Posted on 30 September 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

With this I see why people complained that Shingeki no Kyojin went off-track a bit, because the whole cellar has been pushed more and more to the side of things. But in the show’s favor: the characters did have a really good reason to get sidetracked like that, because both the political games and that female Titan put up quite a big wall in front of that cellar. That first needs to be broken down before they can get to it.

But did Shingeki no Kyojin drag on? To answer that question, we need to wonder what makes it worth watching. The fantastic action, excellent acting, really well thought-out scenarios and the setting which really managed to convinced that humanity is on its last edge… The pacing is slow, but I would not say that this was rushed. It always had enough to offer, and the final four episodes were no different. They presented the identity of the female titan so well. It really took me a while before it hit me what was actually going on.

It was a trade-off that the creators made here. The pacing of the manga is ridiculously fast. At a certain point I just flew through each chapter. Instead they opted to pad things, and use the length for extra atmosphere building. And that worked for nearly the entire run. Perhaps only some episodes somewhere in the middle of the series lacked a bit momentum because people were just preparing.

Now, as for the ending: it seems that the producers haven’t greenlighted a second season yet, but really: this is one of those cases where it’s just a matter of time. With the sales of both the manga and the anime, there are plenty of reasons to come out with a sequel. My biggest guess as to why it hasn’t been greenlighted yet probably has to do with financing. I don’t have solid facts, but I would be very surprised if Shingeki no Kyojin wasn’t the most expensive series of the year. With all that stellar animation and with all those action scenes, it requires a much bigger budget than usual, and getting the funding for that takes time.

These final four episodes were amazing as usual, but there was also something very freaky going on that the creators very subtly tried to sneak past: the nature of the walls. Especially the last episodes were full of hints that something was really really wrong with them. First there obviously was that huge wall of text at the eyecatch. It may seem weird, but to me, it also seems really important, and there was no way for the creators to otherwise put that tidbit in. Also, how did Annie just jump back and forth between the forest and the walls in the city? The chance of her getting caught while trying to climb the walls would have been pretty high. And then there were the final words of the episode, hinting that it’s the walls that keep humanity trapped. And what the hell was that titan doing in that wall!?

So yeah, I don’t mind to wait for the creators to get the sequel just right. Just don’t pull a Durarara, okay? (Did they ever explain why THAT series didn’t get a second season).
Rating: 6,5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 8 September 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

I’ve said before that the Spring season of 2013 was one single worst spring season in more than a decade. I still stand by that. But holy crap: the epic action series that it brought forth is rivalled by only very few series! I kept hearing that in the manga, this was the point where it got stale and all. If that’s true, then the creators of the anime are doing a mighty fine job at hiding it!

Holy crap these three episodes were just amazing! Production IG really put in effort in order to make the action as riveting as possible. The animation, music and story worked together wonderfully here, and it just kept on going. And it wasn’t just dumb action: everyone here used their heads, even the stupid titans were trying to learn (even if it’s just a small thing as trying to climb trees).

Here it really was established that the traitor could turn into the big female titan at will. And I love how she’s strong, yet not overpowered: she actually got caught in a lot of traps, and she really had to be creative in order to escape those. I really like that. She too ended up tired, although it was shown very subtly.

Also, after watching 21 episodes, I have to say: Shingeki no Kyojin for me is a very strong contender for the best soundtrack of the year.
Rating: 6,5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 13 August 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

This string of episodes was just amazing. Really, I’ve heard that for an epic series, Shingeki no Kyojin has a simplistic story, and that is indeed true. However, this series is a master at emotions. Its aim is not to deliver the most complex storyline, but instead it’s here to deliver epic action scenes, and that’s something that was elevated to an artform here.

This just was complete despair. Episode 16 was all about everyone accepting the fact that they were all going to lay their lives in front of Eren. The two episodes featured this massive slaughter that had just about everyone run for their lives, with only some people escaping through some sort of miracle. That’s something that I have very rarely seen done better.

Oh, and tactics. Military bloody tactics. When was the last time that these were done so well? When was the last time at which you actually had an entire grasp of how big the army in question was? What the positions looked like? How the formations change depending on the situations? How well this was translated over to the animation screen? I mean, that was just brilliant. I remember how the small armies in Sengoku Basara, Guin Saga, and even Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto were just lumped together as “one army”. Here, every squadron counts. Every position has meaning and affects what happens throughout these two episodes.

