Centuries ago, mankind was slaughtered to near extinction by monstrous humanoid creatures called titans, forcing humans to hide in fear behind enormous concentric walls. What makes these giants truly terrifying is that their taste for human flesh is not born out of hunger but what appears to be out of pleasure. To ensure their survival, the remnants of humanity began living within defensive barriers, resulting in one hundred years without a single titan encounter. However, that fragile calm is soon shattered when a colossal titan manages to breach the supposedly impregnable outer wall, reigniting the fight for survival against the man-eating abominations.
After witnessing a horrific personal loss at the hands of the invading creatures, Eren Yeager dedicates his life to their eradication by enlisting into the Survey Corps, an elite military unit that combats the merciless humanoids outside the protection of the walls. Based on Hajime Isayama's award-winning manga, Shingeki no Kyojin follows Eren, along with his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and his childhood friend Armin Arlert, as they join the brutal war against the titans and race to discover a way of defeating them before the last walls are breached.
Oh dear Shingeki no Kyojin, where do I even begin. If you've talked with your friends about anime, then the couple anime that everyone talks about are Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Dragon Ball, and... Shingeki no Kyojin. What's the difference between Shingeki and the rest? Shingeki only has 25 episodes so far yet it's on par in popularity with the other super long, Americanized anime. Why is it popular? Well that's simply because it's stunningly amazing. Those people that call Shingeki no Kyojin "overrated" may not have the same taste as me, and that's perfectly fine, but in my honest opinion, Shingeki no Kyojin is
one of if not the greatest anime to be made. It's not popular for no reason.
The story is one of the most captivating stories I've ever seen. 100 years prior to the start of the anime, humanity has been on the bridge of extinction due to the monstrous humanoid Titans that devour humans. Now, present day in the anime, the remaining small population of mankind lives confined within 3 "heavenly" walls that are so tall and sturdy that even the titans can't break in. The most outward wall was named, Wall Maria, the middle wall was named Wall Rose, and the most outward wall named Wall Sina. Unfortunately for mankind, a colossal titan, one that is even bigger than the 50 meter heavenly walls, breaks Wall Maria, allowing the other titans to rampage the city, thus leading to another massacre of mankind. During this massacre, our main characters, Eren Yeager and Mikasa Ackerman watch in horror as a horrifying titan rips their mother's head off, then gobbles her up whole. Vowing that he'd one day avenge mankind and exterminate all the titans, Eren Yeager trains to become a survey corp, brave heroic soldiers who go outside the walls, into the plains in order to fight the titans. But we soon find out, that Eren is much more special than he seems, not only is he a brave warrior, but he's also something else that could be the key to humanity's survival, but could also be humanity's destruction.
My 3-word thoughts on the anime: Epic, Dynamic, Masterpiece. The suspense build-up was absolutely amazing, yet there was still room for improvement; that shows just how epic this anime can get. The anime not only includes epic fights, but lots of dialogue, and for those of you that hate dialogue, I feel sorry for you people whom only watch for action. The anime includes lots of other things as well: there's lots of half-hearted, hilarious scenes, as well as sad, tragic scenes. The anime certainly has a good amount of gore, and will break your heart frequently (if you get attached to the characters). Many characters end up getting gobbled up mercilessly while trying to protect humanity in ways that are quite *shivers*. Have I teared up in the anime? As a matter of fact, I have.
Characters was another area (alongside every area) that was Shingeki's strongpoint. There's a diverse variety of characters that fight for humanity for all different reasons. There's trust, friendship, along with betrayals, and pains. There's comedy relief among many characters, especially Sasha "Potato Girl" Blouse. There are characters that people can definitely relate with, such as Armin Arlert, who wants to do the right thing and protect his friends, but can't seem to do much because of fear. Fear is something that haunts us all, and prevents us from doing things in life. Another character that people can somewhat relate with is Annie Leonhardt, who fights alongside humanity, yet fights opposed to humanity. What does that mean? Watch the anime. Why is she doing this? Because of her past scars, "scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real" (watch to find out more). There were too many characters to development fully, but certainly the main characters were developed to their max. Levi is certainly a fan-favorite character, because of the fact that he's cool, overpowered, badass, kind-in-the-heart, smart, straight-to-the-point, and most of all, hilarious with all his neat-freakiness. The main character, Eren Yeager is strong-hearted, and "special", but he's still not strong enough to defeat the titans. How he develops is one of the most interesting things, in this interesting-things-packed anime.
