Review: Attack on Titan


This assumption may not be the case, but it seems to me that if you were to spot survey a completely random sample of people who didn’t watch anime which one anime they had watched, they would say Attack on Titan. Buying anime in stores is becoming more and more popular and this has been led by the popularity of Attack on Titan (it has a promo shelf in HMV- jeez). In this article I’ll see if I can shed some light on why that is and why it’s a show that is rated so highly in the anime community as well as, most importantly, what I think of the show myself.

Background

Humanity is trapped. In a pretty sad state of affairs the human race lives within three walled circles in fear of the massive humanoid creatures called titans that appeared around 100 years ago. The creatures which range in size but seem to have an upper limit of about 15 metres, have a fun sport of eating humans. Fortunately, they aren’t very intelligent and since the migration of the remains of the human race behind the walls there has been a degree of safety for people. The show focuses on Eren and his friends Mikasa and Armin who live on the furthest peripheries of the defences. The first episode sees a new titan appear that can reach over the walls. It breaks down the gate letting other titans in which leads to fall of Wall Maria (the outer wall) and the death of Eren’s mother. Eren goes on to swear that he will kill all of the titans..

Walls don't keep big, human hungry monsters out. End of.
Walls don’t keep big, human hungry monsters out. End of.

Plot

The show is split into two parts: the training of the characters as cadets as they attempt to join the armed forces and the events immediately afterwards, with most of the characters focused upon wanting to join the scout regiment. The second half of the show follows the scout regiment on a mission beyond the wall. The cadets take five years to fully train. The first few episodes do take a while to get going. In that time  there are no attacks upon the walls by the titans. Conveniently enough just as they finish training, the colossal titan reappears and breaks down another gate at the city of Trost. The first arc follows the fall and subsequent recapture of Trost. Eren, who discovers he has the power to transform into a titan is then taken in to the scout regiment and, with his friends, goes out on a scouting mission where they are attacked by an intelligent female titan. The story sorts itself out and in the end they manage to capture the female titan.

Character Development

There is no mistaking that the main character in Attack on Titan is Eren. Not only does he lose his mother in the opening episode, swearing to get revenge for her death, but also has the ability to transform into a titan, which appears to be the result of some strange experiments his father did on him when he was younger. All of that said his back story doesn’t outshine his character throughout the show. You get a real sense that he cares about those around him, whether it be Armin and Mikasa or those less close to him. Two examples of this are when he jumps into a titans mouth to rescue Armin and then when he transforms into a titan to take on the female titan after losing his protection squad.

Plot twist, not all of the people are people.
Plot twist, not all of the people are people.

Eren is by no means the only character that gets development though. Mikasa is a really interesting character. At face value you might just say that she fits in as Eren’s potential love interest throughout the show. However, this seems to act as her motivation that makes her into one of the single best soldiers in the show. It’s also worth saying that besides her care for Eren and friendship with Armin, she is undeniably cold. If her part doesn’t at least increase in the next season I would be very surprised.

The other cadets also are very important. Jean is written particularly well. His development throughout the battle of Trost is in many ways just as important as the ‘main characters’; I found his friendship with Marco one of the best parts of the show.

Levi and his squad are all built up in such a way to develop an emotional attachment to make the events at the end of the season hurt even more. Don’t read that as a criticism though. I want to either care a lot about characters or hate them, and I really did for a lot of characters in this show.

Mikasa is as good as the whole titan slaying thing as the best soldier pretty much ever... strange much?
Mikasa is as good as the whole titan slaying thing as the best soldier pretty much ever… strange much?

Sound, artwork and animation

The artwork in Attack on Titan isn’t what you might call typical of current anime shows. It did take a while to get used to, but being different isn’t necessarily a problem and that’s definitely true here. Both openings for the show are excellent and fit in with the fast paced tempo and epic atmosphere of the show. For a show where a lot is happening, the animation really must be commended, it’s gory, and it’s beautiful.

Favourite Episode:

Episode 21: Crushing Blow

I reviewed this episode last week when I was in the middle of the show and I’m comfortable saying that it is still my favourite. Everything that makes this show can be found in this episode. Moral dilemma, character depth, emotion and a whole lot of action.

Favourite piece of music:

I really liked the soundtrack for Attack on Titan and I’d be happy if either of the openings went here. I’m going to go for the first one Guren no Yumiya by Linked Horizon. I’ve grown to love the second opening, but the first opening was instantly catchy and sits on repeat quite comfortably!

Overall

As I said at the beginning, Attack on Titan is a hugely popular show. I can also see why. It’s not going to be for everyone, for sure: if you don’t like blood, gore, death, sadness, bad things happening don’t even watch the opening. That said, if you can appreciate these things as great devices in the making of a show then this is near perfect. For the most part the show is very well paced and effort has been made to develop lots of the characters. The action scenes are exciting and have been animated very well. To be picky, the first few episodes run at a totally different pace to the rest of the show and feel very out of place overall. If you appreciate shows that really take the time to develop characters then it is impossible to not love Attack on Titan.

Attack on Titan S1

 

 

 

 

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