Hello guys, I know it’s been several months and several nonstarters since I’ve posted anything new, but with things the way they are, I had to come back. I doubt it’s any surprise that I’m here to talk about the Wit Studio’s (which is basically production IG, but I won’t get into that) Attack on Titan.
Attack on Titan pretty much exploded in popularity easily out-talking pretty much every other anime this year and the number of people claiming it to be my type of show personified is almost kind of sad on my part. Anime vice, with our good host Tom, has already spent a phenomenal amount of time, and produce some pretty decent content on this already. (Good work btw guys.) For better or for worse this show makes for a hell of a lot to talk about so I really doubt this review will be a short one.
For those unacquainted, Attack on Titan is the story of Eren Jaeger and his two closest friends entering in the military after their lives are completely destroyed by giant horrific monstrosities called Titans. You see in this world Humanity has for the most part been completely crushed by giant beasts that look like caricatures of people that are called titans. Now what’s left of humanity is held up in a super country sized series of walls and castles. Eventually (mild spoilers) Eren gets the power to turn into titan himself using the power of rage and self-harm (which paints a bit of a bad picture). The series chronicles them fighting back against the titans.
There is a hell of a lot more to this especially if you start getting into that what it even means and if perhaps it all related back to Japanese nihilism, the humans as livestock metaphor, and militarism verse civil living and all that good stuff. Action verse inaction and such, but in the end that’s a whole other blog post and too based on speculation to really be relevant to review. With some 25 episode there is plenty more to talk about.
Now with Attack on Titans I’ve spent a lot of time analyzing and reanalyzing my opinion of it. I’ve gone from being super hyped and into it and literally getting up and just walking out right in the middle of a group showing of Titan. So let’s get the basics out right away. Does it look good? Well yes and no. It’s incredibly well animated, with a fantastic amount of frames and very good “camera” positioning. Fights look gruesome in a great way, bones crunch, muscle rips teeth get knocked out and visually it translates the force of these movements excellently. More famously the titans have a wonderfully creepy style to them that is just fantastic. Bad bit is that everyone looks…off. It’s share some of its style with Claymore and death note and as such has its weird thing where, to make everyone look gloomier and more shocked, they basically make the look sleep deprived and shocked…at all moment’s. Regardless of how undeserved it is. Now I know things are bad, but it’s almost silly how disturbed they look while picking up firewood… before they’ve ever seen titans…before any sort of trauma…
Next up is the music, and I’m not talking about the opening or the ED, but the actual soundtrack, of which I find wonderful. Nothing really negative to say here, it’s very humanist, filled with back vocals of very tribal shouts and cries, or front vocals of beautiful singing. This sense of humanism drives the big humanity against impending doom; it shouts the human inability to submit and give up and does this constantly well. Most notable examples are E.M.A. and Vogel im Kafig, both of which even if you don’t care for the show I suggest taking a look at just as a fan of music. Might partially be because it strikes a specific musical vain that I love, but I think Attack on Titans one big unquestionable victory is the music.
Before we get to the story we have to handle characters. The main three are rather one dimensional, but manage to be likeable even if completely singular in terms of character depth, especially Eren whose a far cry from the whinny child I expected him to be; instead he is a creature of action, something I enjoy. The best two characters despite their relatively low screen time are the two commanders Erwin and Pix, both who deal more with the political backdrop going on. It’s rather upsetting they seem to have a lot of interesting stuff going on behind the scenes, like a Game of Thrones episode the audience is only a little privy to. Then there is everyone else. While some manage to be likeable, even the better ones are completely one dimensional characters who, barring hidden allegiance, only seem to have one major character trait. Worse off most are so unremarkable I can’t even remember them. I can’t even count the number of “important” character who died on screen that I couldn’t even remember the name of. Hell, I still don’t know who Marco is.
The last big question is the story which is so complicated it’s taken me all week to really figure out how to really address this. The simplest way to explain this is Attack on Titan seems mostly to be a shounen/seinen hybrid. Sharing much of the strengths and weaknesses exhibited in both genres. Its tone is really really dark and gloomy, almost to the point it’s trying as hard as most fan fiction writers to be edgy. This is where I get into my first major issue. Attack on Titan is just trying way too damn hard to be dark and gloomy.
