Anime Spotlight #5: Attack on Titan

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Name: Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)

Year: 2013

Episodes: 25

Studio: Production I.G (Psycho-Pass, Blood-C, Ghost in the Shell) and WIT Studio

Director: Tetsuro Araki (Death Note, Guilty Crown)

Writer:  Hajime Isayama (original manga)

Does Attack on Titan even need an introduction?

Without question, Attack on Titan was the anime to watch this year. Hyped for months and months before it aired, Attack on Titan took the anime community by storm the instant it hit computer screens. The success of AoT is no surprise; adapted from one of the most popular manga series in Japan and directed by Tetsuro Araki, who made writing in a notebook and eating potato chips look exciting, there was no way this could go wrong.

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So, if you haven’t been watching this show, Attack on Titan is set in a future where giants (or Titans) have taken over the earth and have devoured most of mankind. Unable to defeat the giants, the remaining humans have withdrawn behind a series of three walls too tall for Titans to scale in order to protect themselves. Behind these walls, humanity has lived in peace for one hundred years, but their easy lives end the day that the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan manage to break through Wall Maria, the outermost wall. The protagonist, Eren Jaegar, lives in this area with his parents and his foster-sister Mikasa Ackerman. Eren manages to escape the attack, but he vows to get revenge on the Titans.

An epic fantasy where characters die suddenly and unexpectedly, with long story arcs, and nail-biting cliffhangers, Attack on Titan makes for an addictive watch. The story isn’t completely fluid, some arcs dragged a little too long, and sometimes I’d wish the story would let up so we could get to know the characters a little, but overall, it had pretty tight plotting.

The most fascinating aspect of Attack on Titan is the world it’s set in. Right off the bat, there’s a multitude of questions the viewer’s asking.  Where did the Titans come from? Do they only live off humans and if so, how did they survive with humanity safe behind the walls for so long? Why did the Titans attack now? How (or can) people actually fight the Titans? It’s a lot to think about and the show manages to sprinkle a few answers throughout the story without ever feeling like it’s lecturing you. A pretty cool way I thought they managed to fit in information without detracting from the plot are the eyecatches (something that was also done in Death Note, now that I think about it) which usually tells the audience something about the Titans, the walls, or the weapons used to fight the Titans.

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There are a lot of characters, but for the sake of spoilers, I’ll just limit it to the main three. Eren is the typical shonen hero. He’s loud, hot-headed, obnoxious, and has one thing on his mind: killing Titans. Don’t worry though, he becomes more tolerable later in the series when he realizes that Titan killing isn’t what he imagined. Initially, I loved Mikasa. An elite warrior with amazing skills, she’s a badass. However, she’s rather one-dimensional as she is overly obsessed with protecting Eren, no matter the costs. Eren’s existence is the only thing that drives her to be the warrior she is; without him she’s nothing. Armin Arlert is Eren and Mikasa’s childhood friend. He starts off as a scaredy-cat, but eventually comes into his own when he realizes his greatest strength is his mind and becomes a valuable strategist.

With a character like Eren as the protagonist, i was worried that I had picked up a shonen anime where everyone talked about friendship and believing in yourself all the time. Thankfully, AoT is not that show. Gory, gritty, sand sometimes downright depressing, AoT makes it clear that this is a cruel world where your ability to survive is mostly based on luck. This grim reality is part of Attack on Titan’s charm; there’s no way fighting man-eating giants would be all sunshine and rainbows.

If watching the first opening of Attack of Titan doesn’t get you pumped for this show, I don’t know what will.

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Even if the story of AoT sucked, it at least looks AMAZING. I could stare at some scenes all day, this show is so gorgeous. I’m not really sure if it was Production I.G. or their relatively new subsidiary Wit Studio that was in charge of animation, but it looks like they went all out. The only thing that really bothered me was the design of the Titans. Some look terrifying like this.

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And then some look like this.

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Seriously, WTF?

Overall, Attack on Titan was worth the hype. It’s not great, but it was pretty damn good. The manga is still ongoing and the ending was open enough to make room for a second season. It was undoubtedly successful in Japan, but nothing’s been greenlit  and considering that chapters are released monthly, I wouldn’t get too excited about another season just yet. Even if Attack on Titan never gets a second season, this one stands well enough on its own, so go watch it. Do it. NOW.

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9.5/10

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