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ANIME REVIEW | “Attack On Titan” A Bloody, Action-Packed Monster

By
Posted on June 24, 2013 AT 01:24pm

At Anime Boston last month there was one series that I kept running into at just about every corner of the convention: Attack On Titan. Whenever conversing with cosplayers and regular con-goers this series was uttered from their lips with such enthusiasm at least five times during a discussion; hell, even the guys at FUNimation couldn’t stop raving about it, especially since they obtained the home video license for America. Finally I decided that it was time to sit down and see what all the fuss was about by watching one episode of the show. Then something happened: I couldn’t stop watching it.

**WARNING: THIS REVIEW MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Attack On Titan takes place in a world somewhat similar to the Renaissance era. Three giant walls have been built around the countryside, keeping massive human-like monsters known as Titans from coming in, eating the people, and destroying all that is standing. One day a Colossal Titan appears, smashing open one of the walls, and unleashing an army of these giants unto the people. Eren Jaeger and his foster sister Mikasa Ackerman witness the damage, and watch helplessly as Eren’s mother is consumed by one of the Titans. Eren swears vengeance, promising that he himself will kill every last one of these giants.

The action flashes forward five years later, with Eren, Mikasa, their friend Armin joining the Army to help take down the Titans and protect the city. Soon after they’ve finished training for the Recon Corps the Colossal Titan appears once more, taking down the cannons that were to be used against the giants. As the city of Trost evacuates Eren, his friends, and the rest of the Recon Corps to kill them all. However the human casualties becomes too high to count, with Eren seemingly becoming just another body consumed by a Titan, and all hope being lost. Suddenly a Titan appears to fight other Titans, with the Corps doing everything they can to stand aside and let the beast do what most of them can’t. When the possibly-heroic Titan dies, Eren emerges from the back of its neck, with his friends and fellow soldiers confused as to who or what he really is.

Attack On Titan is the type of show that may polarize people. On one hand it’s got a great amount of action sequences that will capture anyone’s attention, along with some character development that can lead some viewers to relate to the people they see on screen. On the other hand the show can get really gory, with arms, limbs, heads, and even entire bodies being sliced off, smashed, squished, and consumed, which may cause some to wince away from the screen. With that being said this is the type of action anime that I’ve been clamoring to see for many years, one that takes many risks and focuses more on creating a great story instead of making something with the sole purpose of selling merchandise.

Its story is something we’ve come across in other anime, but in the those other series the enemy is something either alien or mecha. Here the threat is something close to human, only more massive. Walking around the globe like gods on Earth the Titans seem to have one goal: to kill all humans. They don’t want to harm animals or nature, but for some reason the only things they want to destroy are people. No one knows where they came from a hundred years before, nor do they know why they only attack them. All they know is if they aren’t stopped, humanity as they know it will go the way of the dodo. The screwed-up thing about this destruction is, apparently, Titans don’t need to eat to survive; they seem to just do it because they can.

Despite the threat the Titans face they aren’t the real enemy of the series; rather, it’s the fear of the unknown. Case in point when Eren is revealed to have the power to transform into a Titan the army’s first response towards this realization is to kill him, even with Mikasa and Armin standing by to protect their friend. There’s also the concept of childlike curiosity regarding what the world is like outside the walls, with many of these thoughts deemed dangerous by the government with threats of arrest to those who dare say it out loud. Granted it won’t be up for debate as to if humans or Titans are the real threat to humanity, as the carnage caused by the giants already gives them enough leeway to show why they’re the biggest physical danger on the planet.

Attack On Titan has some of the most impressive visuals seen in anime this year. From the destruction of towns and the cannibalistic habits of the Titans to the characters as they practice their Titan attack runs each moment is showcased with beautiful (and sometimes gory) details. It also showcases a good amount of emotional backing from our main protagonists, which are shown off well especially during a flashback sequence dealing with how Mikasa and Eren first met.

The voice actors and actresses help to carry a lot of the emotion in the series. Yūki Kaji’s Eren and Yui Ishikawa’s Mikasa sound authentic enough, with whirlwind curiosity and internal scars showcasing what kind of world these two characters have grown up in. No one here does it better, though, than Marina Inoue’s Armin. Her portrayal is that of the Everyman, with Armin thinking of the consequences of what is happening, battling against his own fears of death and the loss of his companions, along with his ability to think quick during the toughest of times. Altogether the voice ensemble put together for Attack On Titan is quite impressive.

Lastly there’s the music in the show, which hits all the right notes thanks to composer Hiroyuki Sawano. Battle sequences are filled with songs mashing together the feelings of triumph and despair, while moments of calm solace are brought forth with soft melodies. Of course you cannot talk about the music without mentioning Linked Horizon’s theme song “Guren no Yumiya,” which alone can drag viewers in with its fast-paced essence and fighting spirit that the show seems to capture every week.

Attack On Titan may take some convincing on some parts when it comes to recommending it to those who’ve never watched anime before. While it’s hard not to like a series filled with tons of action others may not warm up to the bloodier aspects of the series. (That and it may be hard to talk someone into watching a show with giant anatomically-incorrect naked beings.) Those who do wind up tuning in may find themselves unable to stop watching, as each episode knows how to draw its viewers into catching the next one the following week. What more can I say expect definitely give Attack On Titan a moment of your time, although that moment may turn itself into a multiple-hour marathon.

Story: 9.5/10
Animation: 10/10
Voice actors/actresses: 9/10
Soundtrack/score: 9/10
Final Grade: 9.5/10

Attack On Titan can be viewed on Crunchyroll and FUNimation.

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at twitter.com/King_Baby_Duck




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