The art and music can be described in one word: WOW! The art drawings were absolutely stunning! From the characters/titans to the setting of the story to all the equipment used in battle. The characters all had a unique aspect to them. The settings of the anime were beautiful. The cities, and walls looked realistic, the plains that characters dreamed of seeing made me want to run outside to see for myself how beautiful nature really is, and how humans under appreciate the naturality of nature. The 3-D gear was something that really caught my eye, and will certainly catch other people's eyes as well. A new form of action that's never been seen before. The characters would literally fly from rooftop to rooftop slicing their swords at the titans at high-speeds that keep the viewers eyes locked onto the screen at all times. The soundtrack in the anime was epic as shit. The openings speak for themselves, they do the anime justice. The openings were epic and certainly set the mood of what was to come from the anime. "They're the prey, and we are the hunters!" The rest of the soundtrack in the anime was okayasgduyasgda AMAZING. How can one describe how amazing those German OSTs were. They fit in perfectly with the epicness of the anime, and certianly added tons of suspense to the 3-D maneuver gear action.
Of course, I may be over-thinking things, but the anime certainly included some themes while creating this masterpiece of an anime. The aspect of being confined in an area, doing the same daily routine every day. People seek to be free, and to seek adventure. Watch for this. Another theme that the anime incorporated was that of the cycle of life. Humans, we steal animals away from their families, we kill them, we eat them. What's so different from us, and the titans? The feelings of not being at the top of the food chain... Anyways, if you haven't already watched this anime and you're reading this review, then you've clearly been living under a rock all this time, and I definitely encourage you to watch this show even if it isn't your style of anime.
I started to follow the manga after watching the anime and quite frankly I don't see where and how the plot of Shingeki no Kyojin can suck, which in my humble opinion is awsome. You can understand the anime very well even without having read the manga. However, SNK isn't understood by many because it's a psychological manga .. SNK isn't just a succession of empty and meaningless clashes and, of uncontrolled violence, stereotyped heroes who fight the bad (like Bleach). Here are shown the darkest sides of the human psyche with great mastery: the desire to be the best but can't do it, the
difference between men, their different modes of action (just think about the speech when Eren was discovered in which they show the reactions of the inhabitants of the inner walls Rose) and their motivations, some of the questionable actions that seems to be made in the right and instead the Justice of others that superficially seems foolish and petty (such as the choice of sending refugees to rebuild the wall Mary), freedom and the fact that they don't understand that what others inculcate to us sometimes are nothing more than mental cages. We stop at the appearances only because it suits us ( the walls is a symbol of that). Omitting the main and masterfully developed theme of "Homo omini lupus".
In this anime there are no heroes! There are not brave men, without fear, that kill all the wicked. Here there are people who are fighting against their own fear and that sometimes they make it and sometimes not. The enemies aren't the giants !Although the anime does not say from where they come from and I won't do spoilers, it's repeated several times that the enemies are the human beings with their fear (who have surrendered to the giants without doing anything, ignoring and accepting to live like cattle) and the walls! But no one notices that because it would be too challenging to make two questions and wondering: "Why the walls ? Shouldn't they be their salvation?" and get an answer.
The fact that many people aren't well characterized, and that physically are not very different from each other isn't a coincidence .. Isayama is putting on the same level all human beings, he is saying that we are all like that guy who shoots himself alone after he surrendered to fear, that we are all as Vernam (who during the attack fled from Trost ), that there is some of us who is better than others, but that we all live under the same fears, and even if we react differently, we act according to substantially the same nature. It still tells us that we might be the protagonists of our life, choosing our destiny, but only if we are ready to go beyond the stereotypes and mindsets that others impose to us, only if only if we work with all our strength. Because living by what others tell us, from what they show us, isn't to live, but survive!
And in addition to all the various points of reflection that SNK has to offer (and there are many, not just those listed ), there is a plot full of twists and turns, the suspense. In short, it is a masterpiece.
Then, if you are used to an anime where the bad guys magically becomes good after a lesson or in which the characters acquire super powers from nothing or from old men who appearing in their minds... Well, ok ...... that ... that's original and profound ........
(Hope my english was not so bad) :)
In the 80's, Mobile Suit Gundam catapulted anime in Japan.
In the 90s, Dragon Ball Z broke the mainstream walls while Neon Genesis Evangelion opened the doors to the now indispensable late-night anime slots in Japan.
In the 2000s, Fullmetal Alchemist marked the peak of manga-to-anime adaptations while Code Geass & Death Note headed the class of those who introduced the new anti-hero genre.
And now, in 2013, Attack on Titan has shaken the industry once again.
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 5 months, you should at least know what the story is about, and for the sake of staying spoiler free, I'm not
going into details on the plot.
Before I wrote this review, I wrote a different piece moments after watching the first episode stating that Attack on Titan had all the potential to become a landmark anime, knowing very little of how true that statement would turn out to be.
