With the Attack on Titan manga doing extremely well and Season 2 of the anime on the horizon, I finally decided to watch the OVA’s as an extra way to immerse myself into the universe again. It was also the perfect excuse to get back to watching OVA’s as I said I would do months ago (see! Told you I’d get back to it…eventually), so as promised, here’s another round of OVA minireviews – the Attack on Titan edition!
Ilse’s Notebook: Memoirs of a Recon Corps Member
Based on an early side chapter from the Attack on Titan manga, “Ilse’s Notebook” explores the story of a Scouting Legion member after she is separated from her squad. The OVA does a good job of expanding on her journey of survival, showing her traversing the land and writing in her notebook, in addition to showing Levi and Hanji during their mission before they find her remains. Ilse’s interactions with the speaking Titan are largely the same as in the manga, but her death is a bit over the top. In the OVA, she continues narrating her experiences in her notebook, even as she is inside the Titan’s mouth, before dying. I have no doubt the scene was trying to be powerful, but for me it just came off as silly. Interestingly, at the end of the OVA Levi and Hanji find her body placed inside of a tree, almost as a sign of worship or reverence from the Titan that killed her. This had really interesting implications considering that all they found of her in the manga was her notebook.
No Regrets: Parts 1 and 2
“No Regrets: Parts 1 and 2” are based on the spin-off manga series written a few years ago. I wrote an extensive review about this manga before and the issues I had with it, and unfortunately, the OVA’s don’t fare much better. They’re gorgeously animated, as is expected from Studio Wit, but the characters and plot suffer much of the same issues as the manga did. The fact that his friends are killed off screen is also an issue because of the impact they were meant to have on him, as was explored more in Part 1. The scene when Levi goes berserk and kills the Titans is very animalistic-looking, but the fact that he kills much fewer than in the spin-off manga makes it painfully difficult to believe his ascension to becoming the best soldier in the Scouting Legion just a year later. These OVA’s aren’t much better than the manga they’re retelling, but the animation is certainly worth it and manages to make the friendship a little more convincing.
“Distress” features an original story of the 104th prior to their graduation. They’re assigned to work in teams, but as expected, Eren and Jean don’t get along, and this makes things difficult for their leader, Marco. There’s a surprising amount of character development for Marco, and this is rather nice considering his limited role in the anime. Things go awry when Krista is kidnapped by bandits, and they must all work together to save her, leading to a pretty cleverly done rescue mission. Overall, I think this OVA was decent. It gives character development where it’s least expected and manages to have clever moments as well.
The Sudden Visitor: The Torturous Curse of Youth
This OVA is based on the ending panels Isayama likes to close out the manga volumes with. These are often very comedic and completely random, such as Jean hiding from his mother or Sasha holding a cooking contest (among others). “The Sudden Visitor” combines many of these random scenes by merging them into an amusing but heartwarming narrative. Jean is rather distant with his mother, and after getting into a scuffle with Sasha, is challenged to a cooking contest. They compete to hunt a large boar for the contest, and after Sasha kills it and claims it for her team, Jean reflects on his past with his mother and the food she made him. He presents a homemade omelette at the contest and is declared the winner because of the love he put into the dish. This OVA is definitely the most comedic and lighthearted of the four, but it’s still very well done because it still handles the emotions in a mature way.
The Attack on Titan OVA’s are overall good, and I hope that the OVA’s for Season 2 will be even better. Season 2 should cover a lot of amazing content for the OVA’s to reference and work from.