Review of Attack on Titan (Part One)

attackontitan

Attack on Titan is the smash hit anime series based on the comic franchise created by artist Hajime Isayama. Manga Entertainment is releasing the first season in the UK across two DVD sets (also available on Blu Ray and digitally via iTunes.) Unsurprisingly, given the show’s popularity, the series has already broken sales records. At the time of writing Attack on Titan (Part One) has the distinction of being the anime series to sell the most copies, during its opening week, for the year 2014. It’s relatively huge sales figures, which have placed it number 95 on the British Video Association Sales Chart, rival the size of the mammoth creatures that feature in the show.

OVERVIEW

The series takes place in a world were the human race is on the brink of extinction due to the sudden appearance of man eating giants known as Titans. In order to survive, the last vestiges of humanity have banded together in a mega city, which is enclosed by towering walls that not even the humongous Titans can scale. After a century of relative peace however the unthinkable happens. A colossal Titan, that dwarves his carnivorous brethren, emerges on the scene and proceeds to demolish the settlement’s outer wall. The resulting carnage leads to twenty percent of the populace getting devoured faster than a cheesecake in my presence.

Directed by Tetsuro Araki, whose previous credits include the exceptional Death Note, Attack on Titan is a cartoon that I would not recommend to the squeamish. Gargantuan humanoids chomping down on people mean that the series contains bloody scenes featuring dismemberment. Mercifully the camera doesn’t dawdle on the gory victims and cuts away before things get too graphic (which may explain the DVD’s modest fifteen years or older age rating.) The fast paced action also plays a part in concealing the bloodshed, as it doesn’t give viewers the opportunity to dwell on the deceased. AOD’s exciting battles showcase a lot of thrilling acrobatics were humanity’s protectors target the Titan’s only known weak spot (on the nape of the neck) by launching themselves into the air via gas canisters and zip lines.

CHARACTERS

Providing some levity to proceedings are the squad of cadets, who’s training in the ways of giant slaying account for a good chunk of these opening episodes. Their entertaining banter is reminiscent of the marines you would find in live action movies such as Aliens and Starship Troopers. One good source of chuckles is Sasha Blouse who is a kleptomaniac when it comes to tasty morsels. A funny scene has her offering a pilfered spud to the platoon’s drill sergeant. Sadly the foul-mouthed Sarge declines the generous gesture… perhaps he was concerned about being nicknamed Full Metal Jacket Potato.

Attack on Titan has a substantive cast of characters although the core storyline revolves around a trio of friends who have enlisted in the Scouts. Eren Jaeger is the hotheaded protagonist who dreams of escaping the urban prison he grew up in to explore the outside world. His main motivation for joining the military is to avenge his mother who perished at the hands of the Titans. Mikasa Ackerman is arguably the coolest character in the show, which may be attributed to the fact that she shares the writer’s nationality (she’s actually the last remaining Japanese person on Earth.) Mikasa is Eren’s adoptive sister and has vowed to protect Jaeger ever since he rescued her from human traffickers. Last but not least is Armin Arlert who lacks the bravery of his compatriots, but makes up for it in the intellect department. On more than one occasion his acumen for strategy saves his pals from a tight spot.

VERDICT

My rating for Attack on Titan is a very high four out of five. The thirteen episodes I have watched are excellent although they didn’t quite satisfy the lofty expectations I had after all the hype. Visually the show is guilty of using still images on occasion, but for the most part it’s a cosmetically pleasing cartoon. The show is at its most spectacular during the action sequences, which are bolstered by background CG effects. On the audio side of things the series sports a catchy theme song and all the voice actors deliver strong performances. Bryce Papenbrook, who is no stranger to big name shows after staring in Sword Art Online, is especially impressive as the goal driven Eren. Narratively the script does a sublime job of maintaining your interest by hitting viewers with surprising twists at regular intervals. I’m eagerly awaiting the next instalment due out in October. In the meantime I shall practice my Titan imitation techniques by feasting on some Jelly Babies.

13 thoughts on “Review of Attack on Titan (Part One)

  1. You should watch the subbed version. The anger in Erens voice reverberates more. Though the crying of Armin can be quite annoying at times (for a about few episodes at least). Second half of the series, has it’s moments. The manga has some surprising twists though.

    • It’s very good and perhaps I will rate part two even higher. Given that it’s been hyped up as the savior of anime I was however expecting a bit more. It’s not on the level of Death Note or Full Metal Alchemist IMO.

      • That’s fair enough. I’m a little resistant to hype myself but AOT did strike a particular chord with me that other recent series haven’t – especially the two you mentioned. 🙂

      • Whilst it’s not my cup of tea for an anime (It’s far too brooding and serious for me), it certainly does feel like it’s been important for anime.

        Talking from a cosplay point of view now, if you don’t know about Attack on Titan, you’ve clearly only looked at your own costumes. It’s pivitol but I wholeheartedly agree with you here – it’s not lived up perfectly to the hype for me either. I know why people like it, though. It’s amazing for what it is!

  2. Nice review. I took this collection away with me on my last holidays. Haven’t quite finished it yet, need to get on it. I pretty much agree with you 100%. Tis really good, but slightly less than the hype suggests.

  3. Pingback: Review of Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse (Part One) | The Otaku Judge
  4. A very well thought and well written review. The only weak point of the series, in my mind, is it’s pacing. The arcs are engaging, but within each arc most of the episodes feel fairly forgettable, with most of the strongest scenes concentrated in the last 1-2 episodes. In many ways the arcs feel like a long preamble before a brief main event.
    In spite of that I think it is a solid 4/5, though I’m hopeful that later episodes will have longer periods of danger and action. Among these first 13 episodes I think my favorites would actually be 1-2. The series opens with such a punch, leaving a hard act for later arcs to follow.

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