Reviews: Attack On Titan
Interesting and Inventive but not without Flaws
Attack on Titan is what I would call an All-or-Nothing show. It has that odd way about it where being indifferent is an odd occurrence. It's either engaging or exhausting and there isn't much middle ground. There's a lot nice that can be said about Attack on Titan, chief of which being that it isn't inclined to pull common punches with the audience. I'll start by simply saying this: people die. A LOT. I wouldn't call that a spoiler because it's pretty much the first thing you'll notice about the show. The common fighting style in the series used by the human characters is clever and engaging to watch, which is essential in a shonen series where there's going to be quite a bit of that. Monster designs are interestingly jarring and manage to be unsettling without trying too hard. It's a series I caught myself grinding through despite struggling to pin one element as 'great' and maybe that kind of ambient draw is the testament to a good series. If the series has one real flaw to note it would be the pacing. There's no getting around the fact that the series, especially at the outset, is a slog. If you're someone who can't stand when anime fills time using copious amounts of sepia flashbacks to clips from last episode this might be a deal-breaker. Sadly this isn't helped by sheer repetition: those inclined to tell their liver they're done with it can probably make a vicious drinking game of just people looking scared and screaming. Mix in some hard liquor for every flashback to a certain scene in the first episode (you'll know the one) and you'll probably be at your intervention before the plot kicks in. It's a kind of inherent flaw really: when 95% of your cast is running around in the exact same outfit, in very similar scenery, even if things are progressing it feels slow. There's also a slight issue (varies by customer it seems) that the sheer amount of horrible stuff happening just starts to cheapen each occurrence. In short, grit your teeth and bear through the first couple of events. If your still engaged then you'll find a series that's probably to your liking. If you're wincing every time the episode title card is formatted "[Event Title]: Part x++" by then, it's probably best to jump off.
Attack on Titan....good start but it gets bogged down by many flaws
I think that Attack on Titan had a strong start. The stakes were shown, there's a good mystery, and PEOPLE ACTUALLY DIE (this is huge for Shonen). But let's balance the Pros with the Cons here. Pros: Good start Jean and Armin had great character development Setting is original and creative Cons: Asspulls, Dear lord, the Asspulls. (Eren turning into a Titan had nearly zero foreshadowing and I heard that him controlling the titans was an Asspull too, the way Levi took down the Female Titan was an Asspull, and if I mentioned more I would exceed the text limit.) The soldiers getting scared about actually having to fight Titans when they trained for that (I could get some of them being afraid but not every single one. Hell, even in the Survey Corps (which was basically made for people to fight titans i might add) has nearly every single person scared out of their butts) Bad Foreshadowing (There are 50 meter Colossal Titans in the wall? Are you serious? What about that time the Armored Titan pushed through the wall? Why didn't a Colossal Titan fall out? Or maybe at least a skeleton of it? And do I even need to mention Eren? People cried when he died? THIS IS A SHONEN PEOPLE!!!!) How come only Levi and Mikasa can get kills on titans but everyone else has to burn their asses off to even get a scratch? Eren was better off without the titan powers. He is also a cliche Shonen protagonist (I understand his reasoning for being so but did he have to be so cliche?) The entire choice thing when Eren was fighting the Female Titan. Let me explain, if Eren was saying that he made the wrong choice by not turning into a titan and saving Petra and the others (I dunno who the rest are) then he should have taken down the Female Titan quickly. This is to show how much of a mistake it was (missed chance for Character Development). He should not have LOST ANYWAYS which completely loses the entire effect of "making the wrong choice" They actually expect us to care about forgettable supporting characters. The titans devolve from threatening beings of nature to the biggest (possibly unintentional) source of comedy in the entire series. Overall: The series is mediocre at best if you open your eyes and look at the flaws and balance them with the pros.
