Attack on Titan Episode 4 Review: Trust

The last episode of Attack on Titan was important to expanding the background of characters Erwin and Historia. It also was dark, draining any since of hope from the series. This episode injects some hope back into it. Marlo Freudenberg and Hitch Dreyse are searching for the scouts in the woods, Marlo questions why the scouts would kill a civilian and flee. Considering the fact that they always risk their lives for humanity against the Titans. If you don’t remember, Marlo and Hitch were featured earlier in the series, in episode 23, entitled Smile: Assault on Stohess, Part 1. In that episode Marlo claims to have joined the Military Police “to uphold justice and do what’s right.” He’s mocked for this goal by Hitch, but seems sincere when he tries to stop some of superiors while they illegally sell ODM gear.

Anyway, They see Armin taking water from the river. Taking the bait when he surrenders, they are quickly ambushed by Mikasa and Levi. Marlo represents the theme of this episode the governments “truth” is starting to unravel. Nile Dawk tells two journalists that “judging by the evidence,” the scouts did kill a civilian. The younger journalist seems to be more interested in getting all the details, but is cut off by the older one. Dawk shows a concern that the new ODM gear is “perfect for killing people,” in particular scouts. He concludes that the Military Police will likely find themselves staring down their guns eventually.

Flegel Reeves is being chased by the Military Police, he’s chased into a dead end alley, but is rescued by Hange. She tries to get him to stand up against the government, which he is unwilling to do. Hitch is still concerned about Annie going missing, Levi informs her that Annie was the Titan. He decries the fact that ” Nobody knows a damn thing about this world . . . Not us or anyone else.” This is true of course, but is also the goal of the government. The government deliberately miss informs and keeps secrets from the Military Police and civilians. They can’t stop something if you don’t know what going on right.

Marlo asks to join Levi, but he’s rebuffed. Jean asks to tie them up himself, he “attacks” them. I’ll admit that considering Attack on Titans dark theme’s and event that have transpired, I almost thought Jean was going to kill them. However, Jean has always represented the humor in this series (along with Hange). He mocks Marlo for his terrible ” Bowl cut” hair style. Marlo quickly understands that it was a test. Marlo and Hitch aid the scouts in finding the checkpoint, and are told to return to their squad. The scouts take the checkpoint, taking the leader. Levi tortures him but only learns the last name of Kenny, Ackermann. Which is also the last name of Mikasa. There’s no way that she’s not related to Kenny, the question I have is Levi related to her as well.

Finally, Flegel gets “caught” by the Military Police. He gets them to give him a death wish, tell him why his father was killed. It was obvious that he would get the Police to reveal what really happened, but I was surprised that so many civilians witnessed it, as well as the previously mentioned journalists. However, can Flegel be the boss if the Military Police and the government know he’s a witness? Won’t they kill him and all the civilians anyway? Maybe the civilians, journalists and the Reeves family can start a resistance within the walls. The episode ends with Erwin telling Dawk that “When, and if the time comes, he will only watch,” and that “it’s up to you (Dawk) to decide. You and them.” Erwin is clearly going to be heading for execution the question is will it happen?

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Tenrou: Sirius The Jaeger Episode 4 Review: Beginning Of Trickery

The alliance between the Hyakko party and the vampires comes to an abrupt ending. The Alma company turns out to be the force behind the Royals. Their still a mysterious group at this point in the series. The Royals test their new experiment on the Military, and seemingly willing to sell the Military the new weapon. The Hyakko party commits a mass murder at the offices of Alma, the head of the Hyakko becomes interested in the new weapon.

The Vampires creation seems to be a Frankenstein type monster seen in the OP, it’s a little obvious considering the organ collecting but I’m curios how different it will be from the famous version of Frankenstein. One thing I noticed is the paleness of the Vampire’s and the “makeup” surrounding their eyes. I don’t know if the skin tone is a by product of vamperism or makeup. Regardless, it does make them obvious to the public if they are seen.

In addition to that they seem to be Vampire children. In some of the vampire lore, child vampires are seen as problematic because they tend to be impulsive and risk exposing the other vampires. I’m curious if their too immature or if it won’t matter. This episode also attempts to inject a weak romance into the series. I don’t particularly care about romance in anime, but this seems poorly managed. There’s wasn’t much left in the episode, hoping the action increases in the next episode.

Banana Fish Episode 5 Review: Death to Morning

The last episode of Banana Fish set up the mystery of “Banana Fish.” Ash gets out of jail on bail, he is warned that “if he flees or commits a crime,” his bail will be withdrawn. Of course Ash goes after Dino Golzine to get revenge for his brothers death. Ash leaves with Ibe, Eiji and Charlie, but Ash tries to abandon them to get his revenge on his own. However, Eiji takes control over the car and flees with Ash.

