Title: Attack on Titan aka Shingeki no Kyojin
Company: Wit Studio/Production I.G.
Format: 25 episodes
Dates: 6 Apr 2013 – 28 Sep 2013
Synopsis: Humanity has been overrun by man-eating giants known as the Titans. The survivors of these monstrosities live in cities safeguarded by massive rings of walls. Among its denizens is Eren Jaeger, who wishes to go outside the walls and see the world for himself. His wishes are indirectly realized when a colossal skinless Titan breaks a hole into the wall, letting the giants to flood through.
Animation: Sparse at times, but beautifully realized when in full swing.
Music: Captures the scope and gravity of the premise.
Pacing: Severely mismanaged.
It’s been years since an anime has captured the imagination of both the East and the West. Whatever convention manager Araki Tetsurou is using to make successes seems to be working, as his latest endeavor, Attack on Titan, appears to be the biggest thing since his previous work, Death Note. The attention is quite deserved since Attack on Titan is a unique concoction of horror, fantasy and steampunk propelled by a compelling setting, striking visuals and cleverly placed mysteries.
Right from the start, the anime presents a dark, apocalyptic setting full of man eating creatures and oozing with despair. Despite the quite suicidal chances, humanity establishes a counteroffensive using steam-powered hook shots that fling them from building to building and onto the Titans. Much of the show’s betrothal is derived from this core notion. It’s a innovative scenario about confronting unavoidable extinction, not unlike a world overrun by zombies, but with the sliver of hope that with the ingenuity and bravery of man, the hopeless can be split.
Much of what sells the world is the director’s powerful visual realization of it. The choreography of the characters flying through the cities is exhilarating. The animators have done a fantastic job of capturing the energy and liberty of a man flying through the air in their 3D maneuver equipment, though as an effect, real animation is commonly very thin in any other scene. Complementing the cartoon is the music, which has a grandiose quality to it and supplies the needed weight to the solemn instants.
The characters are fairly compelling and come across as real human beings, but they may be actually secondary to the setting. Despite being the lead guy in his own shounen action cartoon, Eren Jaeger’s strong words and foolhardy activities are rarely rewarded with anything other than deep, gashing cuts to his pride. Sometimes, he seems fairly stupid and ineffectual, but that appears to be the point: he’s one cog, albeit the primary one, but nevertheless one cog in the rather ample story.
The biggest flaw of the show is its pacing, which starts off fine in the beginning but slows down to a slog a couple of episodes in. By the end of the first half of the series, extended recaps fill the first few minutes of each episode, forcing liberal use of the fast forward button. Additionally, what little content there is should have been condensed into a fraction of the time. While some build up is necessary before any kind of climax, the show has a tendency to meander a tad too long, causing many episodes to feel unnecessarily padded.
With a rather biting edge, a truly foreign world and remarkable visuals, Attack on Titan is an undeniable gem that has the potential to reach far beyond the purview of normal anime fans. It’s not the most emotionally racking or cerebral anime out there, but it’s a thriller that will leave you excited for more.