Shingeki no Kyojin... Where do I start?
In summary, Shingeki no Kyojin is a perfect anime to get somebody who loves action started on anime- I think it is literally the most mainstream anime ever made, and that is definitely not a bad thing. But with this comes downsides- ones not apparent to the viewer at first glance, but looking back on it after watching it around the time it first came out, definitely shine through.
Shingeki no Kyojin starts off with a roar- the first 2 episodes explode right out of the gate with high-octane action that also leaves mystery to draw the viewer in. Who are the titans? What is in the basement? Why is Eren's dad so creepy? All this and more the viewer asks themselves as the end credits roll for episode 2.
Then episode 3 and 4 jump in. It's a training scene for Eren and his friends, and it's dead slow in comparison. But that's ok- it's episodes like this that reinforce character development and get the plot rolling. And soon, the episodes with action will begin again, right? That High-Octane, bloody, gory action we've all been waiting for!
Well, it does. But then shortly after, it grinds back to a halt. Why do I bring up the first 5 episodes out of all things to mention about Shingeki no Kyojin? Because it perfectly frames the pacing of the entire anime. First you're baited with that sweet, bloody action that makes you just stare at the screen in amazement of the beautiful animation and heart-pumping soundtrack, and next thing you know you have to sit through an hour of people arguing over the same issue over and over before going back to the action. This would be fine and acceptable if it actually resulted in plot and character development going somewhere- but rarely this bickering between Armin and Eren result in anything productive.
Actually, Shingeki no Kyojin seems to show perfectly how to pull off the ILLUSION of plot and character development- Eren struggling with his inner demons despite somehow going back to square 1 every 5 episodes, the Basement which has been explicitly mentioned as having "all the answers" being completely forgotten about while the group goes out to hunt titans, and Armin rehashing what we already know to other characters every episode or two. All of this combined create a huge mess that on first glance seems like a deep and interesting story, but only through reflection of a different lens you begin to notice how shallow the pool you're standing in really is. The characters are shallow, the story tries to go somewhere but the characters almost seem to prevent it from moving at all, and at some points the story tries to go to too many places at once, just confusing the viewer until the next trippy action scene kicks in.
I like to compare Shingeki no Kyojin to a Michael Bay film. This also makes it easier to understand what I'm trying to say (and trust me, it's not your fault- I have a hard time expressing what I feel in words sometimes).
Imagine Eren as Shia Labeouf, and Shingeki no Kyojin as a typical summer blockbuster by Michael Bay. Eren zips around the scenes of the movie, fighting bad-guys and pulling off amazing stunts with beautifully rendered graphics and an amazing ost- but then hardcut to Eren getting mad at himself and people around him but not actually advancing the plot for 1/3rd of the movie as the action grinds to a halt. Add some comedic relief (if you want a Bay comparison, the classic transformers out of place masturbation joke fits well) including possibly some potatoes after a traumatic scene and then slap on the illusion of having a deep plot and you have Shingeki no Kyojin. It's a typical summer blockbuster! You go in, watch it, enjoy it, then leave and forget about it! I'm really not saying you're not allowed to enjoy it because it's shallow and noisy, I'm just saying you shouldn't walk in expecting a revolutionary masterpiece of anime- which is what some critics are raising it up to be.
STORY- 4 : The story's foundations are put up well, but the actual progression falls flat as no questions are ever really answered and the plot never seems to want to go in a single direction.
ART- 9 : The art is amazing! There are some worse-off scenes and some animation glitches, but the art is one of the things that makes Shingeki no Kyojin stand out from the crowd. Even though I am not a huge fan of the anime itself, I have a massive poster above my computer of it as we speak.
SOUND- 10 : While the music and sound design is generic at worst, it is composed beautifully and always reinforces the mood set out by the show. I would highly recommend a download of the OST.
CHARACTER- 3 : Easily the worst part of Shingeki no Kyojin. Eren's constant back and forth attitude and behaviour that never goes anywhere, Armin's arguing with people that last an entire episode simply to recap what just happened on screen, Mikasa's constant fight to try and save everyone and pull everything together: it's just all poorly done.
ENJOYMENT- 6 : While watching Shingeki no Kyojin, I certainly enjoyed it- but I wouldn't say I enjoyed it the whole way through. Even while watching it, I noticed a lot of the fighting and arguing was going on too long, and let's not forget the 3-5 episodes of riding on horses. But the scenes that were enjoyable- notably the fight scenes and the pivotal plot twists certainly left a lot to talk about and were enjoyable enough to at least somewhat wipe away two annoying characters yelling at eachother on horses for 30 minutes.
OVERALL- 5: Watch it, get what you get out of it, but don't walk in expecting the next amazing revolutionary anime. Expect a summer blockbuster.