24 CommentsShingeki no Kyojin / By Inushinde /

Shingeki no Kyojin Episode 22: Attack on the Cart Driver

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This image is actually emblematic of how things work at The Cart Driver: The titan represents looming deadlines, Shinmaru and I are shown here holding them off, and Scamp just rests in the back under a blood-soaked sheet, presumably mocking us while sneakily eating Lucky Charms drenched in whiskey, as the Irish are wont to do.

After several episodes, I still have no idea if background titans are intended to provide comic relief, or if their goofy behavior is supposed to be disturbing. Case in point, this titan hugging himself stupid, who pops up when suspense is getting ratcheted because some dipshit thought that bringing his dead friend home was worth stirring a veritable hornet’s nest of giant red people who also don’t know what to do with their arms. However, no number of silly titans can change the fact that things have gone tits up in the worst way.

It’s not hard to see why things could be construed as a failure; the Recon Corps’ little excursion served little purpose past thinning their ranks and discovering that there are titan agents among them. While the latter is incredibly important, it resulted in enough losses to completely ruin what little credibility as a functional arm of the military that the Recon Corps had to offer. The best that they can hope for after their return is not to have their asses court-martialed by those who want to see their funding put somewhere that doesn’t see recipients regularly smashed into trees.

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I’m normally not one to find grimdark “bad situations getting worse” engaging. Very often, the sheer magnitude of bad luck sways audience sympathies from… well, sympathy, to just pity, to gleeful schadenfreude, mostly due to shitty progression. Past moments in this series haven’t been free from the effects of sloppy transition. But by slowly decreasing the scope of the objectives, and the capability of the remainder of the Recon Corps, morale is slowly whittled away until just making it back to the Wall alive and disgraced is a victory. When a former indication of complete defeat is the most optimistic objective that can be set, you know things have gone tits up. It all adds up and seeps in over time, creating an effective change in mood that doesn’t feel abrupt or manipulative.

The high body count, and the emphasis on bringing the dead home, certainly contributes. You don’t need to feel investment toward characters to sympathize with their desire to bring their dead back home for burial. When they have to leave their dead behind so they can escape, it’s disheartening to watch. There’s no dignified way to run from this kind of danger, especially when the reaction upon returning is going to invariably be “Well you guys suck. Fuck your dead and your revelation that there are titans among us, GIVE US OUR TAX MONEY BACK.”

The only thing that I felt didn’t work with the episode was the bit with Petra’s father toward the end. While the episode piled in disasters almost to breaking point, each successive one added to the overall feeling of despair without pushing it past the point of believability. Petra’s father running up to Levi and bombarding him with guilt was that push. The rest of the episode was firmly within the realm of reality, but that extra tidbit didn’t add anything important. We already knew that Levi felt some measure of guilt over the losses, especially Petra, and it didn’t need reinforcement. Levi regretfully leaving Petra’s body behind was more than affecting enough, while giving some insight into his

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On the plus side though, and so I have an excuse to post that creepy image of her sitting slack-jawed, at least Female Titan’s efforts toward being Rambo were all for nothing. I’ll take victories where I can get them, especially when they’re accomplished by a combination of Levi moving at superhuman speed, and Mikasa losing her shit.

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24 Comments

  1. rubberluffy
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 3:28 am | Permalink

    Strange you mention it because all the corpse retrieval stuff is anime-original but the scene with Petra’s father is in the manga.

  2. Pusswookie
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 4:25 am | Permalink

    Not gonna mention how they came, quite poignantly, full circle from the beginning when the Recon Corps, including Eren & Co, returned in almost an exact reiteration of the failed mission 5 years ago? That callback was a powerful moment and a major highlight of the manga, as I recall – starry eyed naive little boy and all.

    Also, in regards to the anime original content this week: Aside from not cutting down private fucknugget, who endangered everyone and subsequently made them lose even more bodies, Levi had some pretty good scenes this episode. Especially what with giving that asshat Petra’s patch and saying it was his lost friend’s.

    • Langer
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      People jeering is easy to deal with, just get angry and scream right back at them. The kids supporting them though would be a pretty severe inner conflict for Erin.

      One one hand he was like them himself and knows that they are well intentioned, on the other, after going through all that he realises how inconsiderate a gesture it was. Should he be glad that they would follow in his path, and experience the same terror? or brush them off and hope they resent them like the rest of the villagers. There no positive outlook to be had…it’s so much easier to just punch people in the face to vent frustration.

      • Gan_HOPE326
        Posted September 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

        I say he just screams at them as well. You can’t really go wrong with that. Besides, what else can Eren do anyway?

      • Pusswookie
        Posted September 11, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

        Cry, apparently.

      • Posted September 14, 2013 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

        @gan, channeling Oh My Shoe through Yuki Kaji and being annoying…

    • Nagisa33
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

      I dug that crowd scene where the boy’s actions paralleled Eren’s. Great stuff and it was handled effectively.

      Since you’ve been reading the manga, do you suggest starting it now, or just waiting for another possible anime season? How is the anime’s quality in comparison to the manga’s, without spoiling anything? Lastly, is there a light at the end of the tunnel or is this suspected to be a long runner?

