19 CommentsShingeki no Kyojin / By Inushinde /

Shingeki no Kyojin Episode 9: Armed and Dangerous

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I think we’ve all been here before: Simmering in the stew of a titan’s stomach with dead bodies floating all around, before inexplicably growing 10x your size and shoving an arm up the gullet of Hagrid and Brian Blessed’s lovechild. It’s disturbingly reminiscent of certain kinds of wasps that let their young eat caterpillars from the inside out, as metaphors for adulthood are wont to be.

As abrupt and kind of silly as it is, it’s appropriately symbolic of Eren destroying the titans from the inside, by becoming one of them. Last episode was certainly cathartic in this respect, but by assuming Eren’s point of view, it’s even more satisfactory to see him tear other titans apart in a savage, feral fashion. There’s definitely a method to his brutal madness, five years of pent up fury gushing endlessly from his fist into other titans’ waiting faces. It’s almost enough to make one forget that fucking twist that was hastily foreshadowed toward the beginning of the series.

Next order of business: That fucking twist that was hastily foreshadowed toward the beginning of the series. For such an important plot point, it was sure thrown out without a lot of fanfare or context, given just enough attention to keep from being completely forgettable, but ignored enough that it was tough to be curious when there were infinitely more interesting things going on. It adds up to something a bit more revelatory, that Eren’s father knows something about what makes the titans tick, but it was thrown off the stage as soon as it stepped on, not having enough time to make any sort of impact on the audience—certainly not as much impact as Eren punching a titan so hard through the mouth that it dies.

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The flashback in this episode went a long way toward actually giving it some weight, but I wish they would have either spliced in this scene earlier for extra shock value, or saved it completely for after Eren’s return from titan form without hinting at it earlier. As it stands, Eren just suddenly being able to remember his father injecting him with a foreign substance in time to not be pounded into dust by cannonballs is just awful writing, no matter how cool the final result is.

It certainly doesn’t help that everybody sees Eren’s titan form only go after other titans, yet their first act upon him returning to human form is to ask him if he’s human, then plan on pelting him with cannonballs either way. He could potentially be the weapon that humanity needs that’s shown no aggression toward other humans, yet their first thought is to kill him rather than try to puzzle out what the fuck happened and maybe try to find a way to use his newfound ability to their advantage. It doesn’t sit well with me that these are weary soldiers at the end of their rope, yet when something comes out of the woodwork that makes short work of their enemy, their first instinct is to blow it into smithereens. I mean keep him under watch and guarded, but for fuck’s sake don’t try and kill him when he saved your asses.

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However, all this semi-clumsy drama contrasts the Recon Corps getting an entire segment to themselves, harnessing the almighty power of the episode’s budget to put Mikasa’s air-ballet to shame in what gives off the impression of a recruitment video. Zoe in particular takes the cake, managing to remain playful and fun to watch, even while being grabbed at by a voracious titan. It’s kind of a bleak thought, that these people know how fragile their lives are and so try to keep a light mood even while dicing up titans, but it’s a subtle kind of grimness, tinged with enough hope to keep their situation from feeling hopeless. Seeing them hop about like sword-wielding fleas is the sort of self-assured coolness that reminds us that, every once in awhile, our cast is good for more than titan nourishment; if the entire episode was nonstop Recon Corps fury instead of dodgy drama, I would have been completely fine with it.

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19 Comments

  1. desi
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    Just yep.

  2. Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:14 am | Permalink

    I dunno. If you have been indoctrinated to believe that Titans must be killed, and if you’ve probably seen a Titan do its Titan-y shenanigans (which includes smashing humans to bits and lapping up their guts), I think you would have every reason to be afraid if it suddenly came to your attention that something, a human-shaped something, can transform at any time into the very thing that ate your comrades just a few hours earlier. Within the safety of the wall, no doubt.

    • Gan_HOPE326
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Well, but sometimes, appreciating and fearing the enemy’s power would mean you’d feel all the more exalted when you suddenly had the chance to feel that scary power is on YOUR side. I’m not saying that the reaction you mention can’t exist as well, but I think the soldiers should have had different opinions about it, and some of them strong enough to rebel to what they could only consider to be foolish orders. I mean, no one there who’s tempted by the possibility of unleashing again Titan!Eren and see some more titans reduced to bangers and mash? No one?

      • Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

        The soldiers DO have different opinions, especially the people who know Eren personally. They’re just either A)not at the wall when he starts mumbling about killing “them” all… or B)Armin and Mikasa, trying hopelessly to defend him against their own commanding officer. None of the people who take up arms against Eren actually know him personally, so skepticism about Eren’s humanity doesn’t exist at this point in time and all they see is another potential Titan.

