So……Where to start? How about with the death of moe titan-kun?
Just kidding. Don’t get me wrong, it was an amusing addition to the episode – moe must die – but clearly it wasn’t an important part of the episode. There was a lot more going on in this episode and slowly but surely Shingeki no Kyojin is getting to the meat.
The tide is turning, no doubt about it. Our newly graduated cadets are catching a break and actually fighting back. Leading them is the unlucky one of the bunch Jean, who just can’t find his footing. Jean’s been unlucky ever since he laid eyes on Mikasa, but the more important issue being brought to light is how powerless and lost he feels with everything going on. It’s in this way that Shingeki no Kyojin continues to be a war story more than anything else.
Having personally spent the last few weeks watching war movies and listening to political commentary – I’ve discovered the liberal musings of Bill Maher – has made noticing the this aspect a little easier. As with most war epics, the struggle of the soldiers has been the main focus of almost every episode. First time soldiers tend to freeze up, cower and breakdown mentally – poor Sasha – but once they overcome that, bonds of camaraderie emerge. Just like we see in this episode.
Now that the graduate class has suffered enough, they come together and carry out their first successful plan. It was the first moment when everyone came together and killed the titans by using everyone’s strength; from the physically weak soldiers like Armin to the top 10. To me this is the first episode of the humans fighting back, and doing so as a team.
What makes this teamwork effective is Jean’s leadership. It’s pointed out that he isn’t exactly strong. He’s in the top 10 but when it comes to general instinct and fighting prowess, he lags behind almost all of the best. What makes him the best, alongside his weakness, is his ability to think clearly more than any of the others. Certainly more than the rage-filled Eren or the unrivalled Mikasa, Jean makes most sense as the leader and his emergence into the role comes as a compliment to the turning tide of battle.
Well then, that only leaves the final plot twist. As some speculated by many, Eren wasn’t dead. In fact, he was inside the titan, fighting back like a bat out of hell. It’s hard for me to personally comment on any surprise this had, being a reader of the manga, but the general impression I got was that many viewers weren’t shocked with this revelation. Eren’s return also comes at an appropriate time much like Jean’s call to leadership but you best believe there will be some consequences for his return. Until then, it’s safe to say an emotional return was a heart-warming way to end the first remotely positive episode of the series.
Shingeki no Kyojin continues at a relatively slow pace which works in the series’ favour. The story is taking its time to unfold. We’re not seeing mass amounts of progress in each episode, but enough to keep the story moving along.