25 CommentsShingeki no Kyojin / By Inushinde /

Shingeki no Kyojin Episode 4: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Shingeki401

For a show about the last vestiges of humanity pushed to the edge of extinction by an uncaring, downright malevolent outside force, Shingeki no Kyojin has some surprisingly decent comedy chops. Granted, they’re mostly to do with Sasha stuffing her lovely face or people getting caught in stupid poses with the most stoic expressions imaginable, but that still goes a long way toward making a slow, drawn out conclusion to the training arc infinitely more enjoyable, and for providing appropriate levity to a bleak situation. If nothing else, appropriate levity is what this show truly excels at.

All in all, the first half of the episode feels hollow and drawn out, most likely to take up time for the inevitable cliffhanger. There are a few bright moments of good character development, but they’re hampered by needless repetition of motivations, and the deliberate affirmation that Mikasa’s only role in the story is to protect Eren and serve as an all-purpose female Rambo. Coupled with the slowness of this final phase of training and the immediate aftermath, it drags way longer than it should on the way to more titan mayhem.

When the episode starts with a running sequence followed immediately by a demonstration of the gear’s capability for sweet moves, pausing the action to describe characters is a clumsy way to serve up exposition while saving all the money for Colossal Titan’s reappearance. I mean it works, but it takes what should have been a fun sequence and chops its pacing solely for the purpose of exposition and adding minutes to the episode’s runtime. It’s unfortunate, because I for one would’ve been overjoyed to see soldiers swing from branch to branch, narrowly dodging each other as they moved to swipe at titan dummies without the action coming to a halt every ten seconds—just two minutes of unnarrated action would’ve been satisfying enough.

Shingeki404

As if to make up for the humdrum conclusion of the training arc, the scene of Eren and his comrades maintaining artillery on the wall is perfectly paced, and doesn’t last longer than it needs to. Sasha offers stolen rations that she continuously slavers over, and all is good until Colossal Titan swoops down from the heavens and knocks Eren’s group off the wall with the accompaniment of a dramatic chorus. It The abrupt change in tone is managed with virtually no hiccups, something that’s difficult to pull off for any show.

The sudden reappearance of the Colossal Titan, whose tiny eyes are now the creepiest thing about him, serves as an appropriately abrupt end to the relative peace and quiet of training; the threat is much scarier when you can’t see it lumbering from miles away. The way that the (relatively) big ones appear from seemingly nowhere and attack without warning not only elicits an atmosphere of paranoia, but serves as a grim reminder that no amount of preparation matters when something that big can appear out of the blue and demolish fortifications with a half-hearted swish of its arm. It’s unceremonious, it’s unforeseeable, and most of all it’s scary.

Shingeki403

Every scene involving the titans up to this point has given me goose-bumps, thanks to a strong visual presentation and an appropriately grandiose soundtrack that falls just short of being ridiculous. All of those are in full force for a few glorious minutes toward the end, and it succeeded in making me want more, even knowing full well that it deliberately set itself up for one hell of an annoying cliffhanger. Yet, there are still a few questions that could do with some answering. Why can titans only appear immediately outside the wall? Why didn’t Colossal Titan help continue their push into the city immediately, rather than letting people build up again? I mean given the titans’ nature, you’d think they’d keep pressing onward, not wait several years for people to recuperate and train, and it doesn’t seem that there are prerequisites for Colossal Titan to reappear, save for it being convenient for the plot.

Still, aside from the first half of this episode, things have been excellently paced so far, striking a confident balance between titan-centric mayhem and character development, delving into bleak territory without becoming consumed by it.

This entry was posted in Shingeki no Kyojin and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

25 Comments

  1. Gedata
    Posted April 30, 2013 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    As for the slow pacing of the episode, well it at least helped this series close out the month in the right spot, that and we got plenty of Potato-chan’s awesomeness. Bring on the onslaught!

  2. Seppuku33
    Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    I didn’t have a problem with the first half of the show because it had scenes which I rather enjoyed. For example, Eren’s takedown of Jean was notable as it showed that Eren’s a fast learner when it comes to picking up useful techniques. Also it further established that Jean is at odds or is bitter towards Eren, a fact which may cause trouble in the future. I feel that Jean is going to be a character who’s going to die off early though once things start getting more serious. Also Sasha is my favorite character of the 2013 anime season. Hahahahahaha!

    • Inushinde
      Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:42 am | Permalink

      I do hope that Jean doesn’t die early. He serves as a good counterpoint to Eren that shouldn’t be discarded too quickly.

      • Posted May 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Here’s a hint: everyone of the top ten placers (from Mikasa to Crista) have their roles to play. However if you’re part of the graduate class but NOT a top-ten placer, you’re giant food.

      • Inushinde
        Posted May 2, 2013 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        I kind of figured as much, but dying early can also play a significant role in a story– the two are hardly mutually exclusive, as shown with Eren’s mother.

    • Seppuku33
      Posted May 1, 2013 at 2:27 am | Permalink

      Hahahahahah! That made me laugh pretty hard. :) I apologize. I tried to add another point near the end of the post time limit and it came out flustered.

      In any case, I believe that Jean is going to die early OR cause trouble for Eren later on. It’s a bit too early to tell though. I’m leaning towards the latter as it’s always entertaining to have a rival around. I think that Jean will continually challenge Eren as he did with their little scuffle earlier but end up staying second banana. This will only fuel his bitterness until he does something drastic.

  3. Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Your puns never fail to amuse me, Shin.

    • Inushinde
      Posted May 1, 2013 at 12:42 am | Permalink

      Thank Wallace and Gromit for that one.

