Last year, reviewing the first Attack on Titan compilation film, I wrote that while seeing and hearing Titan on the big screen was fun, the compression of 13 episodes into 2 hours made for a pretty unsatisfying experience.
But this time around, my thoughts are practically the reverse. For the second half of the series, maybe two hours is all you need.
Like the preceding film, Wings of Freedom is a movie-length edit of half of the Attack on Titan series. This film covers episodes 14 to 25, the end-of-season cliffhanger where Attack on Titan fans (those who haven’t read the manga, anyway) have been hanging since 2013. The release of these compilation films can be read as a reminder to the Japanese audience that hey, sorry for the wait until season 2, but here’s something to remind you the series exists in the meantime.
Compilation films are always strange beasts, and whether they turn out enjoyable let alone comprehensible, rests largely on a combination of editing and the source material’s squeezability.
Both of these factors lead to Wings of Freedom being a far more satisfying film than its predecessor.
There is a lot of setup in the first 13 episodes of Attack on Titan, including the introduction of over a dozen characters, not to mention an entire world and its rules. The first film, for lack of time, excised a lot of that material, making things confusing for those not familiar with the series and frustrating for fans that enjoy the Titan world.
By midway through the series, though, all that pesky exposition is over and done with, and we can jump straight into the action.
Indeed, if anything, the trimming in this second film improves the pace of the latter half of the series. No longer does Eren’s trial take an entire 30 minutes, and the battle with the Female Titan, the bulk of this film, flows together without those frustrating weekly gaps.
Much of the first compilation film was also made up of internal monologue, which I felt strange for a shortened version of the series. Here, either because of an assumption we’re familiar with the characters by this point, or because the second half of the series simply has more action sequences, things move along much more, literally and figuratively, animatedly. The film, which runs a full two hours, never feels like it’s dragging.
Yes, there is a short preview of season 2 in the form of a scene starring everyone favorite Titan otaku Hange – but running about a minute, it can hardly said to be worth the price of admission.
Thankfully, the rest of the film definitely is. The next time I decide to rewatch Attack on Titan, I suspect I’ll stick to the TV version for the first half of the series, then switch over to this film for the conclusion.
Matt Schley is Otaku USA’s man in Japan and e-News editor. He likes baseball. Twitter: @rhymeswithguy
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