This is review number two hundred and forty nine. This anime is part of the Spring 2013 lineup. The anime I’ll be reviewing is probably the most hyped anime of the anime. It’s the most talked about and the most awesomest anime of the year. The Year!!! The anime I’ll be reviewing is Shingeki no Kyojin or Attack on Titans. It’s a twenty five episode anime about a guy that wants to kill all giant lumbering monsters that want to eat humans. This is an awesome show. It’s easily one of the stand outs of the year. Let’s read on.
The anime is about the humans within a giant wall trying to survive the onslaught of Titans that have broken through. These monsters love to eat humans and they won’t stop until the species is extinct. Eren Yaeger has personally seen the horror the Titans can bring upon people and has since sworn to kill them all. Along with his two childhood friends, he decided to enroll in the army and train to be a Titan killer. Things aren’t as easy as it appears though because humans have always had the odds stacked against them when it comes to the Titans. Eren might have a strong spirit but it’s not enough if he wants to kill them all. Five years later, Eren stands face to face with the Colossal Titan that started it all. He finally has a chance to seek his revenge on the bastard that broke the wall and ruined everyone’s lives.
Taking the Pants Off
This is the anime of the year, right? I mean it doesn’t really take a genius to understand the awesomeness that is Attack on Titan. Just by looking at the promotional poster with Eren staring up at the Colossal Titan staring him down, you just had this feeling that this show will be awesome. Add the fact that it’s a Production IG show and you have an instant success right here. This was the most talked about Spring anime of the year. It’s hard to escape it. My facebook was flooded with a lot of Attack on Titan stuff. From that girl that loves potatoes to that gay kick Levi gave Eren, Attack on Titans is probably the hottest anime to ever come out of 2013. I’ve been dying to watch this anime ever since it aired and I finally had the chance to do so. I marathoned the show just the other night and I’m writing this review without a proper sleep because I’m still hung over with the anime. Attack on Titan is an adrenaline filled show with a lot of darkness to go along with it. It’s well rounded because of how massive the concept of the show has taken form as it progresses. A simple gore fest of a show about giant man eating monsters turned psychological, sociopolitical, character driven and it just shatters expectations at just about every possible moment. I write this review feeling absolutely pissed though. Attack on Titans is easily the best anime of 2013. I won’t deny that but it also has one of the most infuriating stories ever presented. Underneath all the breathtaking 3D maneuver Titan awesomeness lies a story so annoying that I wasn’t able to sleep thinking how mean and unfair the whole show was. I’ll get to that point soon. Anyways, this show is amazing. You don’t have to read my review. This is one of the best anime of 2013. It’s just that simple.
The premise of the anime is pretty straight forward and I think it’s the main appeal of the show. It’s about humans fighting giants that eat them. The show is about this guy named Eren that has sworn to one day kill all the Titans. He was among the unlucky souls that witnesses this gigantic Titan, that no one has seen before in mankind’s 100 year of refuge behind a fortified wall, kick a hole in the wall that separates the humans from the Titans. Eren saw his mother get eaten right in front of him and he has since had this fire in him dying to take revenge. This show is mostly about humans trying their best to fight off the Titans even though these monsters are near impossible to kill. As the show progresses, you’d see a lot of humans killed. They’d be torn apart, swallowed whole, their heads bitten off and some of them get trampled like little ants. You’ll also see a lot of awesome humans flying through the air though as they try and defeat a Titan. You’ll see Titans get their heads slashed off, their hands ripped to shreds and their bodies being blown apart. If you want carnage then you’ll see a lot of it in this show. There are enough uncomfortable scenes to really give the show an uncomfortable tone that you just can’t look away from. The fact that absolutely no one is safe and a significant character can die fairly easily just makes the whole thing that much more fun to watch. A word of caution though. This anime isn’t the gore fest you’d expect it to be. It’s not about the awesomeness of the Titans eating humans and the humans spilling guts all over the place. Surprisingly, this anime isn’t really gore. It’s more along the lines of a Shounen/Psychological anime. This was the toughest pitch in the anime. It asks the audience to abandon the gore potential they might get from the show and ask them to….sympathize with the characters.
