Season 2 Mikasa--- animeVSmanga
So over the past few days, in light of episode 33, there’s been a ton of discourse regarding Mikasa’s portrayal in the anime, how her attachment to him is apparently overplayed and her relationships with other people are being pushed aside.
This is an assessment I do not agree with, and, instead, would like to point out numerous anime only scenes showcasing Mikasa in a different light than “I only care about Eren”, and briefly touch upon her other scenes. Though this is an opinionated post, I try to be as objective as possible and try to cover as many counter arguments as I can.
To start things of, Episode 27
Please observe this instance. Armin is hypothesizing about the material the walls are made of, trying to figure out what’s really going on. In the manga, throughout chapters 34 to 37, Mikasa never shows any interest in the wall titans, the walls or the church conspiracy. Yes, she reacted to the wall titan, but its hard to ignore it when…it pops right in front of you. Here however we have evidence that she too is very intrigued by the state of things, this interest manifesting in a verbal question. When Armin is discussing his theory in 34, Mikasa has two lines…one is to shushh Jean, preventing him from waking up the sleeping Eren, and the other is to affirm that she’d rather stay with Eren. No mentions about the walls though. And though you could argue that Mikasa really did end up staying with Eren (as seen in ep 26), matter of fact is that not once does she inquire about the walls or anything in the manga. That’s only in the anime.
Still on episode 27, we get a brief glimpse of Mikasa in the Sasha flashback (we didn’t see her in ch 36 of the manga). Instead of being shown hovering around Eren like she is expected to, she seems to have a casual conversation with Hannah, another of her comrades, but not the closest friend. This affirms that she too made friends with people outside with Eren, and spend time with them. Yet she’s being accused of doing the literal opposite. Yes, this is a flashback and ultimately less relevant, but it does make the point that she got along with people outside of Eren and Armin.
On to episode 30. Just like in the manga, Mikasa swoops in to save Historia and then joins the fight alongside the other SC soldiers, to take out the remaining titans and save the unarmed 104th. Afterwards we cut to Eren, disobeying orders by fighting and even getting hurt in the process. After he falls down and is met by RBC, the manga cuts forward to the Historia scene. The anime however, doesn’t we get multiple shots of Mikasa doing her soldier duty, taking out titans left and right.
Not only does this remind us that she is a strong, competent soldier, it also shows us a Mikasa whose’ first priority at the moment isn’t Eren. After he fell and got injured, shouldn’t an overly attached Mikasa come flying right by his side? After all, hes possibly badly hurt, maybe even to the degree of being in danger? It’s not impossible, that, after seeing Eren go down, she went to check up on him in the manga. We just don’t see it because we jump forward a bit. The anime however confirms that, even though Eren got into trouble, Mikasa has other things to take care about: protecting the unarmed cadets and taking out the titans, following orders. The anime could’ve pushed “overattched” Mikasa and have her running straight to Eren, but instead we got this, showcasing quite the literal opposite.
Episode 31: Sasha took part in the meeting discussing RB, and is conspiring with the SC to secretly confine them. Upon realizing Ymir was a titan, Sasha was about to reveal confidential information jeopardizing the mission, but Mikasa quickly shut her up. Overattached-kasa would probably stay hovering over Eren, right? I mean they’re up against potential enemies, shouldn’t she stick close to him? He seems to be the enemies’ goal, after all.
Instead, we get this filler scene. WIT had complete freedom over it, since, you know it’s not in the manga at all. Sasha could’ve said literally anything. And even if she were to make the same blunder, anyone could’ve corrected her (why not smart, thoughtful Armin? he’d definitely be one to worry about this kind of stuff) but instead, Mikasa is given the opportunity, showcasing that she’s greatly invested in the mission and wants it to succeed. And not just because she wants Eren to be safe (remember, she’s not with him), but because she too is invested in the state of things and her job as a Survey Corps soldier. That’s what’s being presented to us here.
!EDIT! thank you @raelis1 (I can’t tag you apparently) for pointing this out, but there’s one more scene in ep 31
Mikasa helps up the unarmed Connie who’s using the makeshift 3dmg lift, and asks if he’s hurt. He’s not even part of the mission to capture RB, but he’s been through some shit and had no weapons, so naturally she wants to check up on him. We’re reminded that she cares about her comrades. There’s barely any interaction between the two in the manga, no specific relationship is being pushed her: it only shows that she cares about people other than Eren. And once again, none of the above is in the manga.
Now please let me ask: how does the anime emphasize “I only care about Eren” Mikasa, when all the instances above are new, not presented in the manga? Those are filler, those are added to add more characterization, and that characterization is going in the polar opposite of what anime!Mikasa is accused of being. You could argue that I’m getting stuck on details, but the thing is, the manga/anime differences are really only in the details, especially in the case of Mikasa!
What else is there: the scarf talk in EP 26. That’s direct setup into chapter 50, the climax of the season, gives it a greater sense of progression and accomplishment by the end of it. And it’s shown in the manga that she stays with Eren anyway. She wraps the cloak around Eren at the beginning of ep 27, and does it again later on, but the latter is already featured in the manga, making the added wrapping not an unlikey or ooc thing. EP 28, Levi’s line to her is cut and it’s a real shame and I’m not happy with it, but it’s one single line from weeks ago. And it’s absence doesn’t emphasize her attachment to Eren any more than Levi already did in the manga. All her other scenes in ep 31 and 32 are 100% manga accurate. The entire sequence of Mikasa waking up in ep 33 is 100% taken from the manga. In fact, I did a shot by panel comparison, and, compared to the manga, anime!Mikasa is just a tad LESS extreme!! And the added flashback was, given the circumstances and context of the younger EMA, fairly in character.
So, all these things considered, the anime isn’t misinterpretation Mikasa at all. We’re getting multiple scenes emphasizing a Mikasa LESS concerned with Eren, and, except for the episode 28 Levi moment, all her moments, including the ones not related to Eren, are perfectly adapted. Her relationship with Eren is given slightly more emphasis, but never in an ooc/excessive way! It is ultimately one of the driving forces of the arc, and plays the key role in it’s climax. So please, do tell me how the anime’s portrayal of Mikasa is so incredibly different from the manga, because I honestly cannot rationally understand all the complaints.