he's not in control when he's a titan and doesn't remember
what he's done afterwards. While it's true that Titan-Eren fights on
the side of the humans, can they trust him not to turn on them?
After a brief imprisonment, Eren is brought to trial. The Military
Police want to dissect him and see what makes him different, but the
elite Scout Regiment is willing to offer him a spot in their ranks
so they can use him to fight the enemy. After a high-ranking member
of the Scouts, Levi, smacks Eren down to prove that he can defeat
him whenever he wants, it's decided that the boy should be spared,
for now. He's assigned to the Scouts and they decide to mount
another expedition into Titan held territory. Once into enemy
territory, the expedition finds something unexpected: another new
Titan, this one female, who is not only smart and resourceful, but
one who knows some of the members of the Scout Regiment! Could this
be another human that turns into a Titan, and if so, who could it
These episodes had some great moments; but there are some flaws too.
The show starts to feel like it's repeating itself part way through
the collection with long battles against the Titans that never seem
to advance the plot. There are a lot of mysteries that pop up
(what's in the basement of Eren's childhood home? Why can he turn
into a Titan? Where did the Titans come from?) and while they draw
viewers into the story, there's a bit of a letdown that none of them
are even close to being solved by the series' end.
The plot is also a bit predictable too. As soon as the female Titan
made it clear that she was different by not killing a member of the
Scouts, I knew who it was though it took the rest of the cast a few
episodes to reach the same conclusion, which is a bit disappointing.
I like my shows to be a little bit smarter than I am.
Having said that, the execution of the story is great and there's a
lot that the show gets right. The artwork is really amazing. The
backgrounds are filled with small details that make the show both
look and feel like a real city under siege. The animation is smooth
and the soundtrack adds a lot to the whole production.
The program also does a magnificent job of portraying a society on
the edge of destruction. The way a lot of the populace deal with the
constant threat that they live under (turning to religion, looking
out for their own interests even if it goes against the common good)
helps create a realistic, three dimensional world. It's easy to
imagine people today acting in the same way in similar
The way that the soldiers who face the Titans react, before, during,
and after a battle is the high point of the show. They touch on
topics rarely discussed in anime, or any TV for that matter:
depression, hysteria, and the other ways that people react to
traumatic stress. Having seen their friends and companions not only
killed but often eaten, it's only natural that soldiers would have
deep psychological wounds. It's by addressing these topics that the
series really sets itself apart.
The 1.78:1 AVC 1080p image is outstanding. The animation is
stunning in parts and the show really pops in HD. The lines are
tight and the level of detail is excellent. There are some soft
sections, but these were intentional. When characters are thinking
back to the days before the initial attack that starts off the show,
the picture is just a tad less distinct, as if the peaceful days
gone by were just a dream. It's a subtle effect but it works very
Viewers have the choice of the original Japanese language track in
Dolby TrueHD 2.0 or an English dub in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. I usually
prefer the Japanese track when watching anime, but I have to admit
that the English dub was excellent. In a lot of ways it packed more
punch than the Japanese track due to the dedicated subwoofer
channel. It was used fairly sparingly, but in this case less is
more. When there's a battle going on and the sub kicks in
unexpectedly, it's shocking and impressive. Just listen to the scene
when the Armored Titan breaks through Wall Maria. The forceful boom
made me jump the first time I heard it. The English actors did a
really good job too making the dub stand up very well.
Unlike most anime releases, this set has some pretty decent bonuses
included on the discs. There are two commentary tracks, on episodes
14 and 25, the last installment. I'm not really a fan of commentary
tracks on anime by the people who did the dub, but I'm glad
FUNimation went to the trouble for fans who like hearing the dub
There is also a sixteen-minute bonus Attack on Titan at Anime
Expo which features footage from the show's presence at the
convention. The best extra has to be Chibi Theater: Fly, Cadets,
Fly! These shorts tell the adventures of the cadets in chibi
Rounding out the extras are an image gallery, a textless opening,
and a clean closing.
Though this second set doesn't quite pack the wallop that the first
one did, it's still a pretty decent show. The lack of resolution
will disappoint some viewers but even with that the program gives
you quite a ride. Recommended.