Meanwhile, when Dino is informed that he may be in danger, Dino is unafraid. He does however state that “Banana Fish is no human. It’s the name of a drug. That will change the world.” He wouldn’t elaborate further. Ash joins with Shorter to plan their hit on Papa Dino. They plan on attacking Dino’s restaurant “Club Cod,” he makes a monthly visit to the seafood restaurant. Club Cod is a front for a child sex trafficking ring.

All the anime I consume, I rarely run into one that focuses on realistic horrors of the real world. Banana Fish takes on sexually assault, gang violence, prison, war and unfortunately child sex trafficking rings. I say unfortunate not because I don’t think that it should appear in this series or any other one, but because it’s a sad reality. Regardless, these kids are kidnapped, drugged and then killed years later.

Ash and the others engage their plan, featuring a trunk. Ash rides on the top of the truck and somehow manages not to fall off and stand straight while shooting at Dino. He is shot in the arm by Arthur’s crew, while hitting Dino in the arm as well. The hit fails and Ash and the others are joined by Max and Ibe. The are out numbered and flee by jumping into the river.

Banana Fish continues to be a series that touches on heavy topics, while having complex characters. With all the mysterious threads and the large number of characters we finally get clear goals for the main protagonists, find out what Banana Fish is and kill Dino Golzine. They head to Cape Cod next, childhood home of Ash.

 

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 3 Review: Old Story

In contrast to the last episode, this one entitled “Old Story” may seem slow, but I think it’s has more impact. In typical Attack on Titan fashion the stories told aren’t uplifting but rather dark. We start with Historia. She tells the scouts that she was born on the land owned by the Reiss family. This episode focuses on the negative effects parents in the series had on their children. Historia’s mother (if we can call her that), literally goes out of he way not to speak to her daughter. Her mother simply reads a lot, while ignoring her. When Historia tries to emulate her mothers reading she realizes through the stories that her relationship to mother is uncaring. When finally makes physical contact with her mother, she’s meet with a violent reaction.

Her mother then utters her first words to her daughter, “if only I had the courage to kill the girl.” Her mother then leaves for fives years only to return with Rod Reiss. He admits to being her father but the government intervenes. Father leaves her mother for death and Historia’s mother final words to her daughter is “if only I never had you,” before her throat is slit. Historia’s mother is a very sympathetic character, so her death didn’t really bother me. However, the reason for her death was clear due to having a daughter with Rod Reiss. Basic giving birth to Historia cost her, her life and she likely knew that it was always going to. Her behavior toward Historia seems reasonable in that context. I don’t know how redeeming Lord Reiss “saving,” of Historia is, and I don’t trust that he truly cares for her to be improbable. He’s likely using her to gain something.

Hange reveals to the scout that Eren is likely going to be “eaten.” After overhearing a conversation between Ymir and Bertholdt, we learn that Ymir ate their comrade. Eating a human that turns into a titan, while being a titan may result in that titan reverting back into a human. Hange believes that they will also gain the powers of that titan. Meaning that the government may want to have a titan under their control eat Eren and gain his ability to control other titans. I assumed that they would use Eren’s power to turn into a titan for their own ends, however, that was a ridiculous thing for me to assume considering that Eren would never do that. Killing him, while gaining his power make much more sense.

The third flashback we get is from Commander Erwin. He speaks to Pyxis regarding his desire to “retake Wall Maria and overthrow the government.” Apparently, he plans on doing so without the need for the military or death. That seem implausible but he’s vague as to what the actual plan is. Erwin recounts the story of his fathers death. His father was a history teacher, however, he taught an edited version of that history. He trusted Erwin with the truth and Erwin went a told his classmates. The military found out about it and killed his father. He believed that the the King had the power to alter the memories of the people, making them easier to rule. This is just a theory, but one that Erwin aims to prove.

Erwin elaborates on his plan when Hange returns, the plan is to put Historia on the thrown as she’s the Queen. Hange Zoe becomes the next commander of the Scout Regiment. Meanwhile the scouts are declared enemies of the state, to be arrested on sight. They are accused of being responsible for the death of Mr. Reeves. Considering the fact that Mr. Reeves son is the only living witness he may be the key to aiding the scouts again the government.

I like the way that they used flashbacks, furthermore, the contrast between Historia’s relationship with her mother and Erwin’s relationship with his father is clear. While, Historia’s mother barely communicated with her, Erwin’s father often did, teaching him History during the day and educated him on the truth at night. It is this communication that costs him his life. Both of them are “responsible,” even if by accident for their parents deaths. Erwin has taken this reality and turned it into a mission, it’s unclear what impact Historia’s past has had on her. Finally, with all the betrayals, lies and conspiracies it’s difficult to trust some of the secondary characters. Will Commander Pyxis betray them too? What about Mr. Reeves son? Regardless, another amazing episode.

