Saturday, December 6, 2014

Anime Talk: Attack on Titan

Giant man-eating humanoids, three walls that protect the nearly extinct population of humans, one boy who possess the key (literally) to stopping them - Attack on Titan, or better known by its Japanese name, Shingeki no Kyojin is a manga turned anime that captured the attention of not only the Japanese audience, but international audiences as well. 

I had heard a lot about this anime, which consisting mostly of people raving about how good it is. However, when it was released, I was super busy with school and work and didn't think much about picking it up. When I saw it at my local Family Video I was quite surprised. I remember thinking, "Wow, it must be really popular to end up here!" And yet, I still didn't watch it. It wasn't until a month ago that I finally sat down to watch this anime. I can sum up the experience in one word: 


From the first episode, I just couldn't stop watching it. I had to force myself to slow down because they're only like 25 episodes and the second season would not be released for a while yet (I recently found out it won't be released until 2016. WAT!? I want the second season now!!! >.<). I found the anime to be the perfect balance between action and plot development. Of course, there are still some things that irk me, but overall, it was a great anime and what I love the most about it is that I have never seen anything like it before. 

First of all, imagine a future where the human race is nearly extinct. What is left of it has retreated behind three large concrete walls - Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sina. These walls keep out the Titans, giant man-eating humanoids that are the very reason why humanity is almost extinct. The anime claims that they just "showed up" but as the storyline develops, you start to question if something may have happened that created the Titans or worse yet, that they were there all along, just waiting until the time was ripe to emerge. 

Anyways, we start out our story by learning of young Eren Yeager, who aspires to join the Survey Corps. The Survey Corps are the branch of the military that most often engage in combat against Titans, as they are the only branch to conduct expeditions outside of the wall. Eren views them as heroes. It has been 100 years since the walls were built and no one has breached them - that is, until a colossal Titan appears. He is taller than Wall Maria and breaks it down, allowing Titans to run free in the city. It's here that Eren witnesses firsthand the horror and the destruction that Titans bring. From here, the anime fast forwards to 5 years later as Eren, his friends Mikasa and Armin, train to enter the Survey Corps and find a way of defeating the Titans once and for all. 

While the general premise of the story may seem cliche, I believe the details are what really makes the anime. For example, the three walls stood for 100 years and due to this, a "Wall Cult" was created. The people of the cult worship the walls as their protectors and Goddesses. It's very interesting to see that religion is largely nonexistent in this future world, aside from the Wall Cult. In addition, it's at one point explained that Mikasa and her mother were the last two 
humans with Japanese blood running through their veins. Eren clearly descends from German roots and the rest of the characters have largely European names, suggesting that the last stronghold of humanity is located in Europe. Military members have a special 3D maneuvering device that allows them to kill Titans and - get this - Titans are extremely hard to kill as they regenerate easily, but, if you strike them deep enough on the back of the neck, they are unable to regenerate and die. Talk about a weak spot huh? Moreover, Titans are classified in "Meter classes", depending on how tall they are. Some Titans have special abilities are classified as a "Deviant." 

However, my favorite part of the anime are the side characters. These two are my favorite characters, by far: 
 Armin Arlert and Levi Ackerman! Armin is Eren's childhood friend and although he seems timid and not physically capable of killing Titans, Armin is a great strategist and his plans are often what saves the day. He knows how to make the best use of his resources and does become pretty decent when facing Titans. Levi Ackerman is a neat freak, who often looks like he hasn't slept, but he is considered "Humanity's strongest warrior." Levi is AMAZING. He kills Titans easily and despite being quite short, has a very intimidating presence.

All in all, I have really enjoyed Attack on Titan and cannot wait to see/read more. I do plan on picking up the manga that details Levi's backstory as well. It's an anime that I definitely recommend. This anime has amazing side characters (not that Eren is not cool and all, but a story is a definite improvement for me when the side characters are just as cool if not cooler than the main character), great story building, an amazing setting with great details, and tons of action. It's an anime that I see myself continuing to follow even if it will take another year for season 2 to be released xD

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