(Warning! This review contains some spoilers for Attack on Titan. You have been warned.)
So, it's the night before exams at school. I'm done studying and I'm lying in bed, unable to sleep due to nervousness and insomnia. I wonder about what I should do and then reach out and turn on my i-pod and my Crunchyroll app. I scan through the top titles for anything that might be on my 'want-to-watch' list or anything that caught my eye. Eventually my eyes settled upon Attack on Titan. I stared at the screen for a few minutes debating whether or not I should open it and finally watch it like my friends had insisted for the past few months. I knew the show had been overhyped out the wazoo, just like a lot of other popular shows such as Sword Art Online or Full Metal Alchemist. I'm not saying I thought it was going to be bad, as some shows are popular with good reason, but I was worried about sitting here and writting a review if, in my opinion, it was not worth the perfect ten that everyone claims it deserves. Tens have always been rare from me, especially as I delve deeper into the world of anime and find more repeating cliches and themes that tend to drag shows down. So I sat for a moment, debating whether or not to watch the show or hug my Roxas plushie and try to get some sleep. What did I do? I stayed up all night watching the entire show so I could review it, of course.
Let's get down to business. Was it good? Was it bad? Chances are, if you read the score by the review, you can already tell.
Before anyone bites my head off like a viscious titan, let me preface this with one statement: I do love the story in this show and find it to be an intriguing concept. Ever since I was little I always wondered how ants feel. We must seem so huge, and then we go around crushing them mercilously or in some cases burning them alive. So what if a huge race of giants came and started crushing people? Instantly I was interested. I wanted to understand the titans, to see what they were and how they worked. Well, there's one of the shows flaws right off the bat. It presents a problem(with a predictible solution, mind you) in the case of the Titans, giant monsters that eat human beings, and never really solves it. It also makes the Titans not make much biological sense. If they don't eat to nourish themselves then how do they function? How does a creature maintain homeostasis without food? Do they photosynthesize light similar to plants? Maybe it has to do with the way they regenerate themselves... Who knows? The show never really explains it, anyway. It's not too big of a problem, but it's still annoying. Maybe they mean for the show to have another season, maybe it's meant to be a mystery forever. There are a frustrating ammount of unsolved mysteries in this show, and to an extent I like that and to an extent it annoys me.
Before I get too sidetracked again as usual, I'm going to talk about the basic plot. So there are the people. They nearly got completely wiped out by the titans a hundred years prior to the show because titans like to eat people. Ouch. Sounds gross and painful. Imagine being ripped in half in the saliva filled mouth of a titan. It's sticky toungue up against your back as you heard your bones crack and the agonizing sound of a swallow as you were tossed roughly into the belly of the beast. Well, that's what you'd expect anyway. So these three kids Eren, Mikasa and Armin live in the city of Shiganshina(odd name) where the human's have built a set of three 50 meter high stone walls in an attempt to keep the titans out. A hundred years have passed since the last titan invasion, and therefore people believe they will be forever safe behind the walls. Squads going out to fight the titans commonly end up decimated because of their lack of advanced weaponry. One day, after some obvious foreshadowing, a collosal 60 meter titan breaks through the wall, allowing others to enter and begin massacaring the people there. Because Shiganshina is the outermost part of the outer wall(Rose), it isn't too big of a threat for the people in the center. A titan kills and eats Eren and Mikasa's mother and Eren plots revenge by planning to kill all titans. If that sounds good, it's because it is. The main story is quite fabulous, really. Even if it's a simple revenge plot at it's core, it manages to build around it quite well. Most of the time.
This brings me to another issue. The show feels like the length is wrong. I'm dead serious. It feels like it should either be extended to be a much longer series, or shortened to cut out some of the superflous feeling episodes and times, like having three episodes where they're in school or when it spends a whole episode on the trial. That's great and all, but I came here to see monsters having their heads ripped off as the crush the bones of humans in their teeth. Yeah... I really let my mind run wild while watching this... and that's a fantastic thing.
This show does the horror aspect beautifully. Even if you're not scared by the thought of being eaten by a giant, the way it builds suspense is utter perfection. For example, when the collosal titan first breaks through Wall Rose, oh do you know it's coming and every muscle in your body tenses waiting for it to appear. When it does it's perfect. The show manages to have moments where it's terrifying, and not in a cheap, ghost/zombie/other stock monster in your face kind of way. In a bloody kind of way.
Another issue that I suppose I should tackle here is plot armor. Plot armor, plot armor, plot armor. It's like, when you're watching the show, you know Eren, Mikasa, and Armin are going to survive. You can probably tell some of the other characters will too. But the losses in each battle are enormous, even with specialized gear, professionals and cannons. Anyone could die at any moment. A titan could come crashing through a building, grab a person, crush their bones in their grasp and swallow them whole. So why on EARTH would you give someone in this show plot armor so they can't be killed? One of the main characters actually does get eaten in one of the episodes, but he comes back. It feels cheap. I know it's a story moving mechanic, but it feels so CHEAP. Why him? Why did all of the other interesting characters, and hundreds of thousands of innocent people die, but HE GETS TO LIVE? Becuase he's the main character. It's designed that way. They should've taken a page out of The Legend of the Galatic Heroes for this one and just not had plot armor at all.
Okay, I've made a lot of complaints, but overall the good overwhelmingly triumphs over the bad in this story and makes the experience of watching the show exhilerating, even if it's predictable.
The story is flawed, but spectacular and unique. That's all.
