Shingeki no Kyojin, commonly called Attack on Titan in English, is currently airing its second season. Last week’s episode was the 11th episode of the current season making it the 36th episode of the Shingeki no Kyojin anime series.
To begin, the recent episode was definitely one of the highlights of this season along with its 9th episode of the same season. Episode 11 was without a doubt, an embodiment of what makes Shingeki no Kyojin great. While the intensity was at its peak as is common in the Attack on Titan franchise, the episode manages to delve into its characters in this episode, emphasizing their attributes.
The episode starts up where the previous episode left off, with Reiner in his Armored Titan form, running away from the forest having barely escaped the blades of Mikasa and the rest of the scouts. The escape of Bertholdt and Reiner was in part due to the help from Ymir who, while in a form that fans have dubbed as the Dancing Titan, managed to take Christa away from the group before ultimately escaping on Reiner’s back. With Eren still in their possession, the episode focuses on the desperate attempt of the scouts to take him back and escape.
Episode 11 was an amazing episode primarily because it solidified the traits quite a number of characters of Shingeki no Kyojin, once again defining them and developing them further. The episode offers a lens for us to see the strength of each character and how they choose to handle the current dilemma differently.
Commander Erwin was the first to take the spotlight. It is in this episode that we see his capacity and capabilities as a leader. In an earlier scene, as Reiner sprints away from the forest and from the Scouting Legion who have been in pursuit of him and Bertholdt since the previous episode. In this moment, we see Commander Erwin take the initiative with sharp commands and decisive action. He immediately recognizes the value of Eren to humanity and boldly proclaims this to the rest of the scouts. Commander Erwin adds that their top priority is to take Eren away from the clutches of the traitors and to then immediately proceed with a full speed escape. After quickly shouting out a plan to the troops, he screams out the title of the season’s opening theme, Shinzou wo Sasageyo, telling his men to devote their hearts and charge towards Reiner and an approaching horde of titans.
His moment doesn’t end there however. As he leads the charge with blade in hand, Erwin’s outstretched arm gets caught in a titan’s mouth. While the titan runs off with Erwin in tow, he gives one final command to the group telling them to charge despite their clear sentiment to turn around and rescue him. It is then that we realize that Erwin truly deserves the title of Commander. In this short moment, he solidified his position and role in the group by highlighting his ability to analyze the situation quickly and clearly despite the clear desperation among his troops.
Following Erwin’s moment of glory, we see Mikasa once again going all out in her attempt to save Eren. We see her strong connection particularly in two scenes throughout the episode. The first is when Christa prevents her as she attempts to kill Ymir, currently in her titan form. During her short exchange with Christa, she not only explains that there are only so many people that she can care about but also implies that Eren is at the top of the list. With that, she quickly and coldly tells Christa to make a choice between Eren or Ymir because she refuses to hesitate any longer. During this time, we see the expression on Mikasa’s face depicting a coldness and rage. The second moment is when Mikasa manages to get through the horde of titans, landing on Reiner and attempting to kill Bertholdt before being stopped by the former who raises his armored hands, covering the latter and protecting him and Eren from Mikasa. In this moment, we hear Mikasa telling the other scouts that it is clear to her that the two former comrades are traitors to humanity. With these two moments in the series, we see just how far Mikasa is willing to go to save Eren which in turn shows just how much Eren means to her. Throughout the encounter, her expression of rage is apparent.
Alongside the two, we see even Armin have a moment in the episode. At a point when the scouts manage to have Reiner lower his arms, we see an exposed Bertholdt trying to survive and Armin confronting him with words rather than the aggressive style of Mikasa. With Armin’s strength being in mental ability and clearly superior intelligence we see a scene wherein Armin uses words to mentally assault Bertholdt and shatter his desire to escape from the wall. Armin begins telling Bertholdt that Annie is still behind the wall, being endlessly tortured, unable to escape or rest. We see these words truly affecting Bertholdt whose expression clearly changes. Armin also shows a change in expression the moment he decides to try and break Bertholdt’s will. In a way, Armin’s approach to saving Eren was even more brutal than Mikasa whose approach involved physical aggression.
The 11th episode of the second season of Shingeki no Kyojin placed a spotlight on its characters and truly allowed them to shine. The episode featured each of them placed in a scenario that played to their strengths and emphasized their role. We saw Erwin truly embody and exemplify the title of Commander. We not only saw Mikasa’s increasing desperation to save Eren but also the lengths that she was willing to go to in order to keep him safe. We also so Armin’s mental strength and superior intelligence as he broke Bertholdt without any physical contact. Simply put, this single episode managed to create much more depth in the characters of the series making it one of the best episodes of Shingeki no Kyojin to date.