This series has been in the works for a while. I wanted to post this around the start of April when season 2 premiered but I take an eternity to get around to things so here we are. As the title says, this is a compilation of my favorite scenes from shows that have made an impact on me. First up is Attack on Titan because, well, by this point, everyone and their mother know how far gone I am for this show.
I’ve also planned posts like this for Shiki and Yuri on Ice and maybe a few others. We’ll see.
01. Carla’s death
A morbid choice – though everything worthwhile is morbid in this show – but Eren’s mother’s death at the end of the last episode was the first scene in Attack on Titan that made me sit up and go woah. It’s notable not only because it’s graphic but also because of the heavy emotional impact of the scene. At first, we feel as if there might be some hope for her, especially when Hannes vows to kill the titan and save them all. But that’s brutally crushed soon after and it becomes clear that Carla’s fate is sealed. Her pleas for her children to run away, for Hannes to save them and leave her behind is far from unexpected but moving all the same, and it’s made even more so by the subsequent shot where we see her struggle not to call after them and beg them to return. Carla is brave for Eren in that moment but then we see her own crippling terror as she lies there, helpless and waiting for death. I think this whole scene really sets the tone for the story – humans helpless in the face of an overwhelming enemy but still fighting and surviving until they no longer can.
02. Eren saving Mikasa
This scene is also a milestone in my love affair with AoT because it marks the moment I actually started loving the series instead of being mildly entertained. It’s quite a drastic shift but as those who’ve seen the show know, this episode is also very drastic. Up until this point, we know Eren as this brash, stubborn boy who needs to learn some tolerance. Here, we see little Eren who’s still an angry little shit but we also see that anger directed in a way that leaves us shocked and chilled. It’s not everyday that you see a nine year old, normal save for his righteous temper, very deliberately plan to and kill two men, incite another child to kill the third, and then make it clear afterwards that he feels no guilt or regret about it. In fact, he says that the men he killed were just beasts to be put down. And well, he’s not wrong but that doesn’t scream ‘healthy and well-adjusted’ to me. Eren’s got some serious issues from long before he got obsessed with walls or titans. Since I am who I am, this got me very interested in our hothead of a protagonist and that interest still burns strong.
03. Eren saving Armin and his subsequent transformation
I admit that a large part of my love for this scene is due to its sheer badassery. The whole situation starts out bleak. Eren’s leg is bitten off and the rest of his squad has been eaten except for Armin who’s about to meet the same fate. He’s actually halfway down a titan’s throat when Eren somehow shows up and just fucking pulls him out. The harried conversation that follows, where Eren actually holds the titan’s mouth open and says he wants to go to the world outside is one I’m really fond of. Sure, he should have used that time to get the hell out of there but that wouldn’t really have had the same effect. Plus then we’d miss Armin reaching for Eren’s hand and ending up with a literal, dismembered hand instead and that would be a crying shame. Of course we all know Eren won’t actually die because then we’d be out of a protagonist but his return via ripping the titan from the inside out is impressive enough to forgive the plot armor. It really says something about Eren that even inside the titan, he’s more angry than scared. I just love this kid, okay?
04. Sealing the breach in Trost
Yes, it’s another Titan Eren scene. I am biased and not afraid to show it. This scene can be accurately summed up as epic. It’s not just Eren carrying a boulder twice his size that’s incredible but also the factors that make it possible for him to do so. Death of minor characters in AoT has never been so remarkable as when we see many Garrison soldiers act as bait and practically throw themselves into the titans’ mouth so that Eren can seal the hole unimpeded. Everything from their emotions to their words to their grim knowledge of their own impending deaths contribute to make this scene unforgettable. Eren’s speech during this is something else too. At this point, Eren is quite close-minded when it comes to titans but all the same, his spirited internal monologue to fight and fight and fight does an amazing job of swaying you to his way of thinking. And finally, there’s the music. The track, Call your name, that plays towards the end of this scene provides the perfect music to complement the action onscreen even though the lyrics are a wee bit out of place.
05. Eren and Hange’s all-nighter
This is actually more about Hange than Eren. I didn’t have any particular love for mad scientist characters until Hange showed up and stole my heart. They’re shown to be extremely eccentric from the very beginning but this is the only scene where we see why they are the way they are. Where all other humans loathe titans blindly (and with good reason), Hange chooses to try and understand them. But it’s nice to see that it wasn’t always like that and that there’s a reason why Hange chose a path so drastically different from that of their comrades. In this scene, Eren and the viewers both understand that there’s more to Hange than squealing over titans and a total lack of self-preservation. It’s also nice to see Eren actually give Hange a chance, even encouraging them to keep talking when he realizes how important their research could potentially be. Sure, he probably regrets it when they talk his ear off until morning while still telling him nothing new, but the sentiment is still nice. Plus Hange’s reaction – AoT somehow manages to make blushes look like the most demented things ever – is adorable in a vaguely disturbing way.