I've heard people call this show one of the best animation fests they've seen in an anime. For me... well I suppose it's really good overall. It does something that bothers me though. It puts thick black lines around the characters, that feel too out of place... Can't they have made them thinner? I don't know. It works in a more cartoon stylised piece, but that's clearly not what this is trying to be. The rest is very realistically styled, espcially the backgrounds. So those feel out of place.
Speaking of the backgrounds: they're pretty. They have a good color pallette in the city sections, and are very realistically well done. For the most part the cg blends in with the animation where it feels less perfected and smooth, and you can tell that there was no way a person drew that.
Now for the good again.
Now for the gore. Wait, what gore? You mean the blood? It's... just blood. Sometimes it's clumpy blood, but still just blood. You'd think that if a titan just chomped down into someone there would be viscera or bones or chunks of liver and brain tossed in. There's no bone or brain or other organs mixed into the mix most of the time, especially when characters are eaten or chucked into things. The only real time you see ubber graphic gore is when a soldier blasts his own brains out in one of the episodes and in the belly of a titan.
Music is something I hold very dear to my heart. So when I hear great music in an anime, it makes my day. Boy, is the first opening theme of this show EPIC. The first ending of the show is fine as well, but that first opening, amazing. Unfortunately, the second opening will make you miss the first one. The second ending hardly caught my attention... I can't remember much about it for the life of me, and it's the day after I stayed up all night watching this thing. The music in the show itself is fine. Though it does seem out of place at times. I'm sorry, but I want something utterly badass for my titan on titan battle.
Voice acting is quite nice. Really it is. I don't know if the show will have a dub(I'm guessing it will because it is so popular), but the sub was gorgeous.
Now this, my friends, is truly a deserving ten. Gosh I love it when anime provides with fantastic characters(great characters and storyline are my favorite part about anything from books to movies to plays to video games to western shows to anime), and boy does this show ice off it's fantastic cake with a diverse cast. Hey, even if you hate a minor or secondary character, don't worry, odds are, in a little while they'll be titan food anyway so you don't have to worry, and on the other hand, if you like them, don't worry there'll be more reinforcements pouring in after them that are just as likeable. It may sound silly to say this, but it's a nice thing to know that you're getting a fresh cast of characters every episode or so.
Well what about the major characters? Huh, what about them? Well, they're AMAZING. I freaking adore them so much.
Armin: Why do people not like this guy? I love him. He's definitely not as courageous as Mikasa or Eren, but that's not a problem. Not every character, even in a show like this, needs to be a badass fighter. Why would they? I mean, Armin is a character whose pure mental strength makes up for his physical inadiquatees. Yes, he may be a coward, but his brain tends to get more people out of situations alive than any other method. He can get through a battle against seven titans with no human casualties if given proper time to plan. He's good at inferring things and figuring stuff out. Things that other characters in any form of media might just ignore or not be able to figure out. He also shows that he's remarkably human by showing he has a breaking point. Think he's' a weakling? Sure he doesn't like fighting as much, but if you just saw all of your friends get EATEN right in front of you, culminating with one of your closest friends being chomped to the point where his limbs come off before he is swallowed, you'd probably be scared too.
Eren: Eren is arguably my favorite character in the show.(Yeah, yeah, I know, he's not Levi) He's driven by the classic albiet overdone force of revenge to kill all titans after one ate his mother. If he were cookiecutter from their out I would've given him a far lower score. He follows another common path of having a will that is stronger than his own physical strength in some circumstances. He has a conscience, adding another layer of depth to his character. It serves as both a strength and a weakness, as it keeps him from falling into the same pattern as the other soldiers and allows him to feel remorse and mercy, but also causes him to be off his game when he feels as though he isn't doing the right thing. You know... While his plot-armordness can be annoying at times in such an otherwise realistic and depressing show, his titan form does bring out a few new changes within himself as he turns from human into monster. It's like Doctor Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, and trust me, it's very cool.
Mikasa: She's a tough character, probably the strongest out of the main three in their human forms. That's good. Sometimes she lets her emotion cloud her judgement, which is bad, but I'll use the same thing I did for Armin here: Come on! If your only living 'family' was just murdered, would you be in your right mind? She's stoic, but she cares about the people around her, and is especially protective of Eren. This makes a lot of sense, as she states several times that he's her only family left, and clearly cares for him deeply. You can take their relationship however you'd like to. Personally I don't see them as more than brother and sister.
Secondary characters are pretty darn good, and like I said, chances are if you despise the heck out of them they'll be dead soon. They probably are resonably realistic in thier survival rates. Some live, some die. It isn't like the minor characters where you know they're titan food. That being said, they aren't plot armored at all. Watching this show is almost like watching Game of Thrones. Anyone can die at anytime.
Anyway, there's a plethora or secondary characters in the show(gotta replace the ones that get eaten), and the most regarded as the best, from what I can tell, is Levi. People treat Levi like he's some kind of god, that's how good he is... or at least that's what I heard about him. Levi isn't perfect, and while I see why one could think so, he's dark, and hard to read. He's not afraid to make sacrifices and generally keeps a level head in battle, even if his allies are killed. All in all, he's a pretty darn good character.
Sasha Braus is another character I love from the secondary character grouping. She's basically the show's comic relief, and it's done very well to show that she's capable, but just quirky enough to be hilarious. She eats a lot, and she once ate a boiled potato in a drill, granting her the name "potato girl". She's definitely one of the shows more memorable characters, and she serves to lighten up darker moods and tones. It's very well done. It doesn't kill the mood of the scene she's in, but it also doesn't underdo it. Perfectly done.
Other great secondary characters include Christa, Annie, and Conny.
