Early Impressions: Shingeki no Kyojin (Season Two)

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Three episodes in, I’m beginning to wonder what I liked about this series in the first place.

While the comparison may be repetitive at this point, I never found myself fond of viewing Shingeki no Kyojin as an anime version of The Walking Dead, until just this most recent episode. I found myself pondering to myself, “If I were to devise a drinking game for this series, noting every common cliché it shares with The Walking Dead, would I be dead?” The answer ended up becoming “Yes.”

For context, I don’t like The Walking Dead.

Not to turn this post into “Thoughts on The Walking Dead,” but my disdain for the series is a combination of two things: its mood and its writing. I’ve stated on many occasions that I don’t care for shows that are overly moody in its apathetic murkiness—shows that are constantly manipulating subjects of fear, angst, frustration, or an overt seriousness that overwhelms all over aspects. More than this, however, is the writing, which dedicates itself to being shallow, predictable, slow, and too reliant on the threat of zombies to ramp up excitement. Now, if I had replaced “zombies” with “titans,” and cut out the first sentence in this paragraph, would you really have noticed I was talking about The Walking Dead instead of Shingeki no Kyojin?

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Thinking back on it, I liked how the first season started out with showcasing exactly what titans are capable of, then immediately afterwards slowing things down and developing the characters/civilization that made up the remains of a once populated world. I liked that the titans weren’t always the focus of every episode, though they were always a looming subject on everyone’s minds due to their numbers and tenacity. Too often stories will try and go for horror and thrills without making the effort of making the viewer care about whom it’s happening to. Despite the jokes and recurring oddities of its first season, I came out of the experience rather amused.

Its second season is beginning to fester into a trap of making everything about titans. Characters no longer matter, as they’re either marked for death or survival. Titans suddenly are more than meets the eye, with a new threat showing to have a high capacity of intelligence. And those who once served a role through their embellished personalities and charms have resorted to acting out the words of the script like they’re paid to. Years it’s been since I finished the first season of Shingeki no Kyojin, and suddenly they want to open up with developing Potato Girl and Connie? Two characters that hardly mattered? Not only do I not give a shit anymore, but it basically puts giant targets on their head to be eaten. Not that I expect them to be dead within mere episodes (Akame ga Kill), just that it puts it in the back of my mind. On a final note, boy, do I feel so much empathy for two random characters I don’t even know the names to who deepen their bond in the middle of a perilous expedition that could kill them. Really doesn’t kill the mood or heighten transparency.

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Though I wasn’t exactly excited for the second season of Shingeki no Kyojin, it’s still somewhat disappointing to see it follow the line of many other stories like it that try to do too much to have the viewer care. Or maybe I’m full of it because the series is currently within the Top 50 on MAL’s database after three episodes. Regardless, for me, the series is off to a very poor start. Not in the sense that the show is atrocious in a technical sense, but that it screams “Monotonous!” in its execution and constant shoehorning of the various tropes that rent out the genre. Look at these sad people whose lives are devastated by this fatal threat. Let’s split up into groups and devise a plan to face this thing. What about my family?! I need to become stronger to protect the people I love! A dark secret looms within a high-ranking organization of society. What?! How is this possible?! How, indeed, is it possible to become so drawl?