What They Say:
Eren Jaeger vowed to rid mankind of the bloodthirsty giants who devoured his mother and destroyed his city. Now, after discovering that he has the ability to turn into a Titan, the world Eren promised to protect looks at him like he is the monster.
Narrowly avoiding execution, Eren’s fate is entrusted to the Scout Regiment where he must prove capable of following orders. But on an expedition outside the wall, a unique female Titan appears and cuts through the Scouts, leaving a trail of carnage and splintered bones behind her and making it difficult for Eren to control his rage. As it becomes obvious that a traitor is sabotaging the Regiment from within, Eren must ask himself who humanity’s true enemy really is.
Contains episodes 14-25.
The audio presentation for this release is about as expected as we get the original Japanese language in stereo while the new English language adaptation is in 5.1, both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. Due to the setup of the disc, you can’t change on the fly to sample either track (and it involves a good bit of moving around in the menus) so I only sampled a bit of the English language track. The show as a whole has a solid forward soundstage design to it where it uses the action to move across the screen in some good back and forth moments as they flit about while there’s also some good impact when it comes to the Titans stomping about. The series features a lot of action and that hits some very good notes throughout, but it is constrained to its original stereo designs. The 5.1 mix bumps it up in various areas as it goes on but there’s not a lot thrown to the rears here. What the mix does is increase the overall impact and comes across as a bit louder in general. But both tracks do some good stuff here and it’s very well designed for the property.
Originally airing in 2013, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. This set has twelve episodes where nine are on the first disc and three on the second, which is where the extras are as well. Animated by studio Wit, the series is one that definitely looks great and it has a much stronger feeling when it comes to colors and detail than the HD simulcasts I had been watching, especially early on. The animation has a very good look to it, a little more stylized than most, and it has a very good quality about it with the colors, detail and the overall presentation of it that really makes it feel like much more than normal. The transfer takes all of this and runs with it as the colors are rich and solid throughout, the animation’s fluidity comes across really well and the high impact sequences stand out even more. There’s a lot to like here and it’s very easy to be invested in it because of how appealing it looks.
The packaging for this regular edition release is pretty good all around as we get the second half of the series in one thicker than normal Blu-ray case that has a couple of hinges inside to hold the four discs for the two formats. The release also comes with a slipcover that replicates what’s on the case itself. And that artwork is pretty welcome as it was a commissioned piece made specifically for this release that features the female Titan towering over Mikasa amid the city landscape. With the steam coming off of her body and the general color design, it has a cold and dark look that works well. The logo is kept through the center, though I could have used it without the “from the director of” aspect. The back cover gives us a close-up look at the female Titan’s face along the top that’s heavily shadowed while the bulk of the middle is filled with the summary of premise. There’s a clean breakdown of the discs and episode count and all the extras as well. Add in a few shots from the show and the fully fleshed out technical grid that covers both formats. With the case artwork being the same, we do get artwork on the reverse side that’s very muted as it shows the two Titan’s that Hange experiments with. The left panel also adds in the breakdown of the extras while the right side has the list of episodes by number and title.
The menu design for this release has its positives and negatives that makes me both love it and hate it. The main menu design is a strong one as it uses the artwork from the front cover, but it’s more zoomed in on the top side of it and is surrounded by a lot of dark space that makes it feel fairly constrained in an odd way. The logo is done in the bloodied silver across the middle which looks good and the whole thing sets the mood nicely. The navigation is kept along the lower left where it does it in a kind of classic way with the red background for it and white text while keeping the coat of arms along the right of it. Navigation is easy, though there’s the obvious frustration of the language tracks being locked. What really bothered me with the design of the menu though is that when you use the pop-up menu during playback, it only gives you the selection of going to the main menu. This defeats the point in so many ways, though it’s only a problem with marathon play where you want to find out which episode you’re on, and it left me frustrated. And naturally, when doing normal play, you can’t load the extras from the pop-up menu which still drives me nuts.
The extras for this release are fairly similar to what we had before which is a good thing. The release comes with a pair of audio commentary tracks with the English language team having some fun talking about the show for episodes 14 and 25. We get the clean opening and closing sequences and we also get a sixteen minute video bonus from the time at Anime Expo 2013 that shows some of the cosplay while interviewing some of the staff from the production that was there for the show. We also get the next round of Chibi Theater episodes, which is cute and adorable just like the first set. The final half of the eye-catches are here in their gallery as well, though once again I wish they were included during the show where they feel like they provide useful clues for the story beats at hand.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Attack on Titan brought in a whole lot of information as it set the foundation for the world that it exists in and the core main cast of characters that we’re supposed to get attached to. Which is dangerous since they make it clear that supporting characters can be killed off at any time and that makes you feel like the leads could suffer the same fate just as easily. With some good establishing material to Eren that showed us why he’s so focused towards killing Titans and the whole structure of the world at hand, we got some decent time leaps that showed us the training without going too deep into it and then an amazing nine or so episodes focusing on the battle of Trost within the walls. The revelations that we got were fascinating, especially when we saw Eren change and the way that should and could alter the way the world handles things, if they can get past the fear and uncertainty of it all. Which is admittedly hard for a culture that has caged itself in order to survive. New does not go over well.
