And why the Attack on Titan anime adaptation once again proves itself to be incredible.
Sasha reading her bow and telling the kid to keep going is an amazing moment in the manga already–Isa deserves all the credit here. In the og flashback, Sasha refuses to abandon her principles just because outsiders are in trouble, she refuses to help them; a perhaps egocentric, but also human point of view-we tend to prioritize us and those closest to us over strangers. Then, in the current time, Sasha tells the kid to run bc she’ll certainly find kind and helpful people ahead; and stays herself behind to fight; she fights knowing that proper victory cannot be achieved, to save a random stranger; a kid, further emphasising that Sasha herself has grown into a great person and abandoned that egocentric child she once was.
It’s great stuff, but the animated execution of it made me realize just how good it actually is.
In the yumikuri flashback the S1 version of counterattack mankind starts…its positive a track expressing a sense of optimism and peace, it suits the “ordinary moments” she thinks about. Then, we cut back to present time. A newer arrangement of the track, led by faint strings with hints of an organ in the background–there’s a distant but growing intensity in there.
As Sasha talks to the kid, most of it is shot from the kid’s perspective, so we get to look up to Sasha–she’s seen as the grown up here, perfectly fitting the above characterization. In the meantime, the music grows ever stronger-the organ is very present, and drums are added too. The buildup to the sequence is thus heavily emphasized. Also, listen carefully to Kobayshi Yuu (who’s performance here I loved). There’s definitely exasperation in her voice–they’ve been running for some time and are chased by a titan, not to mention that she’s afraid. Yet, you can still find a lot of tenderness in there–the kid is supposed to feel safe and secure, despite everything going on, and it just makes you love Sasha even more.
Let’s get to the real meat
I LOOOOVE this scene. Sasha spinning on her feet to stop and get into position looks really cool…but its’ the following take that I adore the most
The spin kills her entire momentum…she stands still and ready, and the camera lingers on her. But the kid didn’t do any spin, kid’s still going, not slowing down. Sasha however wants kid to keep going, seems to use her spin as a way to propel kid forward. And the moment her arm is separated from kid, the camera moves on as well–doing so, Sasha’s staying-behind-to-fight is visually translated and further emphasized without the viewer consciously realizing it. I have a hard time describing it, but there’s an incredibly powerful sense of organic dynamism in there that just sells the scene. It’s excellent visual storytelling, not only of the situation, but also of Sasha’s character–she’s strong and altruistic now, and she’ll fight against all odds to save the kid in need. Yuu’s performance here is perfect as well–there’s now definitive desperation to be heard, alongside remaining hints of kindness but also a certain intensity. Sasha is afraid–she has no equipment to protect herself, she has no weapons to eliminate the threat, but in spite of that, she still sends the kid away, she still stays behind, she still stands in the way of the titan.
And THAT shows just how brave she is–Sasha overcomes her weaknesses, she fights against all odds, she dedicates her heart–and that is what the anime manages to portray so masterfully here.
And of course, that is what the best shot of the episode does.
We get an incredibly gorgeous wide shot…starting off once again from below, keeping both the titan and Sasha in frame, reminding us of the threat ahead of her, but in one amazing panning zoom, we fly all the way to a closeup filled with nothing but fierceness. The visual alone is amazing in its own regard, but the sound is what truly rounds it up. Counterattack Mankind A reaches its climax, going all out on instruments, cue-ing the all-so-familiar melody in an immensely epic arrangement worthy of the scene it accompanies. Kobayashi Yuu 100% sells it too–her first “now-go” is still a bit feeble and unsure as mentioned above, the 2nd “run” already stronger but there are still hints of fear….and then, with the musical cue behind, after getting a full frontal close-up–the all out “get runnin’!”, filled with nothing but raw energy and determination–Sasha’s abandoned all fear and is in all out character-climax-badass mode. Her shout echoes through the woods, the kid is literally hit by a shockwave and finally starts running (sidenote–her eyes were dark and lifeless throughout the ep, but only after that do they lighten up, adding once more weight to Sasha’s moment). And of course, Sasha’s accent arc comes to full circle in the same frame as well, as she yells the command out in her native dialect she’s tried to hide for so long. Pretty much everything that could’ve come full circle did–in terms of writing, performance, sound and visuals.
It’s an amazing sequence deserving of ludicrous praise for the creative staff–they’ve proven once more that Attack on Titan is a work of art. The manga is already without a doubt amazing–most of the points above stem from it after all-but the anime is so ridiculously good at presenting I sometimes can’t believe it with my own two eyes.
In case you couldn’t tell, I fucking loved this sequence and I’m gonna yell about Sasha all week long.