The Internet wouldn’t stop talking about it. My friends wouldn’t stop talking about it. Now, I can’t stop talking about it. It’s Attack on Titan. Yes, the show where everyone fights giant rampaging giants and die excruciatingly painful deaths. Attack on Titan, like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo before it, asserts itself as one of the greatest animes ever made. I know, that’s pretty bold statement to make, but after watching all 25-episodes of the first season, I feel justified making that statement.
Attack on Titan, also known as Shingeki no Kyojin, started as a manga by Japanese writer and artist Hajime Isayama. The series quickly became a monstrous success when it first debuted in 2011, and has since sold 36 million volumes worldwide. With the enormous popularity of the manga, an anime adaptation was inevitable. Premiering to widespread acclaim in April 2013, the series quickly gathered a substantial American following. However, I’m getting ahead of myself. What is Attack on Titan about?
Attack on Titan tells the story of 15-year-old Eren Yager, who lives in a post-apocalyptic 19th-century European society where the last of humanity lives in decadent cities built behind three massive stone walls. These walls were constructed to escape the Titans, humanoid man-eating giants. Yager, Mikasa Ackerman, Yager’s adopted sister, and their best friend, Armin Artlet, join the military after an invasion of Titans destroy their homes and the outer most wall. The series follows these characters as they try to regain the outer wall and attempt to discover the mysterious origins of the Titans. Death, destruction and tragedy ensue.
The whole death and destruction thing might be a big reason for the show’s resounding success in Japan and the United States. If you need to make a comparison, Attack on Titan is very much the Game of Thrones of anime. You will grow to love these characters and find yourself emoting when they’re horribly maimed, or even worse, eaten. Attack on Titan doesn’t pull any punches. It has no problem killing off scores of characters just to show you how dangerous and cruel this world is. You’ll catch on awfully quick when watching such cherry episodes as “Wound” and “A Dim Light Amid Despair.” Fun times.
The show’s animation is best served through its creative and elaborate action scenes. Titan chases on horseback and the frequent destruction of buildings are great to look at, but the action is most effective when characters are using “3D Maneuvering Gear.” A weird name, I know, but this steampunk device gives users the ability to zip across buildings and streets like Spider-Man. No battle in this series is the same. Every engagement is unique and extremely dangerous. Even when not fighting against a Titan, improper use of the Maneuvering Gear could be deadly. A cadet might decapitate himself, or smash into the side of building if he or she is not careful. Still, every engagement means either life-or-death. No one ever comes out unscathed when fighting multiple rampaging Titans.
The Titans themselves are terrifying to behold. These giants aren’t the kind you see in fairytales like “Jack and the Bean Stalk.” For one thing, they’re completely naked and exhibit no sexual organs. All of them vary in height and some possess unique physical abilities that range from elongated jaws to multiple rows of teeth. Even stranger, they exhibit a wide range of behaviors that can change at a moment’s notice. While slow and docile at a distance, the mere appearance of a single human can send dozens of Titans into a bloodthirsty frenzy. Even more disturbing is the fact that they actually don’t require food to even live. They seem to only eat humans when they see them. This is one of the many mysteries the show explores.
Fun fact: While creating the Titans, Isayama influence was Spanish artist Francisco Goya’s paintings of mythological giants. Goya’s paintings and drawings not only influenced the design of the Titans, but also the animation of the series as well.
If you’re not convinced about Attack on Titan, I would implore you to at least listen to show’s opening theme, “Guren Ni Yumiya.” You’ll want to listen to it more than once. Better yet, just watch the show’s opening credits. Not only to you get the song, but you see some of Attack on Titan’s impressive animation. Outside of the opening theme, the show sports a pretty memorable soundtrack. You’ll believe you can do anything after listening to it. Well, almost anything. Your excitement might taper off a bit when you remember that one song that played when everyone was being eaten alive. Still good though.
Though the material is often very violent and tragic, the series’ popularity is growing every day. You’ll find fan videos, memes, fan art and people cosplaying as their favorite characters at conventions. With a live-action adaptation on the way, and a second season set to premiere sometime in 2015, Attack on Titan looks as if it won’t slow down for a while.
What do you think readers? Will you give Attack on Titan a shot? What’s your favorite anime? Let us know in the comments below!