WARNING! SPOILERS CONTAINED WITHIN! WARNING!
For those not familiar with this one of a kind anime, here’s what it’s like to watch it: an exhilarating ride on the most intense rollercoaster ever created, with someone intermittently rabbit punching you in the kidneys until you piss yourself.
Season Two, and from what I understand all subsequent seasons will run 12-episodes instead of the whopping 26 the first season gave us. But that doesn’t lessen the story or animation any, well, it does in the depiction of the Colossal Titan. He’s been redesigned with some CGI augmentation; I personally thought his design in Season One was better.
The season seems to pick up right after Season One, after Annie in her Titan form has been captured. She crystallized her human body and it’s been removed and shoved in a cell. The final scene was of a Titan’s face embedded in the Great Wall, the revelation being in this season is these walls are made from Titan skin, and that there are actual Titans inside, this also explains why there’s a religious faction that worships the Walls. I always thought it was just some kind of insane religious fanaticism, but it appears to be much more than that. Unfortunately, we don’t learn any more than this either in this season, despite Pastor Nick being “interrogated” by Zoe Hange.
This season offers up more questions than answers about the Titans, with two major revelations thrown in. The “Wall Titans” is one; the second is who the Armored and the Colossal Titans are. Remember them? They started all this by destroying the gate and letting in all the Titans in the first episode of Season One. From the moment this shocker of who they are halfway through the season is revealed, that first episode happened five years ago! And I like how this shock is revealed too, in casual conversation with Eren on top of one of the walls. Reiner Braun and Bertholdt Hoover, cadets we got to know from the first season, who started out as assholes, but befriended Eren, Mikasa and Armin, and then came off as pretty decent fellas, approach Eren and say, “We had a plan to wipe out mankind . . . ” or words to that effect, and then the camera pulls out to a traveling long shot of the three of them and the rest of the team walking away in the opposite direction. Seconds before the three are off camera, you hear Hoover casually say to Eren, “I’m the Armored Titan, he’s the Colossal . . . ” It took me a moment to register what I heard, ‘Wait, what the fuck did he just say?!’ I thought. I rewound the scene back to confirm that I had actually heard what I heard, and then let the rest of it play out. Holy shit! No, holy fuckin’ shit, was my full reaction!
As I said there’s more questions than answers about the Titans, and what comes from that encounter is they want to kidnap Eren, referring to him as the “coordinate,” if I was hearing that correctly, and they seem to be pissed he was made this “coordinate.” That whole scene leads to a big ass fight with the Colossal and Armored Titan that gets Eren kidnapped for a little while. That event plays itself out for the rest of the season as his team and his friends fight valiantly to get him back, and by the end of the season, they do, but not without losing a friend to the Titan who ate Eren’s mother back in Season One.
The first half of the season focuses on the supporting characters we met in Season One. Our three main characters, Eren, Mikasa and Armin don’t get fully focused on until the halfway point, when it becomes all about Eren’s mysterious role in all this. One of the characters we learn a lot about is Ymir, and her story starts at the Titan battle at Castle Utgard where we everyone discovers she’s a Titan shifter! Her backstory, as a child into her teens, is shown and all we learn is that she stole her Titan ability from someone and was cast out, tossed over the Great Wall to live with Titans and she transformed in the fall. She spent 60-years roaming that world and I had the impression after you first transform you cannot become human again until you eat someone. That’s what she did, and this is her connection to Hoover and Braun, apparently she ate one of their friends, and once human again she reentered society.
There’s a little bit of a “Tarantino vibe” in this season in that on several occasions the narrative will go back an hour, or twelve hours, to reveal the set-up of something we just saw. One of these flashbacks happen during the moment the Armored and Colossal Titans revealed who they were to Eren, we then go back 12-hours to when the whole team learned Braun and Hoover were indeed Titans, and possibly traitors, this flashback also revealed some things from Season One when the Female Titan was after them. She was really after Eren and all those strange moments of where she was going and how she knew certain things is explained through Hoover and Braun’s treason. They actually show what was “really going on” in those scenes and why Hoover wasn’t killed when he was supposedly “fighting” her.
Very clever plotting and mind blowing to say the least.