 

Shonen Anime’s Biggest Problem?

While on YouTube I found an interesting video by Reality Punch Studios, Shonen Anime’s Biggest Problem. I think the video is really informative, while you may or may not agree with the argument, though that it was really well done. Check it out:

Banana Fish Episode 4 Review

I’ve been slacking on my blogging about Banana Fish, which is a habit I’ve haven’t broken yet. Anyway, this episode, This Side of Paradise, Eiji is in danger at the hands of Arthur and his gang. They threaten to kill the doctor’s assistant if he doesn’t reveal what Ash said to him. He begrudgingly tells him, hoping to save the assistants life. He tells them that Ash told him to retrieve the Banana Fish drug from the doctor’s office. Arthur goes back one his word and still plans on killing the doctor and his assistant.

They are not killed as Shorter arrives and holds a gun to Arthur’s head. However, Griffin is not so fortunate, he’s shot and killed. In Prison, Max requests a change in bunk mates, leaving Ash vulnerable. However, Ash is able to hold his own. When Max learns of Griffins death he rushes to inform Ash. When he does hear the news he seems to go numb. When Max warns him not to escape he hits him in the stomach and threatens to kill him next time.

Max and Ash fight to exhaustion. Max remembers his time with Griffin during war. Ash finally breaks down as he remembers his brother raising him. The emotional moment at the of this episode was powerful. The reaction to Griffin’s death from all the characters felt very realistic. Everyone didn’t respond in the same way, I though it was well done. We learn more about Banana Fish and its effects. I really enjoyed the simple animation that accompanied the explanation that Dr. Meredith gave regarding Banana Fish effects on rats. Banana Fish continues to impress, as we get closer to finding out what mystery surrounding Banana Fish is.

Attack on Titan Season 3, Episode 2 Review: Pain

This episode steps up in it’s intensity. Eren and Historia are quickly tranquilized as Levi gives chance. Levi is quickly attacked by Military Police, lead by Kenny. The chase scene is spectacular, Levi’s skill isn’t surprising but still exciting to witness. Watching Levi and Kenny match wits, Levi outsmarts Kenny. Managing to shoot him with shotgun, although Kenny seem unharmed. Kenny is a odd character, his mannerism are rather relaxed he seemed unfazed by being shot.

Meanwhile, the other scouts hear the commotion. Mikasa finally tells them what Levi told her, “from now on, we’ll be fighting humans, too, and not just Titans.” The shift in dynamic from killing Titans to killing people was always going to be a dramatic shift in the series. It isn’t surprising that many of the characters are apprehensive regarding killing humans. It’s much easier to kill Titans not so much in from a technical standpoint, but from a mental.

Levi tells them that they “can’t hesitate,” when it come time to kill. Of course Jean and Armin struggle with this. After capturing the wagon, Jean does indeed hesitate, but so does the woman aiming her gun at him, it’s Armin that kills her saving him. Despite, Armin’s efforts, the Military police succeed in capturing Eren and Historia. Armin has a profoundly negative physical, emotional and mental reaction. He starts to cry, throw up and lose his appetite.

 

He concludes that “the person he killed must have been a nice person and more human than he is.” Levi tells him to “embrace the new him,” that Armin is the reason that Jean is still alive. This seems to be mild comforting to him. Jean questions the morality of “hurting people,” Levi states that he’s not certain of the morals of his orders. The complexity of characters, their lives and decisions are part of what makes this series so enthralling.

Is it weird that I enjoyed the torture scenes? Probably. The scouts are cleaver in how they manipulate their captives, when physical pain doesn’t work they use the other captive to demoralize the other. This episode has introduced some dread to this season. Armin will clearly struggle with his new experiences.

We find out that Historia is the “true royal successor,” and she with Eren are with Rob Reiss. While Levi was successful at besting Kenny, his team did fail to rescue Eren. I mentioned this before, but it is surprising and refreshing to see that Eren has taken a backseat to other characters. Even-though it is becoming a troupe that Eren gets kidnap so often.

Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger Episode 2: Deprived Talent

Episode 2 of Sirius the Jaeger, picks up after Yuliy’s shot. He awaken’s to find himself recovering in the large home of a Doctor Kisuke. Deprived Talent largely focuses on the Doctor and his daughter, Saki. I didn’t even require much foreshadowing to predict that he would die. Saki’s mother had already died years prior. They come to Tokyo looking for the vampires.

Suspicious killings begin to occur at the hands of a terrorist group, Hyakko party. Researchers, politicians and wealthy individuals are being murdered, all this of course points to the Doctor as probably next. I’ll admit when Yuliy is helping Saki plant tomatoes my eye’s glazed over. It was a sweet moment but dull.

However, my interest picked up when they released that the killings are related to the creation of artificial heart organs. I was interested in this new plot point. It also turns out that the maid of Doctor Kisuke sells him out to the female vampire from the previous episode. What struck me was the fact that she didn’t heal her leg like other vampire in culture. Vampire mythology is varied from series to series, but they usually only die from stakes in the heart or fire.

If vampires don’t have the ability of healing everything completely the stakes when they battle will be higher. Speaking of which, the battle between the royal vampire and Yuliy was enjoyable. Her father becoming a vampire made me feel for her, now orphaned I wonder what her place is in the series now. The ending revelation that Yuliy’s brother was the one that shot him and is working with the vampire’s was truly surprising. It’s been done before, but I still wasn’t expecting it.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Episode 1 Review: Smoke Signal

Attack on Titan finally returns, this time it looks like titans will not be the only threat to the scouts. This episode increases the stakes and enlarges the world of AOT. Levi takes the lead, as our primary protagonists become members of Levi’s squad. The protection of Eren and Historia is now paramount. The first episode shifts focuses from Eren, to larger threats. Eren and the others hide out in a cabin as they recover from injuries from the battle with the titans.

Eren has become an important part of a plan to “rebuilding the damaged walls,” with Hange (one of my favorite characters) in charge of the experiments. Eren’s titan form in weirdly short and emaciated. When pulling Eren out of his titan form part of his face is torn off, leaving part of his skull expose. This is dark humor played for laughs that Hange often creates in this series, of course Eren isn’t in danger and will heal.

In Trost, Pastor Nick is murdered. Having given the scouts information, he’s tortured, but doesn’t give up any information. However, it’s clear that Levi’s squad is a target. With the military police aiming for the scouts, it starts to become clear that the government is up to something. They have frozen the activity of scouts outside the walls, arrested Erwin and have demanded Eren and Historia be turned over. The government has always been portrayed as corrupted, but now they’re murdering innocent people.

Hange heads off to save Erwin, while, Levi takes off with her remaining scouts. Levi and the others head into Trost with a plan. Eren and Historia are abducted, but it turns out that they are impostors. Armin and Jean have replaced Historia and Eren respectively. Mikasa and the others quickly rescue them, as Levi heads to meet with Eren. Before he does he give Mikasa a message to tell the other, it’s not made clear what he says though.

Finally, as the carriage carrying Eren and Historia is stalled, Levi is unsettled. He asks Nifa if she’s heard of “Kenny the Ripper, a mass murderer who slit the throats of a hundred MPs in the capital.” Levi says that he lived with him as a child. Kenny sneaks up on then killing Nifa, his many followers prepare to attack as does Levi. I like the shift from Eren and Titan focuses, to focusing on a corrupted government and large conspiracy. While this episode starts off slowly and end before the action, I thought the shift was needed to set up the new threats. This episode provided a great start and with 23 episodes remaining I can’t wait.

Tenrou: Sirius the Jaeger Episode 1 Review: The Revenant Howls

Sirius the Jaeger is an original anime series from P.A. Works, partial producers of anime movie such as Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa and Sword of the Stranger. According to the official site of the series its about:

Imperial Capital, 1930. A strange group of people carrying musical instrument cases landed on Tokyo station. They are called the “Jaegers”, who came to hunt vampires. Amongst them, there stood a young man with striking serenity and unusual aura. His name is Yuliy, a werewolf whose home village was destroyed by vampires. Yuliy and the Jaegers engage in deadly battle over a mysterious holy arc only known as “The Arc of Sirius”. What truth awaits them at the end…?

The first thing you will notice is the most obvious, the animation. Considering P.A. Works pedigree it shouldn’t come off as a surprise. The problem with P.A. Works is their spotty track record with good engaging stories. So far this episode has shown whether this series will be good or bad. Most premiere episodes don’t necessary tell you whether a series will be good, however, some series are so terrible that the quickly of putting, others are of course so captivating that you’re hooked early.

The story is a fairly common vampire hunter series. The title character being a werewolf and a hunter, the typical conflict between vampires and werewolves are presented. The group of hunters, the “Jaegers,” pose as a band that travel as the “V Shipping Company.” They hunt under the leadership of Kershner. The characters so far are unremarkable and archetypal, time will tell if they break free if my expectations. In the meantime, the action and animation is good enough to have earned my attention at least for the next few episodes.

Images from lostinanime.com