Tentacle-Free Anime: "Attack on Titan" (2013) Review
- by Kazekun, 7 July 2014
Anime is, even for all its decades of existence, still a niche market with a stigma against it (the media portray it as cartoon porn or kiddie shows). It’s always one of the two extremes, never the middle ground where almost all anime exist; which is something for (almost) everyone to watch. It doesn’t help, though, that a lot of anime does feature ecchi (perverted) fan service of female characters more often than naught. Thankfully though, once in a blue, bloody, moon does a series come along, that opens up the doors for so many more fans to be drawn in from the general public, that the show becomes a sort of inescapable, ‘colossal’ hit.
Eventually I was going to have to discuss the show that for a whole year (and even now for some) took the anime world by blistering storm, in both Japan and America. A rare feat, and one that attracted the attention of many non-anime fans who found themselves really enjoying it. But, what is it about Attack on Titan that makes it so unique, so popular, and so introductory? The basic plot surrounding the show is something that is so brilliant to have thought up that I find it to be one of those stories that appears and every storyteller collectively goes “why didn’t I think of that?!”
Unfortunately, not long after this we cut to a few years later, and Eren and his friends, along with a whole host of other characters, are in training in military school. The show comes to a screeching hault early on for about 3 episodes. Personally, I did not enjoy these episodes and found myself really bored with them. It wasn’t until the show picked back up in episode 5, with more Titans, that I got fully engrossed once again. But from then on the show never once let me go for the remainder of its run.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the introduction of all our supporting cast, but with all the jumping around those episodes did I just didn’t feel I could be fully invested in it so I kind of just waited it out. That’s another thing about AoT though, the characters. With the exception of just a few, for now, everyone we meet is allowed to die. So don’t find yourself getting too attached to anyone. It’s difficult, but the body count is incredibly high in this series. It’s something I appreciate though, because if the Titans were easy to defeat then the show wouldn’t be able to hold up its premise very well. One thing I genuinely enjoyed was that the Titans were treated as a real threat. And though some of the titans didn’t really have the appearance of a threat they all still got treated with the same amount of fear and bravery from our soldiers which was very welcome.
The pacing in AoT is not great, with the story being told in a very shounen way. A few episodes can take a few days to years of time off the story, but most of act one is comprised of a 9-episode story that takes place over the course of a day. This was hard to swallow, as I would’ve enjoyed seeing them fight the Titans at night. At 25 episodes you think we’d get to see that at least.
Most of the characters get arcs that see them on the opposite end of where they started with their attitudes by the end, but some characters do get pushed to the side. Unfortunately this is true for some of our main cast, where I feel Mikasa and Eren got some of the least amount of character growth out of the whole story. From point A to point B Mikasa is still the same devoted champion, and Eren is still the Titan-killing hungry guy. Armin, though, gets tons of character growth and thus shot up to being my favorite character in the show. He goes from a coward, and feeling like a burden to understanding that everyone needs him just as much as he needs them and to see him eventually stand up to a few Titans is well worth the journey.
My favorite part of the story though wasn’t necessarily a highlight, but an attention to detail that struck me as brilliant. See, most military anime don’t actually focus on strategies that much. Or if they do they kind of gloss over them as if the viewer/reader wouldn’t be able to wrap it all up around their head. Or they want to surprise the viewer/reader. However, in AoT the attention to strategy is incredible and my favorite moment comes when they explain how they use the flare gun signals in the latter half of the show and I found myself enamored with their use of them. It’s a very small thing, but I couldn’t help but feel a since of pride towards it.
The animation in AoT is nothing short of gorgeous, with a very experimental layout where the characters are bolded just enough to make them appear separate from the background, almost like stickers on a board but somehow it works. The action is amazing with the twirling camera angles given to the 3D maneuvering gear our heroes have to use against the Titans. Seeing them swing across the city tops and through the street like Spider-Man on crack was pure delight, although it was almost silly when they’d swing through trees and have long conversations without ever using their OMD’s more than once. Production I.G. really outdid themselves here.
Finally, as usual when I have something to say about it, the music is very energetic and beautiful. While the two endings are sort of forgettable, the openings are where everything shines. The first opening is one that gets stuck in your head easily and I don’t think there were many people out there who wanted to see it go because it got you absolutely pumped for what was to come. The second opening, while not as great as the first, is still a wonderful track and it grew on me pretty quickly. The OST as a whole though is awesome and I highly recommend it.
Overall, I think it’s safe to say that Attack on Titan is well worth the watch. I waited until it was fully aired to see it and I really didn’t have much hopes that I’d enjoy it as much as I did. If you can handle lots of blood and people being killed, and you’re not prone to getting dizzy by seeing things spin out rather quickly then go for it. The characters are all great, some just get pushed to the wayside than others as far as arcs go because the cast is just so large, the pacing is pretty bad but if you’re used to shounen series this won’t hinder your enjoyment at all. Unfortunately the ending is incomplete, thankfully not in an overly dissatisfying way, but with the manga still ongoing and with how successful this series was I don’t see it not getting a season 2. I predict one in possibly 2015 to give the manga enough time to get ahead.
Final Score: 4.5 Titans out of 5
Have you seen "Attack on Titan"? How did you enjoy the movie and the review?
Tagged: Tentacle-Free Anime.