  3. iron maw
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Considering that it was the drug that had fragmented Eren’s memories along with changing him Iinto a hybird, l had assume it was his awakening that allowed him to piece them together. The key simply jogged his memory after the fact.

    • Inushinde
      Posted June 8, 2013 at 1:26 am | Permalink

      Oh it’s definitely explained, which is nice, but it doesn’t feel any less overly-convenient for him to remember what his father did just in the nick of time.

  4. Gedata
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    I wonder how much damage a Titan haymaker from Eren would do on Big Red. Also RIP Hagrid.

  5. Pusswookie
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 2:54 am | Permalink

    While I think that their actions were stupid and founded upon ignorance and fear, maybe it was because these soldiers are weary and at the end of their rope that their first response to a surprise is to blow it to smithereens.

    Also, while Hanji [or Zoe, whatever] is pretty fucking amazing, I am confused as to why there is zero Levi in this post. I thought the bit with him grasping the dying soldier’s hand despite being identified as a clean freak earlier was a wonderful piece of characterization, and really contributed to showing just what kind of commander he is.

    • celebrinen
      Posted June 5, 2013 at 6:58 am | Permalink

      Note also that the beard giving the orders was the invertebrate that abandoned the supply depot when everything hit the fan and “tactically withdrew”. No one should expect too much from him.

      • Pusswookie
        Posted June 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        The show has framed him as a closet pussy.

    • Inushinde
      Posted June 8, 2013 at 1:31 am | Permalink

      They shouldn’t, but the word should’ve gotten out that he was a bit of a cowardly dick by now. Granted, nobody was exactly chomping at the bit to blow Eren to smithereens, but there are enough witnesses to point out that Eren isn’t their biggest threat. Maybe that’s what’ll happen in the next episode and Raccoon Eyes will get his comeuppance.

  6. Posted June 5, 2013 at 4:39 am | Permalink

    It’s hard to blame the soldiers for trying to kill Eren. Trying to quickly process things that happen so suddenly and then rationalizing them isn’t a strong suit for many. That’s what happens where you have someone like the bearded dude trying to be an effective leader.

  7. omega3504
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    Don’t know why I haven’t seen this in other forums but its obvious why the commander asked a question but then proceeded to attack anyway. He’s in a difficult position, he HAS to act. After all, there is this new threat, something that can sneak around in human form then explode into a 15m titan/giant/eoten and destroy everything. He can’t just throw it outside the wall and say “kill titans/giants/eotens to prove your worth”, it could sneak back in easily. So, through fear and pressure, he used a common human psychological rationalisation. Rather than ‘act’ and give the order, he asked a question. Once answered, he could then ‘react’, thus absolving himself of any blame associated with his decision (in his mind).

  8. shytende
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, this guy definitely wasn’t in his right mind at the time, and the others aren’t really in a better state.
    Expecting rational thinking from them is a little too much.

  9. Stef
    Posted June 5, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    CONTINUOUS SCREAMING IS DRAMA.

    Yeah, it’s too late to ask for any kind of subtlety by now, but I’d like the ham to be tasty at the very least.

    • Inushinde
      Posted June 8, 2013 at 1:35 am | Permalink

      There is subtlety here, it’s just buried in the scenes that don’t have people yelling fruitless exchanges. But yeah, here’s hoping for at least more over the top fruitless exchanges.

  10. R1CK_D0M
    Posted June 6, 2013 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    from what it seemed like to me, only the people that were there knew that eren only attacked other titans, the others didn’t give them a chance to explain. Years of being oppressed by their very presence kind of makes your default option go to blowing one away no matter how weird it is.

    also, IIRC eren’s flashback was brought on by the sight of his key necklace under stress, as indicated by his father? Not sure if that makes it any better though. at least it’s not like it just suddenly popped up in his head (although it kinda did).

    • Inushinde
      Posted June 8, 2013 at 1:37 am | Permalink

      It definitely makes some semblance of sense, in that there was at least a trigger, but again, the timing was WAY too perfect. Neat as all fuck, but not well-written by any stretch.

  11. SENSEISHUN
    Posted June 10, 2013 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

    Whats going on in Gargantia right now seems to be similar to Attack on Titans. Eren’s dad knows something about the titans that the failed to share with humankind just like the alliance who know all about the hideauze but fail to tell them they are somewhat responsible.

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