Today’s anime is the hugely popular Attack on Titan, and my word it took me a while to get around to watching this one. When I first read the brief synopsis it just didn’t appeal to me, and that combined with how loudly people were shouting about the quality of the show put me off entirely. That probably sounds weird … It’s just that I often find that if enough people applaud something enough, I end up expecting far more than it actually delivers. Regardless though, I eventually caught an AMV for AoT and decided that it may actually be worth checking out.
Background: The source manga is by Hajime Isayana and runs in Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine. The anime is by Production I.G who were of course behind Ghost in the Shell: SAC.
Story wise, the setup is fairly simple: Over 100 years ago, giant humanoids dubbed Titans appeared and decimated the majority of the human race, devouring everyone in their path. What little remains of our species has now retreated behind three enormous walls named Maria, Rose and Sina.
I have no desire to descend into spoiler territory so I won’t go into great detail here, but the story follows three protagonists (Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and their friend Armin Arlert) as they head into military training, each with their own reasons for wanting to combat the Titan menace. This all starts with a brief story arc about the three in their youth but quickly moves onto their entrance into the military and as a result the introduction of the supporting cast. Then the city is attacked and all Hell breaks loose.
The Good: From a story standpoint, I really didn’t give AoT enough credit. There’s a lot more going on than I anticipated with a lot of questions raised as to the nature and origins of the giant antagonists, some political intrigue and most importantly, a cast of characters that remain sympathetic while each hitting different tick boxes on the ‘cool scale’. The three leads progress steadily as the series moves along and their various relationships with each other and those around them also develop surprisingly naturally.
The animation is top notch, but that’s no surprise given the team behind the series. It really is beautifully done though, with the high speed action scenes shining the brightest. If you want a taster then you can’t go wrong with the (really quite awesome) FIRST OPENING VIDEO. For that matter, I’m also going to link to the FIRST ENDING VIDEO, not because it gives a good indication of the overall animation quality (it doesn’t) but because it’s one of my favourite anime ending themes at the moment.
The episodes seemed to speed by, and I often found myself saying ‘no way was that a full episode’ by the end of them. As someone who tends to watch anime by way of a single episode a night, once or twice a week, I am happy to say that the series was good enough that I ended up watching multiple episodes every night until it was over. That in itself is a pretty good recommendation in my book.
The Bad: Honestly, there isn’t a lot that I can put here. I would say though that the series can get pretty bloody at times. Also, if you were expecting a lot of fan service then you’re going to be sorely disappointed. To be clear, neither of these points are negatives to me, but the blood in particular could be seen as such by some.
If I’m going to be nit-picky then I’d say that the second opening and ending themes didn’t work for me. Oh, and the series seemed to end far too quickly … that’ll likely be due to how I watched it in comparison to other series though.
Subbed or Dubbed: This will no doubt not be a popular view, but … I only watched the dub. It’s not that I’ve heard anything bad about the subbed version, it’s just that I tend to mix it up with regards to which series I watch subbed and which ones I watched dubbed, sometimes based purely on which audio tracks are available. In this case, I wasn’t expecting much from the series and so put the dubbed version on as it would make it easier to drift in and out as the mood took me. In the end I didn’t drift out at all, but having started it dubbed saw no reason to change. The voice cast do a good job as far as I’m concerned, with Trina Nishimura’s portrayal of Mikasa standing out above the others.
Final View: In summary, I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong about a series. Great action, likeable characters and surprisingly good story make this one of the best out there. I should say though there is a possibility that the insanely low expectations I had going into the series may have affected my view somewhat.
Final Score: 5 / 5