10 CommentsShingeki no Kyojin / By Inushinde /

Shingeki no Kyojin Episode 13: Bigger and Boulder

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I’m not usually one to gripe about animation when it comes to a show, even if there are genuine grievances to be had. Sometimes compromises have to be made to get the vision across, and sometimes the budget for a less action-heavy episode will have to be saved for later. However, most shows blighted with these problems make up for it in subtle ways, like focusing on scenery while characters are talking, or having events happen off-screen, with a blood spatter shown to demonstrate that somebody just got hurt before showing their inanimate body crumpled on the floor.

But lo, like a colossal titan, Shingeki no Kyojin descended from above by means of lightning bolt and said, “Fuck that. I don’t need more than three frames at a time for animation! Particles will jerk lazily across the screen, distracting the viewer from the action! Cloaks will be buffeted by breezes into only one of three positions! Actual movement of any kind will be noticeably stilted, like the world’s worst stop-motion!” Granted, Shingeki no Kyojin has hardly been the most fluid viewing experience, but this is like visiting a good friend after a week, only to have him recollect last week’s visit while jerkily moonwalking toward a package of rat poison and licking his lips in anticipation of having massive organ failure. There’s no reason why it should have been this noticeably bad when the actual material for the episode was good.

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I don’t mean that lightly; the payoff in this week’s episode has been some of the most solid, well-paced content that the show’s had in a long while, barring the five minute “on last week’s episode” segment. Though I guess it’s best that it shits its recap material out in small doses so we won’t be subjected to a full recap epi- oh wait, that’s what’s happening next week? Well fuck it, I can still be pleased with the content of an episode while disapproving of the manner in which it’s being presented.

Really, despite somebody evidently throwing this week’s episode into a washing machine for several hours, there’s a lot of material to chew on. And by “a lot of” I mean “Jean’s”. And by “material” I mean “wrestling with his doubts in a subtle, yet surprisingly impactful background role”. While I would hardly describe his portrayal as nuanced, he’s always been scurrying around in the background, adding more of a human element to the show without attracting too much attention. He’s struck the right balance by having a meaningful role that has something to contribute, but doesn’t eclipse the overarching plot.

In the aftermath of the gate being plugged, the obligatory “war is hell” segment is also more effective for Jean’s struggle being periodically checked back on during Eren’s lapse into catatonia. The dead bodies, clear signs of destruction, falling (poorly-rendered) snow, and baggy-eyed coroner are satisfactory at getting the message across on their own, but Jean having a personal connection with one of the dead soldiers elevates this segment past mere competence into a scene that shows a visceral representation of the operation’s steep cost. Jean acts as the surrogate for the entirety of the rank and file soldiers, and performs admirably in the role by keeping them from becoming just a faceless, amorphous blob to be picked apart by ravenous titans. It’s not a pretty job, but somebody has to do it—and if that somebody isn’t Sasha, I guess Jean will do.

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Since next week’s recap episode coincides perfectly with Anime Expo, look forward to my first impressions of the anime that everybody’s clamoring to cover next season: Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music…

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10 Comments

  1. Amarrez
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I haven’t seen an episode this unfinished since Bakemonogatari, and at least you could pass that off as ‘art’. I hope they pull their shit together after the recap episode, since this is clearly an issue of time/scheduling and not budget constraints. They really should have just kept this series in production until Summer and had it premiere then.

    On a brighter note, I definitely agree about Jean. He and Armin are probably the most well rounded characters in the course of the two arcs the anime is adapting. Most characters are pretty flat until much later on, I feel.

    • Seppuku33
      Posted July 4, 2013 at 4:43 am | Permalink

      What really pissed me off was the 4 minutes of recap of last week’s episode. Who needs that? Another recap episode this coming week? When will producers realize that we don’t need recap scenes let alone recap episodes in 25 episode anime?

      This episode was fantastic besides the restricted / reused animation. It was intensely cool when Eren carried that boulder to some awesome background music. Jean is becoming more and more likable, in fact I think he’s my favorite character. Speaking of favorite characters, Sasha has not made me laugh since the early episodes. Where is she and her potatoes!?

  2. Posted July 3, 2013 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    That fool Marco deserved to die. Why is he dangling around in front of the titan during his attempt to save Jean? Why didn’t he slash it? Of course, I have to point out that the next guy also stepped at the titan’s head, instead of slashing it. Lol. They went through the same training but only Mikasa can do it. Great.

    • iron maw
      Posted July 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

      Because there is a high chance the Titan would caught him before he land a blow and Marco isn’t as fast as Mikasa. These aren’t slow creatures. Be to serve as distraction then escape yourself.

  3. hint
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I think those original scenes with Jean were also to give an ideia of how Marco had died.

    Eren carrying the boulder its a reference to Greek Mythology where Atlas is punished by Zeus, and by that, prevent a second Titans assault on mount Olympus. Not sure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlas_(mythology)

  4. gedata
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Can’t a Titan just push the boulder away?

    • iron maw
      Posted July 3, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      Normal Titans don’t have the same strength as Eren, plus most of them are pretty dumb.

  5. Redcrimson
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    My favorite part of the episode was when Eren’s footstep smashes the ground and a bunch of unrendered purple particles flew everywhere. Keep up the great work, Attack on Titan.

  6. Shinmaru
    Posted July 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Your pun title delighted me.

    • gedata
      Posted July 5, 2013 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      It’s always a delight to see what kind of humorous verbal concoction Inushinde can muster each week.

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