As much as the idea of poor innocent humans being eaten by Titans in a gory detailed glorious scene of animation sounds epic, the anime isn’t really about that. It’s about something else and its actually brimming in a lot of ideas with brutal gore scenes being the last of its concern. The anime is divided into the first and second half. In the first half, you actually notice a lot of focus on the characters and the internal conflicts about the humans and very small scenes involving Titans being eaten by humans. You have about the first half to truly understand the appeal of the show. You need to keep in mind that the show is about the humans being backed in a desperate corner trying to survive and the focus is on the various characters trying their best to live. The show wasted a lot of episodes in the first half to bring that whole point across. The first half was so bogged down with flashbacks and time skips that you will truly feel impatient. I understand that they were laying the groundwork for more episodes to come but it affected the main appeal of the anime. I even admit to really wanting to see more innocent humans being picked up by a Titan and then promptly placed in their mouth as the human try desperately not to die. That unique kind of darkness is what made me watch the anime and the show was busy making us care about the characters. If the first half ended and you still didn’t care for the characters then there’s a good chance you won’t enjoy this anime. Even with the promise of humans being eaten, the show wanted the audience to root for the humans and to make them care for the poor humans as they struggle to survive.
There are two trends that appear towards the first half of the anime and it represents the very core of the show. This would be the thing that replaces the carnage the show doesn’t want to glamorize. The first one is “Survival vs. Humanity”. Throughout the anime, it’s pretty clear that the humans are like poor little rats outnumbered by the hungry cats. As the show progresses, you witness a lot of humans in dire situations trying their best to survival. Things would actually get a bit ugly during some of the scenes because most humans would do anything to survive. There are people that would prioritize their money and wealth first before helping other humans desperately trying to flee the Titans. You would see countless scenes of soldiers running away while their comrades are being eaten by a Titan. Some would be scared sh*tless that they would leave others behind just so they won’t be eaten. Then there are stories about the people of the inner walls frowning upon the refugees hoping they would die just so they can live on in their secured wall. It gets pretty crazy. Hell, most of the heroic and self-righteous characters in the show would just bare their fangs just to survive and it really just ends there. The world is merciless. It’s a point the show tries to present to the audience early on in the first half. It’s a totally understandable thing as well. Seeing these Titans would make anyone desperate. I won’t be surprised if I stab anyone if I was in the same situation. I f*cking would. If it means not being eaten by a Titan then I’d do anything and you can guarantee that most of the characters in the show would have the same mindset as well.
Survival is just a piece of the show though. Opposite that is Humanity. Like I said, the show was selling sympathy points to the audience and it often hits hard with how most people would fight a Titan against all logic just so their families can be safe. How many soldiers are sacrificed their lives for the good of mankind? They would foolishly take on a Titan, with an obvious fact that they cannot win, just so others can be safe. It’s a nice reminder that the characters of the show aren’t just food for the Titans that you would see be ripped apart somewhere along the line. They’d cry for their comrades, swear revenge for the fallen, feel responsible for the deaths of others and even make sure their dead bodies can at least return home to their loved ones. As much as the Titans would bring out the ugliness of people, some would also show a sign that they are still capable of compassion for others. At some point in the show, you would even feel grief along with the characters as they struggle with the fight against the Titans. It’s a really brilliant approach of the anime. Survival vs. Humanity is one of the basic cores of the show and it is really well executed as far as giving intrigue to the show.
Another aspect of the show that is really well done is “Hope vs. Despair”. The Titans are giant monsters that devour humans. They do not need to eat humans to survive. They were just created to kill them. They can live on without eating humans but they have nothing in mind but eating them. Scary enough, they don’t want to eat other creatures. Birds and forest animals can co-exist with Titans because they only want to eat humans. The humans have since built a giant wall that keeps Titans out and they are considered the last humans on Earth. They are on the brink of extinction against a creature they simply cannot beat. Titans can regenerate and heal their wounds, they possess super human strength and they are tough to kill. Cannons and Swords can only work in a small degree. When a human meets a Titan, they will most likely die and humans have since lived on with such a disadvantage hovering above their heads. Throughout the show, there is one thing that becomes certain. The humans are always at a disadvantage against the Titans. This anime isn’t a straight forward show about super awesome Titan killers fighting and winning against the monsters. Oh no. As much as I would’ve loved that cliché to actually happen in the show, it does not. The humans are always on the disadvantage and the show would often build you up with the idea that the humans can now fight back. It doesn’t happen though. For a handful of Titans being killed, bucket loads of humans are killed first. It really comes to a point where you feel the characters giving up. There is enough tragedy in the show to really convince you that the humans have no hope of winning against the Titans and they will all die soon. I am actually pretty glad how complex the story is that even if the show would build up a glimmer of hope, it gets easily shot down and the show enters an even deeper state of despair. It’s one of the really wonderful parts of the show. Despair is a common thing in the show. As it progresses, it just becomes more hopeless and hopeless. You would see a lot of plans about taking down a Titan and you can see how wonderful the plan is. It feels like the humans can actually come out on top but then the show would seriously turn things upside down and it’s like a car crashing into a watermelon stand. The plan would plunge into chaos and characters are killed left and right yet you seriously can’t look away because it’s so awesome to watch but you also feel the hopelessness of the show growing slightly bigger.
