As someone who grew up watching Anime in the late 80’s and 90’s, I’ve become increasingly disappointed with the majority of Japanese TV series over the past decade. It seems that everything is gradually transforming into bland, poorly animated slice-of-life shovelware void of plot and character development. But, amongst the endless drivel there are glimmers of hope. Shows like Paranoia Agent, Yakitate!! Japan, Kill la Kill, Haibane Renmei and of course Attack on Titan are just some of the few shows that still harken back to a time when Anime was in its prime.
Attack on Titan has been on my backlog for a while now. I finally found the opportunity to sit through the entire series thanks to Funimation’s newly released Blu-Ray bundle. I admit, Attack on Titan didn’t impress me right away. I’ve heard many fans praising the show’s animation, some even making ridiculous claims of it being superior to Legend of Korra. It’s not. Not even close. Having said that, it’s light years better than most of the shows I’ve reviewed over the last few years.
"Attack on Titan wastes no time with static frames and plot padding. After the somewhat clumsily composed introductory chapter, the show quickly escalates into something truly special."
Where Attack on Titan really shines is in its storytelling, and most notably, pacing. Anime has a tendency to drag out scenes, sometimes stretching events over several episodes. Anyone who grew up with DBZ knows what I’m talking about. Sometimes it’s the result of low budgeting and other times it’s just a result of poor storytelling. In contrast, Attack on Titan wastes no time with static frames and plot padding. After the somewhat clumsily composed introductory chapter, the show quickly escalates into something truly special.
The story takes place a hundred years after the mysterious Titans showed up and began terrorizing people. No one knows where they come from, or what their intentions are. These humanoid giants seem to only have one goal in mind: devour humans. It’s even stranger that they don’t seem to attack people for food, rather than for the sole purpose of killing them. They also lack reproductive organs, making their sudden appearance and rise in numbers even more mysterious.
"Tetsuro Araki once again proves that he is master at expertly combining superb characters with sleek action sequences and an engrossing art style."
As a result, the surviving humans now live inside walled cities, protected by a military that consists of three branches: Survey Corps, Military Brigade and the Garrison Regiment. The narrative follows three protagonists: Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert. They’re childhood friend whose homes and families have been destroyed by a recent Titan attack. The first few episodes follow our heroes through the various stages of training five years after their hometown was destroyed by a sudden Titan attack.
There’s a big turning point a couple of episodes into the show when our heroes face their first Titan assault as fully-trained soldiers. Without getting into any spoilers, let’s just say the series of events involving Eren Yeager’s newly discovered powers set the stage for the rest of the series. It is at that point that I found myself entirely immersed, unable to stop watching until the very last end credits.
"Attack on Titan is fantastic. It’s a captivating series that grabs you by the throat and lever lets go."
Eren is a great protagonist and Armin is a brilliant nerdy kid turned soldier-sidekick who always manages to remain level headed during sticky situations. But, the real star of the show is Mikasa, Eren’s adoptive sister. She is the last Asian person on earth, and has witnessed her family slaughtered right in front of her eyes. This leads her to becoming one of the finest warriors, and Eren’s most reliable companion during battle. She gives off a cold and distant aura, but deep underneath, she’s caring and would sacrifice herself in an instant for her brother. The character depth and variety is what makes Attack on Titan stand out from most of today’s shovelware series. Tetsuro Araki (best known for Death Note and Guilty Crown) once again proves that he is master at expertly combining superb characters with sleek action sequences and an engrossing art style.
Funimation’s Blu-Ray release is top notch. The picture quality is superb. There are no visible artifacts, and the vibrant colors pop off the screen. Both parts include DVD and Blu-Ray versions of the show, as well as additional commentary, the making of, art galleries, textless opening/closing credits and a bunch of trailers. If you get the Colossal Attack on Titan Bundle, you even get an exclusive limited edition novel from Funimation and Vertical Comics: Attack on Titan: Before the Fall.
Attack on Titan is fantastic. It’s a captivating series that grabs you by the throat and lever lets go. Funimation has done a remarkable job with the Blu-Ray releases, offering the definitive way of enjoying the series. Araki’s talent always manages to muscle its way through the hordes of crap littered throughout today's Anime scene, and Attack on Titan may very well be his finest work to date.
Review by: Tin Salamunic