I have watched anime ever since I can remember. I have seen the very best and the worst that this industry has to offer. And I, like most of you, am very familiar with the relationship of manga-anime adaptation, which is the case of Attack on Titan. It is because of such experience and knowledge that I am able to say with so much confidence that Attack on Titan is the best anime series ever produced from any standpoint, at least, in the last decade.
Attack on Titan is such a well-done product that it has all the key strong points we all dream every series could have. By this I mean the story, characters, animation, OST, opening/ending sequences, art, directing, narrative, character development, and, most importantly, the "it" factor. These are all present with "A grade" production values.
First of all, I want to start with the OST. Simply put, Attack on Titan's soundtrack rivals that of Rurouni Kenshin and Evangelion. Period. Don't misunderstand, they are not similar by any means, they are simply equally as masterful. Check on the internet the impressions left by fans about the first soundtrack. And if you still don't believe me, tweet Hideo Kojima (creator of Metal Gear series) and ask his take on it.
The OST is extremely important in this show because it allows you to feel the many epic moments that dwell in this 25 episode marvel. This is where the directing and narrative play a big role. For those of you who have seen Death Note (same director), you will feel an extra feeling of similarity with Attack on Titan, as the show relies heavily on its intense emotional scenes which you most certainly will feel the first 2 minutes of episode #1.
It is in these scenes where the golden cast of characters shine. I cannot stress enough how unique the characters are. You could say they are the cream of the many accolades that Attack on Titan has. I'm still amazed by the quality of voice actors that just seem to just pop out in this show. The voices of so many main characters from hit series come together in Attack on Titan to help provide that epic feeling you start to get once episode #1 ends. Note I emphasize the voice acting because it's part of the anime but, obviously, not of the manga.
Another key strong point is the work and effort put on the OP/ED sequences. If you've come this far in my review then you most likely understand when I say that Openings and Ending sequences are crucial. They provide that extra excitement to the show. It's definitely something not all anime series take seriously. Fortunately, Wit Studio took them seriously, and then came "Guren no Yumiya". The second opening, "Jiyuu no Tsubasa" is outstanding and marvelous in its own way and the second ending, "great escape", fuels that adrenaline rush of excitement you will get after those killing cliffhangers. Having said that, the first OP, "Guren no Yumiya", is simply epic. If there was ever something to describe as epic, it would be this OP. I am certain that as of today, it is the greatest anime opening ever. I'm amazed by the amount of attention it got on the internet and the hundreds of parodies derived from it. It was simply a treat to our eyes. The song. The animation in the opening. The sync between the two. Epic.
You won't be skipping that opening.
In addition, an animation production is never as close to perfection without the animation and art being top class. Now, Attack on Titan has astonishing art, to the point where you are amazed of how far animation has come. The scenes where there is sunlight will leave you speechless. The animation, unlike the other aspects, is where some disagree. The only thing I have to say is I was extremely impressed throughout the whole show until I saw a certain scene in episode #11 where the 3D maneuver gear was used, and I was stunned. I was simply stunned. Then, of course, later episodes also take it to a whole new level, but you're probably gonna be used to that quality of greatness by then.
That's how ridiculously good Attack on Titan is.
Now, like the characters, the story is mostly work of the manga's author. This includes character development, which I believe is the key to the success and extreme popularity of the characters. Also, the story maybe the most original aspect of this series. Nothing you have seen before is in this show. Nothing. Much like EVA, Attack on Titan gives you a world of "dystopia", on-edge, and uncertainty, so full of potential that just when you think you have it figured it out, it turns around and leaves you speechless.
Oh, that will happen to you for the first time in episode #5. Guaranteed.
Finally, even IF all these characteristics of an anime series are top notch, it won't amount to its potential if it doesn't have that "IT" factor. Some series have the "IT" factor without having all of these production values. They tend have 3 or 4 at most. Those become popular because they give out that feeling of "amazing". Gintama, the greatest gag series ever, comes to mind. Its anime doesn't have overwhelming OST, or eye popping animation; it does have A class characters and A class story (among others), but that "IT" factor takes it to another level. Now, imagine having practically everything an anime series has to offer in A class value while also having that "IT" factor. Extremely rare. Eva rare. FMA rare. Attack on Titan is part of that elite group. This is why its popularity rose to highs only few series reach.
This is the first time I have ever written a detailed review of an anime series. I did it because this one deserves it. It's The anime series of my adult era. I can now relate to those anime fans who watched Evangelion almost 20 years ago. They knew they had something special, just like we do now with Attack on Titan.
