Apologies for the delay in reviews the past few weeks. I’ve been recovering from pneumonia. All better now though!
The upperclassmen are shown to frequently bully Eren and his classmates: Rico overworks them, Hange prevents them from buying bread, and Petra and the Scouts constantly criticize their uniforms and appearances. When an argument breaks out between Eren and Levi about the first year’s cleaning skills, Hange proposes a Sports Day competition between the two classes, with the losers having to clean the Titan classrooms.
Sasha loses the bread-eating race to Hange, who has their captive Titan Sawney eat all the bread. Jean attempts to use the 3DMG to cheat in the ball toss, but seeing his misuse of the equipment angers Rico and spurs her to victory. Mikasa declares that the others are wimps and she alone will lead the underclassman to victory in shoulder wars. Spurred on by a high five from Eren, she displays incredible skill, allowing Eren to reach Levi…but before a winner can be decided, Hange, Sawney and Bean flood the field with confetti. The episode ends with the underclassmen and upperclassmen working together to clean the field. (Except for Hange, who is running away from Levi’s wrath).
This was an okay episode. I tend to like Sports Day episodes over other competition-based storylines, because the real life sports day games they showcase are just so frankly ridiculous and enjoyable to watch. I was also glad that the entire focus wasn’t just on Eren vs. Levi, as the preview suggested, and we also got the hilarity of Sasha vs. Hange (and the Titans) and Jean vs. Rico. We also got some nice moments from Ymir, Christa and Reiner, who have been some of the least featured characters throughout (probably because there’s not a lot you can do with them without revealing major spoilers).
The weakest part of the episode was Eren chasing down Levi during shoulder wars (which, by the way, is a ridiculous-looking game where characters try to grab bandanas from each other’s heads while sitting on their classmates’ shoulders). It featured the overused joke of staging scenes that are really only mildly dramatic like the original’s battle scenes, complete with screams, smoke, and even dramatic “death/sacrifice” moments for Mikasa and Armin. Knowing that the segment would end with a cleaning joke kind of ruined the punchline for me too, though I did appreciate Hange and their Titans being the reason for Levi’s cleaning-based anger rather than Eren and his cohort.
A nice, solid episode with a few flaws (mostly Levi) and a few high points (mostly Hange, Rico and Christa/Ymir). Three Dios for this one.
To strengthen the growing bond between upper- and underclassman, Hange proposes a test of courage. Watched over by club advisor Erwin Smith, the first years are tasked with visiting the school at night and reaching a certain number of rooms in a certain order.
Eren’s group is constantly plagued by apparitions, which a stammering Armin describes as “the Seven Wonders of Shingeki Junior High”. These include a laughing painting of Mona Lisa, a Beethoven ghost who plays the piano, and two living anatomical dummies who resemble the Colossal and Rogue Titans. Eren, Jean, Connie and Armin become more and more terrified, convinced that the Wonders are appearing to them because they are cursed, while Mikasa remains deadpan.
Meanwhile, the other group gets split up. Ymir searches desperately for Christa while Reiner and Bertholdt walk up a seemingly endless set of stairs, despite acknowledging that their school only has three floors. Alone, Christa meets a kind black-haired woman who gives her encouraging advice and treats her like a younger sister.
Finally, all of the students meet up in the gym, where the “Seven Wonders” are revealed to be the upperclassman in disguise – except for the woman Christa met. Erwin explains that many years ago, a girl died during a test of courage and became a ghost. The girl, now with an ethereal glow, continues to watch over Christa from afar.
This episode seemed to make a bit of an arc with the last, as both focused on the relationships between upper- and underclassman and also on traditional parts of Japanese school life. However, I felt that this episode was a little weaker than episode 7. It was good to finally see Erwin, who joins Mikasa in the “deadpan character” slot, but other than that, this episode seemed to be composed netirely of overused running gags. Ymir crying about Christa, Armin stuttering and Mikasa interpreting for him, and worst of all the characters’ faces shifting into the original manga style every time they screamed were all used far too much. The only joke that didn’t get old was Reiner and Bertholdt walking up the stairs, but the ending of that segment was disappointing, as they were chased by a giant cannon that came out of nowhere and was never explained even when the other “monsters” were revealed to be students in disguise. (Research tells me it’s a reference to a battle scene in the manga. Even as someone who’s read the manga, I didn’t catch that one…not the most well executed reference.)
The most interesting thing about this episode was the appearance of a character who has yet to occur in the anime, and in fact only made her debut very recently in the manga. I’m talking of course about the ghost girl Christa encounters, who has a MASSIVE number of spoilers surrounding her, perhaps more than anyone else in the cast so far. I was surprised that the anime decided to adapt the chapter featuring her, as so far they have stuck pretty closely to things that occurred in the original anime. The writers were careful not to reveal any spoilers, though, so I didn’t mind seeing her.
Overused gags earn this a measly 2 Dios: