Anime Monday - Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is an anime that completely shocked me. The first time I heard of this series was in some sorta slide show video showing off what was new that season. When I saw the name "Attack on Titan" followed by some footage of a sci-fi show (one I'll never figure out the name of), I instantly assumed it was of AoT. Titan must be the ship, and these people are fighting to defend it right? Yeah, that was my mind set. Later on I'd hear some friends talking about it, and I'd see the teaser for the upcoming Japanese 3DS game, but it still told me nothing about what the show actually was. I just knew it was popular enough to gain all of this attention, and that it might be at least worth watching. So eventually that's what I did. One night I was laying in bed looking at shows I could possibly watch, and when AoT appeared on the list I decided to hit play. What came next was completely unexpected, and I only stopped watching because I had work the next day. (Working on the weekend wasn't fun.)

The Story Within the Walls:

The series begins by explaining the current state of the world. It's unclear if this world is in fact Earth or something made up, but what is known is that humanity has been forced to take shelter behind a series of giant walls. At some point massive human like monsters called "Titans" made their appearance, and humans didn't stand a chance at fighting back. These horrifying things trampled cities and ate everything in their path. Humanity was almost completely wiped out, and those who survived got to work on constructing the walls as their last hope of defense. Ever since that day humans have lived within these walls trapped, as the outside world continues to fill with Titans that await their next meal.

All of this happened hundreds of years ago, and even now things have not changed. Eren Yeager is a young boy who dreams on seeing outside of these walls however. He looks up to the "scouts" who are sent out on missions beyond them, and he one day wishes to join them and see the world for himself. Along with his friend Armin and adoptive sister Mikasa, the three dream of what life would be like if they were no longer trapped. Armin hears of stories about something called the ocean, and Mikasa simply wants to follow and protect the ones she loves. They're just dumb kids really, and no matter what they might think the world is like, their dreams are only stupid dreams. In fact it doesn't take long for them to get their wake up call. After living in peace behind walls for many, MANY, years, all of that finally comes to an end.

The day kid's home town was attacked, was the day that changed their lives forever. Strange new Titans appeared outside of the wall, and they were able to breach it easily. Once the hole was knocked open the other giants simply came walking in, and the chaos quickly started. Eren can only watch in horror as the people around him are ripped to peaces and eaten in front of him, while he and his friends make their ways towards the escape route to the next inner wall. Along the way they witness many disturbing things, but it's one event in particular that really puts the final nail in the coffin. Because of this the kids end up losing everything they ever cared about, and are forced to make a decision. What do they do next? Well, as for Eren... He can never forgive the Titans, and he promises he will kill them all.

Harsh Reality:

After Eren's backstory is told, the series' real intro focuses on him and his friends joining the military, and learning how to fight against the Titans. In this world each soldier is outfitted with a jet powered device that connects to their legs, and has anchors that shoot out from it. This allows them to latch onto buildings, trees, etc, and launch themselves into the air. Titans can only be killed by slicing off a piece from the nape of their neck, and this device allows the soldiers to reach it with their swords. In order for the cadets to become full soldiers however, they must master the use of this device, and complete multiple years worth of training at the military academy. Once graduation comes the cadets will be sent to different parts of the military or police force, and in some cases the cadets themselves can choose where they go. Eren himself wants to join the Survey Corp which leaves the walls to explore the outside world, but everyone else thinks he's stupid for taking on such a risky job. Those who leave the walls usually never come back, but Eren can't get that into his head for some reason. He's going to destroy all of the Titans, and achieve his dream. With his friends by his side, he will not fail.

At this point Attack on Titan seems to follow your typical hero story. We get to see Eren overcome a lot of challenges, and eventually come out as one of the top members of his class. His friends are amazing as well, with Mikasa pretty much being the actual top member. It's not surprising that main characters like this would be so good, and it's pretty obvious that they will set out and accomplish their dreams. Eren will destroy all of the Titans, and his friends will be there helping him every step of the way. The ocean? Yeah, they're going to reach that too. We all know how these types of stories play out, and AoT is going to follow that same trope up until everyone dies horribly. Yep.

