WARNING: Contains spoilers. Written from the POV of a manga reader, so anime-only viewers please beware.
I’ve read somewhere that the most effective way to motivate yourself to exercise—when you’re a lazy ass couch potato like me who hates any and all forms of healthy activity—is to put on your running shoes. Don’t think of the pain of forcing yourself to run, or the bad weather, or the repetitive boredom of the scenery, or the fact that you need to get rid of XX pounds ASAP (before that dreaded high school reunion or career-defining big presentation at work etc) but the least costly means of exercise seems to take years before exhibiting any observable results.
Just put on your running shoes.
That should be your only goal in the morning. Not to run, not to get on with a laudable and Instagrammable lifestyle, but simply putting on your shoes. Before you know it, you’re out the door and you’ve clocked in the miles. Easy peasy.
Doesn’t work for me, though, ahaha! Not in the exercise department. But it somewhat works in the writing reviews department. I made the visual template for this anime episode two weeks prior, and thanks to that I’m writing up this review because I don’t want to put the template to waste. I mean, look at it. It’s a meat extravaganza worthy of our precious Potato Girl.
Do you like all the glorious meats on display? Sausages on a beer barrel, kebab on a stick with a side of vegetables, pile of baked potatoes, basket of bread, and a keg of beer. I also added an old crossbow—there it is leaning on the brick wall—in tribute to Sasha being a markswoman from a hunting tribe.
Sasha is an Important Character
Sasha’s always been one of my favourite characters in AoT. I know she’s hardly more than one half of the manzai comedic duo necessary for every story. She’s the tsukkomi (riposte) to Connie’s boke (quince) role, they complement each other and can’t function apart. But her presence is important to me, beyond her comedy role.
Firstly, the small interactions between her and Mikasa have always warmed my heart. It’s lovely to see Eren’s barnacle interacting with someone other than him or Armin. We see Mikasa shoving bread into Sasha’s mouth, pulling her hair, worrying about her losing her appetite, and later on, crying by her grave. These minor instances of friendly interaction is something I’m grateful for. I hate that the only dialogue Mikasa is given is basically “Ereh!” and nothing more. But at least with Sasha we see her being an ordinary girl, caring for someone other than Eren.
Secondly, Sasha’s dying is what turns Connie against Eren, which is needed for narrative tension. In the manga we see them disagreeing, arguing, not liking each other very much. Had Sasha been alive none of this would have been necessary. Yet there has to be something that will divide the group, and it’s Sasha who was sacrificed.
Eren, who has a laugh-cry reaction when he is upset (we’ve seen him do the same thing when Hannes was killed), inadvertently angers Connie. I like this part of the story where the friends view things differently, have their own thoughts and feelings regarding events, and are not always in a state of amity and harmony. Such discord makes them more human and the story more realistic.
Thirdly, Sasha being killed by Gabi has become an important subplot in the story. As we’ve seen in the manga and as we shall see later in the anime, Gabi’s growth and character development are inherently tied to her having shot Sasha as an act of revenge. To her, Sasha is an enemy soldier who killed her friends, and it’s a completely understandable view from her perspective. She doesn’t know what kind of person Sasha is, how funny and amazing she is, how wonderful her sense of humour is, what an incredible appetite for food she has, or how she’d kill adult enemies but never a child.
Gabi is Functioning Accordingly
Gabi knows none of these. All she knows is that Eren & Co are her enemies. Since she could walk and talk, that’s all her environment has brainwashed her with: Paradis is the enemy, Eldians with their shameful past have to beg for the world’s forgiveness by sacrificing themselves as weapons of war. Here’s a little girl who gets praised by her family and lauded by her entire community for the number of kills she makes. The more “enemies” she slaughters the bigger her reward. Her family’s well being is tied to her performance as a lean, mean, killing machine. She’s only a young girl, but she is living the harsh reality of a child soldier.
So I’m not mad at Gabi for killing Sasha. I certainly don’t hate her. She’s a child completely indoctrinated by the toxic adults in her life. Unlike Falco, who had a rebel and freedom fighter in his family to give him perspective, all Gabi was taught was how to hate and how to turn that hatred into fuel for action.
I think it speaks very highly of Isayama’s storytelling skills to add a vengeful, Eren-like character on the Marley side. Gabi is young Eren 2.0, screaming for bloody revenge, unable to see beyond the desire of tit-for-tat. Eren has grown and changed a whole lot as the story progressed, and so will Gabi. I’m excited to see her redemptive arc portrayed in the anime.
MAPPA are Doing a Wonderful Job
Okay, so those are just some random thoughts about the story in general. As for the anime, some remarks:
- I like the way this episode really toned down the music. There’s very little background noise to distract us from the dialogue. The voice actors sounded serious as befitting the heaviness of the situation.
- Levi sounded amazing as usual, and the way the anime portrays his frustration with Eren is pitch perfect. Completely done with everyone’s indecision is how Eren sounded in return. The anime brought this interaction to life in a two-thumbs up manner.
- I love the way Jean, Connie and Sasha have one final group hug before the threesome will cease to exist. Sasha smiling and touching Connie’s hand made me cry. It was only for a second but so beautifully animated.
- Zeke meeting the veterans for the first time, as well as the warrior candidates finding out he was part of the plan was a treat. It’s great to see a scowling Levi and a shocked Gabi. “Who are these kids?” Hange asks. “Miscalculations,” Zeke replies. It was very well animated and perhaps my favorite part of the episode.
- The cinematography was top-notch as always, especially the scenes inside the airship.
- MAPPA are doing an outstanding job with the anime. AoT “fans” who think otherwise are of course entitled to their own opinions, but going as far as to harass the animators online is a whole other level of fucked up. Enough with that shitty pettiness. If you have that much time to squander why don’t you write your own fanfics or make your own animations instead?
Oh, and because I’m a Jean stan, let me say this: his refusing to kill the children speaks of his humanity and innate kindness. It would’ve been so easy to let his comrade throw the stowaways overboard (Floch’s the kind of person who’d have done this with glee). But he says the most important piece of dialogue in the episode: Would getting rid of the children end all the killing? I love this scene, and am so happy it was finally, wonderfully animated.
The episode ends with Jean being upset and accusing Eren of obliquely killing Sasha. But we know in the next episode he’ll take responsibility for what happened as commanding officer, and further down the line he’ll be defending Eren, before realising in the end they have no choice but to kill him. If this isn’t 100% human then I don’t know what is. Can’t wait to see all these animated as well.
Our Potato Girl fulfilled her role to a tee: she stole our hearts with her unabashed love for food, made us laugh with her slapstick humour, and then died as a sacrifice, to indirectly help one child—her killer—see the light of day regarding the island devils she was taught to hate.
RIP beloved Sasha. My one wish is that you get to eat all the meat and potatoes your heart desires. For that, there’s a fanfic coming!
Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of this anime episode? Please take a moment to share a thought or two in the comment section below. xoxo – hana
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