I liked Attack on Titan’s first season. In fact, I suspect like many of us, it was one of the first anime shows I watched. Then, last year came along the long-awaited, and long wailed after, Season 2. It wasn’t for me. The things I liked in the First seemed to have vanished in the Second. It felt poorly structured, and what left me feeling the most disappointed was the ways in which its characters were presented in apparently random moments of outburst with little holding the often irrelevant scenarios together. Despite this, the art, especially the background art remained stunning, as did some of the animation in the more important action sequences. Still, it never seemed to have the flair of its predecessor.
But here we are: Welcome to Summer 2018, and Attack on Titan Season 3.
Attack on Titan’s – It’s Back Again
There was a four-year gap between the first and second season of Attack on Titan; probably an issue relating to the speed at which the manga can be adapted – and now that the manga has more volumes it’s easier to bridge the anime gap (or it’s possible I’m talking out of my arse because I know nothing of the AoT manga…). Now, we have only a single year gap between the second and third seasons. At first glance I thought: “Maybe it’s a shit thing that it only took a year to make, maybe that means it’s shit quality… or maybe its a good thing that we get more Attack on Titan so soon!” Of course, I hope for the latter. I want good anime, regardless of what’s behind the title. We’re in for the long-haul of 24 episodes, twice the number of last year. I just pray it has four times the amount of content.
Deep in sEASON 3, Episode 1
Let’s start with the obvious thing, the opening. Attack on Titan has good openings, we know this. It’s a foundation of the show, that’s always been true – and some are better than others. My favourite being ‘Shinzou wo Sasageyo’, from Season 2. At least… this was until I watched Season 3’s ‘Red Swan’ which naturally embraced my body just like a young swan might. The first that struck me… there is not one titan in it! It’s such a huge and complete step away from the previous three openings. This is evident in tonality too, where sparkling/glittering effects migrate the shots in place of what would have been blood and smears of dark colour. The vocals too are less aggressive, spoken without any German, but a touch of the good Queens English (Because we all know Deutsche is the most violent of languages). Also, I couldn’t help but notice a number of shots are reminiscent of Evangelion’s opening, especially the ‘twisting hand moment’ and the often intimate panning shots of the characters. Maybe a nod. Maybe just my paranoid obsession.
This got me thinking… Titans are basically EVA units, right? Eren and the others, pilots, right…? Anyway, the opening hints at a more character driven Attack on Titan. Less of a focus on the Titans themselves, but instead on the stories of the humans that repel them, and how they come across the resilience and strength to do so. After a dismal season 2 character wise, this is something I welcome with arms wide open. With this in mind, of course we still want Titan battles… yet, somehow, from my perspective, human conflict draws me in that much more. If anything I want to see Eren’s character develop – something we got a taste tester of.
Pacing was an issue in season 2, the Episode 9 ‘The Opening’ being the most egregious offender. Something which attempted to take a stab at character drama, all without realising the previous eight episodes had done nothing to make us care about the actual characters. This is where I hope season 3 manages to diverge – gimme the ins and outs of those character baby; well… because Eren, he’s a dull bastard. Pacing in the Episode 1 ‘Smoke Signal’ was good. We weren’t bent over by exposition and semantics from last year’s escapades, and we weren’t hauled into some insane backstory which attributes nothing to the narrative. Instead we dive right into it, in what is happening now, and in what is going to happen, all managed in an exciting and engaging way – this shit is how we like it. Because fuck me, Kenny the ‘Ripper’ seems like one hell of a dude, steampunk me silly!
The background art remains stunning. It really is one of the reasons I keep watching. Especially this season (Summer 2018) which honestly is among one of the worst I’ve seen since watching seasonally. Are even remotely good-looking backgrounds too much to ask for? What about character designs that are actually original designs? At the very least, Attack on Titan is giving us that this season. However, it’s not without its rough edges. Occasionally some of the faces are off, the perspective a little skewed here and there. All whilst I try to decide whether their lack of expression is because of their stoicism and the tone of the world, or simply because of a lack in animation quality. Whatever the reason, a person will have a tough time saying it’s a bad-looking show. If stiff faces mean stunning action sequences, then maybe I’m okay with that.
The Bottom Line
I know many of you are far bigger Attack on Titan fans than I am. I don’t think it’s the best show, I don’t even think it’s among the best. It’s certainly one of the most popular, and one of the most profitable, not just in terms of manga and anime sales, but huge amounts of merchandise too. It’s good for anime if more people are watching anime. Attack on Titan has been bringing people in droves, and I hope it continues to do so. So, because of this, I hope season 3 is brilliant – for the sanity of us all.
What do you think? Does it look promising?
Thanks for reading, as always!