Two things that make Shingeki no Kyojin 17 especially effective: First, it’s a particularly scary one. That female titan (“with the nice ass,” as one corpsman says, and I’m glad someone said it) is not only faster and more agile than the regular ones, but it’s tons smarter. The scouts who have try and distract her from the center of the formation can’t work as well in the flat terrain to begin with, and now they’ve got to deal with one that seems to know what it wants, can avoid distractions unless they’re going for her nape (which she knows how to hide), and isn’t a blithering idiot.
If that wasn’t enough fun, we have the mystery behind it. Armin deduces that it’s another human-turned-titan; that makes us ask the obvious question question: who? Can we assume a female? That narrows down the possibilities. But what about that scene earlier when Auruno bites his tongue? Was that a red herring? Maybe the human form may not be the same sex. And can we even say that titans are male or female, when they have no genitalia? The “Whoa! A girl!” factor aside, we must then wonder what she wants. Armin (behaving bravely and nearly dying twice, using a verbal gambit to get released the second time) assumes it’s after Eren, and maybe it is, but no one knows for sure. So we got the curiosity over the new giant atop the danger she brings, a nearly great episode. Not great because much of the dialogue between the scouts is only to be endured. I think Armin gets to do one of his speeches twice, and other times one of them will say a completely superfluous line at a moment when we already knew what he was going to say, so back to the action please! Well, there was a LOT of that, so I can’t complain too much.
Monogatari Second Season 5 has no problems with its dialogue, only the deus ex machina problem at the end. And that’s debatable. Otherwise this was an outstanding episode.
We start with three monologues. Hanekawa first writes her cat-self a letter asking for help. She sees her shironeko self as a manifestation of her frustration, and the hystery tiger of her envy, which I would argue with (so does the tiger), but her intentions are clear: she want so to bring these monster forms of herself back within herself and have them manifest in more traditional ways, like showing negative emotions. While she’s writing this we’re treated to a series of flowing images of Hanekawa taking a trip around the world; it’s so good that it’s hard to pay attention to the subtitles. This is often a problem with the Monogatari shows (however you look at it it’s the show’s fault I don’t know Japanese) but in this case it becomes especially frustrating.
Next it’s a brief rebuttal by her nyan-self. Apart from her agreeing to help, and a quibble over using the word “family” there isn’t much to it, apart from the point that she is a soul of a stray cat that attached herself to Hanekawa and now has a home for the first time, while, ironically, Hanekawa doesn’t have a home and even when she did it wasn’t a good place to live. After that it’s the Hystery Tiger’s turn; he’s more singleminded (or simpleminded) about the whole thing and refuses to eave peacefully … Meanwhile, Senjougahara’s house is waiting to be burned down.
Which leads to our first actual conversation of the episode. More points are made about Hanekawa’s pure-white nature, that she keeps herself that way by making monsters out of her emotions and releasing them to wreak havoc. The concept of “heartburn” comes up again (Wish they could have chosen a better term), and the origin of the tiger. I believe the Fire Sisters are also mentioned, without being mentioned, contrasting with Hanekawa’s “sister” cat and tiger, and suggesting members of a family that Hanekawa doesn’t have but who welcomed her anyway. Meownwhile, we viewers are realizing that the tiger won’t come peacefully. Time for a fight. But what can a cat do against a tiger, especially a burning one? As it turns out, not much.
Now, is Ararararagi’s surprise appearance a cop out? At first glance it looks that way. It means that Hanekawa isn’t given the opportunity to drive down her demons herself, and this is a problem. However, by having Araragi fatally wounding the tiger with one stab the show could be saying that Hanekawa could not have taken care of her issues by herself, no matter what she tried. The rescue being performed by the boy she loves might bug some people, but since her unrequited love probably helped trigger some of these destructive beings, it guess it makes sense that the would-be lover helped to defeat them. Besides, Araragi’s the main character. Nice touch, by the way, having the restored Hanekawa finally confess to Araragi, only to be (gently) shot down. So the Hanakawa-Neko story arc is polished off with. Araragi’s rescue (or interference) aside, I can’t think of a better one. It didn’t have the quirks that a regular episode usually has, apart from Hanekawa’s purrfect speaking, and it was more straightforward than others, but it had more emotional depth to go along with the amazing visuals and quick cuts and weird angles. I wonder if this particular series can top it.