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Monday, July 3, 2017

Anime Hajime Review: Attack on Titan Season Two

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Attack on Titan Season Two. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

The struggle for humanity’s survival continues. As does the story of the three friends fighting to eliminate all Titans.

The brilliant strategist, Armin Arlert (voiced by Marina Inoue). The prodigy soldier Mikasa Ackerman (voiced by Yui Ishikawa). And the human who can turn into a Titan, Erin Yeager (voiced by Yuki Kaji)

Following Erin’s battle within Wall Shina, a horrifying discovery is made. The walls that have protected humanity from the Titans encase the very creatures. The military tries to make sense of this revelation. While at the same time, they try to discover if there are others like Erin hiding in their ranks.

Then the worst possible news arrives. Titans have been spotted within Wall Rose. A breach in the Wall would seal humanity’s demise. Thus, it is up to the Erin, Mikasa, Armin, and the rest of the elite Survey Corps to continue the fight.

However, it is never that simple. When one question is answered, more come to take its place. The mystery behind the Titans and Erin’s powers run deep. Many will die searching for the truth.

A truth that may reveal a dark past.

Series Positives

Odyssey, why is this review so late?

Though I’ll explain what happened, I agree. This review is coming out much later than I would’ve liked. I had always planned to cover Season Two as soon as it finished airing. Unfortunately, a perfect storm of factors smacked me out of nowhere. All leading to a rather embarrassing oversight.

I made an assumption and that’s the lesson of the day kids. Never assume.

Since the first season of Attack on Titan was twenty-five episodes, I thought the long-awaited season two would be the same. As such, with an April start, I had anticipated a September post.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that wasn’t the case. Now imagine my panic when I learned of this a week after the finale. At that point, it would’ve been hard to drop what I was working on. Thus, this review was a bit delayed.

And I can hear what you’re thinking. Why didn’t I do a quick Google search to confirm the dates?

Well, there's a problem with Attack on Titan. If you try looking anything up about this series you may run into a forum post you don’t want to read. An even higher possibility when the season was on. Or, there’s the more prevalent and constant problem. Coming across a piece of fan art littered with spoilers. Albeit cool pieces of fan art, it’s still dangerous waters nonetheless.

I spent over two years trying to remain as much in the dark about this story as possible. I wasn’t going to risk anything right at the end.

Speaking of spoilers, I’ll make sure to have this review free of them. But to do that, I will need to talk about season one. So, to the person reading this and who hasn’t watched the original, here’s your warning.

Housekeeping out of the way, let’s get started.

Attack on Titan Season Two. Yeah, it was pretty good.

If there was one word to describe this season, it would be “adrenaline”. In reality, this was about a six-hour watch. If felt like two. You burn through episodes.

I’m not sure where to start. My thoughts are going a mile a minute. I’m sure there’ll be something I miss. Then again, that’s a positive right there. There were so many things this season got so right.

The Animation

I’m using this classification in the broadest of terms. The animation made everything interconnected. To go over each thing I liked, while remaining vague, would only circle back to this point. I would end up repeating myself.

Attack on Titan has a style all its own. It’s unmistakable. The look alone is enough information to make any allusion work. In fact, all you need is any random background character to make a solid guess they’re from this show. I would argue this artwork is iconic. Right up there with the likes of Dragon Ball.

And it was pretty too.

There were plenty of times when the CG was blatant. Where this is distracting in other shows, Attack on Titan wore it well. Sheer scale and speed overshadowed all the clear as day computer touch ups. Nowhere was this more evident than in the action scenes. Which there were a lot of.

Human versus Titan. Titan versus Titian. Hell, even the human versus human fights were enough to get the blood pumping. I’m not sure which encounter was my favorite. They were all incredible. This season made the Battle of Trost from the original look like a light snack. There was more stuff happening in five minutes of Attack on Titan than in the entirety of Gantz. Proving that just because someone’s scared doesn’t mean they need to stand there like a jackass.

There are scenes you’d think you’d expect from an Attack on Titan season. Scenes that you think you’d want to see. There were a ton of amazing things given here. So much so that you realize when it’s over, you didn’t even get a handful of the things you thought you wanted. Nor do you care since you got more than you could’ve hoped for.

Erin, Mikasa, and Armin didn’t get into the action until a few episodes in. Instead, we got more background on Sasha (voiced by Yu Kobayashi) and Connie (voiced by Hiro Shimono). That was fine and all, but I came in thinking I was going to get the main three.

“How do you expect to be epic without the leads,” I said to myself.

Then the show got to the abandoned castle and I had to shut my mouth. Yeah, that would do it. And this was only the B team. When the A squad did arrive, this season reached new heights of awesomeness.

I haven’t even talked about the soundtrack yet. Holy Christ. This season knew how to make a hurrah moment. Or as I should be saying, “moments”.

All this may have been a trip, but Season Two had something that was even more impressive. The Death Stare.

It’s not that you’ll know it when you see it. You’ll feel it. Most characters at one point in this season wanted to kill something. And if looks could do the job, there would be a sea of dead bodies.

Though it got used a lot, it was never overused. It never became silly. If anything, this got more intense. Erin’s face always looked like this. Yet there were a few moments where I would’ve chosen to take on his Titan form.

