I find it increasingly bizarre how Yuki Kaji always gets typecast as somebody who gets dismembered. Out of all the typecasting quirks out there, this is probably one of the weirdest that I can think of. I mean at this point, does he require any role offered to him to at least have one scene of dismemberment to counteract all the whining that he has to do? I love it though, because that means that whenever I cover a show that Yuki Kaji blesses with his presence, it can be counted on to provide at least one or two good puns for me to go out on a limb to make. And when something like Shingeki no Kyojin offers not one, not two, but several opportunities to flex my punning muscles, it’s a momentous occasion that even the heavens weep in joy over.
Throughout the first few episodes, there’s been an odd sort of one-upmanship that Shingeki no Kyojin has had going on with itself. First it starts with a huge guy that’s literally nothing but an exposed mass of sinewy muscle, which is horrifying enough by itself, but then gives it the power to teleport to and from his preferred scene of carnage at will. Even the smaller titans are showing increased intelligence, snagging people mid-fantastic CG glide and glaring at their pulverized bodies with the uguu-est of eyes.
It almost feels too one-sided, like the world’s most lopsided grade-school game of “my side is the strongest so you lose” between two kids, where one makes his titans have a really small weak point, instant teleportation, an absurdly gargantuan size, and an apparent ability to snatch moving targets in its jaws with deadly accuracy… and the other is much less imaginative, giving his humans swords and grappling hook belts while his friend verbally buffs the everything-proof armor on his titans. I have to hand it to the military though, they really know how to at least not be sitting ducks, even with jumpers plucking their men out of the sky like sword-wielding airborne grapes on a vine.
I can’t say that it doesn’t feel like a desperate struggle, but it straddles a fine line between making the humans overcome overwhelming odds, and stacking the odds so far against them that survival has to rely on a mixture of copout plot turns and blind luck. It hasn’t reached that point yet, but it’s coming dangerously close with the hopeless way that things are panning out. I mean when the main character gets eaten by Hagrid in the fifth episode, where is there to go from that point that won’t feel like a deus ex machina?
There is a point made about the titans not displaying any sign of being organic— reinforced by one dragging its upper half along early in the episode, entrails slithering behind it while pulling itself toward the wall with no sign of pain—but even that doesn’t quite shake off the niggling feeling that the series has written itself into something of a corner. Naturally, I’ll be more than happy to eat these words within a few weeks if it just turns out that Eren was undigested and cuts himself out of Hagrid’s belly, or something.
Despite what the barrage of shitty puns thus far might imply, Eren’s dual dismemberment wasn’t quite as goofy as it could have been, in part because the series keeps up the proud tradition of treating its tragedies in as unceremonious a fashion as possible. It just shows that he loses a leg, moves on, then has him lose an arm to a titan’s powerful chomp before playing a mournful track and ending the episode. The lack of time spent dwelling on it only making it more impactful, to the point that dismemberment happening twice in the same episode still has some bite to it.
I’d like to end this post with a reminder that Eren’s favorite anime studio is Arms.