Previously on Attack on Titan:
After 5 years of peace inside Wall Rose, the Colossal Titan has reappeared outside the wall. While his comrades stand stunned and horrified; Eren confronts the Titan eager to get revenge for 5 years ago. Spoilers Ahead.
The Colossal Titan has returned. Eager to get vengeance, Eren races off to fight the beast; but is surprised when it mysteriously vanishes like it did all those years ago. That is the least of his worries however, as a hole has appeared in Wall Rose just as it did Wall Maria; and the Titans once again begin to pour into the city. After the army discusses what to do next: Eren, Armin, and few others are put on the front lines to halt the Titan’s advance. While they remain confident, things soon start t take a turn for the worst.
This episode I feel is about failure and how it can be the difference between life and death. These characters are set up to fail from the get go, but instead of being mean spirited about it, the show manages to explore it in a natural way. Especially as Eren’s group begins to feel the gravity of their situation. Eren is still headstrong in his goal to kill all Titan’s and even as his body is literally falling apart on him he still hold strong to his goal, which is an admirable trait. He has a real bad ass moment when he takes on the Colossal Titan on his own, showing how well he can think on his feet and such.
Armin & Mikasa also have some development in this episode (although since we see Armin the most he gets more growth). His attitude is in stark contrast to Eren’s. While Eren gets more determined as things go to complete hell, Armin begins to break down and even freezes up with fear; which is a natural reaction as he sees what is happening to his friends. Mikasa’s attitude is all dependent on Eren, as he is now the most important person in her life (she even goes as far to say that if he is in trouble come find her, even though they are in different squads). She even has a rare moment of doubt as the Titan’s close in and Eren seems so eager to run towards his death. She would do anything to keep her “brother” alive, even if he finds it annoying. We also learn more about the Titans through a flashback of a lecture the group had while they were in training. Their weakness is the back of their neck (because of course it is), they have no rhyme or reason for doing what they do, and they only eat humans as they don’t interact with anything else in the world; they also have little to no intelligence (except for the Colossal Titan who neutralizes the military’s cannons). This adds to the mystery of what the hell these creatures are and why they only target humans.
“First Battle” is an excellent episode that shows just how terrifying the Titans really are and why humanity had to seal themselves off from them. Nothing in this episode is sugar coated or happy, everything is dark, depressing, and plenty violent. The action scenes are spectacular and the animation remains top notch. The war continues next week as the military tries to salvage Wall Rose.