Armin had a great one. He didn’t want to cause physical harm to anyone. Except he wanted to produce a reaction and he got it. I think we’ll be seeing this side of Armin a lot more. I hope so anyway.

However, the person who was legit terrifying was Mikasa. We all know she has the ability to destroy anything she so wishes. But to have all that power collect into a ball of pure fury and focus it on a single individual, damn. Even the humans who could turn into Titans must have soiled themselves when downrange of her stare.

"Breathtaking" isn’t the right way to describe Attack on Titan. "Spectacle" would be a much better fit.


Season one did plenty to build the mystery of what’s going on. While season two did answer a few burning questions, I’ll get to that, it didn’t give us the full puzzle. It built even more intrigue. I’m even more invested now than I was at the end of the original. And that ended on the reveal of the Walls containing Titans.

I wasn’t sure how this series would top that. Not only did Season Two do so, it did so in a big way. And not only did it do it in a big way, it did in several. You’d better strap yourself in when you start.

Am I going to give examples? I want to. Except it would be much more meaningful if you experience them for yourself. That and there would be a lot to cover.

All I can say now is, I don’t believe this season scratched the surface.

Series Negatives

Attack on Titan Season Two was a ton of fun. This was well worth the wait. Everything great about the original was here. The series as a whole is now even more exciting and gripping. With all this combined, you’d think it would be hard to write this section.

Not in the slightest.

There were serval issues I had with this season.

The first is a little unfair since it has everything to do with timing. I know this wouldn’t have been a problem if I had watched the entire series at once. So, take this with a grain of salt. Season Two was a continuation in its purest form.

Episode one is actually episode twenty-six. It’s even labeled as such in the series. The story picks right where the first ended. Never mind the four-year gap between seasons. Although it wasn’t hard to get back into the swing of things, a little recap would’ve been appreciated. If only to ensure key details or plot points didn’t get forgotten.

As you can see, if you’re coming right off episode twenty-five than this wouldn’t be a problem. I’d even go so far as to say it would be a benefit. There wouldn’t be any break in the action. The flow would continue.

This is such an easy thing to get around that it’s almost not worth mentioning. Or at least that would be the case if it didn’t feed into a much bigger issue.

Info Dump

It was a surprise to learn this season wasn’t twice as long. Having now seen it, I’m astonished that wasn’t the case. There was plenty of things to fill the time.

A common complaint I hear of the original was that the second half wasn’t as strong as the first. I don’t disagree with that. Except I accept why that was the case. Though they were less action oriented, the later episodes of season one had a point. There was a lot of world building going on.

New bits of information were given the chance to settle before they were expanded upon.

Season Two’s response to that was to get things moving a soon as it could. So many things happened in a very small span of time. There were a lot of factors that came into play. It got a tad overwhelming at points.
The good thing was, all this new stuff was interesting. As I said earlier, this series knows how to build the mystery. Even so, better pacing can go a long way.

Yet this only an off shot to Attack on Titan’s biggest problem.


Attack on Titan sucks at giving reveals. Not only this season, the whole series.

Naturally, I’m not going to go into what these revelations were. But as I mentioned earlier on, one big question did get an answer. Great. Except there's no reason why this should’ve been as anti-climactic as it was.

No fan-fair. Out of nowhere. Nonchalant. These are only a few of the ways I would describe this moment. Really? No lead in at all?

I’ll give the season this. It could’ve been worse. Even though it had a lot of the things I’m about to mention, at least there was context. In my review of the first season, I talked about this same problem. After all this time, I can detail why this is a problem.

I’m being serious. If you haven’t seen season one, but have made it this far for some reason, stop reading now.

When Annie (voiced by Yu Shimamura) was revealed to be a Titan, two thoughts happened. First, “Thanks for nothing show. That was easy to figure out long before you told us. It’s not that big of a shock anymore.”

Second, “Who is Annie and why should I care?”

Yeah, it’s a big deal if one of the members of the main group turns out to be a Titan. But only to the members of the group. The series spent almost no time with Annie. Her importance skyrocketed from nothing. It’s hard to get invested in something when you’re not given the chance to get invested.

Making this even more annoying, Season Two was even more guilty of doing this. Here, revelations happened to characters I didn’t know existed.

Please stop doing this because I know we aren't done with revelations yet.

Final Thoughts

Following the end of season one, we had to wait a long time for just the announcement of a second season. Not so this time.

Attack on Titan Season Three has been announced for a 2018 release. If you haven’t, you best get caught up.

Season Two was great. This was an outstanding continuation of the series. Amazing action, fantastic animation, and a story that hooks you hard. Despite the problems I have with it, they pale when compared to how fun this was to watch.

If you’re a fan of the first, nothing I could’ve said would’ve stopped you from watching this. That’s why it feels good to say, you won’t be disappointed.

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Others in the Attack on Titan Series

Anime Hajime Review: Attack on Titan
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Anime Hajime Review: Attack on Titan Season 2
Anime Hajime Review: Attack on Titan - Junior High
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Anime Hajime Review: Attack on Titan S3 Part1
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Anime Hajime Review: Attack on Titan 
Anime Hajime Review: Attack on Titan

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