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Attack on Titan Season 2 Limited Edition Anime DVD/BD Review

10 min read

The world is not what they thought it was. It’s becoming undone.

What They Say:
Eren’s battle against the Titans rages on! After fighting the Female Titan, he has no time to rest as a hoard approaches Wall Rose. A new war begins and as they face the threat to humanity, they begin to unearth terrifying secrets. What are the Titans really and where do they get their power—and who’s really on their side?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this release is about as expected as we get the original Japanese language in stereo while the 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 2017, 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 seven are on the first disc and five 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.

With the limited edition packaging for this release, it’s going to be something that will be divisive for fans based on personal preferences but does at least provide continuity with how the first set was done. The release is setup as a digipak with the whole hardcover book feeling that has the big plastic trays inside to hold the discs, the right side with the DVDs and the left side with the Blu-ray’s. The front of the package has the standard imagery that really does stand out no matter how many times you see it for the season with a different take on a face off at the wall. The logo through the middle is done in bloodied silver against the darkness of the Wall and the combination of the three pieces really is striking. The back cover goes simple but effective as well with a black background that has Armin in his leaping mode with his sword out that works as a great action piece with a nice bit of focus. This is underneath the insert that’s not glued to the package under the shrinkwrap which does the standard sell of the premise, the extras and the technical information in a pretty clean and clear way.

Opening up the digipak, the left side under the discs has a good bit of classic almost map-like design that fits with the style of the show that wraps to the back side as well. In between these two things we get a twenty-four-page booklet that I really wish was placed separately rather than bound to the package since it’s just awkward. We get some decent character bios and artwork and some cute translated four-panel theater comics as well. Add in a couple of pages of great promotional artwork and it’s a very nice booklet.

The heavy chipboard box that holds the digipak is nicely done with a kind of slick look to the paper that gives the colors of the symbol in the middle a little extra punch without being too much. The logo is clean and clear in how it’s presented and I really like how the back side is a hole in the wall through which we see one of the Titans from this season. The set also comes with a great squarebound booklet that’s full of artwork in full color from the home video releases and other promotional pieces that’s crisp and very appealing.

The release brings in a fair number of extras with the second disc giving them some space with the way the episodes are broken up. We get a few new audio commentaries from the English side that are always welcome and we get the familiar pieces in the clean opening and closing sequences. Promos for how the series was showcased prior to broadcast are here from the Japanese side and I love that we get a gallery with all the eye-catch material that can go by too quickly sometimes. We have a new round of Inside the Episode material from the English production. The big one for people will be the interviews that were done, such as the one from Anime Expo with some of the folks involved in both the Japanese and English side, and a really good interview with Hajime Isayama that was done.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first season of Attack on Titan was almost like lightning in a bottle that’s hard – but not impossible – to recapture. The production covered a lot of ground the first time around, the manga kept working away at building the stories, we got a few OVAs bundled with the manga, and things got diluted a bit more with compilation films and some pretty terrible live-action films. So, when the second season hit finally after almost three years there was, quite simply, a different audience in existence as fandom tends to have a good bit of churn even if there are a lot of long term diehards out there that are vocal. This season didn’t get a lot of love from fans when it hit, due to the content, the shortness of it, and then the nod that a lot more was going to be coming the following year. Watching this separate from all of that puts me in a bit of a different position.

The main thrust of this season is that the reality that most of these people have been operating under isn’t the reality of the world. The first season provided for some real shock when we learned that Eren was a Titan and that he wasn’t the only one. For those that had been fighting for years it was a huge shock and left them unsure of how to proceed – though most didn’t question the reality of what the other Titans out there may be like. A lot of the pressure they were facing was form the collapse of part of the wall, the retreat further in, and the sense of safety that was pulled away and revealed to be paper thin to begin with. The psychological strain is immense when you get down to it and amid the days that this season covers you can see the way that so many are close to the breaking point, if not already past it and just barely functioning in general.

