Please Note: This review contains a couple of spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2. Also, this review is also about the anime only so I ask that no one posts manga spoilers in the comment section.
I have this personal guideline that if I don’t love or even like something that is massively popular, I should at least try to understand why it is so popular. In the case of Shingeki no Kyojin, I get why it has enthralled so many people. It really is a show that follows the beat of its own drum. It’s extremely cool at times and extremely weird at others and in either setting, it just grabs your attention.
It seems as though those two qualities have been increased tenfold with Season 2. Season 1 got a bit bonkers with Eren being able to turn into a Titan and the Female Titan showing up but compared to the events of Season 2, those moments feel so tame now. There are just so many weird moments in this season; from how Reiner just casually confesses to Eren that he and Bertolt are Titan shifters to how Ymir and Bertolt have a friendly chat about her eating his comrade. The absurdity honestly got to a point where it became hard to tell what is supposed to taken seriously. And yet at the same time, there are still enough cool moments as well. As silly as Reiner’s criminal confession was, him and Bertolt following it up by turning into Titans was fantastic. It practically made the silly build-up pay off and really evoke the shock of betrayal more effectively. Somehow, it is this weird synergy between absurdity and coolness that keeps the story compelling.
I also do appreciate that Season 2 spent its five episodes on the supportive cast. In fact, you barely see Eren, Mikasa, and Armin until the sixth episode. It was neat to see someone like Sasha finally elevate past meme status and this was a reasonable excuse to push Reiner, Bertolt,
Krista Historia, and Ymir to narrative prominence. And to be frank, I just liked being away from Eren for a little while. He’s just too impulsive and whiny for me to take seriously (and no, his reappearance in the second half of the season didn’t change my mind about him). I’ll admit that I got tired of seeing minor characters constantly dying by Episode 5 but the show does return to the main trio just as the fatigue started to creep in so points to the staff (and Hajime Isayama to an extent) for good timing.
That being said, I do think that Season 2 takes a slight step backwards with it handles the show’s mysteries. How much really is revealed this season? Sure, we find out that Ymir, Bertolt, and Reiner are Titan shifters and that Eren has this power called the “Coordinate” but we now have way more questions than there were back in Season 1. Who does Bertolt and Reiner work for? Why is
Krista Historia so important? How did Eren obtain the Coordinate in the first place? Who is the Beast Titan? If Connie’s village was turned into Titans, how and why did that happen? Furthermore, the mystery surrounding the nature of Titan shifting and the walls practically goes nowhere this season and that was left hanging since Season 1! I only consider this a slight step backwards from Season 1 because I imagine the manga has answered these questions by now. I just can’t help but feel that this anime, at 37 episodes, has practically reached a Lost level of “Don’t worry, it’ll eventually answer everything”
I would also like to question why the show looked so cheap this season. It’s admittedly less rough looking than the original broadcasts of Season 1 but this season was still plagued with a lot of still frames and really bad CG modeling (for the horses and the Colossal Titan). Sure, you don’t see the Survey Corps ride horses that much but it sure happens enough times to be noticeable. And can anyone really blame me for expecting the visuals to be better? This is a series that pretty much printed money when it originally came out. You would think such success would merit a better budget for the new season.
Oh well, at least Hiroyuki Sawano composed some new tunes for this show. I could listen to the Shingeki no Kyojin soundtrack for days.
Having now seen two seasons of Shingeki no Kyojin, I feel pretty confident that I probably won’t grow to love the show. I thought Season 1 was overrated and this season took both its strengths and weaknesses to even more extremes. Still, this show continues to mystify me so I’m fine with it just being mere entertainment for me.
At least Season 3 will come out next year. Seriously, the four year wait for Season 2 was ridiculous. Even a non-fan such as I can agree with fans over that.
Score: 6 out of 10