Reading Between Reviews: Attack on Titan, Season 2

Season 2 of Attack on Titan had a lot to live up to.

The series erupted onto the anime scene in a huge way, becoming an instant classic in the world of shounen anime.  This instant popularity only made it more notorious, when years began to pass without any confirmed sequel date.  So when this season was  announced, many people, myself included, were hyped as all hell.

And now that’s it out, we all have different opinions.  Some people lauded it as amazing, while others provided criticism for its poor storytelling. But me?

Well, it was an interesting season, to say the least.


1. Story: (7.2/10) – Good

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Quite an enthralling first episode, huh?

For all the hype going into the series, it was made clear very quickly that how it handled its story just wasn’t as good as before.

It’s obvious that Attack on Titan is a story that is long, detailed, and expansive in nature.  The manga is still going strong, becoming more and more complex as it goes, weaving a tale that was at home in a 25 episode format.  Season One displayed this, with storytelling elements and thematic statements that flowed smoothly, developed naturally, and concluded well.

Season Two, suffice to say, was given neither the opportunity, nor the structure, to create a great story.

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Man, this titan looks cool.  How about we just NOT explain anything about him whatsoever for the entire season.

I had written about this in a first reaction to the series, but the fact that Season Two was 12 episodes didn’t bode well for the story.  Because of the scope of Attack on Titan’s plot, certain events weren’t given a proper build up, and themes were rushed through without time to feel significant.  12 episodes simply wasn’t enough time to build up that satisfying, consistently powerful and dark tone.

That being said, Attack on Titan’s 12 episodes didn’t exactly use their time very well.  The first six episodes, while providing their own great moments that stood on their own, didn’t do much in terms of developing a consistent theme or tone.  They kind of just…progressed the plot.

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Talking about the plot, sure, but it doesn’t show much, at least, very quickly.

And that’s the thing–as good as Attack on Titan’s scenes may be, many of them, at least in this season, lacked the overarching significance and emotional connection that the first had.  Considering that the first four episodes focused on drastically different tasks and characters, there just wasn’t enough time to make the events feel very significant.  I mean, for a series of episodes that revealed THREE titan shifters, killed half of the Survey Corps, and revealed a brand-new power of Eren’s… it felt like they should have been more powerful.

Basically: the plot was the plot.  There wasn’t much concrete detail to build a consistent theme, and multiple subplots ended up being dropped entirely, without a satisfying conclusion.  Mind you, it gets better towards the end, but overall, Season Two of Attack on Titan just didn’t provide the greatest story.


2. Characters: (9.0/10) – Excellent

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Very perceptive, Ymir.

On the other hand, I am extremely happy to note that the characters of Attack on Titan, despite the shortened season length, were treated very well.

The flaws of the story–that it was rather disjointed, and not very consistent at telling a singular theme–ended up working for the benefit of the series’ characters.  Eren, Mikasa, and to a certain extent, Levi, were the only characters that received any sort of good treatment in the first season, leaving everyone else to essentially be blank faces, which we’d recognize and acknowledge as cannon fodder.

However, with this season, Attack on Titan provided the exact amount of character development we needed.  Not much–but enough to give Sasha, Reiner, Ymir, Christa, and more, just enough personality for us to actually care about them.

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We didn’t NEED to see any of this.  But man, it can’t be denied that these moments gave multiple characters a lot more depth.

Attack on Titan, with its second season, has now established its cast, and given them more personality beyond “funny guy,” “serious guy,” and “average guy.”  Instead, we now know that they DO have specific things they care about, specific motivations and personal struggles, that often conflict with what they know they must do.  In short, the second season provided a deeper personality, something that most of the series’ characters were lacking up to this point–which will make any future deaths feel that much more significant.

However, what seals the deal in my view, is the expanded development of Eren’s character.  I’ve written about how his character isn’t that bad before on Reading Between, but in the past 12 episodes alone, he’s made leaps and bounds.  Instead of being a ball of barely suppressed rage for the majority of the anime, we see him think, we see him act with intention, with awareness of the consequences of his actions.

You really see Eren bear the burden of being a protagonist–something I am hugely grateful for, as many protagonists simply can’t pull that off very well.


3. Art/Style: (9.5/10) – Excellent

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Is there really anything more that needs to be said?

Attack on Titan has ALWAYS been known for its technical prowess.  From its gorgeous animation, to its blaring, epic music, the series has a reputation for creating fantastic moments consistently.

Maybe it was the 12 episode length or something, but the second season, in my opinion, exceeded the first in this regard.  By a LONG shot.  The facial expressions were on point, the animation was great, the music was PHENOMENAL, and of course, the voice acting was some of the best I’ve heard in a while.

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This moment in particular was FANTASTIC.  Kudos to Eren’s VA.

It’s odd really. Normally, I consider the art and style of a show to be intrinsically linked with its tone and thematic strength.  However, with this season, I received an odd sense of disconnect, between the execution of the events of the show, with how those events were put together.

The events of the season–Reiner and Bertholdt’s big reveal, Hannes’s death, and Eren’s fight against the Armored Titan– all felt important, as events that simply needed to be experienced.  However, they felt that way simply because of how they were presented, rather than any exemplary story  pacing, or series-long build up.  The season, because it was only 12 episodes, really needed that technical prowess to distinguish itself as something great, to give its barebones story something to brag about.

And man, Attack on Titan accomplished that, and then some.

4. Personal Enjoyment: (8.5/10) – Great

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The second season was, all things considered, an extremely entertaining watch.

The first season of Attack on Titan, with its engrossing, savage world, captivated millions, myself included.  As such, a second season had a large standard to live up to, and I’m happy to say that, despite the shortened season, it was able to do so.  Thanks to the development of its different characters, and improving on the technically impressive aspects of the first season, Attack on Titan was able to return stronger than ever!  At least, by the end of it all.

My enjoyment of the series was bogged down quite a bit near the beginning, simply because its flaws were much more apparent then.  The slow story progression, and utter lack of plot-related excitement during the first few episodes were just…not exactly the greatest.  However, once Season Two got going, it REALLY got going, providing, in my opinion, some of the best singular moments of the series.

As a story to analyze, yes, it wasn’t the best, and didn’t have the best conclusion in the world.  But you really can’t deny, when it got good, it got REAL good.


Final Rating: (8.55/10) – Great

Recommended If:

  • You’re coming off the first season of the series, because the slow pacing of the second season, feels a LOT better when viewed immediately after the first.
  • You like action.
  • You want to keep up with the world of anime, because honestly, who hasn’t watched this series?
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