Have you ever come across a show that not only became an instant favorite, but also leaves such an impression on you that it changes how you see anything else on television today?
That is how I felt after watching the first available episodes of Attack on Titan. A friend suggested I check out this series, promising that I wouldn’t be disappointed. And while I can say with all honesty that he was right, he failed to mention just how much an emotional impact it would have on me.
Before I start, I should say that this won’t be a complete review of the series or the manga seeing as how episodes are just being made available to the states through Crunchyroll . I’ve only seen up to episode fourteen thus far. As soon as the entire series has been released, expect a full review to follow. Until then, this blog will be my opinion on what I’ve seen so far.
The story centers on a world where humanity is on the verge of extinction thanks to the threat of giant humanoid creatures called Titans. These 3-15 meter high creatures attack and devour humans on sight, although it doesn’t appear that these giants eat for survival but merely do it instinctively. The Titans have reducing the human populations by the billions, and have forced those that have remained to retreat into a three-layered walled city. The walls stand at fifty meters high and have successfully kept out the Titans for hundreds of years.
Life has been relatively peaceful for the most part. Humanity has resided to its walled -comfort, but the threat of the Titans remains ever present. Recon Corps venture out of the city from time to time in hopes of reducing the Titan’s numbers and hopefully learning what they can to defeat. However, this has proved a fruitless effort. Each time the Recon Corps leave, only a handful return. And in the hundred years of isolation, next to nothing has been learned about the Titans.
One day, a colossal 60 meter-high Titan (the first of its kind ever encountered) appears out of no where and easily destroys the first wall of the city. The flood of Titans enter the city and begin devouring the resident is a bloody massacre.
Eren Yeagear escapes the massacre, but not before he witnesses the gruesome death of his mother, having to watching her be eaten at the hands of smiling Titan. From that day forth, he vows to destroy all Titans and to one day retake the world that he has been denied seeing beyond the walls. He joins a military Corps, along with his adopted sister and best friend but all three soon realize the fighting Titans involves so much more than talent and twice the sacrifice.
I honestly could spend all day talking about all the things that Attack on Titan gets right. I would like to quote Rebecca Silverman of Anime News Networks who is stated to say that it:
“is both gorgeous and appealing in its visuals”, and “an excellent mix of what 19th century Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe defined as horror versus terror: the one is physical, making you want to look away, and the other is intellectual, making you want to know what’s going to happen next.”
This statement is entirely true in my opinion. Attack on Titan does a fantastic and mind-blowing job at setting up the concept of just how much danger the character are actually in. The threat of the Titans is made real to viewer not just the scale of their size, but also their appearance. They shamble like zombies with odd expressions of either demented happiness, rage-filled anger, heart-breaking sorrow or some lack one entirely.
Whenever the Titans appear, you know that you’re in for a slaughter. Whether or not these creatures have any form of consciousness is always on your mind as you watch them march on a city. It is honest-to-God terrifying to watch a giant feed, seemingly blank-faced and oblivious. But it is even more terrifying to see the human battle these creatures while at the same time trying to keep their own fears from overwhelming them. Not an easy task by any means. There are plenty of moments where crack under the fear of death that led into madness.
And it is all completely relate able and very scary.
Perhaps what makes moments all the more terrifying is the music. I haven’t come across animes that have a well-fitting score to match the essential mood and theme of the show. I can perhaps only mention a few off the top of my head, and Attack on Titan does it oh so well. The music feels…huge, which is great when dealing with a show about giants. Loud drums, heavy-metal guitars mixed in with orchestra-style vocals, the likes I have only heard in Final Fantasy games. Ranging from epically fast paced for heart-pumping action scenes to dread filling vocals and tolling church bells that make you feel absolute horror at the sight of approaching giant; the music hits every note perfectly.
In short, you’ll feel like a bad ass just listening to it.
Now many have gone as far as to say that this anime is by far the best anime to ever have been made. Carlos Santos of Anime News Networks has said that:
Few get as close to perfection as Attack on Titan does.
While I won’t go as far as to say that this is the anime to rule them all (seeing as how I’ve haven’t seen the entire series), I will say that this is certainly the best I have seen in a very long, long time. What makes an anime truly great is how well and far it’s willing to push the boundaries of its story. But I admit that after watching the first episode, the level of dark and unsettling elements the show displayed in just the first couple minutes made me a bit uncomfortable. The death scenes didn’t hold anything back however, and for someone who isn’t used to kind of stuff, it will be pretty shocking the first time. I’m not going to say that this series is for everyone. It is very unforgivably graphic and the constant death and people munching can feel a bit unnecessary. Especially when it feels like it’s happening every five minutes.
In fact, the death scenes are so frequent that it feels as though that it s the majority of show since so much focus seems to centered on just that. The overwhelming fear that the characters express in just about every scene does its job a little too well. You get so drawn in the moment that you may just need to deflate with something cute, fuzzy and non-threatening if you want to sleep at night (see picture above).
However, the dark elements service a purpose in making the world that the characters live in a reality and thus making the viewer all the more involved. It makes the threat of the Titans real and also the characters feel real. So yes, while you run the risk of potential scarring for life, realize that this is one of those rare moments where it’ll be for the benefit of an epic story further down the line. With only a handful of episodes released so far, I’d be lying if I said that I’m not excited to see where the story is going to go next.
And on a side, if the opening theme doesn’t have you pumped up and feeling like a bad-ass, then watch something else you wuss!