Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Attack on Titan review
I dedicate this review in memory of my cousin who passed away this last Wednesday.
"You can't expect a horror story to have a happy ending"
This review won't pose any major spoilers- I might mention a couple of things, but they won't be anything too important.
Unlike my sister, I am not sure I'm what you'd call an Otaku. I really love anime- I love almost all of the Studio Ghibli films, Children Who Chase Lost Voices, Romeo X Juliet, Attack on Titan(of course), The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Fruits Basket, and what I've seen so far of Death Note- but I'm not as obsessed as she, and several of her other friends, are. However, due to her showing me several funny fan-dubbed silly videos with this anime, I just felt the need to watch this series- which hasn't happened with that many shows- anime or otherwise- before. It looked exciting, I was drawn to the cool character design, the idea of the plot, and the super awesome uniforms(and maneuver gear). Armin also looked like a really interesting character, as did Levi and Jean, and so I went and found the show and basically marathoned it in a little over a week and a half- watching it whenever I wasn't doing school, going to an activity, or something else on my computer(I tried to watch at least two episodes a day).
And I have to say, this TV series is AWESOME!! :D Even if one isn't a fan of anime, I think many people could enjoy it- it doesn't have too many of the different things used in anime that can turn some people off, and for the most part it is serious and dark. Also, another thing I appreciated was that there isn't any 'fan service' or 'male gaze' in the series, and that the girls are portrayed as real people- some powerful fighters some not, and basically having the complexities of the male characters- and wear the same uniforms as their male comrades, which I greatly enjoyed seeing(yay!).
As you may know, the story takes place in a almost-alternate earth- it takes place in the 800s, yet the setting seems to be a combination of medieval times(the castles, swords, and such) and the 1600/1700s(since they have rifles and cannons); it also, taking into account the way everything looks and some of the characters last name, seems to take place in Germany.
In the story, a hundred years ago a monstrous foe appeared, that of the Titans, which are basically human-like giants that eat humans(even though they don't need them for sustenance). By the time our story starts, humankind has nearly been wiped out and, as far as we know, only exist in a three-walled city. Humankind has lived safely in these walls for many years until one day....
As a show, it has quite a lot of things going for it- not only does it have realistic people(which I'll get to more below), but it has an overall sense of realism that makes the story feel a whole lot more real. In fact, I can think of only one instance where something happened that I found unlikely and that unlikely thing is really my only complaint about the series. Another positive trait this show has is the epic action sequences by the use of the maneuver gear. It is a very imaginative, unique way of showing action, and is one action-fans of myself really appreciate- can't wait to see more of it in season two(which, from my continued reading of the manga, is going to be even better than season 1! :D). Also, both theme songs are AMAZING! I keep listening to them, in fact XD.
Before I talk about the shows positive traits in detail, I wanted to bring up my only complaint, so I could get it out of the way. And that would be that, somehow, two nine year old children are able to kill three grown ups. It is shown in a way that makes it plausible, but as someone who has been around kids of that age, sparred with kids of that age, and remembers being that age, it was something that made me go "ummm, I don't really think I can believe that." Not only are nine-year-olds physically a whole lot weaker than grown ups are and will definitely be overpowered by said adult, I have fought people who were this age in class and I could easily overpower these kids(even the bigger ones who have more muscle mass than a typical nine/ten year old) if I wanted to. Not only are pre-pubescent incapable of physically besting an adult, they aren't mentally able to either. I mean, unless they are sick in the head, a child won't be able to intentionally kill someone. I remember being nine and, even though I would sometimes say that I wanted to beat up a really bad person, I definitely wasn't capable of actually killing someone(now, if it was in self-defense or to protect another person from being killed/raped- I could, but only as a last resort). And neither are most kids- heck, some adults can't even kill a person. So, I don't know, that just didn't seem to fit with the otherwise very realistic set-up this show has.
Okay, now that that's out of the way, I now want to talk about the awesome parts of this show!
As I mentioned earlier, I really appreciate the gritty realism the show projects. Titans, if they were real, would scare anyone shitless, so showing everyone(except for a select few) being terrified, messed-up, and panicking was, as a person interested in psychology and how PTSD affects others, very effective and made me believe that humanity was on the brink of extinction and caused me to get very invested in the plight of the characters. Scenes from a survey corps leader breaking down in front of a grieving mother to a soldier panicking and refusing to go back and fight Titans were all powerful and really showed the other side of war and battle that a lot of shows exclude- not everyone is going to be gung-ho and rush into battle without a glimmer of terror, and in doing this, it shows true bravery in those who, while scared-sick, still go out and fight. And that's something I think is important to show- bravery isn't the absence of fear, it is overcoming that fear and being able to act in spite of it.
Not only does Attack on Titan show the heroics of humanity, it also shows the dark aspects of it as well. Hate, greed, and cruelty are all explored and not only in designated 'bad people' (like the merchants), but in some of our main characters. No one on the show is perfect and that is good, because even the best people can have their cruel moments.
The show(and the manga) has a pretty large cast, and even though there are three designated leads, the story explores each of them in turn and we get to know them all fairly well. They are all different and, from my experiences in watching movies and television and reading books, they don't completely conform to any stereotypes.
