Attack on Titan S2E26 “Beast Titan” Review and Analysis
Attack on Titan “Beast Titan” starts with a cold open recap of what happened in the series finale with a voiceover from the voice actor for Hanji, the lovable and totally insane squad leader of the 4th squad. Hanji walks us through the battle of Stohess between Annie and Eren and the aftermath they caused. For the last couple of seconds, the anime lingers on the titan hiding in the wall to remind us of the major cliffhanger we left off at the end of season one.
Just are you’re redigesting the fact that the walls are made of Titans and how utterly screwed all of humanity is, you’re kicked straight into the Opening Credits. If I have any criticism of this first episode, it’s that the opening music is not nearly as memorable as the two songs in the first season, but to be fair it’s definitely growing on me. Most of the title sequence is forgettable until we get to this image:
WHY IS THERE A FLOATING WHALE AND A T-REX IN THE OPENING SEQUENCE? WHAT DOES IT MEAN? DO THEY KNOW SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW? I’m all for a crossover between Jurassic Park, Free Willy, and Attack on Titan, but I doubt that’s their plan here. I’m going to assume that there’s some hidden symbolism that is going way over my head because that’s the only way I’m going to be able to digest this image.
The first half of the show sets the stage and throws us right back into the action with Hanji threatening Minister Nick, a priest in the Wall Cult, to divulge information about the titan(s?) within the wall. Once he refuses even after being threatened and held off the edge of the wall, Hanji lets up. At the very least, she had determined that those within the government and the Wall Cult who know about the titans were willing to die to keep everyone else ignorant. Immediately the show introduces that there is a massive conspiracy to withhold information from the public concerning the titans which will probably be an overarching theme through the entire season.
The show then shifts gears to the 104th regiment who are holed up in a castle within Wall Rose (the second of three total walls) in order to kick us back into the main plot. Reiner and Bertolt are playing chess backwards (symbolism?) while Reiner remarks that the Scout Corps seems to be guarding them. We later find out that Reiner’s suspicions are justified, as Scout leaders like Miche mention that they’re afraid that another member of the 104th regiment is a titan. Then when Sasha collapses from boredom and lays her head on the table, she feels the distinct vibration of titans approaching their location within Wall Rose which, as Reiner nervously points out, means that the Titans have breached the second wall. A great part about this show is each character reacts very specifically to news like the titan breach of Wall Rose and you can watch as the show’s directors brilliantly lay a trail of clues for the fans.
In the second half of the show, the action ramps up extremely quickly as the show reintroduces the titans, and immediately I felt like I was watching the show for the first time. The animation of the titans is so unsettling, I immediately felt that pit in my stomach as Miche rides in to fight the titans even though he’s is vastly outnumbered. After Miche takes down multiple titans (including my favorite: The Ronaldo Titan– shout out to /u/faithplate on Reddit for the great comparison), he calls for his horse, but is frozen with fear when he sees the lumbering Beast Titan. There’s something about the Beast Titan’s proportions that makes him such an unnerving foe, and as the Beast Titan hurls a horse at Miche like Randy Johnson in his prime, you realize that Miche doesn’t stand a chance. Sure enough he falls straight into the mouth of a tiny grotesque titan, but right as the mini titan is about to deal the final blow, a booming voice instructs the titan to stop chewing. Much to Miche’s horror, and the viewers, that voice is coming from the Beast Titan.
The Beast Titan then tries to question Miche about his 3D maneuver gear, but since Miche is frozen in fear, the Beast Titan removes the 3D maneuver gear and leaves Miche defenseless as the Beast Titan instructs the other titans to eat Miche. The most interesting thing about this interaction is that the Beast Titan doesn’t seem to recognize or understand what Miche was wearing and seems to be genuinely intrigued as to what the 3D maneuver gear is. Anyone who lives within the walls should know at least the basics of 3D maneuver gear, so if he’s not from within the walls, who exactly is the Beast Titan? The episode ends with one of the most gruesome things I’ve watched in recent memory and Miche’s screams are truly haunting. Just like that the episode is over and the end credits roll as you’re still trying to grapple with what you just witnessed.
Since I am an avid reader of the Manga as well as an avid watcher of the Anime, I’m going to keep the next paragraph strictly to the confines of what the anime has shown so far. I do want to point out that the end credits of the anime show images from the manga that were only recently released in the last 7 months and are gigantic spoilers if someone were to decrypt what they mean. I will do my best to objectively walk through what’s going on below, but you have been warned if you sleuth out the underlying meaning.
No time to grieve Miche because the end credits are absolutely packed with allusions to 15th century Christianity church murals. As the creepily happy music plays in the background we’re flashed with images of a devil giving an unidentifiable object to a woman, heavily invoking the bible’s temptation of Eve. We also see a gigantic woman emerging from the sea while soldiers try to attack her and a lightning rages on all around them. An interesting thing to note here, she could definitely be a titan, but has nipples- a feature which has not been included on any titan we’ve seen so far. Then the sequence moves onto an image of a king feeding three young girls what looks like parts of a corpse. This is by far the most interesting religious-styled image they show because while the other two images have been shown in the manga, this one is brand new and hasn’t appeared yet in any chapter currently released. The final image that packs a lot of future symbolism is the cracked mural depicting what looks like multiple titans all centered around a female titan that looks similar to the woman emerging from the sea. Whatever their plan is for revealing the information in the end credits, it was an extremely bold decision to hint at what’s to come for the people exclusively watching the Anime.
It has been 3 years 6 months and 9 days since I watched Attack on Titan’s season one finale. During the past three and a half years I have held 4 different jobs, adopted a new cat, and moved 1300 miles. To put it simply, it’s been a fucking long time since I’ve watched a new episode of Attack on Titan. I was afraid that I would either have grown out of the show, or that WIT Studio might’ve lost the spark that made season one a global hit. I am happy to say that the new episode is just as good as the first season and does not miss a beat in reintroducing fans as well as new viewers into the terrifying and intense world inside the confines of Wall Rose.
Overall Rating: 9.75