[Anime Review]: Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

Attack on Titan 1

Director: Tetsurō Araki

Writer (of original manga): Hajime Isayama

Animation Studios: Wit Studio, Production I.G

Version Watched: Subbed

 I’m always a little hesitant about watching really popular series and, let’s be honest, if you were on the internet at all when Shingeki no Kyojin (or Attack on Titan) aired you’ll know that “popular” is a bit of an understatement. The reason I feel that way is because it’s then a little odd if you then don’t enjoy that series; like you’ve missed out on something great. Thankfully, I found Shingeki no Kyojin to be an incredibly well-made and gripping series that pretty much everyone should watch.

 It’s been over a century since humanity learned to live in fear. Behind their great Walls they continue to eke out an existence, desperately thinking of anything but the outside world. The Titans seemingly live solely to eat humans according to some bizarre instinct, needing only sunlight to survive. Towering above all but the Walls themselves, they wait for any opportunity to breach them. Then, suddenly, that opportunity arrived in a flash of thunder. For Eren Jaeger, as for many others, it was the end of life with his family. Determined to have his revenge on the Titans that took everything from him, Eren aims to join the Recon Corps, the human race’s only source of hope. With their 3D Manoeuvre Gear and Ultra-Hardened Steel blades, they are the only ones that can stand up to the Titan threat.

Attack on titan 2

 Let me start off by saying that Shingeki no Kyojin makes extensive use of the cliff-hanger ending; each episode leaves you desperately wondering what’s about to happen next. Coupled with its incredibly unique setting and the potent combination of both humanity’s plight and those of the individual characters, boredom simply isn’t a concept that can be associated with this show. While time-lapses abounded I didn’t ever feel that the story was being rushed, with events being tied together well enough that I was never lost in what was going on. If I were to make a complaint, it would be that the combat proficiency of the show’s characters is woefully inconsistent. During one operation in particular we see single soldiers (fresh out of training, at that) killing multiple Titans with ease while, off-screen, hundreds of veterans apparently die for no reason. This isn’t a series that’s going to make you stop and think, it’s just not deep like that and for some people that might be a turn-off, but I can promise you that it’s entertaining.

 Shingeki no Kyojin sports a surprisingly large cast at first glance, though the number of really important characters is actually quite small. There are maybe six characters worth worrying about, while the rest are just placeholders for “emotional” death scenes or don’t seem to have much of a purpose at all. Character development is kept to a minimum in favour of an event-driven story, though one could argue that the pre-established personalities present are strong enough to prevent that from being a weakness. I personally found the characters too shallow to feel a connection with but, surprisingly, that wasn’t something that detracted from my overall experience, and with more seasons on the horizon I could see that issue being resolved anyway.

Attack on titan 3

 I have yet to watch an anime where a more realistic art style has been a mistake and Shingeki no Kyojin is no exception. The characters and the environments around them both look wonderful and the believability conveyed by the show’s visuals is a major asset. The Titans themselves are just so wonderfully abnormal that you just can’t help but be terrified of them. The animation studios involved have also done a wonderful job with the show’s soundtrack, making it tie into the feeling already given by the events of the story and the setting they occur in.

 Summary – Shingeki no Kyojin is only two seasons in and I can’t wait for the third. It’s unique, it’s gripping and it leaves you wanting more every step of the way. Any issues I had with it didn’t get in the way of my enjoyment and I would go so far as to say they were all my personal taste anyway. I may be relatively new to this anime game, but I’m reasonably confident that Shingeki no Kyojin will be counted alongside other classics in the near future.

 Score: 9/10 – Great

attack on titan 4

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About Silvachief

I'm a Gamer that dabbles in a little bit of everything. I'm big on Video Games, Visual Novels, Anime, Books and TV Series, but there's more to me than just those!
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15 Responses to [Anime Review]: Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

  1. Overlord-G says:

    As soon as the Toonami broadcast of the show finishes I’ll have more to say about this show both here and at the usual spot. For now all I can say is “It’s decent.”

    • Silvachief says:

      I have noticed a fairly significant polarization of the anime community over AoT. I think most people realize that it does have issues; it just depends on whether they enjoyed it despite those issues or not. I personally found it to be very entertaining, though i’ll be interested to read your review if you do one.

      • Overlord-G says:

        I’ll let you know in time. At least this show’s appeal is more sensible compared to others I won’t name because you’ll probably have liked those very much also.

        • Silvachief says:

          Eh, I don’t mind because I really don’t understand why some people like particular visual novels. At worst, your fears are confirmed and nothing much happens, at best I gain a little bit of respect XD

  2. Lazarinth says:

    For me it was the 3D gear which was the game-changer for this series. We’ve all seen fantasy where the heroes must defeat giant monsters (humanoid or otherwise) with swords and sorcery but giving the heroes the ability to zip round like spiderman shooting web really made the action fun and exciting. The walls, that pretty much represent how many people can live in the cities, were also a unique way to intensify the importance of some of the missions, losing walls meaning the loss of many lives. ( lol hmm I might actually put that in my own review)

    • Silvachief says:

      I can definitely see why that would be the case for many people; the manoeuvre gear is novel and exciting. I also thought the walls were an interesting addition and the thought that the space inside those walls is all that’s left for humanity to fit inside is…somewhat terrifying, which the show plays around with a little. Were there any factors that you really didn’t like about AoT?

  3. Kai says:

    “The animation studios involved have also done a wonderful job with the show’s soundtrack, making it tie into the feeling already given by the events of the story and the setting they occur in.”

