Attack on Titan – 61 (S4 E02) – One Last Gasp

They’ve emerged from four years of war the nominal victor, but Marley can’t rest on its laurels. The generals are in consensus that their strategic advantage of the Titans hangs by a thread. Of particular concern is the quickly advancing aviation industry. They’re on the wrong end of history, and the entire episode is suffused with that bleakness and weariness.

Reiner actually survived the naval bombardment, but it’s just a taste of what the future will bring. We also meet his comrades Galliard (Jaws, who inherited his Titan from the imprisoned Ymir) and Pieck (Cart). Interestingly Pieck has trouble walking on two feet as a human since her Cart is a quadruped.

Back on his feet, Reiner tracks down Gabi and the other three Titan candidates, much to Gabi’s elation. When the funnel of a passing ship suddenly covers them in shadow, he briefly sees four of his comrades from back when he was their age, including Bertholdt and Annie.

Our quartet of kids consist of two goers-with-the-flow (Udo and Zofia), a True Believer in Gabi, and a Skeptic in Falco. On the train home to Liberio, Gabi is all too happy to accept praise for her prowess in battle and looks forward to being the next Armored. Falco take on that mantle in her place, but not for glory. You see, he simply wants Gabi to live past age twenty-seven. Braun isn’t altogether dismissive of Falco’s attitude.

Earlier in the episode we’re reminded that even decorated Eldians like Zeke and Reiner are still considered Less Than by their non-Eldian leaders, and as such they are not entitled to privacy. When we arrive in the ironically-named Liberio, the Eldian soldiers reunite with their families—one by one we see moments of unbridled love and joy (RABUJOI!)—from people who can use any and all such moments they can get.

Again, Falco zags while Gabi and everyone else zigs. Before joining his family, he checks in on a group of Eldian soldiers who are suffering severe PTSD. The supposed doctor even mimics the sound of a bomb to freak them all out, and only Falco tries to calm them down.

At the Braun family dinner, more praise than food is heaped upon Gabi’s plate, but when Reiner is asked about his time on Paradis with the descendants of the “evil” Eldians who fled there, his response becomes a rant in which he suggests there were “all kinds” of people there, not just monsters. The matriarch quickly insists that the Eldians on Paradis are the source of all “good” Eldians’ problems, and must be wiped off the earth.

At the next meeting of Zeke, Reiner, Galliard, Pieck and Colt (Zeke’s eventual replacement), Zeke announces that they’ll be launching a new offensive on Paradis, with the goal of conquering the island for Marley within a year—which is all Zeke has left in the Beast Titan. Their meeting is being monitored by non-Eldian Marley officials, who pick up on Zeke’s offhand “not in this room.”

As Reiner watches the young candidates spar, he dreads returning to the “pure hell” that was Paradis. But considering how he described Sasha stealing a potato to eat way back when (I believe that’s what he was on about), and his comment to Falco about taking over for him instead of Gabi, what he says to his family and what he believes may be very different. He’s just aware that those who weren’t on that island wouldn’t understand.

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Prison School – 09

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One nice little insidious part of Prison School I appreciate is that it’s not above exposing its high school characters’ ignorance. Neither Shingo nor Anzu knew what Grapes of Wrath was about, assuming it’s some B-movie about giant rampaging grapes or something.

This week no one but Gakuto knows who Sun Tzu is, and assume he’s some telecom guy. But he’s not: he’s a general whose strategic and tactical ouevre will aide the newly-united lads’ last-gasp effort to overturn their expulsion: they must use the mighty Vice President Shiraki Meiko’s strength against her.

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They attempt to do this by appealing to her confidence in her own strength and conditioning, and the arrogance that comes with it. Meiko doesn’t just have an open shirt, she’s an open book, and the countless times she’s demonstrated her strength, either through punishment or intense calisthenics, they know she won’t be able to resist proving naysayers wrong. So they loudly arm wrestle, one of them mentions her by name as being the strongest in the school, and another expresses doubt, because she’s a gurrrrrl. That’s all that’s needed to provoke Meiko.

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Gakuto goes up against her first, and from the prison physique he’s developed, we think he might have a chance, but nope, he goes down in a second. It’s up to the other four to keep her busy for at least ten minutes while Gakuto steals her keys, sneaks into the office, downloads file restoration software, and recovers incriminating DTO emails that will expose the council of sabotaging the boys. If they can publicize that material, they can sway the school, and more importantly the director, into cancelling their expulsion.

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But even with four guys, ten minutes is a lot to ask. Kiyoshi succumbs to her nip-slip far too quickly, Shingo is all talk, and the emaciated Joe gets flung across the room like a dry rubber band, which was one of if not the funniest sight gag of the episode. The only one left is Andre, who must hold up for upwards of seven minutes. 

And while he’s really big, and strong from to the need to lug his weight around all day every day, Meiko probably doesn’t need 100% of her strength to beat him quickly as well…were it not for something completely oblivious to Andre, but which drives Meiko absolutely cuckoo: a very long hair protruding from his nipple.

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This is when things get a little…weird. In a brilliant reversal, Meiko is the one utterly mesmerized by someone else’s nipples. So much so, she begins to daydream of a single tree swaying in the desert, first on a clear day, then during a tornado (when Andre’s breath whips the hair around further). It’s a distraction within the larger distraction of the arm wrestling contest: and it creates a stalemate that is only overcome when she realizes she should just close her eyes, and enough of her spit from yelling excites Tinyface to the point he can’t hold out any longer, and loses.

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It’s a good thing Andre cries out, too, because it gives Gakuto the signal that he’d better get back to the cell, which he does, just in time, holding keys he can innocently say dropped out of Meiko’s jacket while she was wrestling. She takes the keys and departs without suspecting a thing.

If only anything came of the whole enterprise! Yes, despite having time to download and install the restoration software, in the end Gakuto didn’t have any time left to locate the incriminating files, to say nothing of distributing them. His momentary freedom was hard won, and a series of small miracles in and of itself, but it wasn’t enough.

And so, the guys become consigned to their fate, having given it their all. Expulsion is all but certain now, unless they can come up with any other ideas. Sun Tzu didn’t work out, but maybe they can glean a fresh strategem from the telecommunications gentleman’s biography!

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