Attack on Titan or Shingeki no Kyojin (but literally means Advancing giants) is a horror-action anime series adapted from the manga of the same name that is created and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. The series has debuted last April 7 and is booted for a 25-episode series running over 24 minutes for each one. The manga was nominated for the 4th Manga Taisho Awards in 2011 and won the Kodansha Manga Award shonen category.
Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by titans. Titans are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do it for the pleasure rather than as a food source. A small percentage of humanity survived by walling themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of titan. Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a giant in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a colossal titan that appears out of thin air. As the smaller titans flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single titan and take revenge for all of mankind.
It’s been too long since I last did a review and what better way than to resume it with something new: the premiere episode of Attack on Titan.
First of, I have to praise for the awesome landscape artwork and character concepts (especially the Titans; damn those Titans!) You really can’t go wrong with Japanese animation. What makes the artwork beyond its incredibility is the subtle background information the pilot gives about the Titans. The history of their existence is both creative and thought-provoking due to the fact that the one reason they hunt and eat humans is just for the sheer fun of it. How gross and disturbing is that?
Apart from the antagonists characteristics, I surprisingly enjoyed the 5-second interval in between scenes because of the bite-sized info that were written about the wall and the Titans. This goes to show how keen the Japanese are on their background information and how much work has been put into conceptualizing the entirety of the story.
On a deeper note, the pilot itself is the embodiment of subliminal messages and symbolism. I guess this is one of the main reason why Isayama was awarded back in 2011. From the history of the wall to the persona of the main protagonist, Attack on Titan is one of those series that skillfully digs deep into the subconscious level of the human mind and raise awareness of our surroundings that we mere humans have failed to see properly these days. In the anime, the wall is described by some as “the work of God” and the gift of his grace but if you analyze closely, this interpretation indirectly points towards that “fine line” that lies between us and the threat of our fears and inferiority. Somehow, I also perceived the “wall” as the high authorities of our modern generation because of its depiction of seemingly legitimate security and safety that stands between us and ultimate chaos. Another interpretation can also be seen in the mentality of the townspeople about their “wall”: they are so convinced that they will be protected and it will continue to stand strong without the inevitable possibility that it will break down.
Putting aside the critical analysis of the story, I have to say that the entirety of the pilot caught more than just my attention and thinking span. I admired the calm atmosphere that surrounded the main protagonist, Eren but yet he submerged himself in so much stress and grim that hasn’t even happened yet. Eventually, as the story progressed, his worst fears came true.
Eren portrayed two types of fears within the concise plot: one, he feared that the Titans will break the wall and kill everyone. Two, despite the threat of the Titans, he feared that he would go on with his life without knowing about the world beyond the wall and eventually die out without having to do anything to change it. He could see how the wall’s secured area is making them look like livestock for the hungry Titans. In my opinion, I believe this is Isayama’s reinvention of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave which actually impresses me even more. He also manages to tune up this theory with certain factors like heresy and paranoia and somehow
The anime itself is just a constant build up of impressive and horrific scenes that succeeds in drilling right into your memory jug and planting so many thought provoking questions. I can praise it all I want but only you can justify it yourself.
Attack on Titan is a definite must-see and I won’t surprised if it ends up becoming more popular than any of us could imagine.