    I don’t know why I never heard of Sawano before AoT, lol. What makes his music so great, and fitting too, is that his compositions have a really epic, and even majestic tunes at times, perfect for all those epic moments.

    I also, personally find it incredibly hard to find anything to hate about AoT, despite the flaws, though the only flaws I can recognize, if any, is the dragged-out pacing especially relevant in the first major arc, something I had also seen the community making a big fuss over it. That, and lots, and lots of screaming, which is fitting though, as far as I’m concerned.

    • Silvachief says:

      I’m one of those terrible people that compliments a show’s BGM and then never looks up who actually made it >.< I also think it's very hard to take issue with anything AoT does, though there seems to be a significant portion of the anime watching community that simply don't like it. Whether that's because it's too mainstream (i've seen that as a complaint before) or not deep enough for them, I don't know.

  4. Annalyn says:

    I love Attack on Titan. The animation and music are memorable, and the story has enough mysterious bits to keep my mind working. It actually did stir some deep thinking for me… but only stirred it. I didn’t take the time to really think through my ideas and write them out.

    I appreciate what AoT has done for anime. I’ve had friends who aren’t normally anime fans come up to me and start talking about it… of course, I also have friends come up and talk to me about SAO. I much prefer it when AoT is their gateway anime, because I have a lot more nice things to say about it. I usually start by raving about the animation—particularly the lighting and the movement.

    • Silvachief says:

      What do you think of the opinion that AoT isn’t deep enough to be a good anime? I agree with you about the animation and music, and would add in the excitement of the story, so I find it difficult to understand what makes the show so unlikeable for some viewers.

      On a similar note and related to your last point, what do you think it is that make Attack on Titan so accessible for new watchers? I’m thinking it’s because it doesn’t feature a lot of the common tropes associated with anime, though i’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

      • Annalyn says:

        I’d need to re-watch AoT in order to make a definite comment, but I don’t see how depth is an issue. First, not every anime needs to take you on a philosophical journey in order to be good. That aside, I think AoT illustrates a lot about humanity very well, and without needing to verbalize it. It shows, rather than tells, what cowardice looks like, and often in a way that evokes pity and even empathy rather than scorn. It shows how weak humans are, and how strong we can be in spite of that—without any cheesy shounen-hero speeches. It even raises the question of what it means to be human—and whether it’s okay to set aside some of your personal humanity in order to save the greater population. It looks into the responsibility of people, both commanders and unranked individuals. There aren’t very many deep, thought-provoking conversations. But we don’t need very many. AoT is set in a world where death is imminent. That kind of setting brings out peoples’ true colors in ways that don’t need to be decoded in conversation. We see both the ugliness and beauty of humanity. Because of that, I think AoT is plenty deep… and I expect it to get deeper in any future seasons, as we learn more about the Titans and even the human characters.

        I think AoT is accessible because it’s exciting, and it’s good. Anime newbies with more critical eyes identify the same strengths we do—one of my friends enjoyed the animation just as much as I did. He transferred his critiquing skills from live action to anime easily, and commented on things like detail and “camera” movement or shot choices. AoT is apocalyptic (and post-apocalyptic), which is a popular type of story. And, as you said, the peskier anime tropes aren’t there to get in the way. Names are easy for English speakers to identify and pronounce, and the setting looks a little like medieval Europe, which is instantly relatable. Plus, it’s clearly not a children’s show. Even the color scheme on promotional art says, “Hey. You can take this anime seriously.” But, most of all, the action and story are exciting. That, I think, is why so many new watchers stick around to the end of the show.

        • Silvachief says:

          I think those are all very insightful points and I agree that much of what you can get out of AoT comes from the setting and behind-the-scenes events that are mostly hinted at rather than the events shown explicitly. I’m having trouble thinking of what to write in reply because, well, you’ve pretty much covered it; one might even think you were an english major 😉 It’s interesting because those are themes that show up reasonably often in these types anime and I think it’s AoT’s hands-off approach is what makes them fresh in this case.

          Once again, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. I think that the seriousness of the series that you’ve identified is probably one of the major draws because people who aren’t into Japanese storytelling don’t really see it as being, well, Japanese. In the context of its story, it’s not over the top in any way, it doesn’t require knowledge of culture to enjoy, it doesn’t try to cram in every tired cliche in the medium and it doesn’t have fan service. The number or anime that have (or rather, don’t have) all of those features are few and far between. I’d be interested to see a study of which first-time anime convince more people to get into the medium; I imagine AoT would either open people’s eyes to what anime can be like (as opposed to what it’s stereotyped to be like) or just appear to be a once-off hit that doesn’t draw them to watch more despite how much they enjoyed it.

          • Annalyn says:

            I bet it’s a very mixed reaction for first-timers. Fans like me, who came through the last generation of gateway anime (Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, etc.), easily found anime at or above the quality of our first show. For example, I liked Naruto, so Inuyasha was a good next step. But when someone finishes AoT… well, there aren’t very many anime that can meet or exceed those visual, audio, plot, AND excitement standards. Still, if they like AoT well enough, I think they’d be determined to hunt down something like it. Hopefully they’d find Baccano! or Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood… or even Gungrave (my favorite, although it’s not as pretty to look at). I’m the obsessive type, so it’s hard to imagine finishing that show and not tracking down something similar.

  5. Pingback: [Visual Novel Review]: Steins;Gate | The Geek Clinic

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