While the original Titan attack was a wake up call for Eren, which made him decide to fight against them and save humanity. The second attack is what makes him realize just how much of an idiot he's been, and that the Titans are not something you can simply "beat." This attack is a massacre just like the original, and despite all their training, it's not a threat can be stopped. What follows is a series of completely unexpected events, that prove to both the characters and the viewers what the Titans can actually do, and it makes it clear that this is not going to be the hero story it initially leads you to believe it to be. This is what makes AoT stand out from so many other shows out there, and how it continues to keep you guessing about what's to come next.

The Mystery of the World:

At it's core, Attack on Titan is a mystery series. In fact, even talking about who the characters are and their past lives would ruin parts of that mystery. You see this isn't a series you can take at it's face value. There is so much you don't know going in, and as the series progresses you start to piece together a lot of things about it. First of all the biggest question of all is "what are the Titans?" We know that they appeared one day and took over the world, but how and why? Another thing we get to see through Eren and Mikasa's past is their childhood home's basement. Eren carries around a key given to him by his dad, and tells him to not use it until the time is right. What does that mean? What's in that basement? Of course the area is now infested with Titans so Eren can't simply go back, but should he? Then you have the other cadets who joined with the main cast. Each one of them has their own back story, and it's obvious some of them are clearly keeping parts of their past a secret -- Eren and Mikasa especially. Eventually these stories are told and we get to learn more about each person and their motives, and many of them are quite surprising. It all is a part of a larger story at play, set within a world that's confined thanks to the Titan threat beyond the walls. And it's a story that continues to expand throughout the series.

While it may seem like the cadets will make up the main cast of the series, in reality they are only a part of the intro. At some point more characters get brought into the mix, and for the first time you start to see what life is like for those who have actually experienced it. The cadets are kids with little to no experience, while the adults in the series have already endured many hardships and uncovered things you wouldn't expect. Their knowledge, and lack of sharing, contributes more to the overall mystery of the Titans, and makes up a large part of the series moving forward.

So bottom line is, Attack on Titan is not a story you can take at it's face value, and it will have you questioning everything about it. Who are these characters? What are their motives? What do they really know about the situation? Where did the Titans come from? Is that so called ocean real? If so, what's beyond it? What's in the basement? Why did everyone join the scouts? What is Eren's past with Mikasa? What about Armin? There's a lot that needs to be answered, and that's exactly what makes you want to continue watching. You never know what will happen or who will die, so every episode is a suspenseful mystery with an outcome you won't be expecting.

Should You Watch It:

I'll be very blunt here. Attack on Titan is not for everyone. The show is a lot more violent than most TV anime series, and has received a mature rating for a very good reason. In general, the series is very dark. It deals with a lot of extreme situations and mature themes, and often asks the characters to make some very difficult decisions. It's not uncommon to watch your favorite character get ripped in half and eaten by a Titan, nor is it uncommon for characters to lose limbs with all the glory detail being shown. This goes for the Titans as well. These horrifying monsters are often dismembered before being finished off, and large amounts of blood spray is common. Those who get caught by Titans on the other hand are the ones who will explode into a blood mess, and often the Titan designs are taken right from your worst nightmares. This is by no means a kids show, and because of that it's not for everyone.

On the other hand if you're perfectly fine with this, or like horror (both visual and psychological) in general, then Attack on Titan might just be the show for you. It's characters are unique with diverse personalities, every episode is tense and will fill you with the sense of dread, and you will constantly be questioning the world itself. There are so many mysteries to uncover here, and that's one of the main driving forces that will keep you going. Just when you think you know what's going to happen next, things will take a 180 degrees turn, and the results are something you'll never see coming. So yes, if this is your type of thing, you should watch it!

Where to Watch:

At this time Attack on Titan can be watched at most major streaming services. Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, etc. It's up to you to pick your favorite.
Previous Post Next Post