Also I still love the kinds of series that downplay their main characters. Eren again had nothing to do in this episode and thus we get to see much of the side-characters who could show their characters off. And really: the main cast remains the main cast: there are people with huge talents in this series, but they are all downplayed: Eren has huge powers, but they’re incredibly random. Armin is really smart, but he’s really weak. Mikasa is very nimble, but she often isn’t at the right time at the right place, and that commander guy is also very nimble, but a total asshole who left his subordinates in total darkness about his plans, nearly killing them. It’s amazing how well this all balanced out.
Rating: 6,5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 27 July 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

After the first big action-oriented arc, Shingeki no Kyojin is in its intermezzo arc: the arc that does not focus on action, but instead is aimed at exploring the background of something, in this case the titans. Arcs like these don’t have action: they can’t depend on flashy graphics or fast-paced entertainment to keep the viewer busy, so their subject material really needs to be interesting here more than ever now.

Many series before have attempted to first show enemies as ruthless monsters, only to show a bit of humanity into them. My experience told me that this is very hard to really do well. The obvious solution would be to just hint that these beings also have some sort of humanity in them. Gargantia did that for example, but that was way too quick to really come of as convincing, especially how they used it. Shingeki no Kyojin has an intersesting approach here, by using this nutcase of a character really well.

This is new: a character who is so desperate to see the titans from a different angle. She’s fully aware of what they did, yet she forces herself to bond with the titans she caught, even though there are no hints whatsoever that they’re actually taking note of her and recognizin her. It’s like herding a bunch of amnesiac tigers, only ten times worse. And this actually worked.

In one way, Eren is a great main character. I mean, there is not much to his character, but as an observer he works quite well: he’s hardly ever in control of the situation, which gives the side cast tons of different oppotunities to shine and show themselves off. You way too often have these main characters who try to hog all of the spotlights, but he stays very surprisingly away from that.

Also, that final sentence of the episode intrigued me.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 14 July 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

This was a type of episode that you really don’t see often: a courtroom episode. It’s felt like ages since the previous one popped up, because it’s very specific: nearly an entire episode being set in a courtroom, and the conclusion of the episode being the conclusion of the judge. For this type of episode, it was fairly straightforward: should Eren be killed or not. But really: a battle of arguments without any big action scenes in this series? That worked out really well.

This episode showed a bit more insight about the politics in this series: the different forces that control the last settlements of humanity, and the way they presented their arguments, and reacted in this episode showed a lot about who the are in general and what they behave like. They are one-dimensional stereotypes, so this was not an episode for the characters, but rather it was one for the setting. And still, I love how Eren tried to defend himself, and Mikasa really got the chance to show a weak side of her. That’s actually very important because of how god-moded she threatened to become. That black-haired guy has the same problem by the way, but he at least has his arrogance that prevents him from becoming the perfect character.

Also, is it me, or is there a new soundtrack? I at least think that I haven’t heard these tracks before. In any caes the OP and ED are definitely new. The OP actually looks gorgeous. The visuals are even better than the first. I do get the feeling though, that the song they used for it was originally composed for something like 5 minutes, and the 90-second version feels like this hastily cut-together version of this. Try to focus on one part of the song, rather than try and stuff everything in it. They did that right with the ED, but there I’m not a big fan of the song.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 11 July 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

And so the really long invasion arc has finally ended, and I must say that it did so with a bang. Eren in his titan form really looked gorgeous, and the creators did a really good job at bringing him to life there. Add that to an insert song that worked surprisingly well. Shingeki no Kyojin is obviously trying to be the epic of the year here, and well… they pretty much solidified that even more with this episode.

For a small while, there was hope in this episode. However, I also really enjoyedhow the aftermath brought everything back donwn to earth again, and to the series’ roots: despair. It did a really good job of showing exactly what kinds of sacrifices Eren had to make in order to carry out the plan of plugging up the hole in the gate, both with words, and emotions: every character was pretty much feeling the atmosphere and realized just what happened.

So after this there will be a recap, and from there on we’ll get to the second half of the series. With this the question will arise whether the creators will be able to get the entire story in, especially considering the manga hasn’t ended yet. For this there are three possibilities, I think: an anime original ending, the manga will end in a few months, or the series will be concluded in a movie of some sort. They all have their pros and cons.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 25 June 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

I have to give props to the soundtrack guy: Hiroyuki Sawano. It’s the guy who also did the soundtrack for Ao no Exorcist and Sengoku Basara, but I think that he really delivered his best work so far with Shingeki no Kyojin. Especially this episode showed how powerful the soundtrack in this series can be: it’s epic, yet unique. The big danger with those epic coundtracks is to just throw in lots of bombast and choirs. It sounds great, but all those soundtracks start to sound the same! Here it’s not the case though.

This episode contained such a fine piece of atmosphere building. I mean, Shingeki no Kyojin is all about despair: screwing over humanity as much as possible, while not turning it into a one-sided slaughter by providing pieces of hope. Eren may have turned into that giant, but this entire episode just kept reminding us that things would’t be so easy. Heck, Eren was out-cold for the entire thing, leaving everything to the side-characters to clean things up for him. This makes him quite a unique main character: yes, he has the power fitting of a main character, but this is more and more turning into Mikasa and Armin’s story.

Seriously, a character like Armin… in normal stories he’d perhaps get one crowning moment of awesome. Here, he just keeps struggling! And that’s the beauty of this series: everyone is fighting for their lives in a way that hasn’t been done for a very long while. I’m getting flashbacks to Blue Gender, only with much better production-values and much more bombast. This season may be small, but the series that stand out really stand out here!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 20 June 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

It’s probably no mistake that I love series that know their build-up; the series that really manage to prepare, and use this preparation, rather than just going into random directions. Shingeki no Kyojin showed with this episode that it really knows its build-up. The climax of this episode was amazing, and in a very different way from what you usually see.

Nearly the entire episode was about hope: trying to convince everyone in this series that the best course of action would be to send Eren to plug up the hole in Wall Maria. There were a lot of uncertainties, and so the characters had to resort to using hope: this can work. There were so many people in doubts in this episode. If it works, then this will be the first time mankind has ever won from the titans. This will turn the tide and we can actually start to fight back with Eren that way. It will be worth all of the sacrifices! And then Eren just started to smash in random walls. Oh, the despair! It was awesome.

As for the budget, this episode showed that this is really a manga adaptation: there were quite a few still frames, that looked like they came right out of the manga. And that, combined with some beautiful money-shots of Eren and Mikasa flying through the city. It’s clear that the best animator of this week’s episode worked on that city, and it’s the kind of action scene that really is unique to this anime.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 11 June 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

Shingeki no Kyojin is addictive, it’s just as I hoped, even in episodes like this when there isn’t any action. This episode instead was all about paranoia, and panic, which is what it used to create its atmosphere. I deally the pacing could have been a bit faster, but that’s just a minor nitpick. This still worked really well and because of that it actually made sense for that commander to be stopped by his superior, because he took so damn long to give the order to fire.

Armin was the one who got the most development in this episode. And heck, his performance in this episode was over the top crazy, but that definitely grabbed me by surprise. He’s really slowly growing out of his stereotype as well, and he’s shown quite a few times that he knows how to think and come up with bold plans.

The strange thing here is transforming: usually when a character transforms he just grows, shrinks, turns, or just generally morphs into a different shape. Eren though, he just grows 20 times his size, he regrows his limbs, and stays inside the titans like it’s some sort of flesh-puppet.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 7 June 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

At this point I stopped reading the manga, so here too I’m just blank. And it seems that I quit at a really awesome point in the series, because this episode again was really tense as it showed some hints about why Eren managed to turn into a titan in the first place, as well as hints to how the titans could be defeated and why Eren is special: his father.

People behaving illogically. That’s difficult to do, and yet this series is full of people in panic. In the past it went a bit over the top with how it portrayed the rich guys as egotistical bastards, but in this episode it was really good: Eren indeed is the key to beating the titans. However when you just saw that giant thing turn into him, all you do is want to kill him, yeah. I’m only not sure how Eren knew that he could activate this by biting into his thumb…

And really, the artwork for Eren’s new titan form looked gorgeous. Heck, the atmosphere here was just awesome in how the second episode just kept building up the tension by showing Eren’s inner struggles, and the background music really helped with that.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:46 AM)
    And yet again at the end of the day Akane failed to do what’s the most important ethical thing to do and left people to possibly die instead of judging Sybil herself. I think the reason her psycho pass is clear might be out of stupidity.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:43 AM)
    @Emma: The plot was not only a mess but also incredibly flawed and contrived. Why would Sybil need to have to delete seemingly random brains considering that the are all supposedly asympttmatic to begin with? And if so then they should’ve done this a long time ago.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:40 AM)
    *This was
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:37 AM)
    One thing I forgot to say regarding earlier complaints about the second psychopass season is that you have people who were getting lost in regards to what was going on in the plot due to what a mess it was.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:35 AM)
    The was a pretty awful, although expected turn in the latest two brynhildr chapters regarding Hatsuna and the tonal jump in the latest chapter was terrible.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:34 AM)
    Yup Psycho Pass 2 finale was just as underwhelming as you lot say, so now I share the sentiment. Even the 1st season’s wrap up wasn’t all that satisfying so they kinda suck at that, but this just felt like they gave up trying tho.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 02:57 AM)
    I have heard of directors admitting bullshit before, Von Trier is said to have done so and I love the ground that man walks on.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 02:56 AM)
    @Emma: yeah, he mentioned that many elements of NGE where simply for visual flair or to elicit a response from the viewer, which to me is fine.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 02:55 AM)
    And both of you have a point about the power fantasy thing. Would also like to add here that a writer, writing is essentially a power fantasy to an extent as he or she essentially is elevated to the position of a God that has full control over their own world and characters.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 02:52 AM)
    Has Anno mentioned himself that he knows when he’s just messing around?
    Also I like his wife’s works a fair bit and more.

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