Review

Attack on Titan or Shingeki no Kyojin, is one of the most hyped anime series of all-time. Never had I heard more people talk about one specific series since Sword Art Online. However, while SAO took a severe nosedive in the latter half of the first season, does Attack on Titan stand tall?

The setting of AoT is what seems to be middle age-esque Earth. At the beginning of the show, it is revealed that humans had been living a normal and happy existence until a century ago when massive beings called Titans showed up out of nowhere. These beings are the size of buildings, have no intelligence and also have singular goal of eating humans (even though they don’t need to for survival). After most of the planet’s population had been eaten, the small percentage that remained found safety behind three massive walls (named Maria, Rose and Sina) in the shape of concentric circles that no Titan could come close to climbing . . . until episode one. What comes to be known as the Colossal Titan breaks through the outer wall letting all of the smaller Titans funnel in and a massacre ensues.

The story for Attack on Titan is largely a huge success. There are few shows that have established a setting and atmosphere as convincing as this one. Humans are not at the top of the food chain anymore which is actually terrifying if you stop and think about it. Oh also if you grow incredibly attached to secondary characters in shows, be warned: anyone can die at any moment which is a fact that the show constantly reminds you of. However, there were a couple of problems with the story. The pacing was uneven toward the middle-end (between episodes 13-17) resulting in some episodes dragging their feet with me wondering what exactly had just happened over the past 22 or so minutes. Also the final story arc hinges on a reveal that is supposed to be cryptic and mysterious, when it is pretty much obvious from the beginning ruining what could have been an impactful event. Besides those two gripes though, this is definitely a story worth experiencing even though it ends with no closure and, at the time of this review, there is no confirmation of a second season (which they will eventually announce with the money AoT is making).

Oh hey Colossal Titan . . . looking over our 50 meter wall . . . EVERYBODY RUN!

Oh hey Colossal Titan . . . looking over our 50 meter wall . . . EVERYBODY RUN!

The three main characters within this story are childhood friends Armin, Mikasa and main protagonist Eren, but let’s begin with Armin. Armin is the weakest of the group both physically and emotionally but is always the man with the plan. Out of the main three characters, he changes the most which is nice to see. As the series goes on, he stops thinking of himself as worthless and as a liability to his friends and begins to be not only more courageous but confident as well. While it seems like the creators of the show are telling us, “You should care more about Mikasa and Eren,” Armin is the character that I found myself cheering on more often than not.

Mikasa is one of the most badass characters I have seen in any anime. Out of the three she is by far the best fighter and is the least likely to freak out if a situation goes badly. Her main form of characterization comes through with her limitless devotion to Eren. For reasons that you find out in the show, she is orphaned and Eren’s family takes her in and becomes an incredibly protective older sister-type character. She receives some development beyond that, but I would have loved to see more as she is an incredibly strong and interesting character.

Lastly is Eren. When the Colossal Titan broke through the outermost wall, Maria, it was in the district that Eren’s house was called Zhiganshina. As part of the Stationary Guard (the branch of the military that protects the wall) came by and saved him and Mikasa from a nearby Titan, disaster had struck Eren as he watched a Titan devour his mother. From that day forward he vowed to kill every single Titan. While the whole revenge plotline isn’t the most original, I feel like it is executed well due to the supporting cast around him. He is a likable character and I found myself getting excited whenever he was fighting on screen.

Mikasa+3D Maneuver Gear=Unstoppable

Mikasa+3D Maneuver Gear=Unstoppable

There are a glut of other characters as well with some being more important than others. However, I feel like quite a few characters were introduced, given enough backstory to where you have some part of you that is beginning to care about them only to be killed off soon after. That isn’t to say that there aren’t other memorable characters such as Sasha (a.k.a. Potato Girl), Captain Levi and Jean just to name a few, but at times there were too many characters that didn’t really matter given names and dialogue.

On a different note, the action scenes are one of, if not the, main draws to the show. After that initial Titan attack ended, our three main characters applied to be in the military which use what the show calls three-dimensional maneuver gear. What it ends up looking like when someone is using this and fighting a titan is Spiderman but instead of webs, they are hip-mounted grappling hooks. If you haven’t seen it and are wary about the series, watch a trailer and you will probably be convinced. The animation of these fights (and everything in general) is top notch. Fight scenes are incredibly dynamic and fluid which resulted in me being giddy whenever the humans (especially Mikasa) were fighting Titans.

The artstyle looks beautiful as well. This world has a distinctive feel with characters often having thick black outlines making them more visually prominent in many scenes. The Titans are terrifying in the way that they all have these blank, innocent looks on their faces as they walk around mercilessly eating every human in sight.

Just one of many disturbing faces of Titans.

Just one of the many disturbing faces of Titans.

However, what makes these encounters more impactful is the stellar soundtrack. The tracks are bombastic with heavy orchestration and some vocal tracks mixed in. The first opening though . . . That song could get me pumped up to do just about anything. It is one of the most pulse pounding openings in any anime that I have ever seen and is on regular rotation within my music library.

Overall, this show comes very close to meeting the hype. All of these elements come together in a beautiful and fascinating package. If it wasn’t for those pacing issues, the lack of mystery that no one except the viewer is aware of and absolutely no closure, this could have been one of the best anime that I had ever seen. And while it doesn’t quite reach that pedestal, it comes close.

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About the Author

Ross
A recent college grad who just loves playing games. Hopefully I can help you save some money (and possibly spend more than you would like).