Attack on Titan is an anime with a huge fan following. The series follows Eren Yeager, a soldier fighting against the horrifying creatures known as Titans. After nearly four years, the second season recently aired. The new season came with some great action, and astonishing twists. But one element of the season was noticeably lacking – the presence of Eren Yeager. While the season is strong, there wasn’t nearly enough of the show’s lead character.
Season two shifts a lot of focus away from Eren. The majority of the plot revolves around side characters, like Ymir or Conny. Eren has very little to do with the season’s progression. There are many interesting plot points explored in the new season. However, the focus on the backstory means that Eren is sidelined. He doesn’t get much to do throughout the season. The majority of the action and reveals happen with other characters. The progression of season two leaves Eren out of the real action.
Eren functions primarily as a hostage, rather than a hero. He gets one cool fight with the Armored Titan, which is extended over two episodes. But until that fight happens, Eren is barely visible. From that point on, Eren watches helplessly as Ymir talks with the other undercover Titans. It’s interesting to explore how other soldiers can also turn into Titans. Especially coming off of Annie becoming a Titan in S1, it’s a solid plot point. But Eren’s only role in this arc is to listen as other people argue. It makes Eren feel like an unnecessary character, not a protagonist.
Eren has a clear plot set up in the season. His anger with Reiner and Bertholdt is explored in a couple episodes. The reveal of Eren’s status as “The Coordinate” is also an astonishing twist. But in a 12-episode season, these storylines are only explored in a few. There are many plot points where Eren could have prominence throughout the season. But for some reason, Eren is sidelined in favor of side characters, most notably with Ymir. As cool as Ymir is, she shouldn’t take precedence over Eren. Eren’s arc is incredibly weak this season, as all the interesting storylines are given to other characters.
Eren isn’t the only character wasted this season. Mikasa and Armin, Eren’s best friends, vanish along with him. The two characters are so wrapped up in Eren’s life, they don’t get much action without Eren. Because Eren is getting less screen time, his two friends get even less. Levi and Hange, other prominent S1 characters, are also barely visible. Even with Hange’s new research on Annie and the Wall, she gets minimal screen time. All the central characters
Focusing on side characters isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Ymir and Krista certainly have interesting pasts. Reiner and Bertholdt being the Armored & Colossal Titans is quite the twist. The problem with these storylines is they overpower the characters that should be front and center. There are ways to explore all of these stories and still keep a clear focus on Eren. It’s not as if there’s no way to incorporate Eren into Ymir protecting Krista, or Reiner’s crisis of faith. The side characters are given too much credence this season, and it dilutes the interesting characters of the show.
Consider how other side characters were explored in this season. Conny and Sasha are two side characters who got their own specific storylines. The reason they worked well is because they weren’t given an overabundance of screen time. Sasha was given a singular episode to flesh out her backstory and character development. Conny was given a side plot that mostly serves as a building block for next season. Their stories are true side stories, told without distracting the audience too much.
As interesting as some of the season is, there isn’t enough focus on Eren Yeager. The protagonist should always be the driving force of action in a show. Eren is supposed to be our hero, and as such, we want to see him be heroic. Attack on Titan’s second season had Eren do almost nothing at all. For the show to feel properly centered, it needs to re-establish who its main character is. Eren Yeager needs to be better utilized for Attack on Titan to become as strong as it could be.
Feel free to read our reviews of the second season, starting here! Let us know in the comments whether you agree or disagree that Eren was wasted!