This Week in Anime
Is Attack on Titan Ramping Up or Just Going Off the Rails?

by Nicholas Dupree and Andy Pfeiffer,

Editor's Note: Jacob has moved on from being a TWIA contributor, but he'll still be with the crew in spirit as the editor/coordinator of this feature. We hope you'll give a warm welcome to Andy Pfeiffer (@A_Tasty_Sub) as the newest member of the team!

Attack on Titan's third season took plenty of risks with its more low-key military coup arc, but the titular Titans' long-awaited return to the spotlight has unleashed an avalanche of shocking twists! This week, Nick and Andy pick up the pieces of a story that's growing ever more complicated.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Not Safe For Work warning for content and language.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet


You can read our weekly coverage of Attack on Titan here!

Nick
Andy, I'd like to formally welcome you to the TWIA crew. You've taken on a great responsibility here, but I'm sure you're up to the challenge of this prestigious position.
Andy
The bar is set high and I won't claim to fill the shoes of those before me right away, but I've spent many years training by sitting under waterfalls, contemplating the nature of human existence, and of course shitposting on twitter.
And you couldn't have chosen a better time to join! A new team member isn't the only change coming to our fine feature, because starting now we are This Week In Albums instead! To ring in our new era, we're starting with the latest LP from living legend Dave Mustaine!
The end of the revolution has come, and with it some big ass revelations. And big ass Titans.
Note that the Official designation is, in fact, Big-Ass Titan. Now by law you have to call it that.
But we finally discovered the long-awaited answer to WHAT IS IN THE BASEMENT! Except it's not Eren's basement, it's Rod Reiss's basement, and the answer is that it's his secret BDSM Vore cave.
On the note of kinks, I think Isayama spent a little too much time reading doujins while he wrote this arc.
I cannot talk about Titan S3 without asking why there's a poop torture machine. Why is it here. Why did they build it. Why did the animators draw it. Why.
I choose to believe Zachary's own words, and that all of Attack on Titan has been made for this single moment.
ANYWAY. Besides getting a hint of the author's browser history, we also found out plenty of other juicy details from this post-coup arc of Titan. And most of them thankfully don't involve enemas.
However, they do pretty much all involve that most classic of anime tropes: Really Shitty Dads.
You have so many flavors of dads to choose from! You can have rich womanizer who never cared for you dad, shitty abandon you for vengeance dad, or even serial killer who adopts THEN abandons you dad!
Thankfully Historia had a loving sister to raise her and teach her how to be a proper lady. Which involves sacrificing yourself to the vore gods. Also she forgot about this sister until she touched Eren, which somehow has never happened throughout all their time together?
Yeah there's some pretty major backpedaling going on with this whole thing. Like props to Isayama for trying really hard to tie all this together, but you can tell at a glance that this was NOT planned out from the start. So we get a whole mess of magical mumbo jumbo dumped in our lap to explain it all.
Also a lot of flashbacks. This comes off pretty okay in the concept of the super-Titans inheriting the memories of the previous ones they've eaten, but less so when we also have to cram in Kenny and Snape drill instructor Keith's backstories.
At least we finally get to see a Titan again after so long of dealing with dudes with guns, when we see Grisha's transformation into a giant Billy Mays.
Oh we'll get to Keith's weird story time, but first I do want to cover the stuff I've liked about all these revelations. Namely, I've enjoyed the huge shifts all these conspiracies have brought on for both Eren and Historia's characters.
Like did you ever imagine we'd get to a point where people were telling Eren to speak UP? To hell with Vegeta or Bakugo, THAT'S the biggest character transformation in shonen history.
Eren learning of his father's actions has caused him to question his own role in everything, which is understandable if you buy into Rod's explanation that Eren is the one preventing humanity's salvation. Thankfully Historia, who was fully ready to go along with Rod's plan, remembers the thing that's most important to her just as she goes to sacrifice herself.
And she rejects the role of good daughter, savior of humanity, and god herself with the biggest FUCK YOU DAD I'M GAY bodyslam she can muster.
Historia definitely gets the more optimistic Bad Dad story of this arc. She finds out her father is a big old sack of crap who's too wrapped up in his own damage to see her as anything but a tool, but in the process she decides to burn this mother down and throw out literally the entire premise of this show.
And heck, she even gets a job offer out of the whole ordeal, which Levi delivers with all the urgency of your roommate asking if you want to order in Chinese for dinner.
 
