Attack on Titan has been a popular show lately, with cosplay from it taking over conventions around the world. The first arc ended a few weeks back, and it was certainly an interesting experience. If you choose to watch it, be prepared for a rather gorey experience… full of shouting, death, more shouting, and yet more death. Fortunately, it also manages to fit fascination and interest alongside the screaming and death…
Not For the Faint of Heart
This is going to be my last warning to you, if you’re not prepared for some rather sickening imagery… steer clear. There are some truly gruesome things… people getting eaten, having body-parts bit off, and even the method in which the titans are eventually killed is pretty brutal. So just be aware going in that you may be in for some unpleasant imagery.
Sometimes Enjoyment isn’t Everything
Attack on Titan is an anime that, in a lot of ways, reminds me a great deal of The Last of Us. Of course, the fact that is was designed in Japan makes sure there aren’t too many similarities, but there are some very immediate comparisons just waiting to be made. First and foremost is the atmosphere. Both present that same sort of dark, depressing, heavy feel to them. These aren’t worlds built for joy. They focus, in stead, on giving you an unforgettable experience that will make you think and doubt.
And the experience really is intriguing. Attack on Titan makes a world in which an unnatural feeling predator has emerged and has forced humanity to the brink of extinction – surviving behind massive walls erected around a series of settlements and territory. The story to be found here is fascinating, but don’t expect to ‘get it’ right away. The first few episodes seem more interesting in inuring you to suffering than in actually telling you a story. They set the base though, and a good story needs a solid base.
Who Needs Stereotypes?
The characters within Attack on Titan are some of the more impressive I’ve seen. They don’t fall back on the standard tropes you’re used to seeing, with a few minor exceptions. And they laugh at stereotypes… featuring “The World’s Last Asian” who just so happens to be a paragon almost unequalled in raw talent. It’s an interesting way to sneer at the Asians are good at everything stereotype, and it works for the show since they don’t make a big deal out of it.
What little humour is present within the show comes from the different characters you run into. A girl who is willing to put up with punishment, work, and danger provided she has food, for example. Each character is unique and interesting, and the interactions between them – if you can ignore the screaming – are a large part of what make this show so fascinating.
One thing about this show that truly stands apart is the action. There’s a bit of a build up, and a lot of screaming before you get there… but the payoff for waiting for it is spectacular. If you can stand the gore, you’ll be in for a treat. Things are very bloody, a little disgusting, and more than a little unpleasant… but that is what makes it so engaging. They don’t give you any room to breathe. There is an air of suspense and tension throughout sustained by the mysterious circumstances and utterly unforgiving treatment the characters receive. And then, when the tension begins to break, it becomes incredibly intense. Things happen and you’re kind of left just sitting there wondering exactly what it was that just happened.
The show doesn’t always manage to do a good job balancing action with story, and more importantly almost entirely fails within the first arc to truly incorporate the storytelling into the action. You’re left with sequences where things are crazy and then sequences filled with people screaming at each other essentially explaining what happened. It can be a little disconcerting.
While not entirely pleasant to look at, the imagery is fantastic. The anime is very over the top, exaggerates everything to an extreme, but does so in the pursuit of telling a truly interesting story amid the craziness. And the end of the first arc gives you a crazy tease of what is to come that will ensure you have no reason to stop eagerly awaiting that next episode.