This episode brought us the ugliest Titan ever to exist and a new powerup for Eren! The latest arc of ATTACK ON TITAN managed to wrap itself up by neatly washing away a lot of the problems that it built. Ultimately, what began as a multi-front war converged into a single point of marginally peaceful status. This represents a whole new era for the series, and a lot of possibility for plot. Up until now, everything has been focused on threats from from either the inside or outside targeting the inside. Reiner and Bertholdt represented an invasion from a strange land while the Military Police were a power struggle building for years. In both cases, the threat was clear and thus the fight was too.
Now, with Eren’s new power, there’s finally an opportunity to reverse the flow. Sealing the walls has been a floating goal since the beginning of ATTACK ON TITAN. It represents a return to home for Eren, Mikasa, and Armin. But this particular one gives us access to the secrets of the Jaeger basement and the outside world. With Eren’s power, Historia as Queen, and total control from the Royal Family, there’s a chance for the offensive.
While Episode 45 didn’t go much into the plot of the series or have the most stunning animation, it set things up. Ultimately, this was somewhat disappointing for the episode, but it’s likely important. Nevertheless, the slow pacing of the episode, lack of major revelations, and disappointing CGI are hard to ignore. ATTACK ON TITAN is nearing an important transition in the arc of the plot. But that comes with a slow bit as the anime slows down to shift direction.
A good portion of the episode was just Eren shedding some good old fashioned tears. And while it isn’t completely foreign for a shonen anime character to cry, it’s rare for one to cry quite so much. But for Eren, it’s especially important. As a protagonist, he isn’t exactly overpowered or independently capable. He lacks the overpowered elements that most have, and that’s important for the current plot. Eren’s Power of the Titans is less something for himself and more a device for the plot.
Eren’s power comes from the organizational capacity of the military using the Titan for specific goals. The reason these goals tend to actually be fulfillable is mostly due to his own resolve and will. In combination, this forms both parts that would normally reside in a single anime protagonist. But with the way ATTACK ON TITAN handles things, it forces other characters to have higher baselines of relevance.
As the Scouts begin to move outward again, it’s important that things stay this way. While plenty of people do die brutal, on-screen deaths within the show, a lot don’t. Rarely does an anime manage to develop its characters within the larger context of the main plot. Just in this last arc alone, nearly every member of the Scouts had a chance to learn about the realities of death and mortality. Eren wasn’t super active until he needed to be. That at least is something to commend this episode on.
Seizing the Narrative
Episode 45 did somewhat well in describing exactly how the post-coup world is going to function in ATTACK ON TITAN. Even then, it felt somewhat drawn out and overextended for the entire length of the episode. This is somewhat understandable given that it makes more sense to isolate the fight against Reiss’ hilariously deformed Titan. But, since the Titan isn’t really possible to engage with until the final moment, and was done in jarring CGI, this felt shallow.
Thematically, however, the route of installing Historia as Queen makes sense both for her and the politics of the series. The people had a disgusting narrative masked by safety as their only knowledge for a century. While replacing it with truth requires a new narrative the method for making one is the same. In both ways, the Scouts need to make clear the truth of the royal family and give the people something new to latch onto. This links back into the earlier struggle between determining what’s good and evil in ATTACK ON TITAN. We don’t yet know the reasons for the First King’s mindset of locking away humanity. So, a chance exists that he’s correct. Eren and the Scouts will need to navigate with this in mind.
Fights to Come in ATTACK ON TITAN
Eren’s new power is significant, but will definitely need to be mastered. While it’s likely that he’ll be able to seal the wall, it’s unclear what remains of the danger beyond the wall. His incredible ability to command titans toward a single target is a major war potential, but the Scouts don’t know how to activate it. On top of that, Reiner and Bertholdt will likely return. Another Shifter, the strange man who emerged from the Beast Titan is out there too. All of them are likely threats we’ll see rear their heads in next arc.
Featured image from Crunchyroll.