When there is despair, there is also hope. It’s not as profound as when the show turns things around and drowns the anime in despair. The hope is often found throughout the character monologues and flashbacks littered all over the show. As much as most situations would feel too hopeless, you can’t help but feel for a character still trying to scratch and claw his way into victory. He would have a strong desire to win and even with the odds stacked against the humans, you can still feel that the show would give us the sweet moment of the humans finally overcoming the odds and coming out on top. Even though a plan would involve a lot of people dying, some still cling onto hope that the plan can still work out and they can still win. It’s that strong resilience against tremendous amount of adversity that really makes you want to root for the characters. I have to admit that at some point in the show, I would be screaming at my laptop waiting for the moment humans can actually gain the advantage. Goddamn, this happens way too many times in the show that I often felt pissed that the show kept shying away from it. I commend the author for creating a really emotional show that you are easily caught up in it. The main idea of Hope vs. Despair and Survival vs. Humanity was a great way to establish a really compelling show. Notice I said “show” and not “story” and you should also notice that I haven’t actually dissected the various plot points of the show. It’s simple. The story sucks. I think most people are annoyed with the story as well and they are quick to call Attack on Titans not as grand as other people would claim it is. The biggest problem is really the story.
The story of the anime isn’t really that bad. The emotional manipulations of the various scenes alone warrant it to be one of the best anime of 2013. The problem with the story is that a lot of questions are left unanswered and some aren’t even recognized by the show despite the damning effect it had in the entire series. Where did the Titans come from? How do they reproduce? Why do they only eat humans? Why do the Titans look like humans? Who built the three walls protecting the humans? How did they know that the nape was the weak point of a Titan? Is Mikasa seriously the only Asian left on Earth? There are a lot of questions that arises throughout the anime and the show never acknowledges any of them. You are seriously left in the dark as you watch the show and it seemingly feels like the show is making things up as it rolls along. I do understand the lack of backstory and explanations. It’s to give suspense to the show and to keep the audience engaged. It’s to make the audience think up of their own theories about the show and keep them intrigued till the very end. Most twists and surprises in the show happen unexpectedly that you really have no time to react. If the show gave us a clear explanation from the beginning then most twists wouldn’t have much potent of a shock and the show would feel cliché. At some point, most twists are predictable but because the show never acknowledges them itself then the shock is still intact and the show feels void of clichés. I think I like that part of the story. Cliché is minimal. I honestly thought Armin was a useless crybaby just basing off my years watching clichéd anime. Who would’ve thought he was actually the most dependable character in the show cleanly proving his worth more than the main character? The show knows how to twist the story in a way that the audience can never see coming and I like that aspect of it.
Ok, let’s bash the story some more. The questions being unanswered aren’t the only problem for the show. It also over compensates the lack of story progression with a lot of flashbacks. In the first half alone, flashbacks cuts the pace of a story. I remember when they were fighting a Titan and Eren’s squad got wiped out. The show suddenly, and without warning, featured a flashback about Mikasa and Eren. It was annoying and it ruins the anime a bit. This pattern was rampant. You already had enough talking among the characters and now it’s time to see them get killed but no, the anime does a flashback and halts the pacing so immensely that you suddenly feel impatient. The anime shy away from the main story so many times that it actually stopped progressing. I am serious. The rest of the episodes are branching subplots. The main story stopped developing fairly early in the show. That’s how stupid the whole story of the anime is even if it had some decent merit with the subplots. It left the audience too long in the dark that the main story never progressed past the first half. What does this mean?