There also a new Titan on hand in this season, the Beast Titan! He looks like a giant Sasquatch with gangly arms and a small head. He can talk, and reason, and control other titans. His participation is small, but the moments he’s on screen are crucial to the plot, he’s even the final shot of the season, with his human persona perched on top of his Titan form, looking at the camera with a pair of binoculars, looking at Eren, and saying, “Not just yet.” The dude didn’t look familiar either.
In the final episode Eren learns he has a new power, to control Titans too! And this is how he avenges his mother’s death at the hands of that creepy, female-ish Titan that ate her. His inadvertent rage at not being able to transform ignite his Titan controlling ability and she’s torn apart and eaten by all the other Titans around her.
We also learn if you’re a Titan, you can briefly pop out of the neck of your Titan form, or as in that final shot, step completely out of it. That shot had me thinking these Titans are basically “biological mechas,” and now I see where this concept was bred from. One of things Japanese anime is known for are their mechas (aka giant robots), and how a human can climb into one and operate it. I wonder if creator, Hajime Isayama, was consciously flipping this concept on its head, or whether it came to him subconsciously?
As the season starts out Titans are suddenly rampaging inside the walls again, specifically near Wall Rose, and naturally everyone assumes Wall Rose has been breached. Not so, two teams go out and discover it’s still standing as strong as ever, so where are the Titans coming from? They came from the direction of Conny Springer’s home town. He freaks and eventually goes to see if his family is dead or alive. There’s no blood, no bodies, but there’s a “dead” Titan collapsed on Conny’s house. I figured out right away what was going on, that those Titans they were fighting were the townsfolk from Conny’s home town, but it’s not until the final episode when it’s clear to everyone that Titans are humans, which they should have already suspected from battling the Female Titan in Season One.
It looks like just about everyone from the 104th Training Corps lives through Season One, except for Hannes, the guy who was a douche to Eren in episode one of the first Season, but turned out to be a mentor and friend later on. There are obviously more deaths but I didn’t recognize a lot of those characters from Season One, unless they had smaller roles I can’t remember. It’s just unfortunate three of them are Titans, and that the Hoover/Braun betrayal is one of the greatest in anime, perhaps all of cinema, because I never saw it coming. For all intents and purposes they were allies, pretty twisted too, to do what they did in episode one though, and then go and become soldiers. It is odd, still, because near the end they seem to (on one level) be unwilling participants in some grand scheme. I still think they’re traitors who need to die! I guess we’ll see what happens to them in Season Three.
The animation stayed strong too!
Funimation releases two editions of Attack On Titan: Season Two here in the U.S, a Limited Edition box set (pictured below), and a standard DVD/Blu-ray Combo on February 27. You can buy them on Amazon or on Funimation’s site as well any place else that sells anime here in the U.S.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 1.78:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English Dolby TruHD, 5.1 Japanese Dolby TruHD—English subs
Extras included On Disc #1 . . .
- Commentary On Episode 30 With AD Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Voice Actors Bryn Apprill, Elizabeth Maxwell and Josh Grelle
- Commentary On Episode 31 With AD Director/Voice Actor Mike McFarland, Voice Actors David Matranga, Rob McCollum, and Trini Nishimura
Extras included On Disc #2 . . .
- Anime Expo 2017: Interview with Trina Nishimura (4:14)
- Anime Expo 2017: Interview with Tetsuya Kinoshita & Yui Ishikawa (17:03)
- Attack on Titan Season 2: Interview with Original Creator Hajime Isayama (9:45)
Attack On Titan Quiz:
- 105th Cadet Corps Mission #1 (4:53)
- 105th Cadet Corps Mission #2 (4:50)
- 105th Cadet Corps Mission #3 (7:22)
- 105th Cadet Corps Mission #4 (10:06)
- Final Recap (9:43)
- Eyecatch Gallery (12 photos)
- Promo Videos (3:24)
- Textless Opening & Closing (1:31)
• 56-page “Art From Beyond The Wall” artbook
This was my first time reviewing one of Funimation’s limited edition sets and they’re beautifully constructed. I was most impressed by the artbook. In the “main book” where the discs are housed you get several interviews with the staff, several, smaller, profile interviews, and a breakdown of some of the characters crucial to this season, not to mention more gorgeous artwork! If you’ve got the money (these limited editions can be expensive) seek out this bells and whistles version!