In conclusion, Attack on Titan is, of course, like MS Gundam, DBZ, EVA, FMA, Geass, and Death Note, not perfect. Like any other piece of greatness it does have its negatives. Having said that, when you add up the good and the bad, you end up with a landmark anime series that is currently shaking the industry with its mesmerizing, sensational, emotional, intense, and inspiring first season. Just imagine the wait and the hype for season 2.
What kind of effect will Attack on Titan have on the anime/manga industry we love? Only time will tell...
In the meantime, this is simply the best anime series in the last 15 years. Enjoy.
Every once in a while, and even more frequently now than in the past, an anime appears that is completely and unequivocally shrouded in layers upon layers of hype and popularity from the anime community. It's the show that's on everyone lips, as well as everyone's TV screens. In the Fall of 2011, The Future Diary created an exceptional level of hype that had not been seen for quite some time. When the Summer of 2012 rolled along, it was time for Sword Art Online to take the spotlight, and its own popularity grew to
heights far beyond that of The Future Diary. Then, in the Spring of 2013, we were treated to what one could consider the Game of Thrones or the Breaking Bad of the anime industry in terms of sheer popularity; a show that completed engulfed the entire anime community, dwarfing even SAO in popularity, but is this anime truly worthy of the hype that it received?
Our story is set in an alternate universe where, 100 years prior to the events of the story, giant humanoid creatures known as Titans appeared and began consuming and decimating the human population, though with no apparent purpose for doing so. In response, the remainder of humanity built three enormous, circular walls to encompass their entire population and keep the Titans at bay. In this world, we meet three young children Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa, and their friend Armin, as they live out their peaceful lives in the southernmost city at the edge of the outer wall, Wall Maria. This soon changes, however, when a 60-meter Titan smashes through the main gate of Wall Maria, allowing Titans to freely enter the city and devour every human in sight, and forcing those who lived in the outer districts to retreat behind Wall Rose. During the chaos, Eren witnesses his mother being eaten by a Titan, and now he, Mikasa, and Armin have joined the military in the hopes of acquiring the skills necessary to take vengeance on the creatures that destroyed their lives.
This series, as a whole, has almost completely mastered the art of building suspense, mostly through the use of very long plot arcs. There always seems to be something constantly pushing towards a conclusion, but not actually getting there until several episode later, and that push factor creates a sensation of rarely ever wanting to stop watching for fear of the resolution being just after the episode you just watched. Additionally, this series is also a master of what I call the "morale builder," something that Gurren Lagann has shown mastery of in the past, and there are dozens of moments throughout the series where, no matter how grim and horrifying the situation, it provides an uplifting or rallying feeling that both immerses you in the world its sets up and makes you root for our heroes to the bitter end.
Speaking of grim and horrifying, that comparison to Game of Thrones earlier was far from being an off-handed comment. By this I mean that I hope you don't enjoy getting attached to characters, like I do, as you may find yourself curled up in a corner at some point. In the world of fiction, particularly in action series, there is a concept called "plot armor," which basically means that characters who seem crucial to the plot's progression and the show's stability as a whole are protected from death or other nasty fates that might await them. In this regard, the plot armor for Attack on Titan is about as thick as a used piece of tin foil, and deaths of major characters are frequent and often times unrelenting. In regards to this, and on a more personal note, there are only three anime that have actually made me legitimately cry before. Two of them were KyoAni series, and the third was Attack on Titan. This show really does not care about who your favorite character is, and if you've made it this far without having had the major deaths in the series spoiled for you yet, then consider yourself lucky.
Unfortunately, there is one minor flaw with this series. There are certain points, especially at some slightly slower moments in the series, where its gets a little too over-dramatic, to the point of almost being ridiculous. This was especially noticeable during what is now referred to as the "Boulder Arc," which encompasses roughly episodes 10-12. These moments are few and far between however, and are immediately drowned out once the hype builds back up again.
On the character front, for the sake of not getting your hopes up about the prospects of certain characters living, I'll talk only about the three main characters I mentioned earlier, with the knowledge that the rest of the cast, while incredibly massive in scale, still serves as a stellar group of vibrant personalities and ideals to create a surprisingly organic social environment. As for the big three, we'll start with Armin, who takes on the "smart one/strategist" archetype. While he is fairly generic and standard at the beginning of the series, we get to see him grow into being a more varied character at a constantly shifting rate, and his skills at strategy both on the battlefield and in complex conversations are practically unmatched, often allowing him the power to save the other two from the situations they get themselves into.