No. f*cking. Pay off.
This is the biggest pain of all. I won’t expand much on this. The show just lacks decent pay off. You sit through twenty five episodes of nothing coming to fruition. Doesn’t that just sound so mean? To be fair, I think the manga is also feeding the information on a slow pace. I think the anime cut off so abruptly though that you have no choice but to read the manga afterwards. I’ll wait for a second season. I hope there is one.
The second half pretty much introduced a new chapter of the anime. The show didn’t resolve anything from the first half so you can consider the branching subplots from the second half still part of the main story. The entire show might feel like it was laying the ground work for the rest of the series and, honestly, another season would make everything clear. In the meantime, the second half featured a new story. The first half was mostly about the new graduates facing the same nightmare that happened five years ago. The colossal titan made a hole in the wall and all hell broke loose. Eren then gained a new resolve for killing all Titans. In the second half, the story expanded a bit and it featured the most elite Titan slayers in the world: the Recon Corps. These are the soldiers that venture outside the wall trying to make a base for mankind outside the walls. The second half is mostly about the Recon Corps venturing outside the walls but with some of the new graduates that recently faced hell tagging along with them. I don’t want to spoil much of the show but this is really where the story started to gain focus. Everything about the Titans was abandoned though and it transformed into something much different. Basically, the kind of hell the Recon Corps will experience this time around is something so big that it will shake the very foundation of the anime. Be warned though, the basics of the anime about Despair, Hope, Survival and Humanity is still an integral part of the second half and there is still a significant lack of pay off. There are a lot of people dying though and I guess that’s a good thing for the anime. The story slowly starts to take form even with a lot of questions still left unanswered.
The characters in the anime are all pretty outstanding. The show made sure they are fleshed out and everything that happens benefits their growth in the end. The show focuses on the 104th squad of soldiers that felt the brunt of all the Titan attacks. Of course, our main hero is Eren Yaeger, the high spirited bastard that wants to kill all the Titans. He has absolute hatred for them and his strong pride makes him one compelling character. He is also one of the most annoying characters in the show. Despite his tough persona, this guy is a softie that needs urging from his friends. The story made sure Eren would be at the center of it all and yet this guy is the most incompetent character in the show. During moments where you need him to do something heroic, he would falter and suddenly doubts himself and goes emo at the drop of a hat. For godsakes, you honestly wanted him to stand atop but I don’t think that ever happens. Eren is a weak willed main character that has a lot of real life experiences waiting for him so he can grow into a more reliable character. The show knows that as well so he is often given some of the heaviest decisions and regrets hoping he would grow. There is significant change for his character. When you meet a Titan, you are really never the same and Eren’s transformation is certainly one of the best. If only he could grow a pair and actually prove useful for the show then I could really cheer for this stupid bastard.
There are a lot of characters in the show. The focus is to gain sympathy so you’re seeing different perspectives of a situation. As the show progresses, the cast grows more and more. Some of them do die and you will feel sad for them but there are also recurring important characters that you can rely on to deliver the needed emotion for each scene of the anime. These characters also grow amazingly that you really can’t help but cheer for them. There is Armin Arlert, the strategist among the group. He is probably the weakest character starting out. He just has this “I’ll die in episode five” vibe with him and I honestly thought he won’t last long. I mean, all he does is cry and be cradled like a baby. I was seriously surprised when he became one of the best characters in the show. Armin is smart. He analyzes a situation, thinks of a plan to overcome it then does a risk success calculation that gives the humans a fighting chance against the Titans. As the show progresses, you honestly only see Armin doing some of the more meaningful moves in the show and he is even more fundamental that Eren. It’s unbelievable. Then there is Mikasa Ackerman, another main character. She is especially fond of Eren that she is willing to die just to be with him. She is also one of the best Titan slayers ever. In the show, she probably killed the most Titans and her unpredictable nature makes her a lot more intriguing. The way she fights is pretty amazing that you would often be smiling seeing her fight a Titan. She is a quiet person and she certainly lets her action do all the talking.
