Attack on Titan First Impression

Attack on TitanAttack on Titan Poster

Director: Tetsuro Araki, Series Composition: Yasuko Kobayashi, Original Manga: Hajime Isayama

Voice Actors: Yuuki Kaji, Yui Ishikawa, Marina Inoue, Hiro Shimono, Yu Kobayashi

Studio: Wit Studio, Production I.G.

Attack on Titan was the first anime I decided to watch from the latest season. The hype surrounding it was huge and I helped perpetuate it over at AUKN and here by repeatedly singing the praises of the staff and manga in previews. It is genuinely justified because the manga is a dark, shocking and moving and even inspiring. A really Attack on Titan Fight to Wingreat read.

I must admit I am not far into the manga but I feel the translation to the screen via anime has been perfect and captures the action brilliantly. Which is why this post is long, full of spoilers and littered with images 😉

The world of Attack on Titan sees the human race on the brink of extinction brought on by a sudden attack from wave upon wave of man-eating giants known as Titans. Mankind only survived because it sealed itself in a medieval style city with a series of three progressively higher walls around fifty metres tall which were taller than the biggest of giants. 100 years later and people live in peace in this city.

attack on titan city

The city is richly painted with a range of colours and intricately detailed in a European style. There are canals, fields and farms, windmills, mock-Tudor (not medieval, I know) houses, stone battlements and town squares and huge gates.

attack on titan city view

attack on titan erens house

The art direction is fantastic with so much detail. Just look at the flowers.

attack on titan flowers

So beautiful. Isn’t it soothing?

The anime loves to show off all the detail in wide-angle shots and with a camera that pans around and allows the viewer an insight into what the city looks like and build up a sense of the order, normalcy and comfort that humans live in and setting the audience up for trauma as we see it get crushed by… getting ahead of myself. It’s so detailed that the ad breaks are signalled by still images from the manga giving the city plans and details on the defences. It’s not just walls that serve to stop the Titan, there are other defences like artillery and the Garrison, one arm of the human military, who reinforce the town and defend the walls.

It’s a pretty evocative location for the action to be set in because you get a sense of a whole world existing here.

Outside of the city there seem to be endless forests populated by Titans. We only get a glimpse of the outside world because a group of humans known as Scouts, another arm of the military, are brave enough to try hunting down Titans in their own territory.

Their ultimate mission is to find out more about the Titans and where they come from. They use what is known as Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear which is like a body harness which has a gas powered propelling system which shoots out wires with grappling hooks.

Attack on Titan Scout Gif

These guys can swing around the Titans and strike them with their swords in dramatic scenes where the camera swoops around to keep up with these highliy kinetic troopers.

This is all context though as the story focusses on a teenage boy named Eren and his foster sister Mikasa.

Attack on Titan Eren and Mikasa

Eren is weak and relies on his sister Mikasa to protect him.

Attack on Titan Mikasa Punch

Eren is also sick of living inside the city and wants to see the outside world even if it means joining the Scouts, something Mikasa thinks is ridiculous because he would be better off behind the walls of the city. Most people hold this attitude because it is promulgated by the religion spouted by priests who roam the streets praising the walls as an act of God.

Attack on Titan Monk

Religion tends to breed obedience and the protection offered by the walls has bred complacency in a population too scared to venture outside. Eren derides them as little more than cattle waiting for the Titans to devour them. One of the themes of the show is the idea that freedom and exploration are the natural rights of humanity and that the outside world with all its liberty and danger are a better alternative than being cooped up and restricted. Complacency breeds mediocrity and ultimately robs life of meaning.

The world is big and cruel, nothing is guaranteed, not even the stability of the ground people stand on or the walls…

Attack on Titan Scout Return

When the Scouts return from battle, it is clear that they have been hammered… or torn apart is a better description.

In a great scene designed to signal the audience how bad these Titans are and how complacent the population of the city are, a crowd gathers and mutters its misgivings over the mission of the Scouts. What’s the point?

Then a mother confronts the leader of the Scouts asking where her son is and she gets a grisly answer.

Attack on Titan Handing Her Something to Remember

Despite her anguish and sadness she yells out at least he had the balls to die fighting for humanity. Better him than me, you might think.

Not Eren. Not even the prospect of death can dull Eren’s curiosity about the outside world which drives his mother insane with worry.Why venture outside and face death? His father has a different opinion and accepts that humanity and its curiosity shouldn’t be suppressed.

Attack on Titan Fathers Agreement

Mikasa? Well she figures Eren’s hopeless but she’ll look after him like she always does. This all takes place in a family dinner scene which you had better savour…

Attack on Titan Family Dinner

…because it all goes so spectacularly bloody wrong when a new giant, even larger than the previous giants, appears out of nowhere and destroys part of the wall around the city allowing smaller giants to flood in.

