Attack On Titan (2013) TV Show Review

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Before ever seeing this show, I had heard of the legends – about how this is 1 of the best mangas and animes ever made.  And certainly, it’s 1 of the hottest animes to come out in the last 5 years.  Today I finished the final episode to the anime series (or Season 1, at least), as well as about 4 other episodes before it…so…Attack Of Titan.

Directed by Tetsurō Araki (Death Note anime and High School Of The Dead anime), Attack On Titan is set in a universe that is clearly inspired by european culture throughout the centuries, our story takes place about 100 years after humanity was nearly wiped out by man-eating humanoid giants known as Titans.  For protection, mankind decided to seal themselves behind 3 giant walls, which are built as 3 circles, 1 inside another, called Maria (outer wall housing farmers, working class & effectively a national park), Rose (Middle wall, housing middle class) and Sheena (Inner wall, housing 1st class, royals and government).  Many people during these 100 years have lived without ever seeing a Titan…until the 1st episode of the anime.  On this day, 2 unique Titans appear – The giant 60-metre Titan (with no skin) and the Armoured Titan, which smashes through Wall Maria, forcing everyone in the outer circle to either fight or retreat into the middle circle, leading to a situation similar to a refugee crisis.

Our story involves many characters, but mostly revolves around 3 protagonists.  Eren Yeager is the main character, and also, visibly, the angriest of the 3.  After witnessing a Titan devouring his mother, he made it his mission in life to destroy every Titan in existence.  Though untalented at flying, his drive and hard work eventually pay off, and he starts going after Titans.  Then we have Mikasa Ackerman, who is Eren’s foster sister.  Mikasa is 1 of the most talented soldiers in the army, and the last known person of Asian descent within all 3 walls.  She only has 1 treasure left in the world, Eren, and will protect him at all costs, even if the rest of the Army is against them.  Lastly there’s Armin Arlert, a childhood friend of Eren and Mikasa.  Academically brilliant, what holds him back is his inferiority complex, and seeing his reliance of friends to be a weakness.  There are lots of other interesting characters, but the most memorable 1 is Levi, the short, dark and quiet elite scout who was modelled after Alan Moore’s Watchmen character, Rorschach (very interesting choice!).

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Now to break this down into specific lego bricks:

Visually; both artistically and animation-wise, Attack On Titan is an absolute masterpiece!  Literally 1 of the best presented anime TV shows I’ve ever seen.  It can be argued that the use of the Ken Burns effect for some scenes were either to save time or provide a certain effect – but it’s possible that it’s an inspired approach.  The character designs are excellently created and crisp with a wonderful use of realistic backgrounds and bold lighting effects.  It looks so good that it’s a standard-bearer for modern anime and future generations.  I also like the use of realistic irises (possible photographs) in the eyes of the  facial designs.

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The story is excellent, with a deep, dark, cynical, serious tone, along with a subtle sense of humour (often through some of the story’s kookier characters, such as Hange Zoe (The Scout with a bizarre and almost frightening Titan fetish), Levi, Sasha Blouse (a.k.a. Potato Girl), and Dot Pixis (easily the most eccentric higher-up).  In its own way, I see it almost in the same light as Game Of Thrones (2 different shows, but some little parallels) – the story builds up slowly with enough per episode to keep you invested, even during the quieter parts of the show.  But at the same time, your new favourite characters aren’t safe from being killed by Titans, which is what I mean when comparing it to Game Of Thrones.  There is a much larger story going on that this anime’s single season (so far) doesn’t show, and can be seen through the Manga (in fact, various mangas, including prequels for different characters), and possibly any movies or 2nd season that comes after this 1.  To put it simply; this season was excellent, and I’m hungry for more when it’s ready.

The music score was done by Hiroyuki Sawano, who also did Kill La Kill, and Xenoblade Chronicles X for the Wii U.  It’s incredibly intense, which suits the show perfectly.  But outside of the main themes like Guren no Yumiya by Linked Horizon and Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai by Yoko Hikasa, it’s not exactly music you would stick on for pleasure, like Yoko Kanno or Joe Hisaishi.  It suits the anime like a foot on the body, but it’s not as strong as a standalone soundtrack.

The voice acting was brilliant.  I watched it in Japanese (With english subs of course, I’m not levelled up enough yet for that), and the emotion just oozed into every bit of dialogue.  There were plenty of intense moments, and the voice actors did them justice.

The Fight Scenes in Attack On Titan are some of the best you will ever see in any anime, ever.  The intensity was…amazing.  It really got the adrenaline going, to the point that I was nearly as angry as Eren was – especially during the last 5 episodes – I’m serious, that was amazing!

Would I recommend Attack On Titan?  Absolutely!  But it’s not for kids (You’ll be worse than the titans if you let young kids watch this.  Because it’s really gory, quite scary, pretty upsetting, and pretty mature in themes).  This deep and well-put-together anime is obviously a small slice of a big cake, and doesn’t explore everything this world has to offer – but the quality is so high that it does have you coming back for more.  It’s 1 anime show that gets you emotionally invested from the beginning and takes you on an intense ride all throughout, while also providing a balance between epic battles and the themes the story explores, which include the value of human beings, friendships, corruption, sacrifice, believing in one’s self, the rewards of hard work, and the importance of goals.

Animation: *****

Art Style: *****

Music: ****1/2

Voice Acting: *****

Story: ****3/4

Characters: ****3/4

Fight Scenes: *****

Overall: *****

 

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