Next is Mikasa, who, for the majority of the series, is portrayed as being essentially flawless, taking on the role of the unstoppable badass Titan slayer fresh out of training who also makes time to coddle her adoptive brother, and this flawlessness is built up to the point of it almost being a flaw in itself. There are, however, a few quirks to her personality that make her feel more human, but at the same time make her seem even more distant. Her only notable "flaw" seems to be her undying loyalty and devotion to Eren, often throwing caution to the wind and bolting out against orders in order to make sure he's safe. This also leads to some rather disquieting moments where her own sanity seems to abandon her and, to put it lightly, causes her to act excessively hostile towards anyone who means ill will towards Eren.
Finally, we have Eren, our stereotypical "perseverance" character whose sole motivation for the majority of the season is taking revenge on the Titans, and while this does seem like a bit of a gaping flaw for the show's main character, it's actually both understandable and sort of refreshing. His intense focus on his own rage and desires for revenge slowly consumes part of who he is, which becomes especially present at several points throughout the series that I can't go further into detail on due to massive amounts of spoilers.
The animation was produced by Wit Studios, a new studio that serves as a surrogate of Production I.G. Regardless of its heritage, for a new studio to create such a massively impressive project is beyond incredible. Not only is the animation well-polished, but it also carries its own distinctive style, most notably in the fact that its characters are heavily outlined in varying thicknesses of black to make them pop out from the background. Speaking of backgrounds, the environments are shown to be incredibly rich and detailed despite how unvaried they may appear on the surface, and the action shots give us plenty of different perspectives on this environment. As for the action itself, Wit Studios has no qualms at all with handing out incredible fight sequences by the barrel-full via an in-world tool used by humanity's military known as 3D Maneuver Gear, allowing us to break away from standard ground combat and enter the world of high-flying intensity, with soldiers bolting off of every building in sight, into the air above them, and landing blade-first on the neck of a Titan. On course, all of these brilliant combinations of animation are to be expected from Araki, who has already brought us both the intensely stylized atmosphere of Death Note and the blood-pumping action of Guilty Crown.
The dub was produced by FUNimation, and, as someone who watched the subbed version first, I have no problems whatsoever recommending this dub. From heavy-hitting new favorites like Josh Grelle and Matthew Mercer to classic icons like Vic Mignogna and Caitlin Glass, Funimation has pulled out all the stop to create one of the best dubs this side of 2010. Grelle shuffles between nervously unstable and frantically stern for his portrayal as Armin, and Trina Nishimura pulls off both Mikasa's warmth and ferocity to near perfection. My only notable flaw with the dub is Bryce Papenbrook as Eren. To be fair, this is definitely Papenbrook's best performance yet, due in no small part to Mike McFarland's exceptional voice directing, but he does still tend to get a bit "Bryce-y" at some points and lets his excessively angsty style boil over, which is a rather dangerous idea considering Eren's character. Overall though, this is a minor blemish on an otherwise excellent dub.
The music was composed by Hiroyuki Sawano (Aldnoah.Zero, Kill la Kill), and this soundtrack is definitely one of the best to come out of anime in a long time, based in heavy orchestrations and laced throughout with electronica and hard rock. From the bombastic explosions of "E.M.A" and main theme "Attack on Titan" to the insert tracks of "The Reluctant Heroes" and "Doa," this soundtrack dabbles in the art of perfection on all fronts. If it seems like I'm being much more in-depth with the soundtrack than usual, it's because I've actually purchased the soundtrack on iTunes and have been listening to it practically non-stop, and I highly recommend making this purchase as well. Both opening themes, "Guren no Yumiya" and "Jiyuu no Tsubasa," were performed by Linked Horizon and give us massive eruptions of heavy rock combined with brass and vocal choirs (and on a quick aside, I'm one of the few people that actually preferred the second theme more than the first, though the first still kicks all sorts of ass). The first ending theme "Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai" by Yoko Hikasa gives us a rolling ballad to play us out of each episode, while the second ending theme "great escape" by Cinema Staff blasts through with a heavy rock track. Additionally, all of these tracks except "great escape" are available for purchase on iTunes, purchases that I also highly recommend.
Overall, Attack on Titan is simply an incredible experience, combining high-flying action that could even make ufotable nervous with a dark and nearly-overwhelming sense of fear and desperation, and this anime is more than deserving of the hype that it receives. However, as it stands right now, on November 4, 2014, the series is incomplete, and there has been no announcement of a second season yet. I highly doubt that this second season will never come however, and it has been reported that the original manga is planned to be finished in about four years’ time (which actually isn't that much material for a monthly manga). In the meantime, there will be plenty of specials and spin-offs to keep us satiated until season 2 is officially announced.
Attack on Titan is currently licensed by FUNimation and is available from them for both streaming and purchase.