Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Anime Review: Attack on Titan

Every few seasons, an Anime comes around, that every one seems to be talking about before it even started airing and once it actually starts and seems to be decent, the fanbase around it grows bigger and bigger with every episode until it seems to have consumed every other fanbase around it. It gets so popular that even people that usually don't watch Anime get aware of it and start trying it out. This year's spring season Anime "Attack on Titan" is nothing but a summary of exactly this phenomenon, as it started off strong and kept growing, until it was almost as big as the big 3 themselves. Ladies and Gentlemen, today's topic shall be the immensely popular Anime from the spring season of 2013: Attack on Titan, or as others might say Shingeki no Kyojin!


The story of Shingeki no Kyojin is set in a medieval alternative universe, in which the titans, giant naked humanoids that seem to not have any intelligence at all have suddenly started appearing and devouring humans. As it stands, they don't eat humans out of hunger or any other reason that might kill them, but just for the pure pleasure. As it gets clear that humankind at this point is not able to go up against the titans, the surviving people build three gigantic walls, even higher than any titan that has been sighted so far and hide behind them. Flashing forward 100 years, we get to know our three main characters Eren, Mikasa and Armin. Eren's and Armin's plan is to one day leave the city of humans and wander through the huge world outside that they so far have only read and heard about. One day though, suddenly a gigantic titan, even taller than the walls built around the human city appears and destroys the wall built around the district our three main characters live in. A second abnormal titan called the "Armored Titan" then runs right into the second wall and destroys it as well. With all the Titans now coming into the human territory, panic goes around, since not even the military knows what to do at this point. Going back to our main characters, they get separated since Eren runs back to his house only to witness his mother to get eaten by a titan and then gets brought away by a military helper. In contrary to a lot of other people Eren, Mikasa and Armin get a space on the boat with fleeing people. Here it is that we get to hear Eren talking about the plan that will dominate the entire show for the first time! "I'm gonna kill all of the Titans!"

When it is to the deaths, Attack on Titan really is damn cruel

Let me say one thing, before we get into the evaluation of the story: THIS SHOW IS CRUEL! Attack on Titan has no fear of killing of characters that either are really important or that you really get attached to and not a single character is safe only because he looks important, which is a major plus for the show, as it is really unpredictable and the plot twists and deaths come really surprising again and again, which is something that compliment the show itself amazingly well, since the story is a main selling point of the show as a whole. This already shows in the beginning as the show has one of the strongest starts that I have seen so far! What Attack on Titan does really well in it's first episode is show the chaos that is brought to the city by the colossal Titan kicking the gate, as we see people getting devoured and panic overcoming others. Another fact that makes this show's start amazing is it's pacing. After episode 3, the show suddenly starts to speed up a whole lot, with an uncountable amount of Plot Twists in only a few episodes. It is so fast, that you feel like you almost can't keep up with what the show has to offer you, leaving you sitting on the edge of the seat for the entire time! Unfortunately though, the show's strongest point at the same time is one of it's weakest. Later on, when it gets to the second part of the show, the pacing slows down, first to normal Shounen speed and after that even slower, which kind of bugged me personally because in comparison it just felt as if the show suddenly froze, even when it was moving at normal Shounen pacing. It eventually did speed up again, but not before leaving me a little disappointed several weeks in a row. That probably was a problem with me watching it weekly though, as the archs in Attack on Titan were with the exception of the first and last one always at least eight episodes long and it might have turned out to be a lot better if I would have marathoned it.


Eren is really obsessed with his one goal of killing all the titans!


The characters in Shingeki no Kyojin are nothing that we haven't seen before to be honest. We have our normal cliched Shounen protagonist, that swears vengeance for his mother, who was killed by the titans. As such Eren is nothing really outstanding and pretty much remains what he was from episode 2 on. He only starts to change in the last few episodes, which in total is way too late, as it is quite easy to get annoyed of him at times. His stepsister Mikasa though, is even worse. While being a really interesting character at first, since she finally is a female character that really is strong, the only thing that stands out about her later, are her awesome fighting skills against the titans and her incredibly exaggerated affection for Eren since she doesn't seem to care about anything but him, which in the end makes for a character that gets annoying as hell at times. The last main character is Armin, who is by far the most interesting of the trio. At first being stamped as the "Pussy" by many, Armin is the only one to really develop in the course of the show, realizing that he is not as insignificant as he thinks he is and in the end becomes a tactical badass, always being the one that has the right plan to go with. The supporting cast on the other hand for the most part is really well done. Almost none of the characters really feel one dimensional and they do get a lot more development as some of the main characters. Of course some aren't as good as others, but many are a lot more two-dimensional than for example Mikasa or Eren.