More twists than a bag of pretzels
Some people read manga for the fanservice. Others tune in because they want to feel something. If you're the latter, I highly recommend Attack on Titan, because this series will tear out your heart and step on it over and over again until you're just a sad pile of self loathing. If you're the former, keep walking, there's nothing to see here. Attack on Titan's story is sadistic. Hardly anything goes right for our heroes, and new characters are introduced only to quickly die unceremonious deathes. The main character spends most of his time helpless, and after 50 chapters his number of victories can be counted on one hand. The heroes can't even do anything without suffering countless casualties in the process. Why would any fan subject themself to this? THE MYSTERIES. Behind all the gore and betrayal are multiple clever mysteries, and Isayama loves to hint and poke and tickle our curiosity, baiting us into anticipating the answers. It keeps us coming back for more, because, despite the senseless killings and confusing developments, the characters grow and the story progresses at juuuuust the right pace for it all to work. It reminds me of LOST. And the characters, oh god the characters! I've never been so emotionally invested in such crudely drawn characters in my life! It's not so much that the characters are terribly unique or interesting, but they become endearing in this kind of setting. This series conditions us to expect in every struggle, whether big or small, that, yeah, this guy might just die, because this series loves to remind us that bad things happen to good people. In most series you're pretty confident who's expendable and who isn't. In Attack on Titan, no one is truly safe (Except maybe Eren). It becomes a frightening game of dead pool in a way. I've never read a shonen series quite like Attack on Titan. It is cynical, yet captivating. It beats us down into thinking everything will fail, but when the characters finally do succeed, it is bloody triumph! Their victories are our victories, and their sorrow is our sorrow. I've never been so emotionally abused in my life. I love it. Oh, and the anime is beautiful. 8/10 The pacing might turn some people off, and it can get exhausting seeing so many characters put to death early, but it's a rewarding experience that only gets better.
A Bumbling Effort
I watched both seasons of the anime. To me, the author began writing the series before working out the details. All he had was a basic concept: what if giants were eating people? This is not exactly a new concept; you can find plenty of this in "The Odyssey". However, this author decided to put a zombie spin on the concept within a steam punk setting. Unfortunately, his understanding of 1800s science and technology is lacking so his explanations contradict each other. For example, the Titans show every indication of being massive, and massive humanoids would not be able to run or jump as the female Titan does in episode 17. So...in episode 15 Hange claims that Titans are actually very light. This is an explanation that an 8 year old might have thought up but it doesn't work since the Titans clearly are not light. There is no explanation of how a huge body can just appear out of thin air when one of them transforms. Given the author's limitations, this probably would have worked better as fantasy with a magical explanation. The character development is bad. Oh, there is an attempt in this direction but it gets flattened by both the mystery/conspiracy attempt and the larger context. Back when people wrote bad mysteries, they resorted to "the butler did it" to try to have a surprise. This plot does "your own teammates did it". The female Titan spares Armin but kills Petra and this makes sense because...well, actually it doesn't make sense. The character behind the female Titan would have to be schizophrenic to behave the way she does. The colossal Titan and armored Titan tear down the outer wall. Now, in a rational world, they would have shown up the next day and broken down both inner walls and everyone would have been killed. But, that didn't happen because...apparently the author wanted to continue with the story and couldn't figure out this detail. And, yes, it is sad that Eren's mother gets killed...but, in the context of the extinction of humanity, this is not such a big plot point. The author clearly does not comprehend the scale. This is nothing more than an author's attempt to have a trendy, zombie/steam-punk take on fighting giants and he couldn't pull it off. The storyline is a mess after two seasons and will never get resolved beyond some equally ridiculous, half-baked explanations. I won't bother watching anymore of this.
Ignoring Hype... Still a Great Yarn. And Read the Manga, Seriously.
