Attack on Titan, also known by it’s original title Shingeki no Kyojin, is an anime set 2000 years in the future, when most of humanity has been wiped out by the Titans. Titans are giant, mostly unintelligent beings whose sole purpose is to eat humans for pleasure. There are several types of Titans, but they all have one goal–eating people. What is left of the human race has retreated to cities behind enormous walls that are taller than the Titans. At the start of the show, humanity hasn’t seen a Titan in 100 years. People are getting antsy trapped behind walls, and many of the younger generation want nothing more than to see the outside world. Then Colossus Titan attacks, destroying the outermost wall and allowing Titans to enter the city. Our story centers around teenagers Eren Jaeger and his foster sister Mikasa Ackerman, who witness this terrible destruction. Eren, upon seeing his mother eaten alive, vows to destroy every last Titan in revenge.
Attack on Titan is definitely the most recent of the shows I have, and probably will, cover in this TBT column. It came out in 2013, but it is on Netflix Instant and it did come out in the past so it still meets the parameters, yes? Attack on Titan is my first foray into anime. I have always loved animated shows, I just never had the draw that most kids who are really in to science fiction and fantasy have towards anime. That’s not to say I was against it, obviously, I just never knew where to start. Attack on Titan is not, I repeat, not, a kids show. It is not remotely kid-friendly. It is extremely dark, sad, and awesome. When recommending it to friends, I repeat the same statement I give to newcomers to Game of Thrones, which is to say don’t get attached to anyone, because they will probably die in a fairly horrific fashion. That being said, you should totally check it out because:
The animation is beautiful.
Throughout the series, which only has one season out at the moment, the animation is consistently spectacular. It is especially commendable in the action sequences, when being chased by Titans, and in particular, when the Scout Legion uses their 3D Maneuvering Gear. This gear is sort of a combination of a jet pack and grappling hook zip lines, giving humans the speed and agility needed to kill the Titans by cutting the nape of the neck, which is the Titans’ only known weakness. Watching them soar through the air is mesmerizing to say the least. If you are a fan of animation in any capacity, you should really watch this show.
The plot is excellent.
Dystopian stories have just been gaining more traction over the years, and are extremely popular right now. We love stories about what happens when most of humanity is wiped out, as is clearly evidenced by shows like The Walking Dead, and this story fits right into that genre. The characters are very human. They make mistakes; they have fears and convictions. The plot is as much a character study as it is a fascinating story, as most dystopian stories are at their core. Humanity’s bravest men and women fighting to save everyone from being eaten alive by beings who enjoy it is riveting television. It’s scary. The threat is real, and it’s very easy to be sucked in to the story.
There is equal distribution of power between genders.
A remarkable aspect of this show is that while it focuses mainly on Eren Jaeger, an angry teenage boy, he isn’t nearly the most powerful. He expresses the most feelings out of everyone, which is rare in portrayals of teenage boys, who are usually trying to look cool and, especially in today’s Western society, keep emotions on lock. This is likely due to the fact that the show is Japanese, which adds another level of cultural awareness to our audience. His foster sister, Mikasa, while young, is easily one of the best soldiers in the world. She is the top of their class, and is only rivaled in skill by Levi, who is often referred to as Humanity’s most powerful soldier and rarely shows off his skills on camera. They are both highly skilled and efficient Titan killers, though Mikasa often uses her skills to protect Eren, who is her only family. [SPOILER ALERT] Eren, however, turns out to be able to shift into a Titan at will, and retains some of his humanity while doing so. Being able to shift into a Titan allows him to kill other Titans with ease, and this becomes extremely useful on several occasions. Another example of a powerful woman is Annie, another character in Eren and Mikasa’s class, and she possesses great strength and power, but is distant and rebuffs friendship at every turn, and it is eventually revealed that she is the Female Titan as well. She is the antagonist for the second half of season 2, but it’s an interesting shift in storytelling because we have already gotten to know her and seen her prowess, and it is not revealed until the end that Annie is, in fact, the Female Titan. Eren and Annie are evenly matched, just as Mikasa and Levi are evenly matched, though Annie ends up being the enemy of all the Survey Corps. [END SPOILERS]
Short episodes make for better marathoning.
The episodes lend themselves well to a good old Netflix marathon. They’re all 24 minutes long or so, and they pretty much all end on a cliff hanger, which makes it very difficult to stop watching. I often enjoy balancing out my television watching between shows that are an hour long and shows that are half an hour, and having a half hour drama to watch is a nice change of pace from the typical dramatic television time slot.
In conclusion, I highly recommend Attack on Titan. It is pretty freaking awesome, and an excellent venture into a genre that is often overlooked by mainstream audiences. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.