First off, we have Eren Jaegar(or Yaeger), who is our lead characters. Eren is a pretty unique lead in several ways, especially the fact that he isn't the best at everything. In a lot of not-so good works, the main character are often the BEST out of EVERYONE and will almost always be stronger, better, smarter, etc than everyone else(especially if they are a guy). Eren however, isn't; sure, he can fight and has the determination it takes to be a soldier in this world, but he is pretty much average in most things- he has friends who are physically stronger than him, who are smarter than him, who are more skilled then him, etc. Yet, it does make sense that we are primly following his story- as not to spoil anything, I won't give away how he is important to the overall plot, but the way he is is very well done and actually doesn't make him annoying. Another trait I like is that of his single-mindedness. Even in the darkest of shows, most people are romantically interested in someone. Not Eren- he is so focused on VENGEANCE that during the entire show and manga so far, he hasn't shown any interest in anyone at all, which I think is quite unique for a lead. In fact, the anime/manga is light on romance in general- there are a few instances of people liking others(Ymir is in love with Christa, Jean is attracted to Mikasa, Reiner is attracted to Christa, Levi was going to get married to someone, and a couple of other small ones that get a passing mention). I like a well-written romance as well as the next person(though I don't read romance novels or watch romance movies, since I don't like those types of things), but having a show like this that doesn't really really go into it are nice to see :).
The second lead is that of Mikasa Ackerman- quiet, reserved, and the probably the second best fighter in the entire series(after Levi, who is the best). I have to say, it's nice to see a story where the girl is the better fighter in a trio(here the trio is Eren, Mikasa, and Armin) of characters, which is quite rare. She practically can scare anyone if she wants to, is one of the few characters I don't get worried about when fighting a Titan, and yet, she doesn't fall into the 'stoic, unemotional tough girl' that is a common stereotype. Strong women(just like strong men), can be vulnerable, cry and care about others deeply, which brings me to another great thing about this series- the lack of shame for tears. Almost everyone cries- Eren, Armin, Mikasa, Jean, Hannes, and even others in the Survey Corps(which goes out and fights Titans in their own territory), and that is great. Because, all too often, tears and crying are believed to be considered weak or pathetic and I am glad that shows/movies/books like this are beginning to show that everyone cries and that there isn't anything wrong with it.
My personal favorite character, is that of Armin Arlert. Armin is different than your typical male character. He isn't physically strong, yet he is very smart and, unlike what I've heard from other shows who have a similar archetype, he actually does do his part in the narrative and is, in fact, extremely vital to how things turn out. Since he isn't the best fighter, he has to use his brain to survive and, in the process, has ended up saving many people. He has figured out a myriad of things his officers and peers didn't even notice. It always surprises me that people call him names, since even though isn't the strongest physically, he never came across to me as a weak person. Sure, he froze up in his first battle but who can really blame him? Most people did(like I said, actually being near a Titan would be scary) and he does get past it and ends up being one of the most badass characters on the show(really, it makes him all the braver, since he isn't the best fighter, yet he still goes out and fights for humanity). Also, he is very tactical, wise, and a philosophical, deep thinker- seriously, sometimes he reminded me of the Greek Philosophers of long ago.
Other great characters in the series include
Levi Rivaille- Humanity's best soldier, stoic yet caring, 5'3(which I love!) in height, scary to some of the main characters, and a clean freak. He is definitely a very interesting character and one I look forward to getting to learn more about and see more of.
Sasha Braus- A good soldier, easily excited, loves eating(like, she's obsessed, especially potatoes and meat), an excellent archer and hunter, and pretty high strung. Also, very creative and imaginative, which really helps her out. And, hilarious, of course XD.
Jean Kirschtein- At first a bit of a jerk, he ends up becoming one of the more interesting characters in the series. A good leader, a caring person, and very passionate, he is definitely someone you want on your side in a fight. His friendship with Armin is also something I really enjoy seeing.
Christa Lenz- She isn't in the anime as much, but her role gets very important one you get into the later sections of the manga. A nice, kind person who harbors several secrets, and is very impulsive and reckless, she's definitely an interesting character and doesn't fall into the Mary-Sue trope, which is nice.
Connie Springer- Compassionate, brave, resilient and determined, Connie has definitely grown on me, especially since starting the manga and he looks to be having a really interesting story-line coming up.
Ymir- Hardly shown at all in the anime, she really starts to become an interesting character in the later parts of the manga. She is apparently uncaring and selfish, yet she deeply cares(and is in love with, according to the author) Christa. She is fulfilling a role typically seen only with male characters, so that's something I find fascinating.
Reiner Braun(and his friend Bertolt)- Nice guys who also, like Christa, harbor secrets. Their characters are very interesting and are integral to some important plot points.
Annie- A very powerful fighter, mysterious, and a total badass(5 foot and can take down people an entire foot taller than herself- love her!). She is also very integral to the overall plot and has some great backstory(what little we see, that is).
Others characters I enjoy are- Petra, Marco, the rest of Levi's squad, Erwin, Hannes, Hange, as well as other characters. :)
Overall, I would definitely recommend this show to anyone over the age of 15 who can handle gore, violence, and cussing(because there is a LOT of it). So if you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for!?
Then, once you are done, I would recommend starting the manga where the anime left off- it's really exciting so far and I can't wait to see where the story leads! :D
Jedi me signing out :).