06. Levi handling Eren’s transformation and his squad
I didn’t really have a great impression of Levi at first. Sure, his first few scenes were great but then came the rather memorable courtroom scene where he beat my favorite character half to death while trashtalking him. His actions made sense later but it still put a damper on my love for the guy. It got better afterwards but it wasn’t until the flashback scene during the expedition that I was really impressed again. We have Eren and Levi Squad in the aftermath of an abrupt transformation. Everyone’s confused and panicking, the situation quickly escalating to something deadly. But then there’s Levi, calm as anything and not even drawing his blades. He doesn’t turn on Eren in a frenzy like Petra and the rest. Rather, he reads the situation extremely well and acts accordingly. He puts himself between Eren and the others and tries his best to calm everyone down. Of course it’s Hange that really diffuses the tension but all the same, Levi’s reaction at this part and the way he explains the composition of their squad to Eren afterwards showcases a softer – but still gruff – side of him that we don’t get to see all that often.
07. Petra and Levi in the choices speech
The ‘try and choose what you’ll regret least’ speech is something that struck me when I first watched this anime and has stayed with me ever since. It’s a really noteworthy moment, one that determines the course of the plot. Levi’s advice is quite striking, though hard to implement. Eren can either choose to trust in his own strength or in that of his comrades. What’s remarkable here is that Levi doesn’t try to lead him towards a particular option. Instead, he freely admits that he doesn’t know the answer and gives Eren the freedom to choose for himself, which is more that Eren’s been given for quite some time. Petra, on the other hand, wants him to have faith in the squad. Her stance is no less admirable because she’s offering Eren the option of working with them as a team to take down a mutual enemy. It’s more orthodox that Levi’s policy but that’s understandable. The flashback we then get of Eren losing control among the squad and the bit of bonding that follows efficiently adds some background to their interactions, fleshing it out further. And in the end, when Eren chooses to work with them, it’s gratifying to see the blooming trust among them. Of course it all goes to hell later because that’s the kind of show this is.
08. Levi tearing into Annie
This is a very straightforward scene – Levi fights Annie. The 15 meter titan loses spectacularly against less than six feet of carefully controlled rage. The end. Levi is one of the most badass characters anime has gifted to the world and it’s in this scene that we really see him let loose, demonstrating that his reputation in the world of AoT is well deserved. There’s a lot of build-up to it. We see his reaction, or rather a telling lack of it, to the broken bodies of his squad and we see him accept Mikasa’s belief that Eren is alive. The fight itself is no surprise but it is a shock to see Annie, who has effortlessly killed countless soldiers including Levi’s famed squad, be so thoroughly overwhelmed by a single soldier. Levi’s unbelievable in this scene, buzzing all over the place and literally carving Annie up. I’m not going to think about the physical probability of someone being able to move like that – he literally spins with his blades how does someone even do that – and just focus on the very impressive results. You can’t deny that it’s very satisfying to see Annie get her ass handed to her after her enthusiastic slaughter before.
09. Eren having a breakdown over having to fight Annie
I love this scene because a)I love Eren and Annie’s relationship or what little we see of it, and b)This marks a point where Eren’s black and white worldview finally shifts to allow a bit of grey. Until Annie is revealed to be the female titan, we have an Eren whose views can be effectively summed up as ‘Titans bad. Must kill.’ And honestly, he’s got good reasons to think that way. Even when Eren himself turns into a titan, he’s quick to see himself as a more effective weapon of mass titan destruction than before. Kid’s intense, alright? But then we have Annie, who’s a friend, a mentor, a comrade; Annie who thoroughly shakes up Eren’s world. We see in a prior scene his inability to accept that she’s the enemy. And even when Annie transforms in front of them, Eren doesn’t rush into a rage like we expect him to. Despite Annie’s slaughter of his squad and countless others, Eren’s first instinct is not anger but acute despair. He’s psychologically incapable of fighting her and later has to deliberately work himself up by recalling all the significant deaths in his life to trigger titanization. It’s an important moment for his character.
10. Annie vs Eren in Stohess
Now this scene demonstrates what AoT does best, i.e, fast-paced, stunning action. I love Annie, I do, but it was extremely satisfying to see Eren greet her in Stohess with a running punch to the face. But even more than the wonderful sequence of two intelligent titans trying to pulverize each other, I was fascinated by Eren’s thoughts about Annie as she was during their trainee days. His musings about her apathetic attitude and poorly-hidden love of martial arts not only highlight a friendship now broken but also brings up questions that we viewers also have about Annie. Who is she? Where’d she come from? And most importantly, what is she fighting for? Eren, in a moment of fleeting composure, asks these questions that we still don’t have the answers to. It’s altogether a nice moment which shows that there’s a lot we don’t know about the enemies of the Walls. Then the fight continues and need I say more? It’s breath-taking and brutal and I may or may not be fucked in the head for finding it absolutely beautiful. An intense action scene gets my blood pumping like nothing else and Attack on Titan, I love you dearly for delivering that in spades.