There’s a lot going on across this season but it’s filled with plenty of smaller movements that are interesting as a part of the whole. The big parts are what gets the attention as Titans have broken through another wall and a different region is in danger, which has them trying to figure out how to deal with the hole to try and reclaim the land because they can retreat only so far inland – and underground – before the numbers become unsustainable. What helps with the idea of fixing the hole is a strange one though as early on we get the reveal of a titan inside one of the walls – alive and immobile. This is something that the Pastor that’s there understands and gets Hange to cover up without revealing to her the details about it. It’s a fascinating moment that rewrites your understanding of the walls and how they came to be but it also opens up an idea of how to fix them by using Eren and his abilities to do so instead of just slamming massive boulders in the Titan-made holes. The knowledge that the Pastor has reveals that there are hidden depths and secrets to be explored as to how the world came to be and while he’s not talking, there are now enough that will continue to press him on it with a range of questions once they’re not running for their lives. I loved the reveal because I can envision any number of ways as to how it all came to be all those years ago.

There’s a good bit of action amid this season as the various human forces go a range of ways, including Conny and the group he’s with checking out his home village to try and warn of the arrival of more Titans within the wall. This is an area where it’s obvious to the viewer what’s going on – either people all have the ability to become a Titan or someone is able to force that ability upon them – because the way the village is found makes no sense otherwise. It’s an unfortunate moment of people simply not being smart enough/allowed to actually figure it out. But the emotional stakes are done nicely when it comes to Conny during it and it adds another layer for them to puzzle out when more and more of the main cast reconnects along the way. The spread out nature allows for this to feel fairly natural as each story has its own weight and seeing so much come together toward the end is solid.

The big thing with this season is simply that there’s a lot that’s not known. The scouts and most everyone we met before had a basic similar understanding of how the world worked. Eren changed that with what he could do but they could write part of it of as something due to his father and the research there. Then Annie threw a curve into the mix, forcing them to react more than anything else. This season shows us more variety in the Titans due to the ones that have suddenly appeared within the walls that are running around (which are obvious with what they are) as well as the ones that are literally built into the wall. But we also get the strange Beast Titan that’s out there that seems to be orchestrating things and operating unlike the rest, and a brief nod to someone human-sized riding him at one point that’s on a particular mission to be revealed.

Quite probably the most divisive area, however, is the reveal of what’s going on with the Armored Titan and the Colossal Titan. There’s a few quirks regarding this that leads to the reveal, notably because of Christa and somewhat because of Ymir, but after so much chaos and so much loss, having Renier and Bertholdt revealed to be those two respectively and that Ymir is an unaffiliated one as well that does have a past with them sent my head spinning. It does feel like too many coincidences piling up but Bertholdt hints at some of what’s going on in how they subsume who they are as Titans in order to try and lead lives as humans, and we see from Ymir that she’s spent decades outside the wall previously before trying to find some peace here, which lead her to Christa – who is hiding things about herself from everyone that Ymir sussed out. All of this piles onto the regulars in a big way and the psychological strain really is impressive since even Mikasa is reaching her breaking point in dealing with it all.

In Summary:
While I can understand why there are plenty of people who have issues with this season, I really enjoyed it. The show continually upends what the characters believe the world is like and thrusts them into more difficult to comprehend situations all while killing people all around them. It moves quickly over the span of a few days worth of events and pushes them in mind and body to adapt and survive all that’s going on. It’s beautifully animated once again and doesn’t hold back from the brutal violence to make clear what’s happening. There are some neat quieter moments and hints of what’s to come that helps to give it more weight with the characters. Funimation’s release of it in limited edition form is really well done and it left me very pleased with it from top to bottom, digipak element aside.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Episode Commentaries, Promos, Interviews, Eyecatch Gallery, Textless Opening and Closing Song

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B+

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: February 27th, 2018
MSRP: $84.98
Running Time: 300 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
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.

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