“Shingeki no Kyojin”: This is how the scene with Yelena’s disturbing face was born

Since its debut in 2013, the anime series Shingeki no Kyojin has received critical acclaim and viewer interest for the strong atmosphere and themes of survival in a dystopian and destructive world. This is reinforced in part by the vibrant animation produced by the Wit studio and later by MAPPA. This year the second part of the fourth and final season began airing, which has become even more dramatic as the characters reach their final destinations.

This is the case for Eren and Armin, but also for Yelena, who keeps trying to help the Yaegers. This last character has been the protagonist of a meme among anime fans, simply called Yelena’s Face. This particular expression was born in chapter 118 of the manga, sneak attack, where Armin tells the group that he sees no other option but to help the Yaegers. Yelena’s reaction? An almost murderous look before changing to a friendly expression and saying that she trusts him. This year, we got to see her in motion in episode 18, where this scene also appears:


We can’t blame fans for making a meme out of it: it’s an incredibly disturbing and inscrutable expression… and certainly not friendly. For many, Yelena’s look has been the scariest thing about the series about giant human-eating monsters. But where did this face come from that has sparked at least a million memes? Well, in a recent interview with the director Yuichiro Hayashi and producer CG Yusuke Tannawa, both talked about the production of this scene, and confirmed that the anime kakegurui served as the basis for all of this.

Tannawa stated that “when you read the original manga, certain frames stick in your mind. And fans look forward to seeing them in the anime”, while Hayashi points out that “when you see that face, you wonder what kind of emotion is behind it”. Tannawa says that due to a “subtle intercut in the anime, when the expression shifts back it has an interesting effect,” so it all serves as a moment of “comic relief, or rather horror,” as Hayashi comments. The truth is that they wanted to recreate the atmosphere of the manga in the animation in a surreal moment. “Like you’re not sure if you should laugh or not,” says Tannawa.

And boy did they succeed. Regardless of how the story continues Shingeki no Kyojinthe moment is a brief, silent testament to Yelena’s devotion to her cause, as well as what she’s truly capable of.

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