Some of the other secondary characters aren't as good, like some of the members of Levi's team, but like I said, hey, if you don't like a character they're probably gonna be titan food anyway.
The minor characters are done perfectly. They hare just enough backstory to make watching them die upsetting. A perfect example of this is Franz and Hannah, who serve as great comedic relief before their sweet little love story ends in tragedy. Titans are such assholes.
Attack on Titan is a fantastic show. Even with its flaws its still a masterpiece that lived up to my every expectation. I hope they make a second season.
Attack on Titan (AOT hereon) was the most overhyped title of its year, pretty much like Madoka Magica and Sword Art Online (SAO) were in the years right before it. And just like those, it did not live up to its hype, as pretty much no show ever does. It was a high seller that was talked about for some time, and eventually ended up being a big disappointment. And yes, I have read the manga so I know what I am talking about regarding later plot twists.
Just like it happens with all overhyped mediocrities, the thing that made it so famous is the premise. A setting where mankind is almost wiped out by giant monstrosities and gets cornered behind huge walls, only for a giant to break down their fortifications and let the monsters into civilian areas. Terror and death spread as people die defenceless by the thousands and the rest retreat to other fortified lands where they work almost as slaves because of overpopulation and lack of food. From this description you are presented with a most interesting action / survival / horror, which is very graphical and doesn’t hold back in depicting gore, as the giants chew and swallow people. You are really intrigued to find out how they can possibly survive against these monsters.
Sounds amazing enough for anyone to jump into the show, but surely not because it is original. It is actually quite basic and overdone; there have been several similar stories over the years, from Blue Gender to Claymore. Heck, the very same studio made afterwards Owari no Seraph and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress, which are the exact same premise. AOT was lucky enough to come out at a time when 90% of anime were effortless softporn and moe; so it stood out. If it was made along with Death Note or Code Geass, it would only get a fraction of its hype. Also, it is not a harem with schools that pretends to be deep and serious by having an apocalyptic story that is there as nothing but unused backdrop, like in the cases of Chrome Shelled Regios or Total Eclipse.
The main problems are still present though; so let’s go over them, one by one.
1. AOT is a SHONEN, oozing with coolness and not a mature or sensible SEINEN
That translates to lots of eye-rolling moments. It is NOT a mature story despite having mature themes; and if some think otherwise they are simply ignorant. It’s all here, the cheesy dialogue, the 1 dimensional characterization, and the overused shonen shenanigans. The enemy seems undefeatable at first but then some obnoxious emo teenagers get convenient superpowers and defeat them by the dozens. That’s right; everyone has jutsus and hidden evil powers inside them, just like in Naruto. And don’t give me any excuses of the sort “There is no other way such a story could be told.” I have read manga such as Biomeat Nectar, Parasyte, and Dragon Head, where you have a pretty similar situation and they didn’t have any of the crap that happens every 5 minutes in this show. Because those were not shonen.
2. Characterization is quite basic and even laughable at points despite the attempts to make the cast mature and serious.
Take the protagonist for example. So obnoxious! Remember Naruto and how he always screams “I WILL SAVE SASUKE DATEBAYO!” every 5 minutes to the point you want to strangle him? Well this one here is not any better since all he does is yelling “I WILL DEFEAT ALL THE GIANTS DATEBAYO!” It has that irritating always-angry, totally-stupid shonen thing you find pretty much everywhere and no amount of dramatic backdrop manages to make him anything more than that. Also, his backdrop did not form his personality, as he was BORN angry; he did not became angry because of the titans. And just like all typical shonen heroes he has special powers, special family, special friends, is plot armoured, and in general has everything working to his favour despite being nothing but yet another ill-mannered youth. But hey, we gotta pamper our main audience somehow and this effortless stereotype works just fine; so why try harder?
Other characters include:
- An aloof girl who loves potatoes and talks like a retard; because all shows need a comic relief idiot.
- A local aristocrat who exists to show what a selfish asshole he is, letting everyone die just so he can escape with his money and not thinking about it twice; since as well all know adults in shonen are all assholes and only teenagers are the goodhearted folks who do all the work and save the day.
- Kidnapers who kill and sell people as prostitutes, just so we can hate them and wish them dead 10 seconds after they are introduced.
- Some scaredy cat boy who is always crying and panicking, just to show how cool is everyone else. Worthless and irritating as Reki from Claymore and yet another proof of why this show is not better than Claymore. They pretend he is a mastermind when it comes to planning ahead, but in reality he is the only one who sometimes thinks, while everyone else is an oblivious idiot. So technically he is a normal guy surrounded by retards.
- And let’s not forget the protagonist’s “not-blood-related-sister” who seems WAY too interested in him to the point she can’t exist without being a needy pet with constant withdrawal syndrome. How else would we have the obligatory brother-sister love thingy going on?
You can literally describe most of them in 10 words as the way they talk and act will border a slapstick comedy half the time. Everything they need to express, they do it by yelling or crying like maniacs, even when the situation hardly calls for them to act as such. Or when they try to be serious for a change, it still comes off as comical. You see a guy in the first episode giving the severed hand of a dead soldier to his crying mother while saying with a serious face “This is all we could salvage. And by the way, your son died for nothing. HERP!” Lol man, what kind of a military leader is this guy? Was that supposed to make me feel sad? I am laughing at it.
You may be fooled to think they have depth, since most of them get flashbacks full of tragic childhood moments and stuff; but let’s be honest, all secondary characters in shows like Naruto and Bleach have those too and they are still nothing but cardboards to the story and eventually one dimensional archetypes instead of real people. AOT is not any different, as each of them is there just to cry in a corner, show us his tragic past and then go to fight the giants until he realizes he is completely worthless before the hax skills of the main characters and simply stops caring afterwards. Literally all secondary characters are neglected and forgotten a few episodes after they are introduced.
