Anime Review: Attack on Titan (Season 1)
Attack on Titan is a very popular show, which has recently spawned a large following. Does it live up to all this hype? Is it as good as everyone says? Mainly, what I liked about the first season was that it was exciting, with little to no filler. It also had likeable characters in Eren, Armin, and Mikasa. But it's not great if you expect a lot of closure or for everything to make sense by the end. Because the story is from a long, continuous manga, many plot threads that start in this season won't get resolved or explained in depth until much later.
Attack on Titan takes place in an alternate reality. At one point in human history, mysterious giant humanoid creatures called Titans appeared as a great threat to mankind. Humanity fled the Titans from all previous areas of the world to live in a walled city, where the Titans would be kept out so that humans could survive. There were three circular walls, and in the innermost walls were the nobles and a king. But the walls are constantly being threatened by Titan attack. When one Titan taller than the outer wall shows up and causes major destruction, it's a dark day for humanity. But out of that day are born some new heroes, who might become the key to saving humanity's future.
Attack on Titan is more or less a "zombie apocalypse" style story, except that the "zombies" are Titans. Most horror relies on the idea that the saying "there's always a bigger fish" applies to humans. In other words, humans aren't the apex predator anymore, when a new creature that preys on us shows up. This can be a zombie, vampire, demon, werewolf, etc. Thus, the Titan represents a primal fear of mankind.
Attack on Titan is also about war, how not only is war hell, but it's especially bad when you know little about your enemy. The Titans are scary because they're mysterious. Whenever humans think they have them all figured out, something new happens that throws humanity a curve ball. And people die.This is also a universal human fear, fear of the unknown and unknowable. Since we have rational minds that want to have all the answers, the unknown is an element in almost all horror stories.
This is about a war for the survival of humanity, but Eren, the main character, also worries about becoming like the thing he's fighting. This is a common theme in many types of movies and shows, fear that your hatred of the monster will turn you into one.
Overall, the writers of Attack on Titan have a solid grip on the psychology of what makes monsters in horror scary, and it's not just fangs, size, or supernatural powers.
This show has a lot of good things going for it. It has a very strong set of opening theme sequences, with vibrant music. This is important, because a lackluster opening sequence can make an otherwise good show seem boring.
It appeals to the American youth's obsession with zombie apocalypse, survival, and war stories. It's also so appealing because it's about retaining hope in a truly harsh world where anyone can die at any time. It also doesn't waste the audience's time; each action happens for a reason, each conversation is important, and each flashback is crucial to understanding the characters. The action sequences are beautifully animated, and the maneuver gear they use is a neat-looking invention. This is a show I would recommend to most people.
But, the manga contains so much more, and the season's ending is really just the end of a fight, but it isn't that satisfying of a conclusion. Very little is also shown of how politics works in those inner walls, and if there are secret plots within the walls, which I'm sure there are. The show gets you to like the characters and care about what happens to them, and it gets you to ask questions about the world they're in, but these questions are left unanswered, at least by the end of season one.
Attack on Titan draws in the viewer with stunning visuals, raw, visceral fighting, and some great music. But I have to admit, as the show progresses, it becomes less good at sustaining the attention it initially attracted.
Attack on Titan is a must-see show, especially for fans of the shounen, horror, action, fantasy, and adventure genres. It's a dark show, taking place in a bleak world, but the main character's struggle within that world to save humanity is quite inspiring. The season finale, however, leaves a lot to be desired. As it continues, you will see more politics, but she show's middle seems to struggle to find its way, as I will talk about in my review of the second season. A lot of stuff that is introduced won't get resolved, and a lot of initial points of interest in the show's world-building won't be mentioned again for quite some time. Due to this, I would probably recommend the manga over the anime.