Last week, on June 3, 2014, anime publisher FUNimation Entertainment released the first part of “Attack on Titan”, the brutal, dark fantasy series based on the manga by Hajime Isayama, and they provided us with the opportunity to see what makes the series so popular.
Fair warning, this review contains spoilers up to episode 13.
“Attack on Titan” takes place in a world where humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction at the hands of colossal beings called Titans. In order to survive, humanity built gigantic walls around the last safe haven, and for the last 100 years they have lived in relative safety from their monstrous enemy.
The series follows a young boy named Eren Jaeger, who lives in a town right against the main wall, along with his best friends, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert. Eren dreams of one day going beyond the walls and seeing what is out there, but his life, along with all of humanity, is changed forever when a huge Titan appears one day and knocks a hole in the wall, allowing the smaller Titans inside.
What follows is a traumatic series of events that leave Eren and Mikasa with no one left to look after them, as the town is abandoned and humanity retreats further into the walls. Having witnessed the horror of the Titan’s power firsthand, Eren decides that he is going to join the Survey Corps, a branch of the military that serves as the frontline of defense and the main assault force, and that he will destroy every last Titan for what they have done. Not one to ever leave Eren’s side, Mikasa joins the military as well, along with Armin.
Following their training, with a few struggles for Eren along the way, Eren, Mikasa and Armin join the Survey Corps and it isn’t long before the Colossal Titan appears once again, giving Eren his opportunity for revenge. Things don’t quite go as planned however, when in defending the city of Trost, Eren is eaten by a Titan, a shocking moment for sure.
In a strange turn of events, Eren doesn’t stay down for long, he comes back in the form of a higher class Titan, still intent on killing the other Titans. With his newfound power, Eren could become a secret weapon to help turn the tide against their powerful enemy, but what could cause something like that to happen, and whether or not the power can be controlled, still remain to be seen.
The “Attack on Titan” story is probably one of the most entertaining that I’ve seen in quite some time. Every episode seems to be a battle and there is so much bloodshed and many horrifying deaths, that it is difficult to avoid getting emotional. There are also a lot of likeable characters, and some humans it is easy to hate, so seeing them struggle as they try to deal with all of the death going on around them makes for great viewing.
Although there are a few moments of lighthearted comedy, and even some times when things seem like they are going positively for once, there is always something horrible just around the corner that can happen when you least expect it. This made for one of the most emotionally draining experiences watching an anime I’ve had in a while. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though.
Visually, “Attack on Titan” is well done, the animation is smooth and everything has a fair amount of detail and a vivid picture. All of the violence is graphic, but for the most part it is handled well and they don’t hold back on the detail. This review is based on the DVD version of the series, which is a good quality, it is likely that the Blu-ray version will be at least slightly improved though. The characters all look good, they seem to match up nicely with their manga versions nicely.
I was a big fan of the Japanese dub before watching the series in English, so I am partial to the Japanese cast. The English dub isn’t bad though, I had thought that with all of the screaming and such, the English dub might sound horrible. I was pleasantly surprised though, it could have been much worse. The subtitles were easy to read, clear and remained on screen for a decent length of time.
Included on the DVD version as on-disc extras are an Eyecatch gallery, the clean opening and closing as well as trailer for other FUNimation Entertainment releases. Additionally there were episode commentaries for episodes 3 and 13.
“Attack on Titan” is easily one of my favorite anime series in recent years, and it doesn’t take long to see why it has become so popular. There are so many interesting characters that Eren meets in his journey and you get emotionally attached to them, making what may happen along the way even more devastating. Eren’s change is also an interesting idea and I am definitely curious to see where he goes from here. The graphic and brutal deaths will also offer plenty of shocked faces and cringeworthy moments.
It is hard to find a series to compare to “Attack on Titan”, but if you liked anime such as “Deadman Wonderland”, ‘Berserk” and “Claymore”, then this is definitely a series you will want to see. Should you take the plunge and watch “Attack on Titan”, be prepared to be enthralled, and watch out for those Titan filled nightmares.
Attack on Titan part one
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Runtime: 325 minutes
Number of Discs: 2 DVDs (Also on Blu-ray)
Number of Episodes: 13
Languages: English, Japanese with English subtitles
Age Rating: TV-MA
Release Date: June 3, 2014
(A review copy of “Attack on Titan” part one, on DVD, was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.)