3. SHHHHOOOOOCK FACTOOOOORRRR
Something rather un-shonen for the time it came out, was the numerous deaths of secondary characters. Not many convenient survivals and resurrections here; if you are caught by a giant, he is going to rip you to pieces and eat you while you are still alive and screaming. That makes the tension ten-fold compared to an average shonen where everybody survives from impossible situation. That still doesn’t save it in the longrun of course, since it is nothing but SHOCK FACTOR to make the audience gasp with blood and violence and not some actually tragic death of important characters you will never forget. You only notice the gore and not the people experiencing it. I will never forget the Nanto fighters in Hokuto no Ken because they were part of the plot and did far more than being emo in a corner before kicking the bucket. These here? Who are they? You will forget them 5 seconds after they are dead. And even the novelty of the high mortality rate lost its edge, since soon afterwards shows like Akame GA Kill, Knights of Sidonia, and Fate Zero did the exact same thing. Not even that feels that special anymore.
4. Plot Armoured (Titan?)
And despite the high mortality rate, eventually you realize it is something that counts only for secondary characters. They serve only as cannon fodder in this show; they exist just to cry in corners, die miserably, and fool the unexpected to think no one is safe. The major ones on the other hand, get the usual shonen package: Plot armoured with hax powers, like Wolverine’s super fast regeneration and Spiderman’s super fast agility, to forever survive any giant attack. They are oozing with the rule of cool and dwarf everybody else in importance, thus trashing the whole survival / horror aspect. The audience cheers for them, as they wipe out armies of undefeatable (for everybody else) giants, thus there is no tension. It is still all about who is more overpowered and cool, like in any run of the mill shonen. The tragic parts also become meaningless, since it all comes down to the usual magic superpowers and poser fighting, as in the case of, again, any run of the mill action shonen.
5. The mystery aspect is quite weak
Half the interest most show in this anime derives from the gore (which is cheap and eventually shallow) and the other half is the mystery of the unworldly enemies (which fades away as soon as it is eventually revealed). At first you are thrilled to find out why the giants are eating people. They don’t need food to sustain themselves. They don’t have a personality or even intelligence which makes them grotesque and terrifying for not understanding their motivations. Well, most of your questions won’t be answered, since the story is left incomplete, and the eventual explanation in a later arc only serves to make you realize there wasn’t much to it. So even if you are watching this for the thrilling emotions, you are bound to hate it after you realize it wasn’t that good to begin with. It pretends to be far more than a most basic zombie apocalypse scenario. The city is the mall, the titans are the undead, and the steampunk spidermen are the people trying to survive.
6. Weak world-building
It is full of interesting ideas as far as the setting goes, from detailed maps of how the human lands are run, to blueprints of how their cannons and steam engines that make them fly work. Later on you get even basic politics and religious fanatism as the people react to the new giant attacks and all of a sudden some kids get hax powers. It makes it far more interesting than some generic RPG world full of fortified cities and wilderness crawling with monsters. It’s not TOO detailed though; most of them are there for show since they don’t matter much in the longrun. You think those rotating cannons, the titanium swords, or the steampunk spidermen do shit against the giants? All you need is a few angsty teens with hax superpowers nobody else can get even if they wish it all their lives. And even if you just stick to the setting itself, it is quite simple despite its secondary details. The whole world is basically either houses where people live in, or wilderness where titans roam around. Many claim that since the story is a slowly-revealed mystery, it is excused when everything is so basic. It still doesn’t change the fact that the world looks like 3 perfectly drawn homocentric circles. Even a baby can do better than this.
7. Slow pacing
The early episodes have extremely fast pacing but then it snails down to almost a halt. The first five minutes go wasted on summaries of things we saw just in the previous episode, and there are even recap episodes for events that don’t need more than a few minutes to describe. In a way this is a positive trait since it invests time in letting the viewer immerse in the mood of the show. Much better to running through the events while leaving everyone and everything unfocused or not looked into. Sadly, the mood is the only thing they focus on. Not much time is used to flesh out the characters or the setting, and in the longrun all secondary cast and the funky steampunk technologies are meaningless, neglected, and completely forgotten.
8. Overused tension gimmicks
The script heads for a constant thrill, and because of the slow pacing causes every major event to last more than it needs, and constantly stops with a cliffhanger. Although this can be a nice motivation for the audience to anticipate the next episode, they do it so many times and for events that could practically fit in only one episode. Tension loses its meaning if it happens all the time without proper relaxation points and after awhile you no longer find it exciting or edgy, exactly because it is always like that. You get used to it, it doesn’t look awesome anymore, and because most of whatever happens in it is about people you don’t care about, it becomes boring.
9. Plot Driven
Although this is not an issue with everyone, it is still a problem. The characters have no control over the events of the show; they are just reacting to them. No matter what happens, they will never choose what to do next; the plot is going to force them into what to do next. It makes sense for that to happen in stories that have to do with death and survival, but it also makes them pass as drones, unable to progress or develop further on their own will, despite their hax superpowers. This takes away their significance, which is already very thin since you forget them 5 seconds after they die.
You don’t even get a resolution to all this mess, since the manga is still ongoing, far from over, and with an equally slow progress. You won’t get any reward at the end and you will have to wait years for a second season. Yes, that may not be an issue if you wait for all the seasons to be out after 20 years or something, but it doesn’t fix the problem of the show leaving you with blue balls if you don’t.
