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Review: Attack on Titan

Review: Attack on Titan


Dubbed the series of the decade, a ‘must watch’, the show has been hyped by Anime fans and critics alike and while Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人, Shingeki no Kyojin) has just concluded it’s first season there seems to be no end to it’s popularity.

Released:    April 6th 2013
Studio:         Wit Studio
Director:     Tetsuro Araki
Writer:        Yasuko Kobayashi

The story begins one hundred years prior to the events in the show where giant humanoid creatures called Titans have forced the human race to seek safe haven within a system of concentric walls known as Wall Maria the outermost, Wall Rosé the middle wall and Wall Sina being the innermost. It was inside these walls that humanity lived peacefully for an entire century until a sudden attack by a Titan breached the outermost wall causing mankind to abandon the lands between Maria and Rosé, a move that led to chaos and famine pushing society to near ruin.

Attack on Titan is centred around Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa and their close friend, Armin Arlert. After the outermost wall is breached by the Titans and Eren’s mother is killed and eaten in the destruction he vows revenge on the Titans and joins the military or the Recon Corps an elite force of soldiers who fight the Titans outside the walls, along with Mikasa and Armin. It is years later during his first fight with the Titans that Eren fully discovers his talents which are seen as a ray of hope to some and a threat to mankind to others. Eren continues his mission joining his companions to protect what remains of humanity while searching for answers to the many mysteries surrounding the Titans and his own existence among them.

With the series having just ended and the hype that has surrounded the series one can only ask what’s the big deal? There is a clear link to the children’s story of Jack and the Beanstalk and the fi fy fo fum genre taking the classic tale to a whole new messed up level (and let’s face it, a child eating monster living in the clouds was already pretty messed up) with the Titans, the series certainly gives the Brothers Grimm a run for their money when it comes to creating dark fairytales.

The animation in the series is a real treat from the beauty in the almost water painted surroundings to the crisp sharpness of the characters features. Bright and colourful surroundings are a stark contrast to the destruction and desolation the Titans create. Dark inked outlines edge exquisite expressions and are only matched by the brilliant and speedy action scenes. If you’ever imagined what a water coloured painting would look like when spliced with super computer animation then you can stop, Attack on Titan blends it’s use of traditional art styles with digital animation perfectly.
In other dark series, action scenes are often sacrificed in an effort to focus more on story-telling but Attack on Titan manages to avoid this pitfall – the frantic and almost futile battles between humans on their (Vertical Maneuvering Equipment) and Titans are masterfully choreographed and no detail is left out whether it’s in the pained emotional faces of the tired recruits or the sinewy flesh of the gargantuan Titans.

It’s not all wonderful though and I have to say the series is let down by some of the tedious and more drawn out speeches and inner monologues. Hardly unique to AoT, any Anime fan will be used to these Shakespearean asides, there are places where this device works in the Anime genre but Attack on Titan wants you to suffer through every last groaned syllable. This ultimately detracts from the amazing action scenes, pausing in the middle of battle is hardly unheard of but it is painfully noticeable in AoT just how long they take a breather to reflect.

Attack on Titan has literally an army load of characters all playing major and minor roles in the show. With no way of being able to name them all without going into detail (and giving away some spoilers) we will stick to the three main characters.

First up the main protagonist Eren Jaeger; a headstrong and idealistic young man who can be aggressive and impulsive in his decisions. He is determined to annihilate the Titans as revenge for killing his mother so he joined the Recon Corps. Even though he did not show any extraordinary talent his determination drove him to be 5th in his training class. Eren’s development throughout the show is handled well and writers navigate him well through some trying situations without turning him into that stereotypical Anime lead.
Mikasa Ackerman was adopted by the Jaeger family after the murder of her parents and she is seen as Eren’s protector and following him everywhere. Ranked first in her class she is considered a unprecedented genius who excels in hard tasks and always maintains a composed demeanour. Mikasa is clearly the breakout character of this show every moment she is on screen is captivating and you always want to know and see more of her.
Finally Armin Alert, fills out the role of the groups  thinker and Eren’s best friend. Although not the strongest or most agile, his quick thinking and strategizing helps out in dire straits and throughout the series Armin grows from being a victim to one of the most vital members of the team.

Many Anime lovers have mentioned that the hype surrounding the Attack on Titan series has been a major put off for them to even bother with the series but after giving it consideration the hype has some justification. Attack on Titan is an amazing show, it is a series that has taken the good aspects of Anime and takes them to a whole new level. It gives us believable and loveable characters that maintain our attention and moments that keep us on the edge of our seats.

Is Attack on Titan, the Anime series of the decade? If the first season was anything to go by then it is well on its way to owning that title. Forget about the hype, check it out for yourselves.

[easyreview title=”The Arcade Verdict” cat1title=”Story” cat1detail=”Feels drawn out at times but it manages to keep you glued and on the edge of your seat” cat1rating=”8″ cat2title=”Animation” cat2detail=”Beauty in its simplicity” cat2rating=”9″ cat3title=”Music” cat3detail=”Well balanced with the series, only adds to what you see. That opening theme – wow” cat3rating=”8″  overall=”true”]

Before I forget to mention, the series has probably one of the greatest opening sequence of credits I’ve ever watched with a track entitled ‘Guren no Yumiya‘ provided by Linked Horizon, a Japanese ‘fantasy music’ band.

[Words, Céire Ní Dalaigh]