Attack on Titan Shone Where The Last of Us Part II Flopped

Both critically acclaimed stories tackled the same themes but with diverging levels of success

Images from DualShockers

The Rise of Naughty Dog

For video games, there’s arguably no bigger darling for creating cinematic experiences than Santa Monica-based Naughty Dog.

Image from Naughty Dog website
BTS on Naughty Dog’s “filming” process
The Last of Us, source from USA Today

“The Last of Us has an unparalleled understanding of what it means to be human, of what it means to love and to lose. There is no right or wrong when it comes to protecting the ones we care about — only shades of grey” — Vice

The Shock of The Last of Us 2

Given the success of The Last of Us 1 and the Uncharted franchise, it only stands to reason that — in the 7 year hiatus between The Last of Us and the release of its sequel in 2020 — the hype for The Last of Us Part 2 ballooned to unsustainable levels.

Source from Metacritic

The Parallels with Attack on Titan

On the surface, Attack on Titan touches on the exact same themes as The Last of Us.

  1. The cycle of hatred is futile
  2. All decisions have gravity

The Subjectivity of Morality

The biggest, mostly widely discussed, and most controversial moment in The Last of Us 2 is the perspective shift halfway through the single-player campaign.

Abby kills Joel with a golf club as Ellie watches
Abby and Owen

“Caring about Abby is an uphill battle — you feel like you’re being preached at as you play her” — VGS Youtuber

I spent every second playing Abby either rolling my eyes or holding back abject disgust. Sometimes, I’d let go of my controller just to watch her die over and over again.

Reiner revealing to Eren that he’s the Armored Titan in the manga (chapter 42)
Young Reiner hoping to be treated as a human and reunited with his dad (chapter 96)
They were just kids… told to do a mission (chapters 42 and 95)
Bertholdt reminding Reiner that he is a Warrior (Marleyan personality), not a Soldier (Walldian personality)
Reiner with a gun in his mouth (chapter 97)

The Futility of the Cycle of Hatred

The Last of Us 2 repeatedly hit us over the head with the lesson that revenge and hatred will never satisfy us. The cycle is never ending.

“Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves” — Confucius

And at every step, Ellie becomes more morally corrupt, more self destructive.

Abby spares Dina in the theatre

“Ellie likely realized that this isn’t what Joel would’ve wanted for her… When Ellie is beating Abby, the look on her face implies that it doesn’t feel as satisfying as she had expected it to. Through that, not only did Ellie realize that this wasn’t going to bring back Joel (or honor his memory in any way) but it would only be contributing to the cycle of violence. Abby killed Joel because he killed her father. Who would be killed next if Ellie was to kill Abby?” — Screenrant

So Ellie lets her go. Abbie drags a half-dead Lev into a boat and drifts away.

Ellie spares Abby and Lev
Kaya wants to help others, like Sasha (chapter 109)
Kaya tries to stab Gabi, after learning that Gabi killed her sister Sasha (chapter 111)
Even against a world-ending threat, Eldians and Marleyans can’t work together
Jean sparing Gabi after she kills Sasha
Sasha’s parents forgiving Gabi (chapter 111)
Gabi realizing that the Walldians are just like her (chapter 118)
Kaya, Gabi, and Niccolo realizing that hatred is a self-fulfilling prophecy (chapter 124)

The Weight of Decisions

The biggest decision in The Last of Us universe is not Abby’s decision to kill Joel, nor Ellie’s decision to spare Abby — again, these choices have little weight and reasoning to them.

Ellie is bitten by an infected human and doesn’t change
Levi says goodbye to Erwin (season 3 part 2)
Eren angry at Hange for their lack of direction
Hange overwhelmed with the choices they have to make as a leader
Armin with the weight of humanity on his soldiers (chatper 85)
The military’s thoughts on Serumbowl (chapters 85 and 90)
Read from right to left. Historia chooses to save Eren, but later realizes he’ll destroy the world. (Chapters 66 and 130)

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