11. It looks nice but that is all
As far as the artwork goes, there are big aesthetic differences between the manga and the anime adaptation. The manga feels very crude when it comes to proportions and perspective. It has very rough outlines to the most part and it feels incompletely drawn at points or even with blunders in anatomy. I can’t say it was very annoying; it sort of improves later on and it fits a story based on crazy stuff. The anime has improved considerably these minor issues and even included a catchy chorus OST to make it even more intriguing. At the same time it censors most of the disgusting scenes where the giants are chewing people and replaced them with blood spills falling while the gore is left out of screen. If there is something I didn’t like, that would be the body figures. All giants seem to be randomly drawn and all human soldiers look like they have the exact same body figure AND uniform. It’s not like big boobs for girls or huge biceps for men would make it better, but it sure feels weird to have everybody being skinny and flat-chested. The only thing that differs is the face and occasionally some rosy lips to point out THAT PERSON IS A GIRL. Furthermore, there are major quality drops throughout the show, since at some parts you get fluent animation and detailed artwork which make it look amazing, while in others you get static images and crude character figures which makes it look lame.
12. It is still a fun show to watch just for the excitement, instead of yet another moe school life thingy
I do agree though that as a whole AOT manages to build up tension right away. Even if you are aware of its problems, it is still not holding back in violence; the average Narutard is definitely going to like it. It is also refreshing to see a show that is not about high school club ecchi comedies for once, as is the canon for almost all modern anime. As for me? After truly good manga such as Battle Angel Alita and Battle Royale, this was unintentional satire. No veteran reader or viewer is going to give it anything more than a good time waster status, because down to it, it is a silly shonen when it could easily be much better as a mature seinen.
13. It didn’t even succeed in maintaining its status as a great anime
As for the hype this show got? A few years down the line, the second season came out and by then there weren’t many interested in it anymore. It didn’t win at a single category during the Crunchyroll awards of 2017, and it got completely overshadowed by My Hero Academia, which is a generic fighting shonen. How is it possible for such a praised masterpiece of depth and thrills to get owned by the very generic shonen everyone was saying it easily tops? It’s because hype is hollow and eventually meaningless. There is always an anime every year that blows everyone’s brains out, only to be completely forgotten by the next year’s mind-blowing series. AOT is no exception to this.
I feel almost obligated to begin my review with this simple statement: Attack on Titan is absurdly overrated. There, it’s done, and now I can get on to explaining the very many reasons why.
Art/Animation: – So the animation is top notch. Yay 2013. Definitely this anime’s strong suit, probably this anime’s only strong suit. The characters were well drawn, and well proportioned. It is worth noting that even secondary, and tertiary characters appeared well designed (as opposed to some anime’s where the character’s detail is a direct correlation with the size of their role). The city was amazingly well drawn, too. The backgrounds were rich, the monsters were well done, and the animation was crisp. While I have no complaints here, it occurs to me that decent animation should be expected at this point. That, and animation alone does not make a story. This category is not weighted as heavily.
Sound: – For the most part, I enjoyed the OT’s, and the BGM. I would like to point out that the BGM seemed overly dramatic at times, especially during the very many deaths of characters you care nothing about. Additionally, the voice acting/dialogue was subpar: Mikasa sounded like a drone. Eren was a excruciatingly screamy and ragey. Armin was a whiny bitch. And that’s our three main characters.
Synopsis: - While AOT certainly doesn’t invent the wheel here, the story does have a fairly interesting premise. Humanity is on the brink of extinction, resulting from these nearly invincible monsters who inhabit the planet, sans for one giant, walled city. I feel this is about the full extent of this story’s interest, and the reasons are as follows:
1. Even assuming they’re going to pick this story back up for another season, you learn absolutely nothing about the titans in the first 25 episodes.
2. The extent to which humanity is useless and powerless (sans for a couple of the main protagonists) is painstakingly overblown. The first question that struck me, was “where did these walls come from?” The wall struck me as damn near the only thing they did right in the last hundred years. The walls had me begging the question of why the Recon corps weren’t guarding constructive expeditions to continually extend the city… …that would have seemed to make sense to me. In fact, what it was that the Recon corps really did during their expeditions never seemed explained at all. All you know is that lots of people died every time… for apparently nothing.
3. The story is almost entirely plot driven, not character driven. Sometimes plot drives can be exciting and unexpected. But AOT, as it seems, is a one-trick-pony. It repeatedly followed the formula of creating these trite calms, to suddenly everything going wrong in the matter of seconds. The characters scarcely made any decisions that advanced the plot, rather we spent the entire 25 episodes watching them react (or rather try to react) to disaster. The series seems very fatalistic in that sense.
4. The pacing is utterly horrible. In the first episode, 100 years of peace are brutally broken, as monsters overrun the outer city, killing thousands of people, including the main character’s mother. Flash forward a mere few episodes, to waste an entire episode of the main character continually failing to pass his military test, just to simply be concluded that his gear was broken… They almost allowed for some character development… Almost. Then you’ll spend half the anime watching them feebly attempt to retake the city, just for that to be neatly concluded with Eren’s super powers. Then the final half of the anime on a failed mission where you learn nothing about the Titans, or the main character’s superpowers for that matter.
5. The less perceptive viewer might have identified all the on-screen deaths as shocking, or as keeping the watcher on the edge of their seat. But the fact is, the main characters are invincible. They tried so hard to convince the viewer that the main character was killed early on, but the fact is, it was painfully obvious that he wasn’t. After learning of his superpowers, and healing abilities, it was easy to discern he was immortal. The show did well to kill very many tertiary characters, but that was about it. The main characters were invincible. Even the secondary characters (Jean, Annie, Connie, Potato Girl, etc.. etc..) were safe. The fact is, they did not kill any character that you had any connection with whatsoever. Instead they continually introduced new characters who weren't even likable in the first place, to use as fodder. By the time the series was over, the formula was tired, and the viewer was desensitized.
