In any given year there’s a new show that comes forward and gets a lot of interest. Anime is no different, and 2013 was the year of Attack on Titan.
Even if you weren’t on anime new sites, the title still had a sizeable presence on Twitter, Flickr, and even on joke websites like 9GAG.
So why did it take so long for this review? Cause I kept focusing on other things.
This review has been a long time coming and ladies and gentlemen the series is worth the hype.
Attack on Titan is an anime series based upon a Manga series created by Hajime Isayama and published by Kodansha publishing. The show was written by Yasuko Kobayashi, directed by Tetsuro Araki and produced by Wit Studio and Production I.G.
The series takes place hundreds of years after humanity is hunted by giant creatures called Titans.
These Titans look like humans and range in various heights and stature. What these creatures have in height the lack in brainpower as most of them wander around undisturbed until they come into contact with a human. Once in sight Titan’s stop at nothing to kill them.
With humanity is dying in the millions, the world’s surviving population band together and build a new country made up of three different walls.
Within these walls a class structure is formed with the poor living protected by the first wall named Maria, the middle class at Wall Rose and the rich living protected past the final wall called Sina along with the monarchy of the country.
The plot focuses on Eren Yeager a hardheaded and impulsive person who longs of leaving the city state and exploring the outside world. He’s joined by Mikasa Ackerman, Eren’s adopted half sister and long time companion and Armin Arlert their smaller yet smarter friend.
While the country lives peacefully protected by the walls, it’s still clear that death is just beyond their front door, as Titans walk throughout the lands beyond the wall.
One day after Eren and Mikasa save Armin from bullies their world is destroyed after a powerful duo of Titan’s; Armored and Colossus, destroy the first wall and let an army of Titans into the city.
While the three survive the attack they see what the Titan’s destructive power, as most of their friends and families are killed.
Pledging revenge on the monsters that killed his mother, Erin joins the military with Armin and Mikasa. The three join hundreds of recruits looking to stop another Titan attack from happening.
After years of training in their governments most advanced weaponry the three along with their new friends are officially made members of the military.
Shortly before their graduation the walls are attacked again by the powerful Titans and the group of rookies have to try and defend the citizens.
While it’s clear that the Titan’s can be defeated with the use of the 3-D Maneuver gear it’s not enough as many of the soldiers are kill/eaten by the Titans, including main character Eren.
However, this is where the series takes a turn. Instead of dying like many other people, Eren soon discovers that he can turn himself into a Titan of his own. He must learn to control his power and help humanity discover how to defeat the Titan threat.
But are their other people with similar powers waiting for Erin and his friends? And if so, are they closer than they think?
Attack on Titan’s strength comes from its writing and plot development.
While the concept takes a while to develop the show ends up driving a break neck pace with each episode ending with some form of cliffhanger ending.
The show also tries to use some of the same tools that make the Walking Dead made so popular, i.e. making character’s important before killing them off in horrible ways.
However, much like in the Walking Dead series, it becomes clear that most of these characters are fodder for the Titans/zombies that fill the world.
While it’s interesting to kill off characters in your fiction, it’s difficult to make that character mean something to the audience. While there are some character deaths that have weight, most are just used to shock the main characters during the large battle scenes.
Unlike the Walking Dead, the world of Attack on Titan is much more developed and well thought out with the idea of a class system used a lot in the show.
The system is made clear even in the military as recruits have a chance to join one of several regiments. While the man characters plan to join the Survey Corps, a group that goes beyond the wall to discover more about the world and the Titans, other regiments like the military police get to live in the rich parts of the country that doesn’t see much combat.
The show continues to make social comments as the military police are portrayed as an lazy and corrupt regiment that does a number of horrible things, failing to protect anyone. While these touches are a little heavy handed, they still add to the world of Attack on Titan.
On the technical side of things Attack on Titan is an impressive looking anime.
The animation is clean with each character having their own distinctive facial features.
During the large fight scenes the animation mixes the normal anime styling with some 3D camera movements.
While the scenes aren’t as great as other titles, the scenes are used sparingly throughout the show.
On the other hand the show does end up looking kind of ridiculous when the characters just seem to float in the air using the 3D maneuver gear and have long winded conversations.
While the animation is pretty straightforward the Titan’s themselves are interesting. While they have adult faces they seem to be children in intelligence and attention span.
The monsters walk about with little care until they see a human that they can kill; once they do they run in a straight path towards their target.
Despite the childish look of the normal titans several of the special Titans are based upon real world people. For example Eren’s Titan form is based upon Japanese MMA fighter Yushin Okami, while the Armored Titan is modeled after formed UFC and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar.
Backing the solid animation and character design is the soundtrack.
Composer Hiroyki Sawano ends up using classical music as his main storytelling tool.
Lots of choirs and strings are heard during the quieter moments. However, when the battles start the orchestra goes into full force matching the chaos of what’s happening on screen.
The opening themes end up mixing the classical elements with rock music much like you’d expect from an anime title.
While two themes are done by the same band Linked Horizon the second theme ends up matching the shows soundtrack a bit more clearly.
Despite the show’s solid music, animation and storytelling, it should be noted that this show lacks any real type of conclusion.
Over the course of the 25 episodes a clear goal is set up for the main characters, as Eren starts to remember things that could link his ability to work that his absent father did before the Titan attack.
The show soon drops this idea after a new plot line comes forward. While this new plot point is concluded there’s still a lot still to be done in the show.
While two OVA’s are already planned, no official word of a second season has been announced.
The manga is still being written past the show’s 25 episodes, it’s not clear weather the show will continue for another run, a run that it deserves. And if it does get another season, it might take a while seeing how the comic isn’t that far ahead of the show.
Attack on Titan might be one of the most exciting and interesting shows aired this year in any country or format.
It’s fast paced, features an interesting story and leaves the audience wanting more of Eren and his comrades.
Despite that it still has some issues and isn’t my favourite anime of the year (that review will be coming, and I’m sure someone will think I’m a moron for it).
Attack on Titan is a must watch for anime fans and is soon to be a classic. Although I’m sure you already knew that.
Attack on Titan was produced by Wit Studio, a subsidiary of IG Port. A dubbed release is planned for 2014 through Funimation (North America), Madman Entertainment (Australasia) and Manga UK (UK). The show is currently available to watch with Subtitles on Funitmation’s website and Crunchyroll.