I think I might have chosen the most difficult of all the articles in this challenge as the first one. The build up of tension and pressure across the whole season is what makes Attack on Titan the show that it is. If I’ve got to choose one though, I’m going to go for episode 7: Small Blade, The Struggle for Trost part 3.
There’s a very good reason that I’ve chosen this episode and this is because it picks up on all of the feelings of anger and enclosure felt by humanity and expresses them in a huge amount of emotion.
I guess the biggest spoiler for the first season of the show (I’m guessing you’ve seen it if you’re reading this) is that Eren can turn into a titan, and this is the first episode that we get to see him in that form. It’s hard to view things without hindsight (after all, once you know it’s him, it really does become obvious), but if you can, the titan that saves Mikasa in this episode would seem like a metaphor not just for the broken soldier who is saved, but also for humanity in general.
This episode (along with the previous one) is great as well because it gives us some really important background to Mikasa. After hearing from Armin about Eren’s death, Mikasa goes on a reckless titan massacring rampage, using up all of her gas in the process. The result is her unsurprising fall, which mirrors her emotional fall from hearing the news of the death of her first and closest friend (?). Mikasa may be exceptionally talented, but in this episode we learn that she is rather stupid when Eren is out of the picture. Everyone has a motivation, and here is concrete proof of what Mikasa’s is.
This is also an episode where we get to see just how far the titans instil fear. While it goes without saying that human eating giants should be scary, not every show would make a point of showing us that everyone in society is afraid of them – from the soldiers that would rather kill themselves than be eaten, to the commanding officer that runs away to hide, leaving his men to die.
Episode 7 is an intensely powerful and moving episode that tells us a lot about the state of the world, humanity and some of the most important characters: what more could you ask for?