6. It was also terribly corny the way most classes and factions were portrayed (save for the recon corps). Let’s take the wall worshippers, for instance. They were fanatical, but served virtually no purpose to bolster the story. The military police felt this way, too. Even assuming that the aristocracy was corrupt to the core, it did not seem plausible that the MP, their personal protectors, would be allowed to be as lazy, and useless as they appeared. It occurs to me, that those people would be punished. The upperclass and the merchants were way overblown as well. When the guy blocked the gate with his carriage, and literally told people that it was the poor and the military’s job to die protecting his wealth, it was so corny and implausible I thought about stopping right there. I was face-palming. Even if that was what that character was thinking, it made no sense he would say that aloud.
Characters: 2/10 - This series’ glaring weakness. The characters, quite frankly, sucked. They were painfully one-dimensional, their dialogues were boring, their abilities (for some) were implausible, and their ojbectives were unfounded and unrealistic. This show seemed to be geared towards immature audiences, because rather than demonstrating the character’s persona through actions and development, their chief (and often singular) definable trait was instead just repeatedly slammed over our heads. Let’s break some of the big ones down, shall we?
1. Eren – Our Series lead, he might just be my very least favorite character on this list. I seriously hated him within minutes of watching the show. Even before the attack, he was filled with anger and hate for absolutely no apparent reason. Rage is really the only definable trait of Eren. He scantly shows and affection or otherwise positively interacts with Mikasa. Rather, he just continually rages about how he hates and wants to kill the Titans. He is very 1 dimensional, showing little change or development over the whole series. Terrible protagonist.
2. Mikasa – Our female lead, she is basically a robot. Mikasa has no goals, interests, or personality to speak of. She is just this mega-warrior-genius whose only interest in the entire universe, is Eren. She serves as his protector, and obessor. These facts are made even more boring by how brutally underdeveloped the relationship between Eren and Mikasa is. Their relationship is basically entirely non-existent, making her entire character’s existence pretty much pointless.
3. Armin – He’s probably the secondary lead. Out of the three, he was the most plausible character. I mean, at least he didn’t have superpowers like the other two, and had some capacity to fear the gigantic monsters they were contending with. Still, his character was basically one dimensional, too. They kept trying to label him a “genius” simply because unlike the other leads he had the smallest modicum of cognitive ability. Rather than charging headlong after monsters the way Eren or Mikasa would, he would form little plans that were honestly elementary, and nothing to be considered genius. Rather than showing his character’s genius, the show instead chose to remind us he was smart, via pseudo-tactical plans he made.
4. Jean – He was by far my favorite character in the show. Jean is the only dynamic character present. He is pragmatic and grounded, he actually has some sort of realistic sense of the danger they face. He served as Eren’s foil, mostly because he had the cognitive ability to think about things other than rage against Titans. He pointed out how futile most military missions were (and the show aptly demonstrated this), and focused more on self-survival. Still, he developed to stick with his comrades, despite his own desire to find safer posts. He was actually a pleasure to watch, and probably the only reason I stuck with the show.
5. Levi – Levi was your basic untouchable super hero who killed Titans, monsters that 99.9% of the soldiers couldn’t touch; and he did so more easily than a normal person could step on an ant. He had the sole quirk of being a "clean freak", which was not at all entertaining, given how trivial of a quirk it was when surrounded by the show's atmosphere.
Overall: 4/10 If you like blood of characters you care nothing for, boring immature themes and personalities, one-dimensional leads, little story development, and even less character development, decent music, and great art, well then you have yourself a show. Everyone ranted and raved about this show, which makes me even more frustrated with how truly subpar this show was. We have Jean, the music, and the animation to thank that I'm giving any points here at all. They can't all be Cowboy Bebop's I guess.
And Now here are some excused scorings (thanks to Roriconfan for the template)
ART SECTION: 9/10
General Artwork 2/2 (outstanding)
Character Figures 1/2 (kind of mundane)
Backgrounds 2/2 (incredibly detailed)
Animation 2/2 (crisp)
Visual Effects 2/2 (great for the most part)
SOUND SECTION: 5/10
Voice Acting 0/3 (insufferably bad, inexplicable screaming)
Music Themes 3/4 (OTs were great, BGM was ok)
Sound Effects 2/3 (fine)
STORY SECTION: 2/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 0/2 (erratic and slow)
Complexity 0/2 (boring and immature with nothing interesting discovered)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (unfinished, horrible first season ending)
CHARACTER SECTION: 1/10
Presence 1/2 (weak)
Personality 0/2 (unfounded and one-dimensional)
Backdrop 0/2 (a little, and it was overblown and immature)
Development 0/2 (none, Eren was pissed at life even before bad things happened)
Catharsis 0/2 (none, though it is unfinsihed)
VALUE SECTION: 5/10
Historical Value 1/3 (I believe in time people will recognize this as mediocrity)
Rewatchability 0/3 (terrible pacing, undeveloped characters and story)
Memorability 4/4 (I've never seen more hype for a show before)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10
Art 1/1 (outstanding)
Sound 1/2 (great music, horrible voice acting)
Story 1/3 (predictable, pointless shock factor)
Characters 1/4 (terrible, except for Jean)
There are very few anime that I get extremely excited for and Attack on Titan was one of them. Waiting months for it to finish and watch all at once was a neck breaker, but it left me amazed and craving more.
