Thursday, June 12, 2014

Attack on Titan; Series thoughts

Attack on Titan is one of those shows that can straddle the edge of being "too much", and do it just enough to keep you watching.

The roughest episodes are the first.  If you can get past the first 4 episodes then you are in it for the long haul.  Attack on Titan is not a DBZ or white washed kids show.  Attack on Titan is a brutal, heart wrenching show that does not flinch when it comes to showing you the gritty details.  People will be destroyed in front of your eyes.  You will see them die in blazes of glory, but you will also see them die begging for their mothers, appealing to an uncaring enemy for mercy, and crying because they are not ready to die.  The show makes you lose hope because of all the horror and tragedy represented, there is just no way you feel like the sun will come up tomorrow.

So what is this show about?  Well, Western Europe is full of tales about giants.  From Ireland to Germany, we have fairy tales like Jack and the Beanstalk or legends about The Giant's Causeway.  Attack on Titan takes place in what looks to be Germany(and uses German language in the story).  Only the "giants" in this show are "Titans".  They are giant, generally mindless, representations of human cruelty.  Taken in a modern context, they are 20-100+ feet tall zombies that devour people without mercy.  To fight back, humans developed a sort of "Spider-man" rope system that sends the characters soaring through the air just like the masked web-slinger.  They then use swords to attack the vital parts of the Titans.

Why would anyone keep watching?  As much as the show makes you hopeless, it also brings you to lofty heights of pride and ambition.  I compare it to Independence Day.  Almost every episode is going to have a Bill Pullman-like president speech calling on everyone to be brave and do their part, and then someone you enjoy watching is going to make the ultimate sacrifice to save those they love.

It helps that the character's stories are interesting, including those around the main characters.  Eren's life, like many others, is turned upside down when the Titans start invading.  The death of those around him spurs him to want to kill every Titan with a tenacity that always impresses, intimidates and scares those he comes in contact with.  His childhood friends, Armin the very intelligent weakling, and Misaka the last Japanese person left alive, are ever at his side protecting him.  They all decide to join the military to learn how to fight Titans, and that is largely what the first season is about.  The surrounding characters rarely get the spotlight, and its a shame because the extended cast is just as interesting as the main three.

Hajime Isayama is the writer of the manga, and I would give you a big list of his accomplishments if there were any.  Attack on Titan is the first one he's done out of the gate, and he already writes like a seasoned pro. In Japan the comic it is based off of has not ended yet, and I do not know if they intend to ride it out for a decade or if they have an ending in site, but either way the first season is worth watching if you enjoy anime. I rarely like anime, I'm super picky, but Attack on Titan gets my seal of approval, with only my cautioning that it is brutal.

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