Four long, agonizing years after the first season burst onto the scene, Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 sees the continuation of the battle between humans and Titans, but there’s no way it can possibly live up to the hype of the first season, right? Right?! Well, let’s break it down~
For centuries, humanity has been hunted by giant, mysterious predators known as the Titans. Three mighty walls—Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sheena—provided peace and protection for humanity for over a hundred years. That peace, however, was shattered when the Colossal Titan and Armored Titan appeared and destroyed the outermost wall, Wall Maria. Forced to retreat behind Wall Rose, humanity waited with bated breath for the Titans to reappear and destroy their safe haven once more.
In Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2, Eren Yeager and others of the 104th Training Corps have just begun to become full members of the Survey Corps. As they ready themselves to face the Titans once again, their preparations are interrupted by the invasion of Wall Rose—but all is not as it seems as more mysteries are unraveled. As the Survey Corps races to save the wall, they uncover more about the invading Titans and the dark secrets of their own members.
After a seemingly endless series of OVAs, recap movies, specials, and a spin-off comedy, season two picks up right where the first season left off, and similar to how the very first episode in the series set the tone for what was to come, the first episode of the season follows suit and welcomes us back to the brutal world of Shingeki no Kyojin. Right when you think that humanity has gained a foothold in the war against the Titans, another wave of them appear, leaving our protagonists right back where they started, fighting a losing battle against ruthless and mysterious enemies.
The first season had the benefit of twenty-five episodes, which admittedly had some advantages and drawbacks. On the plus side, more of a good thing is always great, but that also meant that the story was stretched out, and there were many times when the pacing felt far too sluggish, with just not enough happening. This season consists of a mere twelve episodes, but before you think of that as a step in the wrong direction, it actually worked out to the show’s benefit. With each passing episode, we get a lot of story progression, and there are hardly any lulls in the action with little happening, so whether its a look back to a certain character’s life before they joined the Survey Corps or the steady progression of the ongoing war with the Titans, there’s never a dull moment.
For every secret that gets revealed, another mystery takes its place, and while that may not sound that appealing, its the richness of the universe that keeps everything so compelling. By focusing more on individual characters’ stories, it adds a layer of humanity to the story. It’s easy to forget that a lot of these soldiers are high school-aged kids who’ve been thrust into battle, with many of them losing family members and other loved ones along the way.
The story in season two takes a very different path than the first, since Eren no longer is the main focal point of the story. He still has his moments—as do Mikasa and Armin—but Sasha, Connie, Reiner, Bertholdt, Krista, and Ymir each see much more attention paid to them, and that’s one of the best things about this season. Now, nearly all of the supporting characters feel more fleshed out, and since they finally got some much-needed character development, the cast feels more like a true ensemble, instead of Eren, Mikasa, and a bunch of other teen soldiers that you may or may not care that much about.
At least before the season was over, Eren and Mikasa (yeah, I ship them) had a special moment together that saw a pseudo love confession of sorts from Mikasa (not to mention a kiss attempt), so it’s great that, in a season where they were essentially the supporting characters, those two still weren’t neglected.
Without getting into spoiler territory, I think the season ended on a high note, and looking ahead to the third season (which has already been announced for 2018), the future looks bright. There are still a lot of questions left unanswered, but you know what they say, “Always leave them wanting more.” I can’t speak for everyone, but believe me when I say that I definitely want more, a lot more~
All in all, the story in season two felt more intimate and personal, yet it didn’t lose an ounce of the savagery and brutal nature that the series is known for.
If you’re a fan of Levi, Jean, or Annie, brace yourself. They pretty much play no role at all, which, in Levi and Annie’s case, is pretty disappointing. Levi is billed as humanity’s greatest fighter, yet he spends the entire season on the sidelines nursing his injuries, so that’s understandable, I guess. It sucks—since he’s such an awesome fighter—but still understandable. Jean doesn’t have a similar excuse, but have you ever heard someone say that Jean was their favorite character? I didn’t think so (Sorry, Jean). Annie’s absence is even more disappointing than Levi’s, since you have this big reveal at the end of the first season, then that plot point resumes to just sit there for the entire season with no story development whatsoever. Since so many other things happened, I can excuse it, but I would have liked a little something to tide us over until we see what happens with her.
As was already mentioned, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin gave way to many of their fellow comrades, and one of the benefits of a reduced role for the stars of the first season is how that allowed other characters to shine. Being able to get a better understanding of their past and motivations did wonders to help empathize with characters like Reiner and Bertholdt, but without a doubt, it was Ymir and Krista that benefited the most from this shift in focus.
Even with the aid of twenty-five episodes, there really wasn’t that much subtext to be found between them in season one. It was the boatloads of fan-created content that truly pushed this pairing to the forefront, but this season, it’s a completely different story. Despite less than half as many episodes, we see so much more of YumiKuri than we did in the first season. From Ymir’s tragic past to learning of Krista’s true identity, this extra information further helps to endear them to the viewers and establish them as characters that we should definitely care about. Their stories are undoubtedly intertwined, and we see the extent of the bond they’ve forged, which has moved them from season one’s status of, “Hey, there are two girls who may or may not have some feelings for one another!” to “Damn, they’re so gay!” for this season.
Despite not featuring a kiss or any other obvious sign of affection, there’s obviously a deep attachment there that probably removes any and all doubt that they’re romantically interested in each other. Given Ymir’s personality, it’s probably not a shock that the number of emotional scenes outnumbers the sweet scenes, but there are still some cute and sweet scenes thrown in there, so rejoice! Going into the season, seeing more of this pairing was on every yuri fan’s wishlist for what they wanted to see, and even though we’re far from a conclusion and a “they lived happily ever after” scenario, after the curtain has fallen on this season, YumiKuri fans can’t help but be happy with what transpired~
In a series that has an otherwise sterling visual presentation, perhaps the only thing I can nitpick is the decision to feature a CG-rendered Colossal Titan. Generally, I’m okay with vehicles or other non-essential items that you often see rendered in CG, but a character? It just ends up looking awkward, and since the other Titans look so good, it makes you wonder why they chose to go in that direction. Besides that design choice, there really isn’t much else to complain about. The fight scenes are more spectacular than ever, and after being exposed to Wit Studio’s distinctive art style for so long, it’s hard to imagine the series looking as good as it does here, had it been in another studio’s care. Also, compared to the first season, there’s a more consistent quality to the visuals, so, overall, the extended time off has served the series well.
Once again, Hiroyuki Sawano is at the helm when it comes to the music, and once again, the music is superb. I absolutely loved the music from the first season, and even though I don’t think the music from this season can quite match it, there are still several epic songs that serve to heighten the experience tenfold. YouSeeBIGGIRL T:T and Attack on D were undoubtedly my favorite tracks, and between the two seasons, if there’s another series that has a better soundtrack than this one, I don’t know about it.
The themes might not have reached anthemic status like Guren no Yumiya before them, yet I found them to be growers that I liked the more I heard them. In addition to the music, the voice acting continued to be stellar, so, overall, the audio maintains the insanely high standards set by the first season~
Expectations for this second season were completely unrealistic, but somehow, Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 managed to exceed those expectations and deliver something that eclipses the first season in almost every way. If someone were to ask me why I watch anime, I’d simply show them an episode of this. For me, anime doesn’t get much more entertaining than what this season had to offer, and even though the series seems to have lost a good deal of fanfare, it’s not at all indicative of the quality of the anime. This season turned out to be one of my favorite anime of all-time, and I can’t wait to see what season three will bring.