Attack on Titan A Giant Giant

The anime really goes to town with the attack. The presentation has been top-notch so far, the build-up perfect as themes and setting are set in place and the characters are set off on their courses but it gets better (or worse depending upon whether you are a potential victim!) as we witness the horror of the Titans descending upon the populace and why they are so bad.

Attack on Titan Wave of Titan

The Titans look so damn creepy. Tall, naked humans with vacant expressions or malicious grins…

Attack on Titan Malicious Grin

So far it seems that there’s no intelligence behind them just pure simple cruelty. They are animated brilliantly to have a well-defined height, weight and heft which is shown in their movement and the way they casually tear through buildings, the heavy debris that gets thrown up zips across the skies and comes crashing down on those who try to flee.

Attack on Titan Time to GO!

The camera shaking with such violence as smoke and clouds erupt from impact sites.

The Titans are tall lumbering beasts.

Actually, they remind me of malicious children with ants…

Attack on Titan Oh no!

I found these things are genuinely unnerving. Perhaps it’s the idea that there is something higher on the food chain than me and it eats people like I eat pocky.

Whatever the case they tower over humanity and casually snack on people.

Eren races home with Mikasa and sees that…

Attack on Titan Eren and Mikasa Race Home

… I won’t spoil it any further, just watch the anime.

I have watched episode two (one of the images above comes from it) and by the time this goes out I will have watched episode three but I will refrain from writing any more because people should discover the rest of this series for themselves. All I will say is that episode two continues with the attack and is all about the raw emotion faced by the survivors and their escape to the part of the city with higher walls… and that’s enough of me boring you.

I don’t usually do a scene by scene commentary like real ani-bloggers (although I did with xxxHOLiC) so in my next preview I’ll just give my thoughts on the anime without going into too much detail. I’ll probably revisit this at some point as well because I want to look at random things connected to it…

Can’t leave without putting up the fabulous opening and ending theme:

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18 thoughts on “Attack on Titan First Impression

      1. Wow, two people convinced 🙂 I’d love to get your feedback on it. I

        I remember reporting about a live-action version on AUKN last year and there was scepticism from others about whether the project would be able to capture the world of the manga. When I read the director departed from the project I was disappointed (a movie version never hurts!) but not surprised. I’m just glad that the anime is working out so well!

    1. Glad to see you’re on board the Titan train! I knew all of those pictures would help 🙂 The animation is really excellent – Wit Studio and Production I.G have really knocked this one out of the park – and the moments with the Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear are breathtaking. On my way to work this morning I was passing churches and old houses and imagining Titans towering over them – then I felt a bit sick! The story is getting into gear but I was already getting emotional for the characters.

      Let me know what you think!

      1. Tired Paul

        Gritty and intense, two episodes in and loving it (about to start the third)

        After I said about the live-action falling apart I did some research and it appears that it’s back on for a 2014 release……..don’t think it’s with Tetsuya Nakashima behind the camera now though!

        This is one project that could do with hollywood cash, if Pacific Rim is successful I can see a hollywood live action of this and I can see Lionsgate flush with Hunger Games cash making this……and Guillermo del Toro directing!

      2. Glad to hear you’re enjoying it too! It’s great to have some really tough and bloody anime that challenges the audience. Hmm, Guillermo del Toro… I’m still waiting for At The Mountains of Madness… or was that cancelled? I’m watching Pacific Rim purely for Rinko Kikuchi 😉

      3. Rinko Kikuchi has chewed up my heart… Uh, that was a really clumsy way of saying I think she’s the tops. Seriously, she’s a really great actress. She was one of the best performers in Norwegian Wood and that pretentious film Babel.

      4. Tired Paul

        There are so many faces in Pacific Rim that I doubt she’ll get a huge amount of screen time………sadly.

  1. First…the animation looks great. I like the opening theme song.
    Second, great review!! I love to see this. Maybe I can find the DVD somewhere, I haven’t been watching anime in years and miss it a lot.
    Do you know how many episode this will last?

      1. 25 is not much! I love short anime.
        The last anime I saw was Moribito (love both book and anime). I am pretty sure I can find Attack on Titan.

        Stop reading the manga? why?

  2. Just saw the first episode!! AMAZING!
    I hate on going series. I can’t wait till the next week to see what happens next.
    I am going to do what I did with doctor who, get all the files first and watch it once it’s over.

    Thank you for letting me know about this 🙂

  3. Pingback: Monday Movies : Broadchurch and Shingeki no Kyojin | Polychrome Interest

  4. Your review reminds me of what I found most enjoyable about this show. The beautiful animation, intriguing world, and hope of human beings staging a counterattack kept me going all the way to episode 9. At that point, I realized that this dark, grim show just didn’t appeal to me. Of course, the more blogs I read, the more the universal appeal of this show strikes me and that my opinion is quite in the minority.

    Since the second part is posted, I look forward to hearing what you have to say about my little essay.

    1. The show does use the same mechanics of having characters at rock bottom and panic surging amidst the troops only for someone to drag everybody to their senses and get them to consider what they are fighting for. I really love it 🙂

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