If you've been around awhile you've probably seen this before. Every couple of years an anime/manga comes out of nowhere and is the Greatest Thing Ever. This goes back at least to Neon Genesis Evangelion in otaku culture through Fullmetal Alchemist or Death Note, and can be seen with say HBO series. A Cyclical Trope of culture, those occasional Great Shows combining critical and popular acclaim. I guarantee every single one of them has hyperbolic exclamations of being better then sliced bread and being "overrated". Which is it? Well a more reasonable person might realize that taking mindbogglingly awesome as a benchmark for success is utterly foolish. Likewise other people experiencing that shouldn't be held against a show. Fans are terrible people, especially you. We all know you have a favorite you do the same thing for. And on that account Attack on Titan has some warts of course but does it deserve the hype... yeah actually it does. As much as anything ever will anyways. I came to the show mostly to kill some time, having no interest in it. Yet as a watched it still managed to put a grappling hook in me. Probably from a solid cast of likable characters, mostly not named Eren who btw is psycho. Supported by the ongoing mysteries being revealed just right keeping you guessing, interested, and giving some epic replay value to the story. I've seen a lot of this before whether its the Big O or Nausicaa but I haven't seen it in awhile or quite this way so its very interesting seeing what tropes this will end up with. That's not to say there aren't problems here or there. You can nitpick anything if you really try of course. I think worst though is that this series takes awhile to Grow Its Beard. I know exactly where too. By the time of the Spoon Scene I was fed up with "Eren on Trial", but from once everyone drops the Idiot Ball at the end of that, the beard grows in thick. And people stop being stupid. Unfortunately this does happen fairly late in the anime which can warp opinion. I can only recommend going to the manga, where the art alone should make clear Hajime Isayama was still very much working things out. And there is so much more going on after the anime ends. And that makes second viewings far more interesting.
This Seems Familiar...
I finally watched Attack on Titan. I figured, "The hype is starting to die down... I think it's safe to watch without fear of being mauled. After reading a few reviews, I determined the two types of people that watch this show. The OMYGODTHISISTHEBESTANIMEEVUR fans, and the people who acknowledged the fact that it was good, but WAY overhyped. But I never read a bad review... So I watched it, and I was impressed. The characters seem bland at times, and don't experience too much development, but the sheer uniqueness caught me by surprise. (The fact that a Shrinking Violet like Armin could host such a Badass fighter was amazing. The Titans are similar. Bland, but very unique (Also scary as hell). Not to mention the intense action scenes that are portrayed beautifully. But halfway through, I noticed a distinct similarity do a different series from a while ago. An immense fanbase, overhype surrounding what can best be described as pretty good, a ridiculously memetic Opening song... Does anyone see the similarities to Haruhi Suzumiya? I did. And from then on, Attack on Titan became much more enjoyable to watch for me. Guren no Yumiya did remind me of Hare Hare Yukai if only in terms of sheer popularity and parodies. An interesting, but unusual (And sometimes confusing) storyline, and other similarities made this series stand out even more. But in the end, Attack on Titan ended up falling short of the hype. The "unusual storyline" I mentioned is basically as follows: "Kill Titans. Learn more about Titans. Don't get killed by Titans." Now, to say this is the whole storyline is a ridiculous exaggeration, but the story is not this anime's strong suit. (Note that I haven't read the manga yet.) Was it good? Definitely. Was it a "Breathtaking miracle that should be everyone's favorite anime?" No. Will I watch it when Funimation dubs it? You bet I will.
