ATTACK ON TITAN is an emerging phenomenon a 14-volume manga, three spinoffs manga series, two spinoff novels, an anime heading into its second season, and, coming soon, two live-action feature films. I just watched the 25-episode first season of the anime and enjoyed it.
The title is a bit misleading. The story focuses on three children growing up in a post-apocalyptic community–Eren, Mikasa and Armin. They live in a massive city, humanity’s last bastion, ringed by three protective walls. The outside world is devoid of human life, overrun a century ago by giant humanoid creatures–the Titans–who seem to exist purely to consume humans.
For 100 years, these walls have protected humanity, which has grown complacent. Eren hates this–he wants humans to discover their spirit and fight back. Mikasa, an incredible fighter, wants to protect Eren. And Armin, the smart kid who got picked on (but Eren and Mikasa protected him), is the brains of the trio. When the outer wall is breached, they end up joining the military. The rest of the story is their struggle to fight back, despite impossible odds and horrible losses, and to discover the true nature of the Titans, which may unlock the secret of defeating them.
Watching the anime is quite an experience. In true anime fashion, everything is emotionally over the top. Many of the characters are typically either losing control and having outbursts or coolly lecturing each other that we must all do or die. On top of this is an intense human patriotism and adoration of all things military, contrasting the sacrificing troops with largely ungrateful civilians who believe humanity should cower behind its walls and never try to fight back, despite the now-obvious dangers of doing so. The melodrama is layered on thick. The logic of the characters and their decisions don’t always make sense. Sometimes, the writer works super hard to convince you something great is about to happen, only to crush a character in some horrible way.
Melodramatic, yes, but compelling. The essential story, and the struggles of the characters to face the impossible and try to win, reminds me of everything I loved about BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. The characters are starkly drawn, and you can’t help but root for them.
The Titans are incredible. They are really freaky. There are many different types, but just the standard ones will freak you out. Giant misshapen naked men (without reproductive parts) stomping through a city while wearing idiotic jolly grins that say, “Can I be your friend?” They’re just so happy to see you and eat you. They rip the soldiers to shreds. No character is truly safe.
Which brings me to the action scenes, which are a mind-blowing experience. I was literally hot and sweating while watching them. My pulse was pounding. I was glued. And while sometimes the drama takes a turn toward distraction, the action always comes back, and it’s always fantastic. Always. The anime holds nothing back about the horrors of the fight–blood, gore, horror.
In the end, I was reminded of a great Japanese cartoon I watched growing up that was similar in flavor, STARBLAZERS. ATTACK ON TITAN has many of the same elements but is geared to adults.
One small complaint, which was that I watched it on Netflix, which presented two episodes–23 and 24, I believe–out of order.
Highly recommended if you’re looking for some pulse-pounding, action-packed anime with a great premise. It’s a lot of fun.
Here’s a trailer for the anime, but it’s a bit spoilery: