Monday, 5 May 2014


Grisly, spine-chilling, entirely without hope and that was just the opening narration!

A few weeks ago saw the English premiere of Attack on Titan on Toonami and boy was it a dozy. The premise is a mixture of old ideas, but with a remarkable string of creativity woven through: For one hundred years, the last humans have been living in fear inside a 50 meter high walled city. That's because a powerful race of man-eating giants - Titans - threaten them with extinction. Thankfully the Titans are unable to breach the walls, but at the same time, "the Garrison", the soldiers who defend the city, are unable to defeat even one Titan with a whole army it seems. 
"I heard the town is all-you-can-eat. Yum!"

At least that's what's been happening up until now. One day, a Titan taller than the wall (remember it's 50 meters high) arrives and kicks open part of the wall, allowing the shorter Titans to enter the city and start devoring humans in a somewhat stomach turning fashion. Viewers are spared no imagination as we see these mindless carnivores pick up innocent people and bite them to death. Guts, blood! It's all spilling everywhere. People are not the dominant species in this world - the Titans are!
"Necks raised, WTF expressions - guess what they're looking at?"

We're introduced to the protagonist of this series, a boy who manages to narrowly escape the Titans after they invade the city - Eren Yeager (voiced by Bryce Papenbrook). Eren is quite aggressive and idealistic. He's not a bad person. He's kinda like the personification of the inner human. You know the type. All those thoughts about how unfair you believe the world works - how evil it is. What sort of people belong and which don't. Those thoughts that everybody has, but aren't willing to say out loud for fear of social consequences or being outed as a folk devil. Well Eren is like that, except he's prepared to say them out loud. He doesn't see the wall as a shield or their protection, he sees it as a 'pen' or a 'cage', dreading the day the Titans break through which just so happens to be in episode 1.

We're also introduced to Mikasa (voiced by Trina Nishimura). She's shown living with the Yeagers, but doesn't seem to act like his sister. Mikasa is quiet and emotionless, but seems to care enough about Eren to out his intentions of joining the Garrison to his parents who are understandably against it. The last of the trio is Armin (voiced by Josh Grelle). He seems to share Eren's beliefs, but lacks the confidence necessary to take action, making him look like a coward in the first episode. Though he shows remarkable intelligence and reasoning and comes across as someone who at least understands how the world 'really' works, even if he can't change it yet.
"Bet 100 meters tall looks more attractive to the budget committee now eh?"

The first episode serves as a tool for introducing everyone and everything in this world. It establishes the danger the Titans pose, how meek the humans are and how society has become nothing more than cattle. It's quite the comparison when you think about it. We (humans) slaughter and eat cows and pigs in real life and think nothing of it. The Titans are the humans and the humans are the cows and the pigs in this story. Can you blame them for being savages or monsters when we do the exact same thing? "But humans are more intelligent. We're superior." Is that your defense? Here, humans are nothing but food. Titans are superior. Just what must the cows and pigs think when we kill them to fill our bellies? Just how many of you have I turned into vegetarians now? No worries, I still like meat (always have and always will), but I feel it had to be mentioned.

Regarding the animation and the music - I loved the music! A lot of the action sequences use Gregorian Chant, but that fast paced chant you hear in trailers and promos for new movies. On the animation front, I'm still a bit iffy on whether I like the style. It's beautiful and feels rather fairytale like if you get what I mean. Thankfully that's not a major issue.
"Just the sight of that smile is enough to be scared."

The design of the characters is fine, but the design of the Titans are really creepy. They have no skin, leaving muscle and veins showing. They possess no lips either. It's very discomforting, which is kinda the point, so kudos to the design team for that.

As mentioned, this series combines a lot of ideas: Post-apocolyptic setting, senseless war that is being lost - giants! One of the promos described Attack on Titan as Japan's equivalent to The Walking Dead. I can see where that comes from. Unlike The Walking Dead though, humans aren't outnumbered, just ridiculously outmatched in terms of strength (and size). Plus guns don't seem to have been invented yet, so you have to slay these beasts with blades. Raises the difficulty eh? Whoever said size doesn't matter obviously needs to watch this show.

Rating this first episode: 9/10. Worthy of all the hype and acclaim.

Catch the promo below:

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