      • Pusswookie
        Posted September 11, 2013 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

        1. You should probably at least finish this season first.

        2. The anime’s doing pretty great, aside from all the stalling for time and whatnot. The manga handled Eren and Mikasa’s recognition that they were basically looking at themselves, from 5 years ago, when they saw the kids a bit differently, but the return scene was virtually the same. Aside from that, the anime has followed it pretty much panel for panel and improved on it numerous times. Not to mention the anime [usually] looks a lot better, as the art for the manga leaves a lot to be desired.

        3. The very latest AoT chapters have started to bring some very big questions and reveals – most of which haven’t happened in the anime yet – into the spotlight, but in the process, it’s only seemed to bring about even more questions. The manga is pretty intense at the moment but it’s also blue-balling us pretty hard as well, so I’m guessing that it’s going to continue for a while still.

      • Nagisa33
        Posted September 12, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

        Thanks, I appreciate the info. I don’t like my balls turning funny colors so I think I’ll stick with the anime and a possible season 2.

        It’s similar to how I feel about Berserk. I watched the anime, loved it, and really want to read the manga. However the mangaka takes these ridiculously long hiatuses and I’ve heard that there isn’t even an ending in sight. For a series that started in 1990, that’s shame.

        Now, Berserk is the extreme case but even so, I don’t want to catch up, wait a while for major events, and forget about what happened that made a series so special. The momentum and excitement are lost that way.

  3. Posted September 11, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink

    The best part of the episode, IMO, was Levi and Mikasa chasing down the Female Titan with that sexy new song introduced, and Levi turning into a goddamn living sawblade. I thought the whole “Humanity’s Strongest Soldier” or whatever talk was overblown despite his previously shown skills, but now… O_O that sealed the deal for him to become my favorite character of this series.

    Can’t wait for the next episode, even more so because it’s going into a new arc~

    • Inushinde
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      Kind of hard to be stronger than somebody that can move at mach speed, yeah.

  4. Redcrimson
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    That shot of the Female Titan crying after getting her ass carved up by Levi and Mikasa has me really, really worried that this show is going to go the old “humans are the real monsters” routine. They’ve been peppering in the theme here and there, like Mikasa’s backstory and the fat chess-playing aristocrat. While I think there’s a decent framework to put a new spin on it, I don’t think there’s enough to really make it work in this show.

    • Posted September 11, 2013 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

      Well it was hinted early on that humans being dicks was the reason why the titans started appearing in the first place, from Pixis I think (would look it up but afraid of spoilers popping up). Also, the Female Titan IS a human and retains her emotions in that form.

      I believe having failed to retrieve Eren has caused sadness to FemTitan because either she 1. Highly regards Eren for some reason or 2. Feels she has brought “dishonor”.

  5. Dilys
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Am i the only one that thought this episode was just an overkill with the drama? Didn’t like the whole thing with all the different parents of the members of Levi’s squad, or Petra’s father, or an excessive amount of bodies. I think just Petra’s scene would’ve been enough. Maybe that’s just me. Also, for humanity’s hope they’re quite the disorganized group that lacks discipline. I’d have thought the group of friends that defied orders would’ve got more than Petra’s patch.

    • Gan_HOPE326
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Thought that too. But I just realized that if I were in Erwin, that guy would just *happen* to be in the very front lines of the long range formation thingy, next time.

      If there ever WILL BE a next time, that is.

    • Nagisa33
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      I thought the scene with Petra’s father talking to Levi was the icing on the cake to an already gut punching episode. Levi not only failed to protect Petra and his squad but he had to throw them off the cart like they were nothing. To pack on the stress, Petra’s dad, who put her life in Levi’s hands, is bombarding Levi with about how good of a soldier and how proud he is of her. My reaction was, “Ouch, now that’s got to hurt!” So personally I thought the scene was handled well.

      Levi’s face screamed, “What could make this situation worse!?” Unfortunately for the characters in Titan, it can always get worse.

    • Inushinde
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

      A few scenes overdid it, but the one with Levi seeing Petra’s limp body roll unceremoniously on the ground actually hit pretty hard. Again, the bit with Petra’s father being all “Oh hey my daughter talks about you all the time! I hope you’re treating her well and she’s still alive, and speaking of my lovely daughter being alive, where is she so I can be happy that she’s alive?” was overkill.

      • Pusswookie
        Posted September 16, 2013 at 4:41 am | Permalink

        “Sorry, all I’ve got’s an arm. Will that do?”

  6. arcanes
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Three more weeks to the manga marathon. And 22 weeks without a single answer about the truly important plot questions. Yay. Good series and all, but a little bit of information will be greatly appreciated. You can’t drag this information blackout forever.

    • Nagisa33
      Posted September 11, 2013 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

      The next episode showed Armin thinking putting that brain of his to use, probably cooking up a scheme, and Annie being asked to go on a mission. I think Armin is setting a ingenious trap, or something to that effect, to get some much appreciated answers. The next big arc will answer a lot of questions, I suspect.

  7. Mr. Anon
    Posted September 11, 2013 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Wait, you guys have deadlines? That’s rather above the level of organisation I expected this blog to have.

    • Posted September 11, 2013 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

      Makes me wonder what would happen if they failed to meet them…

    • ANON
      Posted September 12, 2013 at 5:38 am | Permalink

      what? you expected scamp to be a benevolent easy-going head blogger who would not have imposed strict restrictions (or deadlines) on his underlings?

    • Inushinde
      Posted September 15, 2013 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      The deadline is pretty much the day before the next episode of a show is supposed to air. So yes, they exist, if extremely loosely!

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