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Attack On Titan Episode #16 Anime Review

4 min read

Titan 16-8Anyone else have that new ending theme stuck in their head?

What They Say:
Many years ago, the last remnants of humanity were forced to retreat behind the towering walls of a fortified city to escape the massive, man-eating Titans that roamed the land outside their fortress. Only the heroic members of the Scouting Legion dared to stray beyond the safety of the walls – but even those brave warriors seldom returned alive. Those within the city clung to the illusion of a peaceful existence until the day that dream was shattered, and their slim chance at survival was reduced to one horrifying choice: kill – or be devoured!

The Review:
(please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
It’s time for the rest of the soldiers to decide which force to join: the survey corps., the garrison, or the military police. For Eren, the choice has always been clear, but the others aren’t quite as excited about committing to a life of extreme danger. And the choice is even harder for those who have been offered a spot in the safer and more prestigious military police. Suffice it to say that not everyone makes the decision you might expect.

Erwin’s intense recruitment speech does more to scare away the soldiers than convince them to join the survey corps. Usually someone in his position would try to win over the crowd, but Erwin wants to ensure that everyone who stays is wholly committed to the force and willing to give their lives for the sake of humanity. Surprisingly, his speech includes details about Eren’s basement in Zhiganshina and their shared belief that it holds the truth about the Titans’ existence. Armin suspects he has some ulterior motive in revealing what would normally be classified information (besides making the speech a bit less depressing).

Everyone who sided with the survey corps. starts their new training immediately. The first expedition will be a short one, mainly used for initiating the new recruits and testing out Eren’s abilities. The details of his role are conspicuously missing from the otherwise meticulous battle plan. Mikasa and Armin finally get to see Eren after being separated from him for so long; she’s still mad at Levi for being so violent during the court case. Come to think of it, Mikasa vs. Levi would probably be a close fight.

This episode is intentionally bittersweet. Marco’s death continues to haunt Jean, but it also helps him decide his path in life. Many friends join the survey corps with Eren, but that makes them all the more likely to eventually suffer and die. Eren learning about Marco’s death and the group receiving their fancy new uniforms both happen within a span of maybe 30 seconds. It’s emotionally scattered, which is exactly how the entire cast is feeling right now.

And the cool thing is that all that drama is entirely contained within the characters’ heads. Usually when a series attempts to be dramatic, it does so by having people clash up against each other to generate physical or emotional conflict. In this case, Attack on Titan pulls us into the minds of soldiers who need to decide whether or not to sign up for a life of noble but probably suicidal military service. This episode definitely made me feel their emotional tension, and generating empathy in your audience is always a mark of good storytelling.

In Summary:
The rest of the important characters (i.e. the people you see in the opening and ending themes) still need to pick between the three military factions. The general sense is that everyone ought to join the survey corps., but it’s not an easy decision, especially for those who have already fought the Titans firsthand. Much soul-searching occurs and some unexpected decisions are made. There isn’t a whole lot to say about this episode, but that’s not a criticism; this one is all about watching the characters’ internal conflicts play out, and I’d rather not narrate everyone’s feelings. Also, one scene reuses the music from episode 13 that plays while Eren is carrying the boulder. If it were up to me that song would be in every episode.

Grade: B+

Streamed By: Crunchyroll

Review Equipment:
Insignia 1080p TV, PS3 with Crunchyroll App; Occasionally 17” Toshiba Satellite Laptop, 2.13 GHz Core i3, 4GB RAM, Windows 7

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