Friday, June 13, 2014

Rewind: Attack on Titan

Last spring and summer, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) captured countless anime fans, including me. Everything, from the beautiful animation to the frequent horrors, demanded our weekly attention. And so we watched. And now, every Saturday, we get to watch Toonami Tweeters react to the same heart-wrenching moments we endured last year.

I like Attack on Titan a lot, and I look forward to seeing another season. But does it really deserve all this hype? I think so.
Eren and Mikasa in episode 11. 
When I watched the first episode, I immediately noticed the animation. Scenes set late in the afternoon were particularly potent: the lighting and color palette beautifully reflected both the fading sunlight and the endangered state of the human race. Black lines of varying thickness outlined the figures in a way that reminded me a little of American superhero comics (not that I've actually read any). It took me a few minutes to adjust to them, but I soon embraced the lines as part of the show's character.

This lovely art, combined with many murder scenes, produced an interesting effect. I admired the way the artists depicted horror and gore, even as my gut clenched and my hand covered my gaping mouth. Beauty and shock are powerful enchanters on their own. When they team up, few viewers can escape their grip.

But Attack on Titan had more on its side than emotional highs. The entire premise was fascinating: giant, mysterious, human-like Titans eat so many humans, they threaten our race's very existence. Humans barricade themselves behind three walls, and for a hundred years, that is enough. Then the outer wall, Wall Maria, is breached. The nightmare resumes.

Eren, the primary protagonist, is the typical tragic hothead. At a young age, he watched a Titan eat his mom alive, and by the time we reach the meat of the series, it's been years since he last saw his dad. He is dead-set on vengeance, and only his strategizing weakling friend, Armin, and his loyal friend/foster sister/girl Mikasa keep him from going completely off the deep end.

Like I said, typical… right?

A special Titan in episode 11. I'd explain, but I want to avoid
big spoilers. Note the person climbing up his face.
Actually, I have a hard time writing the main characters off as mere archetypes. That's only part of their makeup.

Yes, Eren is a vengeful hothead. But it's realistic. It's hard for anyone, let along a youth, to process such overwhelming horror, grieve, heal, and grow into a balanced person.

And Armin? Is he just a smart scardey-cat? Nah. Some people were annoyed at his "wimpiness," at how he'd freeze up in the face of a Titan attack. But how many of us could do better? And he grows throughout the series. He unlocks his potential as a valuable strategist, and he's determined to help his friends in their fight against the Titans. He's probably my favorite character.

Mikasa… well, I don't want to spend too much more time on this, so I'll keep this short. I like her well enough, and I enjoy watching her fight. I think it's interesting and sad that, as far as we know, her mother was the last full-blooded Japanese.

Jean, like Armin, grows a lot in the series, and I enjoyed watching his development. He turned from one of the least likable guys in bootcamp to an admirable leader among the recruits.

So, character development was good. Plot was interesting. On a slightly less thoughtful note, the OPs were amazing.

On a more thoughtful note, Attack on Titan brought up an important question, one that must be pondered in all human conflict: Is it okay to abandon one's humanity in order to save humanity? I'm not just talking about physical transformation into a non-human.

I'd like to examine that question more as it relates to this anime, but I think it's worth its own post (one I may never write). For now, it's enough to point out that Attack on Titan gets a tad philosophical. It's not just a beautifully animated thrill ride, and it definitely deserves the hype.


  1. AoT's premise defintiely captured me and I do agree that it deserves all the hype it had... I liked all the characters but both Armin and Jean will always hold a special place in me. For me, they're simply the characters easiest to relate to in the series and at the same time had the most growth as characters :)

  2. Well, I was pretty much hooked up on watching this NAime too. and I heard that one of my friends mom that never watched an ANime was instantly hooked up when she first saw this one LoL,

    I agree with the style, its more sophisticated compared to others, and the details makes the story more alive :D

    Over all, I love watching this anime , and I can say that I have been its fan since then. The Opening Song was sooo cool! "jaeger!" (LoL)


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