Animation Quick Look: Attack on Titan

A lot of people think anything animated (with the possible exception of stuff on Fox/FX) is kiddy fare meant to sell crappy toys. But animation is just a film style. There is kid stuff, drama, sci fi, procedurals, historical epics, comedies and so on (and ok lots of weird ass porn, but this isn’t going to be about that). The purpose of this column is a brief look so you don’t have to sift through the garbage and see the good intelligent stuff animation has to offer that can often be on par with the best live action stuff on TV. As someone who is a dabbler but can really get into a good animated series I can present a pretty balanced view instead of someone who is either too dismissive or too into the genre altogether. I will watch the first several episodes of an animated series (because unlike most live action shows, Animation and especially anime series can often have a couple episodes go by without anything really happening) and basically tell you whether it’s worth a damn.

So, moving on to my first review, Attack on Titan, which was one of the most popular anime series of 2013, so it has a ton of hype to live up to. The premise is pretty easily explained: Take the premise of Pacific Rim, but make the giant monsters mostly human looking (and naked but lacking genitals, thank god because I really didn’t want to look at giant dongs for a couple of hours, as it is you see plenty of giant ass) but technologically all the humans have to battle them with is cannons which barely do anything and swords. So yeah humanity is pretty well fucked. The last remnants have gathered in one big central city protected by a series of big walls. Things remain fairly peaceful for about a century (unless you dare to go outside the walls then if you are lucky you might come back with just one limb missing) but apparently the monsters were just holding out til they got bored, because they suddenly decide to take down the outermost wall and have no trouble doing so. After decimating most of the population of the outer city they mysteriously stop and everyone who survived has been evacuated to the inner wall. At this point the three young protagonists join the army with the intention of helping drive back the Titans (especially the main male, Eren, whose mother was killed and brutally eaten right in front of him) but when they resume attacking again five years later it all goes to shit and something drastic will have to happen if humanity is going to survive.

Probably the highest compliment I have to give this show is though I only intended to watch several episodes just to get a feel for it, I was pretty instantly hooked and ended up blasting through the first 10 and had to stop myself so I could actually write about it. On top of that it’s currently only available as subtitled rather than dubbed. I generally prefer dubbed just because it’s easier to follow but if a series is good enough I’ll have no issue with subtitles and that was certainly the case here.

The first thing that really struck me is the brutality. This series pretty much has an Game of Thrones attitude about it’s characters with interesting good characters constantly introduced and then savagely killed. And that’s good, because it makes the Titans a very viable threat instead of usual lumbering idiots who you know the heroes will always defeat and save the day without anybody even getting a scratch. The general style and fight sequences especially are pretty awesome, especially when the humans use “3D combat” where they basically fly around with hooks and gas canisters trying to take down the giant Titans. And it goes well beyond the simple soldiers vs. giants plot with Government incompetence and hubris, secret medical experimentation and corruption that adds a lot of compelling mystery and intrigue.

My one real complaint? The title doesn’t make a ton of sense. The monsters are called Titans sure, but Attack on Titan sounds more like some kind of space battle than humanity’s last stand against a nearly invincible enemy. But aside from that this is a ridiculously great series that at only 25 episodes would certainly be an excellent way to get your feet wet on serious mature animation.

Rating: 5/5 Giant naked humans

  • noman

    Do they use famous Japanese voices for the characters? (I assume this is Japanese?)
    Just curious if they market and build a following around a voice?

  • Cameron

    Started watching this, fucking awesome. Thanks for the heads up. Streaming on Netflix too.