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.
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.
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