Now first off I’m not saying that the subject matter is too dark or it cross’s some line, but I am saying Attack on Titan lacks any sense of subtly or restraint. What I mean is the world of Attack on titan and what happens is already dark, we don’t need to be constantly taken by the shoulders and told “Look at how dark this is, you see this cast of character there all scared they are in fact lets recap that they are scared every single episode!” Titans are dark evil creatures because they eat people, not because every episode someone says they are evil. We are shown enough to extrapolate how f@cked up things are. Any member of the audience worth their salt doesn’t need you to remind us in exposition that they are doomed. Everyone’s life is tragic because of the events of their lives not because you decided to make characters eyes wider with black circles around them constantly. Sense of subtly is why despite the stakes of Attack on titan being the entirety of humanity, literally everything that matters to you as a person ties into what’s at stake, compared to psycho-pass that despite really only effecting a few people’s lives and showing very little feels so much more vested and dark.
Also as a side note, if you trying to establish meaning to deaths have the characters your killings have more than five lines of dialogue and the personality of a plastic potato.
Next major criticism has more to do with execution of the story then the story itself. It has to do with suspension of disbelief and the old principle in story telling that a poor explanation is worse than no explanation. This I admit is a criticism as well as a compliment, Attack on Titan puts in an excellent amount of time explaining most of its rather odd premises and for the most part it does it well, but the more and more as the show calls attention to these oddities and try to put themselves into reality, the more the cracks in the series logic gets called to my attention. Questions as to why fight Titans with swords when you easily could grease up some dynamite to make sticky bombs launched out of slingshots only comes to mind when they try to justify the preposterous giant literally shaving razors they fight with. I only begin to take note that titans shouldn’t be that strong when they explain how they can walk with Titans being made of light sponge like mass…wouldn't that mean their weak since force is mass x acceleration? Not to mention the complete disregard for the conservation of mass with titan shifters or the fact that watching Captain Levi’s fight is watching him basically become a spinning top. This is a weird sort of criticism since the little explanations the show provides between commercials are rather interesting, but it paints the absurdity of the rest in a shade a bit more harsh to the eyes.
Though I want to end this on a bit of a high note. Attack on Titan succeeds in one major area like nothing has in recent memory. As dumb a concept as titan shifting is and how convenient and silly a twist it was it manages to be the biggest highlight of the entire show. Eren fighting Titans as a titan shifter is in a word liberating. It channels a barbaric emotion deep in everyone the desire to crush everything that would threaten your fellow man. The thirst for the blood of those who would take everything from you. It celebrates that primeval doctrine to defend our homes and families, and goes farther to have this bloody affair be so, well man to man. The nature of it being with just fist to fist motivated by anger drives home its primeval roots. Damn it just gets my blood up. Rage is often deemed a dangerous and shameful emotion, which often it is, but Attack on Titan celebrates its utility as man’s last real hope against its destruction. Simply the titan shift is proof that rage, as the Walsh proverb says, is as good as courage. Every fight is my favorite bit from Evangeline, but done a thousand times better.
I’ve gone on too long and now need to just summarize this nearly 2 k words review down quite a bit. Hell I haven’t even mentioned issues of Attack on Titan binary system of morality or weird occasional boring mopey episodes, but I’m out of time. Attack on Titan is crippled with poor character development and try hard darkness with little sense of subtly. It’s haunted by its own attempts to explain itself, but behind the smoke of its faults green eyes and glaring Attack on Titan manages to brute force its way to a 3.5 out of 5. Even though I can’t get over some of the stupid stuff in this anime I recommend anyone old enough (over the age of 16 in my opinion) to check it out. It’s a mess sometimes, but it’s largely unique and worth at least seeing. If after the battle of Trost you’re not sold that’s fine, but I do say check it out and see for yourself. Later guys and thanks for waiting.
P.S. I’m going to be doing a short dissenting opinion video where PyroBlue and I argue about the show, (he’s a much bigger fan then I) and I’ll link to that when we edit it, would anyone be interested on me elaborating on my belief as to the bigger meaning of the show (which I never even touched on) which would be another blog post? Tell me in the Comment. Also I'm REALLY SORRY this is way too long, but trust me the unedited version was nearly enough thousand words. Attack on Titan if nothing else has a lot to talk about