The fallout from the whole battle is one that definitely makes sense since you have so many people uncertain about Eren and how much of a threat he is. Simply, he is a threat, but it’s the level of it that really matters. Some people want to kill him outright while others see him as the way out of this entire mess that could help them turn the tide of the war. While his friends are ready to defend him in every way, they’re kept separate from all the deliberations that come up since this goes pretty high up in the ranks in order to determine what will become of him. With one of the higher ranked members of the Garrison force having used Eren to seal the wall in the first half of the series, he’s at least painted a way for them to try and at least reinforce the city and use Eren to their advantage. But the size of the threat Eren represents to others is pretty significant, especially the religious types who view the walls as the three goddesses and are sneaking their opinions in a more vocal way after the fall of the first wall.
While it’s easy to see how there are those in the Garrison forces that want Eren eliminated and plenty in the Military Police as well because of what he represents, the one side that seems to be mostly in his corner is that of the Survey Corps. We got a bit of them in the first half, but their leader, Erwin, sees a whole lot of potential in him that can change the tide of events. With humanity having faced loss after loss over the decades, the fact that Eren did what he did means that they could get closer to a real victory. The trial that Eren is put under is certainly interesting and you can see some jockeying for position going on here that’s simple but engaging to watch since it shows us more of the overall structure and hierarchy of the capital and those that are in positions of power. But it’s hard to see how their fear could be so overwhelming that they’d pass up the opportunity in front of them. Erwin is able to massage things in the right way, particularly through the clever words that Captain Levi brings to the event.
Levi had some brief appearances in the first half of the series but he becomes a more critical player in the second half. When Eren is entrusted to them, Levi basically takes charge of him with the idea that Eren’s life is completely in his hands and Levi will kill him the moment he becomes a credible threat to their mission. Eren’s becoming part of the Survey Corps definitely does fit his larger overall goal that he had earlier and because of how it plays out, both Armin and Mikasa as well as a few others that survived the battle of Trost end up throwing their lot in with him, partially because of what they saw and partially out of a sense of loyalty to him since they all went through training together and want to see things through. Structurally, we get something similar to the first season in that after the exposition, it shifts into showing us more of how the Survey Corps works, bringing in some of the new players to it with Erwin, Levi and their resident Titan expert in Hanji that is all set to work on the two other Titans they captured in Trost to try and gain more data on them while they can. There’s a lot of other characters that are around to varying degrees, those degrees being the time it takes for them to be killed in battle.
While we do get those first educational episodes, it then plays similar to the first half again by going for seven or so episodes that are focused on the 57th Expedition outside the wall that’s being set up as a supply run as the goal is eventually to get to the basement in Eren’s home town where there may be answers as to what the Titans are, or at least what Eren is. And as these episodes go on, it plays very much like that Trost battle in that it covers a few hours out of a single day as the whole event, meticulously planned and very well executed, goes to hell in a handbasket quickly. With a solid sized recon force that’s spread out so they can cover the countryside carefully with plenty of warning, they end up running into a lot of Titans and a few Aberrants that make it difficult. But where it goes off the rails is when it introduces something absolutely new in the form of the Female Titan.
While that’s surprising enough in and of itself, it’s made all the more so in that she seems to be identical to what Eren is in that she has a decent bit of intelligence to her, comprehension and understanding of events and use of tactics and combat stances that makes her incredibly dangerous. She’s also different in that she protects the nape of her neck where the mysterious human resides, a trick that comes out and dominates the last couple of episodes to great effect, and she has the ability to super-harden her skin in places in order to fend off the blade attacks of the Survey Corps. This makes for an incredible challenge to be sure, but the mystery Female Titan also has a different approach in that she’s just looking for Eren, something the viewer can suss out quickly but is something that Armin eventually figures out when the Titan doesn’t actually eat anyone and is moving with purpose. That changes the nature of the battle, which leads to some exhilarating and deadly sequences as they try to capture her while protecting Eren.
Because of the way it takes place over just a couple of hours, it’s a bit deceptive in what it does since you want more forward progress. But we get some good nuggets here as we see the way Erwin is looking at the bigger picture that ties back to the fall of the first wall at the beginning of the series and how there’s been at least a single infiltrator all this time that has now shown themselves once Eren became accessible. The mystery of it is dealt with in the show thankfully and provides for some minor closure, and I’ll admit that I was surprised by who it turned out to be since it could be anyone and I halfway expected some of the newly introduced Survey Corps members to be involved based on physicality. The reasoning for what we get isn’t there since it doesn’t provide that closure, but it definitely provides a lot of open-ended aspects that should – and better – eventually lead to a sequel series when more of the manga is completed.
I had really enjoyed the first half of the series with its structure and design and while I’m a bit wary of how they essentially tried to replicate it here, they did it well in a new way in terms of placement and story in order to make it work. Eren is still largely being carried along by events and others with more knowledge and experience are trying to shape him and he’s all too willing to be a weapon at this point to get his revenge, but he knows he needs to be more to truly get the answers he needs as well. I like all the variables put into play here with the arrival of the Female Titan, Eren struggling with his ability and understanding of it and the greater knowledge we get of the Survey Corps and all that exist in it, living and dead. The series expands its world in a big way here and throws a lot at us but it does it with a nearly constant feel of movement and action where it slows down properly while not losing any of its energy. FUNimation largely carries through with what they did in the first half and those that wanted just the regular edition for the show and the on-disc extras will be pleased with the end result. Attack on Titan has won over a lot of people for easy to see resons and it’s won me over once again as well. The show definitely holds up well with repeat viewings.
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles,Episode Commentaries (14, 25), Attack on Titan at Anime Expo, “Chibi Theatre: Fly, Cadets, Fly!,” Days 14-25, Eyecatch Gallery, Textless Songs
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: September 23rd, 2014
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.