If you’ve managed to not have the entirety of Attack on Titan spoiled for you by the moderately zealous fandom, parody videos, GIFs, or reviews that came out while the show was airing; first I would like to say “how are you enjoying your first day on the internet?” and secondly I’d like to inform you that I will not be avoiding spoiling the first half of Attack on Titan because, dude, everyone else has seen it. Don’t come whining to me about how I ruined that Eren gets eaten 5 episodes in just because YOU didn’t bother watching streams each week. Also, I’m not going to refer to this show as SNK in this review, because when I say SNK I mean that video game company that makes King of Fighters.
Attack on Titan was the breakout anime hit of 2013. An adaptation of the popular and still running Shingeki no Kyojin manga, it is a thrilling action drama anime set in the future where what is left of the human race lives behind giant defensive walls as a way of protecting themselves from the titans, the giant ill-proportioned monsters the show is named after. The collection 1 Blu-ray and DVDs contain episodes 1 through to 13, up to the end of the battle of Trost boulder carrying story arc.
Attack on Titan is a post-apocalyptic story, set after the titans have all but wiped out humanity and the survivors have retreated behind the safety of the walls. But this isn’t the usual Mad Max style wasteland post-apocalypse; Attack on Titan has a fantasy setting. Despite being set 2000 years in the future the world has that generic medieval Europe vibe present in so many tradition fantasy stories and humanities primary weapons are swords and gun power cannons. You could argue that the fall of humanity means we can’t make high tech weapons but I think we could do better than muskets. There’s even mention of a king.
Attack on Titan is a dark and cynical show. People die in horrible ways, and soldiers sacrifice their lives in vain. The people who have the misfortune of still having to be alive in this shit world have to put up with the constant threat of titans breaking through the walls, and the interment threat once the titans have broken through the walls. But the show does a good job of balancing out the downer parts of the story with more optimistic moments. These moments are important because without them the viewer would be desensitised to all the horrible things that happen, dramatic plot events and character deaths would just seem like more bad stuff continuing to happen. When the colossal titan shows up the second time it’s dramatic and shocking because Eren had just finished saying he’s hopeful for the future; this wouldn’t have had the same impact if the characters were sitting around waiting for things to get worse. They do an effective job of building you up so that the rest of the show can bring you down. Also, if the story is too cynical that cynicism carries over to the audience and they start to not care, “Why bother wanting things to work out if I know they won’t?” “Why bother getting attached to characters if they’re just going to die anyway?” Despite how pessimistic this series can be, there is an element of hope.
So they do a good job with the tone of the show. For the most part. As dramatic as this show is and how seriously it takes itself, there are so many dumb joke moments that don’t seem to fit in; potato girl, “what did you wipe on my shirt?” “My faith in humanity”, some of sillier looking titans, “Sasha ripped a giant fart.” They aren’t really bad but they are inconsistent in tone and these silly moments stand out amongst the serious parts. It’s like Metal Gear Solid.
It would be all too easy to write Eren off as just another Shinji Ikari, what with the dead mum, and the distant father, and the crying, but he’s so much more than that. Eren has passion and determination, he fights the titans because he wants to not because he was told to, and he’s motivated rather than self-loathing. Yes the two have some superficial similarities, what with the dead mum, and the distant father, and the crying whatever but Eren is able to separate himself as a character. His extroverted personality, hot headed attitude, and drive for revenge make him a stand out. The crying only strengthens his character; he has flaws, he can show more emotions than just anger, and he knows the stakes and the severity of the situation he and his friends are in. it makes him more relatable because, let’s face it, if any of us were dealing with what he has to deal with we wouldn’t rush in with confidence, we’d cry too. Oh yeah and he can also transform into a huge titan and destroy everything in a berserker rage. Oh yeah and when he was a kid he and Mikasa murdered a bunch of dudes.
Speaking of Mikasa, she is a good contrast to Eren, cool where he’s is hot, reserved where he’s emotional. The two are very close, which is visually manifested in Mikasa’s scarf, given to her by Eren after a traumatic event that she always wears wrapped around her. She a strong character, in terms of personality and ability. She physically powerful, highly skilled, and kills more titans than anyone else, but she shows more character traits than just that; she can be sad, protective, and scared. She’s a fleshed out character with a back story, motives, and flaws; something other lesser strong female character lack.
Armin cops some criticism for crying like how Eren does, although crying is a perfectly reasonable reaction to his situation. Not every character has to be a strong here type, and Armin certainly is not. He’s the weakest in terms of fighting ability, but he makes up for it with his intelligence. He thinks logically and devises strategies to get himself and his friends out of danger, and is able to get Eren and Mikasa to think straight when their emotions get the better of them. He may not be as interesting a character as they are but he is an important part of the trio. Armin is the brains, Mikasa is the strength, and Eren is the heart.
Something I have a problem with is how the show drags on near the end the story arc. It’s so fast paced and action orientated at the beginning but it almost comes to a halt story progression wise during the boulder carrying episodes. The show flies through its plot, setting up the world, the characters, their motivations and relations, kills the main character, and then brings that character back to life. But then the story gets to a point where everyone is fighting the titans in the city, then they just sorta continue to fight the titans and that’s all that’s happening. After reveal that Eren can turn into a titan, character development and story advancement slow right down. There are still great action sequences but when no one is fighting it’s apparent that nothing is happening. People are fighting the titans, then they sorta chill, then Eren picks up a huge rock, then he sorta chills, and then the story picks up again as Eren uses the rock to block the hole in the wall and prevent more titans from entering the city.
Another thing making this show seem like it drags on is the story doesn’t really progress in an attacking [on] titans sense either. In any other story characters would set a goal, go about achieving that goal then move on, in this show everyone tries to minimise how far back they go. The name Attack on Titan implies the show would be about taking the fight to the titans and going forward, but humanity end up with less land at the end of these episodes than they did at the beginning of the show, and Eren moving the boulder only stopped them from losing more. I guess ‘Desperate and Pathetic Defence Against Titan’ doesn’t have the same mass market appeal.
Though when the titans are being fought the show really shines, it’s all about fast and intense action that sells the sense of scale of people zipping through a whole city battling huge monsters. The animation’s great during action scenes, you can tell a lot of the budget and effort went into this, there is so much dynamic movement and no limited animation techniques.
With Attack on Titan being as popular and talked about as it is, you’d have already figured out whether it’s for you or not. But in case you’re undecided, or just getting around to it, or this is your first day on the internet and you ignored my spoiler warning, then I’d tell you that Attack on Titan is a spectacular show. It’s got great characters and a good story that does lose pace a bit, but has enough action to keep you engaged until it picks up again.
Rating: 8/10 our website is named after it
Attack on Titan Collection 1 is released by Madman Entertainment here in Australia. You can purchase the series in DVD and Blu-ray from their Online Store for ~$60.
Fuck the military police comin straight from the underground
A young titan got it bad cause I’m brown.