There are a lot of side characters and it will keep on growing. From Eren’s friends within the 104th squad to the various high ranking soldiers within the wall, there are a lot of character that gives us a clear picture of the status quo and the sociopolitical state of the humans. I think you’ll be most attached to the other side characters that fight alongside Eren though. These are characters that were introduced in the first half that continued to be important characters in the second half. After every battle, you honestly see them grow and I think that is a great part of the anime. There is Jean that wanted to be a military police and forever serve his days inside the safety of the innermost wall but after fighting a Titan and seeing the carnage, his ideals slowly change and his character really transformed. He was a smug douche in the first half but meeting a Titan would really change you. Then there is Sasha, the potato eating girl. She was so happy go lucky in the first half. She doesn’t care for rules and her mind is filled with nothing but food. She even became a comic relief for the show. The Titans came and she changed drastically. I like her character a lot because of how much she changed. It’s pretty interesting. The rest of the cast has their own unique transformations as well and you really just have to watch to truly understand how intriguing these characters are.
The high ranking officials are also pretty interesting as well. Some of them are scared sh*tless letting their fear control them and you can really see the desperation in their faces. Some of them are really interesting though. They can be calm and give orders to die to poor soldiers all with a straight face. Some of them would inspire people to fight. I still remember the speech made by Commander Pixis that convinced the soldiers that didn’t want to fight to gather up some courage. Something about letting them go back home but also telling them that they are letting their loved ones experience the hell they are going through. It was just a small speech but it was so powerful even I felt it ring through me. Some high ranking officers are completely concerned only about their own wellbeing and their status. It was interesting to see them flaunt their status not knowing the horrors of facing a Titan. It really gave us a clear idea of how the vertical society of the show is. These characters don’t really do much in the show but they really stood out in their own special way.
This is one hell of an anime. It’s really one of the best anime of the year. I’m a bit scared at Production IG. They seemingly prove countless times that they can really make top notch anime if they put effort to it yet they still f*cked up Guilty Crown. I think that Attack on Titans is one of those really awesome shows you just can’t help not to like. Everything about this show is amazing. From the animation to the characters, I think overall this show is outstanding. I have some complaints about the story but I think another season can easily make up for it. I did check the manga and the events that followed the anime will indeed shed some light on some of the important questions of the show. I think Production IG will deliver another season. With how much fanfare the first season got, it’s only natural to follow it with another season.
Sight and Sound
I think the show was set on a European backdrop. They mentioned Mikasa being the only “oriental” in the show so I think we can assume most of the characters aren’t from the Orient. This is why most of the characters are more American and European than anything else. The character design is very westernized with the use of heavy bold lines and almost no familiar anime feature is present like say, moe or Asian eyes (almond eyes so it doesn’t sound racist) and no one wears a kimono or something like that. A lot of the characters have blond hair, wide chin, and they have mostly western features. Character design is pretty decent. I think Hajime Isayama (the author) really made the series more original by setting the series outside Japan. The design is pretty plain though because the show wanted to emphasize how normal the humans are and how supernatural the Titans are. I do love the eyes though. Those amazingly detailed eyes are top notch. I think this was mostly Production IG’s touch on the show though. I always believe that this studio loves emphasizing the eyes and this ring true for the characters of Attack on Titans. No stand out feature design wise except the expressive eyes. The medieval setting was quite nice because it made the characters more plain but superbly badass when they have their 3D maneuver gear on and they start fighting some Titans. The outfits of the characters are nothing special but I love that 3D gear. When they fly through the air, swinging from place to place, their bland design makes them really special. It’s weird but I think it works great seeing plain characters fight supernatural Titans and I think that was the idea of each face off.
The Titans are also pretty interesting. They have flexible designs and no one looks alike. I think the Titans are actually more diverse than the humans. You can seriously see some Asian looking Titans, a Mexican one and hell even some creepy midget Titans. It adds to their creepiness because the Titans act unpredictably and their designs are unpredictable as well. With their shape and their sizes differing, I really love how imaginative you can be with the Titans. You can give them some facial hair, make them bald, make them look like skeletons, make them look like a pedophile and so much more. There are some standout designs though like the Colossal Titan that has no skin and you can see the muscles of the body as you gaze upon its proportionally sound exterior. There are a lot more but I think half the fun is seeing the rest of the Titans.
