It seems that Attack on Titan ,or Shingeki no Kyojin if you prefer the original title, has just recently exploded on the scene. Yet it is rapidly becoming a multimedia franchise with the original manga, videogames and even novels hitting western shores in the near future (not to mention the imminent DVD and Blu-Ray release and the live action movie in the works). But what is the reason for it’s swiftly garnered popularity?
This series paints a bleak picture of the future of humanity. A future where we were almost hunted to extinction by a „giant like” race called Titans. Not much is known about the new natural predators of humanity. They don’t seem to be very intelligent and their only goal seems to be the endless consumption of human flesh. To protect themselves the surviving population retreated behind three gigantic walls and has lived there in peace for over a 100 years.
The story revolves around there main characters called Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Alert as they live their simple lives behind the walls. The tale Attack on Titan tells holds many twists and surprises. Some predictable but most of them are impactful and well executed. It’s characters are not particularly deep but they are all releatable and likeable. As the series progresses the viewer starts feeling real comradery amongst them and fears for their well being as they go through many hardships. For in this series all of their lives are in constant danger.
The society, this story presents, is highly militaristic. It’s military split into three core groups one tasked with protecting and repairing the walls, one tasked with upholding peace far behind them and one tasked with making excursions on the outside for resources and information. Some may find this a social, political statement but ,no matter what one may think, it gives a certain feeling of uniqueness to this world and the views of it’s inhabitants.
Attack on Titan is a tightly written story. It dispenses with most of the melodrama and filler that seems to characterize a lot of anime. Most scenes have a clear point and relevance in the story, setting up information about characters, build up for later plot points and character development and so on. It still retains that distinctly Japanese feel however (whether you find that good or bad my dear reader I’ll leave it up to you). It explores it’s character’s emotional state well, without it overstaying it’s welcome, themes of hopelessness and desperate attempts to fight back against an overwhelming force. It also looks into the way humans treat each other in a world where their existence is threatened everyday. How they might cope with this and how much they’d work together.
The animation of this series is stellar. There are quite a few „wow” inducing moments to be seen here as we watch these gigantic creatures and the ones who oppose them in action. The characters express just as much with their movements and body language and facial expressions as with their words. The action scenes are fast, huge scale and brutal. Every suffered wound feels real and every blow has earth (or more often building) shattering impact. It really is worth the price of admission just for that.
This series is an exceptionally well done effort. Enjoyable for everyone, even for those who don’t enjoy anime otherwise. It’s themes and characters are adequately explored and it’s story is exciting and holds quite a few surprises. At the end of Season 1, the current end of the series, we ended on a cliffhanger with many unanswered questions ,yet a still somewhat satisfying resolution. It’ll be interesting to experience where this story progresses and to see light shed on some of it’s mysteries. A truly remarkable anime deserving it’s popularity. Give it a chance and you might just find yourself swept away in this world of Titans!