Unique world-building, unoriginal protagonist
If you like really unique world-building, this is something to check out. The story is set in a neo-medieval world where Titans, which are basically giant zombies, have been stalking the last remnants of humanity outside of the last human city. Paranoia runs high throughout the entire story, and the desperate situation causes children (the main trio of Erin, Armin and Mikasa) to sign up as basically teenage soldiers/cannon fodder to fight the Titans. The plot is best categorized as a military thriller, and the action scenes have the terror of The Walking Dead if all the zombies were Godzilla. Pacing in anime always bothers me, so I go into every anime expecting to have problems with it. The pacing in Ao T isn't as atrocious as I was expecting it to be because there are enough genuine plot twists to make it worthwhile. I also liked how the series expands to focus on more characters as it progresses. There's something intensely likable about this story (anime and manga), even though it does have a major drawback. The protagonist is the most cliche part of the story. He has super powers, and he's still boring and one-dimensional. Even his mysterious dad and the mystery behind his powers doesn't fully save him from being dull. It's even more of a shame because the rest of the characters are intensely interesting and have actual motivations and stakes within this world. Mikasa is a bad ass, Armin takes a few shots at actual cleverness, and the other characters (there are lots and lots of them) in the military are well done as well. The best parts of this story are when it doesn't focus on the main character, which means that Eren was a poor choice for the main character. If you're a casual anime fan, bearing with the slower pacing early on pays off. 3.5/5
DBZ-Level Poor Pacing Really Hurts This
Attack On Titan is cool, but suffers from heavy-handedness in the War Is Hell Department, and horrible pacing. If I had to sum up how this anime really is, I'd say it's got the basic shell of a Gundam show, An Aesop of The Hunger Games Mockingjay, and the stretched out pacing of a Dragon Ball Z arc. The good first. The titans are freaking creepy as all hell. The Uncanny Valley is strong with this one. Those perpetual smiling faces and androgynous genetalia-lacking bodes are just eerie and disgusting. Each titan looks unique for the most part. The fight scenes that they spend all their money on is also stunning. The titan battles are well animated and the moves are impressive. The various body types of the characters in the show are welcome. Each and every character body has been modeled uniquely and with much variation. So everyone has a distinct look. Now the bad: The plot is simple enough to follow: a town with several outlying rings is breached, and the Corps must find out about the titans and fight them. Simple. The problem lies in the Anvilicious delivery of the War Is Hell message.There are preventable accidents and deaths abound in this series, because every warrior save for three are absolutely atrocious at their jobs. They're trying to tell us that War is scary and people become petrified when faced with the End. ... Okay. I can buy that. But is EVERY SINGLE SOLDIER unable to act on simple commands? As soon as one bad thing happens, everybody becomes useless quivering masses of stupidity. It's a whole army of RedShirts. It makes no sense in a world where life is threatened everyday by invasion that people are this incompetent. One could Hand Wave this by blaming it on the Powers That Be and their incompetent ruler. I guess. Either way, it's completely infuriating to watch. This is not an anime that deconstructs society or the human psyche. And people spend a crap load of time talking about nothing. About what they will do, what they won't do, what they wish they could do. An entire episode centered around people discussing the fate of a character, and then a speech of boringness followed. All in all, not horrible, but I won't continue to season 2. 6/10
Not As Awesome As Fans Say, But Damn Good Manga (NO SPOILERS)
A post-apocalyptic setting with giant zombies and some genuine strategy. Sounds awesome and, indeed, it is, with some good plot, decent characterization (save for Eren, who is rather bland)and an original setting which gives off a Bersek-esque vibe, and gore galore. Also, little to no Fanservice, which is a plus in my book. The two main drawback are, however, in the storytelling department: namely the flashbacks which are all over the place (with little to no way to see when they change on the original, story-wise) and the art, which, while fitting for the Uncanny Valley Titans, makes downright impossible in the manga to recognize one character from the other (Mikasa and Sasha's only difference is really in their eyes). As a lesser nitpick, the author has been recently doing his best to tease the misteries and yet pulling back, making fans enrage (Chapter 46 is the most blatant example, with the characters adressing aloud the questions until now... and getting no answer). The Titans are a mixed bag as villains, due to their Off Model design and behaviour, they stand the line between Nightmare Fuel and Narm, and, while some might have seen some of the biggest twists from a mile, later a few of them gets a great deal of characterization and genuine wonder of the bigger plots behind the character's (well written, if not generic) struggles, with the only one really bugging me being Mikasa's backstory of (almost) rape when she was a child. A bit too clichéd, in my opinion. But again, my only gripe is with Eren, whose only main trait is his desire of revenge for the Titans and, while he is getting some Character Development, he is still rather dull. As of the anime, while i have never seen nothing but the excellent openings, has an excellent animation and, from what I heard, makes small tweaks to the story, which either improved the story or are subject to a Broken Base. Overall, Attack on Titan is an action packed and clever story with rather genuine twists and very plot driven, although at the expense of most of their characters. Being very plot driven, avoid getting the plot twist spoiled beforehand, or they'll detract from the enjoyment (which is why I avoid saying anything about the plot per se aside from Mikasa's backstory). If you are not adverse to gore and darker plots, check it out, but if you are squeamish, beware. 7.8/10.