Animation is outstanding. This is Production fudging IG we are talking about. The animation is one element of the show that really makes it superbly outstanding. When a character fights a Titan, I think the swinging scenes are the best thing you can ever watch. The camera angle is very much alive following the character. The angles are static and it changes as fast as the camera and the character’s body position. This is topped off with the characters dancing through the air so beautifully. It comes to a point where you are really beside the character as they gracefully glide through the air. You can also see the amazing detail work for the scene and the way the CG effects are used to enhance the experience. It is a great highlight for the show. The fight scenes are pretty short. Some characters are swatted by a Titan, some are eaten, and some would slice up a Titans body. The quality of the animation is high and there is a sound pacing because you often feel caught up in the fight scenes no matter how linear they are. The characters would often interact with the background as well smashing some buildings and destroying the streets. The animation is really a great part of the show. During normal scenes, you do see the usual Production IG thing where eyes don’t blink and only the mouth is moving but nothing that makes the high quality animation look cheap.
The anime isn’t about gore. There are some graphic scenes but they aren’t really that bad. It’s not grotesque. It’s more psychologically disturbing than anything else. You’ll see a Titan eat a person but it isn’t that graphic. It happens fast and the show would often cut away at the gruesome parts. I remember how a Titan had a victim by the limbs and it pulled hard. The show cuts away immediately. In the second half, you can see some victims being squashed but it’s not really gory. You’ll see blood but that’s it. Sadly, no guts. I personally wanted to see some 80s quality brutality or maybe some Jojo Bizarre Adventure level of grotesque but I think we have promptly left the era of gore. It’s a shame but I do see the gore distracting the potential of the story so it is a bittersweet thing for me.
The anime has two OP. The first one is “Guren no Yumiya” by Linked Horizon. This is a strong song about oppression and being freedom. It actually sounds a bit political with the way it was arranged. This was a loud song as well though. I can’t hear much of the singer’s voice because of the orchestra that runs through the song. It’s very loud but it gives the show a really medieval charm. The OP sequence features all the characters, some awesome animation and a short montage of the first half. It captures the essence of the show in a short amount of time. It’s really cool. The second one is “Jiyuu no Tsubasa” by Linked Horizon. This is a really awesome song. It felt like a strong battle cry that signifies the intensity of the second half. It also gave off a reassuring victory for the humans. The song has the same loud orchestral arrangement but I also love the German lines of the song. It felt a bit ominous yet cheerful. The guitar solo during the intermission was also a nice touch. The song is pretty much about fighting till you’re dead. It’s a nice theme for the second half. The OP sequence featured all the important characters and a small introduction of the events for the second half. I love the way it pans outside the wall because of how the show now focuses on the Recon Squad. It is a bit spoiler-ish though but that’s just me.
The anime has two ED as well. The first one is “Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai” by Yoko Hikasa. This is a very solemn love song. It has a nice progression and I do love Yoko’s voice. I think this was a nice touch considering how the show wanted sympathy to be felt all throughout the show. It has a solid verse and Yoko really did a good job on the chorus. The ED sequence features Mikasa running through the woods and then being surrounded by knives only to grow up facing Eren who has a strong mean face. The animation is really pretty specially with the pastel like effect of the colors giving off a dream like vibe that compliments the content of the sequence. The second ED is “great escape” by Cinema Staff. This is a pretty ambiguous song about finding your true self. It sounds a bit emo with the dark lines about escaping the abyss but the cool calm voice of the singer oddly gives the song a reassuring personality. The ED sequence features a walnut rolling through the ground and the characters fighting a Titan. If you look hard, you can see a little foreshadowing by the anime on events to come. Notice that Eren and Mikasa are on one side of the wall and Annie along with Reiner and the other side characters are on the other side. What does that mean?!
9/10 “When you see a Titan eat a human, you would rate the anime a nine as well.”
You can’t go wrong with this anime. The action is amazing, the story is well paced albeit upsetting, the characters are thoroughly fleshed and the amount of violence is fulfilling. If you love seeing giant monsters eat up innocent people then you’ll enjoy this anime. There isn’t a lot of gore but if you like graphic anime then this anime will work for you. If you like really engaging and mind blowing anime then you’ll like this show. As they say, this is a “once-in-a-decade” hit. Don’t even think twice. I highly recommend it.