Saturday, January 4, 2014

Attack on Titan is Larger That it Seems

The title card for Attack on Titan.

I bet when Mikasa Ackerman becomes old enough to drink, she'll enjoy taking shots of Jaeagermeister.

It's difficult to speak out against a number of anime and manga series because of how well made they are.Though they are few and far between, the 2013 anime of the popular manga series, Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), is most definitely one of those series.The series is incredibly well paced, and the producers made the right choices in the content that was added to the story and their rearrangement of a few of the plot points.There are also some interesting themes covered in the story, and with the pacing, they are covered in relative detail.Yet ultimately because the manga series is still in publication and due to the current trend to split anime series into multiple seasons, the series ends with many questions left unanswered.On top of that, and while this is more of a personal gripe, the airtime was too late for maximum exposure to a wider audience.

The first time I was really exposed to Attack on Titian was when I was watching TV and the guests were trying to convince the host that not all manga are bad.I remember two of the works introduced, Fullmetal Alchemist and Attack on Titian, but the guests couldn't get me excited about either series as all they did was give a basic overview of the series' respectivestories.When the anime of Attack on Titan began, while I was curious, I was very much disinclined to watch it because of the poor synopsis I heard.What I found watching the series, and what that one guest should have mentioned, were themes of betrayal, vengeance, and other realities related to the human condition.

Of course, the most obvious of these themes is the protagonist Eren Yeager's crusade against the titans, and the fear many people in the series have of being consumed by them.However, it was the duplicity among the different political and military factions in the second half that enthralled me the most.This specifically occurred after the near fall of Wall Rose and the capture and subsequent expunging of two titans for research purposes.Until this point the Attack on Titan was interesting, especially with the conversations between Eren and the other characters about how humans are no more than livestock and the great length he was willing to go to secure their freedom from their prison, but ultimately the story was more about what Eren wanted, and not the larger scope of issues surrounding the predicament of humanity in the story.

The Tokyo MX advertisement for Attack on Titan

However, the excellent pacing of the story negates the weak point of the emphasis on what Eren wants.Considering the content of a single volume of a manga can vary between one-half to a full anime episode, the producers did a wonderful job of taking the content of eight volumes of the manga series and stretching it out into a twenty-six episode anime series.Part of this may have to do with expanding the magnificent action scenes, drawing out the dialog, and emphasizing the awe of certain situations.However, the addition and rearranging of content had the best effect.For example, in the manga series of Attack on Titan, the entirety of boot camp for Eren and his companions takes place in a flashback, but in the anime series, it happens sequentially after the fall of Wall Maria.

In the manga, boot camp serves as a great tool for readers to understand the trials and tribulations the characters went through to become soldiers in a moment of sheer chaos, but had the events taken place in the same way in the anime it would have felt out of place.Had the writers of the anime followed suit, this would have ultimately disrupted the flow of the amazing action scene that followed.Also, the addition of explaining what Dot Pixis, the highest-ranking commander of the Southern Region Military, was doing before the invasion of the titans at Wall Rose was a great way for viewers to become more familiar with his character before he was thrust into battle.

In this regard, the anime series of Attack on Titan is actually much more interesting than the manga series.There are very few anime I'm willing to say this about, but the flow of a series is just as important as the story, character development, and action, among others things.After all, there is a tendency in the anime and manga industry to wedge exposition in at the wrong point in a story, then expanding on it way too much when the exposition should have just been summarized in one or two sentences.

The fifty meter titan that changed Eren Yeager's life.

But the series could have stood to have more of that kind of exposition.This may be one of the only times I say this, but I honestly don't want to have to wait another few years before a second season is released to see these characters on screen again.While I understand the desire of the animators and producers to stay as true to the source material as possible, this was a chance for them to really make a break-out series, maybe not on the same level as One Piece, Ranma 1/2, or other series, but enough to garner more support for the series.

However, those two series had one advantage over Attack on Titan in that both of those series were aired during prime time, while this series was broadcast late at night.I honestly don't understand the trend of taking series that are meant to be enjoyed by people of all ages and airing them at times when no one is awake, but with the advent of online streaming, digital recording, and Blu-ray and DVD releases, it's almost a moot point.I did speak to a good friend of mine about this, and he postulated that it was the depictions of human evisceration that landed the series in the late night spot.But I disagree with him, only because when we were both children we watched series that were just as violent, and the generation before ours had the privilege of watching people explode in the anime of Fist of the North Star.If anything, humans enjoy simulated violence, and exposing children to this kind of content probably won't turn them into violent deviants.But this is an argument for another time.

In spite of being aired late at night on local stations, Attack on Titan has gained even more popularity in Japan and internationally.It's understandable why this is so--the series is filled with great moments--but the cut off before any of the story arcs were concluded was a disappointment.However, the series is exciting from start to finish, and has some outstanding animation.I would suggest people with a weak stomach shy away from the series, but if you are willing to subject yourself to some horrible images of death along with a good story, I would suggest watching the series.

Work Info

Title: Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin)



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