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.
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.
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.
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.