THE STORY IS: Centuries ago, giant humans called Titans appeared, seemingly, out of nowhere and like to eat humans for no reason. Mankind couldn't defend against the Titans and had to fall back and build a giant wall to keep the Titans at bay so they can survive. Years later, all is well in the walled cities until one day when a Colossal Titan appeared out of nowhere and broke open the wall letting other Titans flow through the city to do what they do best. Eren Jaeger hates the Titans and has a goal to kill every last one of them and to find out the secrets behind where the Titans came from. Thus our story begins...
Truth be told, very interesting story and very well layed out. The story flowed without feeling rushed. Every episode was like crack, you just had to watch the next one to see what happens. Although the story was kind of choppy in places because flashbacks seemed like they weren't very well planned out and were kind of random. I didn't mind this, but it was very random in the middle of an action scene to take a journey to the past and then return in the heat of battle. Overall the story was exceptionally well done and very interesting. The only things I could complain about, other than the random flashback points, would have to be at some points they did kind of drag out some internal thoughts and decision making. Like when a character is thinking internally and we hear his/her thoughts on something, sometimes it was a little to drug out and you just wanted it to move on. Other than a few minor things here and there, it was a great concept told.
THE ANIMATION was a little strange for me on this one. Usually you don't see anime animation with such thick black outlines on practically everything. It almost looked like the TV show Archer. I liked it because it was very smooth and could keep up with the fast pace of the show, but for some reason, the Archer look of the animation didn't quite sit well with me.
THE SOUND was brilliant through and through. Voice acting was great and general sound effects were solid. A lot was going on and you can tell they took the time to nail it in this department.
THE CHARACTERS were very well developed throughout. A lot of people in this anime die and it's nice to see at least a little development from those who don't have very much face time. This is an anime that you don't love any one specific character. They all kind of work together and experience the same things, it's more of the fact that everyone handles it differently and it makes for a great cast overall. Very impressed.
OVERALL Attack on Titan did not disappoint. There were a few things that did, but none of them were a huge bother. The overall experience was both fascinating and intense. Many situations throughout, you didn't know who was going to make it or not, which made for a great sense of suspense going into every battle. Definitely recommended.
Ok. My friends introduced this anime to me and I have heard many good reviews about it. Naturally, I had to watch it. Let me begin by saying that I’ve only watched the anime, so this review will only be on the anime and I will not cover anything past the anime.
Story: So the main reason why many are into this anime is because of the setting. The characters are trapped within walls surrounded by Titans that will consume only humans. We sort of understand that they are safe for now, but we know that for the story to carry on, there are going to be conflict between the humans and the Titans. So when the Titans actually break through the wall at the start of the story, things starts to get interesting because we want to know how the people are going to survive against the Titans.
Sound: The soundtracks used in the anime were great. The music was on point and added more to the scenes. The openings were not really my cup of tea, but I feel that they fit the theme of the show.
As for the voice acting... I guess the voice actors did a great job in portraying their loud and annoying characters.
Animation: The art style was a tad different compared to others, a little weird to me but it fit the darker mood of the show. Also, the animation was great and done well especially during the fights.
Characters: Now we come to the characters. This section annoys me to hell and I figured I might as well go all out.
1. Eren Jaeger
Probably the most annoying character in the series and he is the protagonist. He is driven by rage and anger on the Titans. I do not understand why writers create unrealistic characters that make the worst decisions and still have things be in their favour. The writer try to make us understand his rage better by showing the death of his mother to the Titans. But the fact that they did little to show the relationship between him and his mother just made it pointless. It is also hard for me to empathize with a character so unrealistic and having such irrational thinking. It also seems like the years he spent in the army was wasted, because I do not think the army trains you to become an idiot. His strategy for fighting the Titans is literally; “I hate you so I’m going to kill you.” True enough, the first Titan he finds, he charges at it without thinking about anything else.
2. Mikasa Ackerman
My most hated character in the show. Yep I said it. Not Eren, but Mikasa. She is probably one of the best fighters in the series, together with the likes of Levi and even Annie. When people look at her, they will probably go, “What a kick ass character! She’s so awesome.” And they are right… if not for the fact that she has no goals or ideals and her sole reason of existence is to protect and help Eren. Talk about irrationality. It is hard for us to relate to someone who shows no emotion unless Eren is involved. It is like she is programmed to do that. I mean, someone that has such a cold personality who is able to make calm and collected decisions would fall in love with a whining baby that cannot think for himself? I think a great plot twist that the writer can come up with to save this would be to make her actual intention to fill the shoes of his mother after she died. That would make more sense.
3. Armin Arlert
When we talk about stereotypes, Armin is what comes to mind. Armin is a character that is a genius, displaying a higher level of intellect but his down side is that he is physically weak. So what he lacks in strength, he makes it up in brains. So what is the problem? The problem is that the writer decided to push the stereotype to the point where it becomes plain stupid. I do not understand how Armin is so physically weak even after graduating from training. I mean, he spent five years in the army. FIVE YEARS. What was he doing then? Sure he might not have become the best but I am pretty sure that if five years in the army would allow to you get stronger physically. Also, what the heck were the trainers doing? Like they see him being weak and they think that he is fit to take down the Titans? They do not even bother training him harder to make him combat fit. Really? Also, his rare case of showing intelligence is only impressive because of the dumb characters he hangs out with all the time.
