Attack On Titan Season 2 (Cert 15)
2 Discs (standard)/4 Discs DVD/Blu-ray Ltd Ed Box Set (Distributor: Sony Pictures) Running time: 306 minutes approx.
Considering the global juggernaut Attack On Titan became when the first season of its anime adaptation arrived in 2014, producing the next instalment was always going to be a Herculean task for Studio WIT. Granted the source material from creator Hajime Isayama was already in existence but it is the animated version that broke the franchise worldwide, meaning this second series has so much to live up to.
After a fleeting recap of the central premise, the story picks up where the first season left off, with the chilling discovery of a titan inside the wall of Wall Rose by scientist Hange and her company. Whilst they have no idea how it got there, it seems Pastor Nick from the Order of Wall does but won’t reveal how even when physically threatened by Hange. But this soon becomes the least of their worries when another attack by the titans brings with them an even more terrifying surprise, the monstrous Beast Titan.
Simian-like in appearance and standing 60 feet in height, the Beast Titan immediately proves the most dangerous of them all by not only showing a rare cognizance of the human’s defensive patterns but also the power of speech. This appears to give the Beast Titan a degree of authority over the others yet possesses the same indiscriminate and insatiable bloodlust as his fellow titans.
Perhaps most disconcerting of all is that this only covers the events of the first episode, barely touching the tip of the iceberg of the shock revelations and developments that unfold over the next eleven chapters. Season two might be half the length of its predecessor but it makes every moment count in story progression, character development and, of course, delivering a whole smorgasbord of brutally violent action.
Eren, Mikasa and Armin naturally resume their roles from the first season as the nominal leads of this saga, but share the spotlight with some of the lesser-known characters whose importance to the story is gradually revealed. Hands up who remembers Christa? The small blonde girl who could pass as Armin’s twin? No? Well, it transpires that she has a secret that only a few people know about, but it is this secret that is forcing this privileged few to be dishonest about themselves.
One of these people is Ymir, a feisty woman who’s bond with Christa is suspiciously tight for reasons eventually revealed here but not without a persistent air of mystery still being kept from us. Both ladies have their pasts put under the microscope by way of explaining the sudden focus on them, but don’t worry this isn’t an unnecessary whim by Isayama but a further layer of intrigue to the overall mystery of the titans.
Two more characters are exposed in shocking fashion, namely Marleyan Warriors Reiner and Bertholdt, the former being in Eren’s training class. Like Ymir, their secret has a significant impact on the group dynamic but with a difference in the goals that drive them. But it seems there is more to this than meets the eye and while their endgame isn’t revealed at this juncture, the continual teasing of how this involves Christa and Eren suggests a cause that needs to be huge to make the pay off worthwhile.
Even with the single cour episode count, the immersive quality of the dense plotting and barrage of shock twists and diversions down new paths remains as vital and captivating as before. Discussing even the smallest detail is likely to give away too much about the direction the story is heading but it never feels like Isayama is coasting on a single gimmick or has found himself out of his depth in how to converge his ideas at the climax.
Whereas before the hardships and effects of the titan invasion was largely confined to the defence force troops, this time we take a look at the wider suffering incurred as two of the scouts, Conny and Potato Girl Sasha return, to their hometowns to see the post-attack damage there. Sasha’s homecoming is preceded with another flashback that neatly segues into the present day but bring her story full circle.
Slowing the pace down and time hopping within the narrative when there are fewer episodes at your disposal might seem like a crucial mistake, more so for such a popular franchise with huge expectations behind it, yet this doesn’t once feel like an egregious misstep at all. Wall to wall action is one thing but it needs that emotional investment and solid plot foundation to capture the audience’s imagination, and that is exactly what is achieved here.
That is not to say that this is light on action, far from it. The first episode alone ends with an impromptu rally against the latest swarm of rampaging titans, reminding us of the exhilarating aerial manoeuvres of the troops in their omni-directional gear. Fluidly animated and swift in pace, each battle is a highly dramatic, always a heartbeat away from ending in tragedy and often does.
Aside from the Beast Titan, Armoured Titan and Colossal Titan, the “regular” titans retain their lumbering, mindless creepiness especially when running, some of them dancing about in a sort of drunken state but their thirst for human flesh is never diminished. If you look closely, one smaller chubby titan resembles our former prime minister David Cameron – now that IS scary!
Sony Pictures have loaded this release with extras, especially the limited edition box set, whilst the disc presentation boasts a marathon play feature enabling you to watch in one continuous run without the credits. However, it isn’t clear when selecting from the menu if you get the option you want through the text not changing colour.
It might be a half-measure that doesn’t scale the giddy heights of season one but Attack On Titan season 2 is still essential viewing and not only satiates our patient hunger but whets the appetite for the season 3 starting soon in Japan!
English Language Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Japanese Language Dolby TrueHD 2.0
Marathon Play Function
Episode 30 Commentary
Episode 31 Commentary
Anime Expo 2017 Interviews with Trina Nishimura, Tetsuya Kinoshita & Yui Ishikawa
Attack On Titan Season 2: Interview With Creator Hajime Isayama
Inside The Episode – Attack On Titan Quiz: 10th Cadet Corps Mission 1-4
Eye Catch Gallery
Textless Opening Song “Opfert Eure Herzen”
Textless Closing Song “Yuugure no Tori”
Limited Edition DVD/Blu-ray Box Set
24-Page Book “Notes From beyond The Wall: Part III”
60-Page Art Book
Rating – ****
Man In Black