In total the characters for Shingeki no Kyojin are by far the weakest part of it, since they feel way too static for the most part and only some of the Supporting Cast are able to save that a little, but that is not enough to balance it out in total. That does not mean, that the characters aren't fun to watch at all, but later on, it became more and more obvious that character development was almost non-existent


Some of the Titans really do look weird MOE TITAN FTW!


If I was to describe the Animation of Attack on Titan in one word, it probably would be "INCONSISTENT"! Attack on Titan has been produced by Wit Studios, a daughter studio of the highly acclaimed Production I.G. This is the first work that Wit Studios has ever done, which one can easily see at some points of this Anime. A problem that the Anime has a lot to fight with, is the distribution of the show's budget. Whenever the show gets around to animate fast movement, most notably the usage of the 3D-Maneouver-Gear, a gear that is used to fight the titans by simply adding more mobility to the human body, the show looks bloody amazing, using 3D-camera movements to make every scene that it is used in a pure eyegasm. Huge credits for this go to Arawak Tetanus the director of this show, known for shows such as Death Note and High school of the dead, to invent this kind of style! Whenever the show slowed down a little though and fast movements wasn't needed, Wit Studios never animated any more than they needed. There were many scenes that were either simple still screens orjust looked as if they were only halfway animated, which is a real shame, since they just could have taken a little budget out of the fast scenes and animated the slower scenes a lot better. Another thing that I realized about the art were the thick outlines that were surrounding every character. It was a little distracting while watching it for the first time, but the more often I saw it, the more used to it I got.


Look at the amazingness that is the Maneuver Gear!


The Soundtrack for Shingeki no Kyojin was scored by Sawano Hiroyuki. A man that did already have quite some attention before going into this one as he was composer for Guilty Crown, which is known to have an amazing OST, but now after writing the music for Attack on Titan, he is the composer that everyone keeps talking about. The Soundtrack for this show is easily one of, if not THE best that I have ever heard. It ranges from really slow paced solo vocal songs, to epic choirs singing together with a well arranged orchestra, to techno influenced parts of the show. It is a Soundtrack that obviously knows the show it is attached to and the way it fits into the show is just amazing and is really good at getting your heart race during the scenes it wants you to get excited as well as get really depressed when the show wants you to be. The only complaint that I personally have with the music itself is really minor and didn't even bother me personally. The Soundtrack as a total is used really often, especially the track "Attack on Titan", which might lead to some people not liking them, cause they heard them to often. I personally though, couldn't get enough from the Soundtrack and loved what they did with it! I don't think I even have to talk about the Openings and Endings for the show do I? The first Opening "Guren no Yumiya" by Linked Horizon must by now be one of the most popular Openings out there and while the second Opening "Jiyuu no Tsubasa" sounds pretty cool as well, while being really good looking, it just didn't get me as pumped for the show as much as the first one. The Endings on the other hand were the complete opposite, as the first ending was really nice to hear but the second one just blew everything out of the water.


Attack on Titan is without a doubt an amazing show and does a really good job at a lot of things, but at the same time there are many parts of it that just don't seem to be completely right. While watching Shingeki no Kyojin I for the most of the time was really hooked and I was really enjoying a huge part of it, but there were episodes when it felt as if it was just dragged to have one more episode and maybe get even more money out of it. Episodes where almost nothing important happened but inner monologues, that didn't change anything about the show itself at all. Fortunately these parts were rather rare.

So Do I think that Attack on Titan deserves the hype that it gets, or is it just another overhyped show? To be honest, I think it deserves the hype for the most part, but as there are some points that just bored me, I can't say that everything the show did was as amazing as the fanbase praises it to be. It is an amazing show and for the most part it does deserve it!

Now as I calculated all the scores that I gave Shingeki no Kyojin (Story, Characters, Art, Sound and my personal enjoyment), I give Attack on Titan a score of 8.84/10. It is an amazing show that has a few obvious flaws, but is really entertaining in total! As it stands now, Shingeki no Kyojin has been licensed by Funimation, but has no official release yet. It is available for legal streaming on both Crunchyroll and Funimation's website.

With that I hope I could help you and I see you next time!
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