  4. Seppuku33
    Posted May 1, 2013 at 2:59 am | Permalink

    Do you think the Recon Corps will find humans in other settlements? I find it hard to imagine that there is just this one pocket of civilization.

    I feel that the Titans have some motivation for their seemingly random attacks. The titans seem to be ranked by ability and competence. I wonder what can be tougher than the Armored or Colossal Titan. An Armored Colossal Titan? Hahahahahaha! If the titans only get better, the higher they are up the ranks then they may have rulers or a king on the top, guiding their actions.

    Lastly, my brother and I think that their swords are not going to do much damage, especially against the Armored titan. What would they do if they have to fight a horde of Armored titans? Their weapons would be useless. The human’s chance of survival looks dangerously close to 0 unless they rethink their tactics or discover a new weapon to give them the edge.

    Your thoughts?

    • Inushinde
      Posted May 2, 2013 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      There probably will be other humans that’ll play some kind of role in the story. They probably as organized as the huddled masses in the city, but I don’t doubt that there are pockets of humanity left, and that’ll play some kind of role in the future.

      And I wrote in response to a comment in an earlier post that they probably use the swords to slash at the titans’ nerves and particularly sensitive spots, since the intro sequence shows Eren jamming his sword right into a helpless titan’s spine. However, that would require some knowledge of titan anatomy, albeit not with as much precision as would be necessary against a regular old human.

  5. Posted May 1, 2013 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I am always racking my brain to remember who was killed off and who are still alive in the manga. It’s failing since 1) they only come out monthly, 2) there’s too many deaths and too little time for the dead to make a real impression before they were killed off LOL.

  6. Scamp
    Posted May 1, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    While I’d normally agree with you on the lazy exposition stuff, I didn’t mind how they did it this episode because they already gave us time with the characters to understand their personalities. This way it gave us time to agree with the coach and bring us little grins when he says things we totally agree with

    • fathomlessblue
      Posted May 1, 2013 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

      Totally agree. While the intro training montage was your standard show-don’t-tell material, I think it was easily the quickest & most effective way of introducing each character, not only by their basic personality traits, but how their skills will play out on the battlefield. For instance, I now know that Sasha will likely be incredibly creative, yet useless in adhering to standard military tactics, Annie & Jean will probably cause friction in team offensives, or that Bertolt & Connie are highly skilled soldiers, but lack the intelligence & resolve to form their improvised own battle plans.

      It’s basically the equivalent of seeing the strengths & weakness of an individual character in a JRPG/Strategy game. While that perhaps isn’t the most eloquent way to present it, I feel I’ll have fewer problems in trying to explain why a certain character is/isn’t behaving in a certain manner in any given situation. The awesome English rock track also helped.

    • Posted May 1, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      I agree to a point, but I wish they didn’t do that freeze-frame for each character whilst describing their personality in the beginning. Their actions in the second half told me much more about them than that narrator did.

      Still haven’t warmed up to the male characters that much aside from Connie (I think that was his name), but they’re tolerable for now and they still have a chance to grow on me. Wish Eren would calm down a bit though.

    • Inushinde
      Posted May 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

      They definitely should have kept the freeze-frame intros in, except maybe at dinner or somewhere else, when it wouldn’t have disrupted the flow of the scene much. It’s kind of a petty gripe from an otherwise solid episode though, I admit that.

  7. Kiseki
    Posted May 1, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    “whose tiny eyes are now the creepiest thing about him”
    Gosh, no. His tiny eyes are the most moe thing about him.

    And now back to our regularly scheduled programming of Everyone Dies.

    • Cirith
      Posted May 1, 2013 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Aww, you can see directly into his soul!

    • Inushinde
      Posted May 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

      But they look like he stared at the sun too long and had them shriveled, like in a cartoon… well, a different cartoon. Damaging one’s eyes isn’t moe.

  8. Posted May 1, 2013 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I lol’d at the title. Good work.

    • Inushinde
      Posted May 2, 2013 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

      Thank you, I’ll be here all week, etc.

  9. SENSEISHUN
    Posted May 1, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how effectively they will explain the existence of the Titans later on. Right now Divine intervention seems like the best bet, but then again I have no idea how much technology the humans of 100+ years ago had. Plus it would be pretty upsetting if they were some alien race, but that is unlikely.

    Some things would make a lot more sense if they explained how 3 walls of that caliber where able to be built while under attack from the titans. I guess if you created the large outer wall first it would be pretty simple, but to transport materials and have them at your disposal seems pretty out there.

    I just hope they don’t expect us not to care about these things and try to keep us busy with Eren and friends swinging around going Ham on titans.

    • Otsuki2Art
      Posted May 2, 2013 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      I read the manga before the anime started and I can say that there is a reason why the two titans (tiny eyes and the armored one) appear without notice (the others don’t just appear, you can see them walking normally towards the wall). The question why they do not appear in the city has reason that is related to the factor of suspicion. But all of that will only happen if the show has at least over 30 episodes or the anime gets too fast paced.

    • Inushinde
      Posted May 2, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      If they either explain it in the series or do their best to make us forget the questions, I’ll be perfectly happy. I mean they can’t just throw something that bizarre in and not expect people to question it.

  10. Fumoffu!!
    Posted May 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    When the Titan just appeared, I laughed so god damn hard. It was being to optimistic and I had a feeling something was going to happen, but that sudden appearance. I startled my housemate because of it. I don’t know, maybe it was how in that long pause I just imagined the Titan saying “Sup guys”.

    • Inushinde
      Posted May 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

      I did too, in a wheedly, tiny voice. The way it led into the final scene was sublime though.

  • Categories

  • Anime

  • Latest MAL Articles