 
Historia is finally free from living out a role she didn't want, and the populace is finally free from living under a monarchy that controlled them based on divine right, and then Levi, the grand beacon of understanding, figures the best solution is just to give the people the girl with the correct bloodline. This is where tying the ends of the arc together and progressing the story really start to work against each other and collapse under their own weight.
At least Mikasa's still got her back.
It's a mess, but at least Historia is smart enough to realize that just calling herself the Queen won't win any loyalty. So she goes out there and kills the fuck out of her Titan-ized dad in the most patricidal Cirque du Soleil performance ever.
If you're gonna commit patricide, why not double it up as political propaganda? It would be remiss of me to gloss over that Rod became a Titan because he handled his daughter's rebellion by licking the forbidden juice and grinding his face across the ground before being exploded into bite-sized chunks in Erwin's biggest gamble yet: "Do it have a mouth to put splosives in?"
But hey, at least Historia gets some modicum of closure with her dad. Eren and Levi aren't so lucky, though in classic Levi fashion I'm not entirely sure if he even cares. The dude has the expressiveness of a cat on painkillers.
I'd much rather watch the cat. I get that we're supposed to identity more with his behavior after seeing how Kenny raised him, but honestly the only relevant detail was learning more lore about the Ackermans. Even Levi's shocked revelation when Kenny reveals that he's his uncle has the weight of a breadstick being tossed into a pond.
It's a fine attempt but I'm sorry, you're never gonna make Levi an interesting character.
The show also cheated us on Historia following through with Mikasa's suggestion. C'mon girl, you get a free shot and you don't go for the face? No YAS QUEEN to be had there.

Yeah, I don't know why all these guys are impressed. I wish Ymir were here. She'd have slipped Historia some brass knuckles.
Speaking of impressed, you know who is rightfully impressed? Hange with Eren's newfound power to sculpt a perfect ass.
On the topic of Eren, that's where I think this messy arc has managed to really deliver. After basically a month of learning terrible secrets about his friends, his family, his whole society, and even himself, our shouty boy has just run outta fuel. Season 2 did a good job of making it clear that Eren's KILL ALL THE TITANS shtick was a rapidly unraveling coping mechanism for dealing with the dumptruck full of trauma he's been hauling around, and that thread finally snapped when he learned that his dad was seemingly a traitor who doomed humanity and also made Eren eat him to turn him into some kind of tool for destruction.
I totally agree. Eren has finally evolved from a one-note angry child to someone who's realizing the weight of everything thrust upon him and the people around him who don't have magic Titan powers. He's always been on a path of self-professed martyrdom, but we know he's ultimately a confused and scared kid looking for real answers. Eren finds solace largely in watching Historia's arc and finding faith in her decisions. He also finds faith in the fact that his father must've had a reason for all of this, so for now we're once again on track to that dingy basement.
But first we need to stop and ask Uncle Keith about all this, and boy was that underwhelming.
Please don't.
I'm pretty sure the most pertinent thing we learn is that Keith really wanted to bang Eren's mom. Which has gotta be awkward for Eren, sitting there surrounded by his closest friends, while their teacher talks about wanting to get it on with Literally Eren In A Dress.
I'm sorry but the Snape allegory is just too much, to the point that we get retcons of him sabotaging Eren's gear to keep him out of the military, plus the incredibly uncomfortable scene where he goes full MRA on Carla.

I'm not against fleshing out other characters on paper, but Keith's entire existence is built around wanting to be Special, and he's not because he ain't got super powers or Titan Juice. This is supposed to contrast with Eren's own acceptance of his limitations, but Keith just comes off as an asshole because of one bar conversation he had in his early 20's.
Thankfully Hange ain't having any of it.
It not only makes Keith a far less interesting character, but it also taints the overall message of the show. Carla tries to tell us Eren is special just by being born, but a large part of the show is the spectacle of cool violence that Titan Eren and the Ackermans are able to pull off. I add Levi and Mikasa to this because of the revelation this arc that they too are from a special clan, so the message of being special because of what you do not what you are is forever falling into the problem that they are only able to do anything because they are indeed special. The current idea of Historia sticking with divine right because the people won't trust the military to govern them is one step forward, two steps back.
The only good thing that came out of Keith's entire story was seeing some goofy Titan designs again, and learning that they really hate treehouses.
You guyyyyyyyys, we called Base! You're breaking the rules!
But yeah, this arc has definitely had its issues, and it definitely feels like the creator was trying to figure out what he wanted to say with all of this and changing his mind even as he's doing it. But Titan's never been something I followed for its plot. I stick with it for stunning action and empathetic characters, and those haven't gone away yet. Plus at this point I'm contractually bound to stick around until we FIND OUT WHAT'S IN THAT FUCKING BASEME--
I'm with you! Thankfully with Eren's newfound power, it'll be simple enough to plug the hole and investigate the basement. Well, it should be, but I've got a feeling they might have to fist fight for their rights against a certain Beastie Boy.
Don't make light of this dude. He can kick your ass AND give you a bad grade on your Psychology paper.
These kids better study up.

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