So, any expectations of Eren Jaeger and the corp going forth an immediately kicking giant butt all but faded away in episode five. The group gets it handed to them, and very quickly. Dismemberment, probably death, and lots of spilt blood fill the scene as the giants show that they only seem slow and lumbering – their reflexes are incredibly quick when their prey is in sight.
After the training episodes, this one returns the series to the fearsome tone conveyed earlier in the series. The giants are, at this point, my favorite anime villain ever. This is how you create a great villain – they make you feel dread and think about the
possibility probability that characters you root for can die at any point and any time. In this way, the series carries a Saving Private Ryan kind of feel, conveying the horrors of this war, fantastical as it is.
In the face of danger and imminent death, Eren remains headstrong, brave, and haughty. He will not sit idly by, and through flashbacks, we find out a little more of what he and Armin want and what they seek, which is in one word, freedom.
It’s hard to make this episode into something optimistic or hopeful. After all, the quest for freedom, and even less than that, survival, is getting squashed completely and easily.
Yet, Eren continues to fight so that he won’t remained confined within the walls of civilization – he wants something more.
I’m reminded of something far less drastic and perhaps more common to anime viewers. Not always the most sociable of people, it’s easy for us to stick inside our own walls – whether we place them around our home, work, etc. – and not venture out into the world. I’m not even talking about the extreme cases we think of of when the terms NEET or otaku pop up – I’m only speaking of when we get lazy/bored/scared/etc. and decide to stay in our comfort zone instead of making the effort to go out and interact with people.
For those of us who feel comfortable living this way, we put ourselves in a prison. And while it may offer safety, comfort, and ease – just as with the lives of the humans before the opening attack – it also keeps us from the possibility of finding more in our lives. I believe that life is about relationships, and we’re all the poorer for forming less and less intimate ones. Despite all the pain and hassle of developing relationships, we’re all the more richer for doing so – and all the more freer from our shackles of confinement.
It’s easier said than done to proverbially and literally get out of the house, but it’s almost always worth it in the end. So go and have dinner with your friend – your digital technology will wait, even if it features titans ready to crunch up all your favorite characters.