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Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan
Anime Review

Every day, humanity lives in fear of the Titans. In an alternate-history future, humans have retreated behind gigantic walls, forced by the appearance of huge humanoid titans that devour them. Defense mechanisms have been put in place along with the wall, such as armies and troops specializing in taking down these giants. It's a grim, dark time.

It's probably safe to say that Attack on Titan is the most popular currently running anime. Its striking visuals and easy-to-grasp storyline combined with the "cool factor" of the 3D Maneuver Gear (think Spiderman with swords) gives it a cross-genre appeal. In the same way that shonen-oriented series like Death Note broke into the mass market, Attack on Titan has found an audience that devours everything related to it and created an enourmous fandom.

Eren Yeager is our shonen hero. Quick to judgement, idealistic, and demonstrating a single-minded focus: killing the titans. Much of this comes with the territory - for all Attack on Titan does to appeal to everyone, the main character is still your typical strong-willed hero. Thankfully, he's balanced out by Mikasa Ackerman, his skilled adoptive sister, and Armin Arlert, his best friend and strategic genius. These three form the emotional foundation of the show, but the assorted side characters aren't slouches either.

After setting up the backstory for Eren and his friends, including the tragic death of his mother and the strange disappearance of his father, we're thrown head first into their training and first missions. Learning how to fight and their first battles against titans happen in quick succession, eschewing the typical lengthy training sequences. Instead, you're thrust right into the action and, of course, tragedy.

Spoilers ahead, my friend! It's hard to avoid mentioning what happens next since it occurs in only episode 5: Eren falls in battle against the titans. Swallowed whole by one, his friends believe him dead. Then, strangely, they encounter a rouge titan - this titan attacks his own kind instead of humans, leaving the troops confused. Who or what is this new rouge titan? It's a mystery solved quickly, but excellently so, and leaves the viewer chomping at the bit for each new episode.

Production I.G. and director Tetsuro Araki (whose previous works include Death Note and High School of the Dead) have done an excellent job pulling this show together. The opening theme and animation is absurdly catchy - and if you have somehow not seen it or a parody video online, you have incredible abilities. The music is just silly enough to work.

The animation itself seems to bounce between excellent and below-average. At times you'll be stuck watching a still image with a mouth-flap or a slow pan across a single frame, only to suddenly be bombarded by fluid acrobatics and choreographed action scenes. Most viewers will have no issues with this: the battles are what you'd want done well, right? But at times it seems that perhaps the budget could've been spread around in a smoother fashion.

The framing and direction is typically solid, with plenty of dynamic shots and CG-aided camera tricks. Sadly, the CG itself still sticks out, but less so than the typical anime. Occasionally, though, the direction seems to fall off, most notably in episode 13, when Jean attempts to escape a titan. Bizarre cuts and pulling the camera away from the action leave the viewer confused and unable to follow the action (whether this is a budgetary issue or simply poor direction isn't clear). Thankfully these incidents are few in number, but their existence is perplexing nonetheless.

While there are some minor production issues and the script bangs you over the head with its morals (like any shonen), Attack on Titan still excels at telling an exciting story. The visual style, tension, and interesting characters are striking. Sure, it's dark and depressing, featuring suicide and murder, but those over-the-top shonen ideals power through combine in a compelling way. Attack on Titan is the biggest anime of the summer - chances are, if you let this titan get a hold on you, it won't let you go.

Reviewed by Ben Huber, August 2013

Below: Scenes from Attack on Titan.

a screen capture from Attack on Titan

a screen capture from Attack on Titan

a screen capture from Attack on Titan

a screen capture from Attack on Titan

a screen capture from Attack on Titan

a screen capture from Attack on Titan

a screen capture from Attack on Titan

a screen capture from Attack on Titan

a screen capture from Attack on Titan



Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan Website Links:


Attack on Titan official manga website (Japanese)

Attack on Titan official anime website (Japanese)

Attack on Titan official live action movie website (Japanese)

Attack on Titan official social game website (Japanese)

Attack on Titan (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia

Attack on Titan (TV) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia

Wikipedia entry for Attack on Titan


Below: Promotional illustrations and manga covers for Attack on Titan.

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan






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