Secondary character: The secondary characters in this show were probably useless in the show. When I was watching the series, I could not feel anything for the characters, because there were no backstory to them and they were extremely one-dimensional. These characters were getting killed off to make the audience feel that anyone can die just like that. Add in the gore and their bodies getting ripped into half and people will start to feel afraid for the characters. But in actual fact, they are just there to get killed by the Titans. That’s their job. It is hard to feel sad for them as well because of how undeveloped the characters are.
So let’s just talk about what went well for the show.
Animation and music aside, which were great, they had a very interesting premise which was enough to lure the viewers in.
Ok that’s it.
I’m sure many would have very good things to say about this series in general, but do not believe the hype. Just like most Shonen animes out there, AoT is very much overrated. Here are the things that went wrong.
1. Undeveloped Backstory
Although they had a nice setting to start the show, the backstory were very much neglected by the writer. There were little backstory to the whole series. We are given an idea of what happened in the beginning, that the Titans came and killed most of humanity. Walls were also built to protect the humans and it is how they have managed to survive in that hundred years. However, we do not know where the Titans came from, or how did they manage to build the walls. Even a short story on the actual day was not made and it felt that the writer just wanted to create the setting and get it over and done with. Some might say that the origins of the Titans are supposed to be a mystery and they will be revealed as the story goes on. But then we look at the three divisions and we have no idea what they do apart from the surveillance corps. Take the garrison for example, what do we know about the people there? Nothing. All we know is that they protect the walls. So what do they do when they are not? What were they doing in the hundred years of peace? They showed us the people in the innermost wall and frankly speaking, they were just there to further on the story.
2. Generic Story
Many of my friends have said that AoT had a good storyline, when in actual fact; the story was a generic one. Humanity has a common enemy and they must work together to defeat the Titans. They try and fail, try and fail until the main character appears to help defeat the Titans. In fact, it does not even follow the common Shonen plot flow. In most Shonen animes, you have the main characters go through failure before realizing he needs to get better, either by training or just changing the way he thinks. However, for AoT, it felt like the writer just could not care less. He was like, “I give up, Eren is too stupid to be able to fight the Titans. Let’s just give him his powers and hope he does well with it.” Even after the Titan ate him, his mindset was still the same, or even worse. In the past he would be like, “I’m going to kill you!” Now it is “I’M SO GOING TO KILL YOU!”
Aside from the generic storyline, it was boring as well. Sure, the first few episodes keep the audience interested mainly because of the setting and the way they portray the Titans to be. This made the viewers want to know more about the way humanity is going to deal with them. Unfortunately, the story got repetitive and it was just a pain to watch. All the scenes that were fighting the Titans were the same. You have the strong fighters like Mikasa and Levi who just easily kills the Titans. You have the idiots that only know how to scream and shout like annoying kids. You have the people that get afraid every single time. Finally you get the people who die. The story in between is not very interesting because all they talk about is Titans. I know that is what the whole point of the show is, but maybe sensible dialogues away from the topic can help in character development as well. When all you hear in the whole show is about Titans, the series gets very boring easily and nothing new comes up.
So the idea of the Titans seemed to be pretty cool for many. They are the main enemy of the whole show. They seemed to be very original and hence probably why it was so hyped. But take a look at their traits.
No matter how you look at it, they seem like zombies. The humans trapped in the walls are like trying to survive from these zombies in a safe zone. But the most annoying thing about the Titans is that they are unpredictable. When you have an enemy that is so unpredictable, the writer can decide on the outcome of the fights, by just simply indicating so. Like the main characters can fight Titans that are slow and unable to keep up, where the characters getting killed off could be fighting Abnormals which can suddenly be fast to kill them off.
5. Military Police
The MP was a pretty good idea to introduce in the story. After all, when you talk about an army or a war, the elites are always necessary. Only problem? They do not actually take part in the war. So you can see how they are trying to be different by stating that the Elites are the corrupted ones and that the underdogs are the heroes. However, the MP did not make any sense to me. Firstly, why would people undergo hard training for five years just so they can join a corrupted organization? Mind you, only the best are allowed, which means that the training they have to put in is a lot more. Yes, I know that some of them make their way in through other methods, but still, it is hard to believe that the top ten people from training would even consider staying at the back and not fighting.
It would have made more sense that people who joined the army would have a good reason to join, whether it is to protect or to defeat the Titans. You would think that being the best they would want to at least show off their skills but instead they would rather sit back and relax. We are talking about people with actual skills, not just being rich and afraid.
6. Plot Convenience
This anime, like most others, are guilty of this. There are many instances where this is evident in the series and it just makes the whole show unbelievable. Add the fact that the secondary characters makes decisions only to help further the series and it becomes hard to take the show seriously.
7. No Continuation Value
I find it hard to expect a good ending from this show. I can not see them adding anything new and exciting apart from adding new Titans or new powers which just makes it all the more boring. Since most of the interesting things are already shown, there would not be much to look for in future seasons.
8. Re-watch factor
Shonen animes tend to have good rewatchablility because the story is boring, but it leads up to the climax where the main fights take place. So the last fight usually is enough to justify the dumb storyline. But for this show, it felt like there was no reward at the end. The fight scenes felt boring and even when his powers were shown, I felt bored. The only scene that was memorable for me was the scene where they were deciding on whether they should join the Surveillance Corps.
AOT is different in the sense that it is not your typical high school harem with a lot of fan-service. It did manage to create a certain level of excitement to the viewers, which is why it was so hype. I certainly think that it was overrated but hey, a lot of people enjoyed it, which means it had its positives.
I would not recommend watching this if you are looking for a well-written anime. However, if you just want to sit back and you find that none of the above points bother you one bit, then go ahead and watch it, but I advise you to not take it seriously though.