Alright, alright. I’m sorry that I ever stopped doing anime reviews, even if it was only for about a month after a general slope in quantity. I just have this thing where after trying to remain interested in the medium for a little under a year, my interest wanes. Why exactly is that? Probably the same reason that possessed me to watch every OVA/episode/movie of Ranma 1/2 within a week back in, I dunno, 2009? But it’s 2013, and I feel like talking about one of the bigger anime fish of the year, and somewhat timely to boot!
Set in what I believe to be a post-post-apocalyptic future, Attack On Titan revolves around an unnamed and massive city where the great majority of the primarily Caucasian human race now resides. With the remaining humans having been killed approximately one hundred years prior by three to fifteen meter tall red skinned humanoid creatures known as Titans. Creatures that were not so much defeated long long ago as much as humans were granted an enormous city for ninety-nine percent of them to live in. But like clockwork, the Titans manage to break through the wall. With the military that had grown soft over the past century of little to no combat against the fleshy monsters doing about as well as one would expect.
Which is more the background to the events more than anything, as the story is centered heavily on characters, but in a manner that can feel relatively unbalanced. With a cast containing no less than thirty named characters, but only a handful who are memorable enough for them to be recognizable when they appear after skipping out on a couple episodes. In part due to how they are either pushed away for new characters as the story goes on, or are given the privilege to become Titan chow, which should set off a red flag if my earlier comments are to be believed.
Now, there are many ways to handle a large cast of characters, and also handle their deaths. But Attack On Titan only gives top billing to a couple of characters, namely Eren Yaeger, who the show uses in a rather interesting twist, yet one that makes him and other characters who don’t go more than an episode without getting some screen time. With the deaths kicking in when I was still remembering their names or possibly personalities. An aspect the show also seems have a loose grip on if the instances where their characters are told in bulk are any indicator, as opposed to including them into situations that would give them character.
Scenes that still occur, although it is far more common for the spotlight to be on the pretty tropey group of a strong headed and brash youth hell bent on killing all Titans. The skillful sole survivor of the Asian ethnicity who stays reserved aside from protecting Eren. And an unsure-of-himself blonde who is still among the better fighters, even though him dying in combat would not be a shock at all. But these past few paragraphs are critiques that can more or less be tossed aside, as the show can easily just be about people fighting giant meat men with swords and belt bound hook shots.
An excuse I rarely use, as my repertoire of more action heavy anime is what you would expect of someone who only watches short series. Yet I’d be damned if I could deny that the battles features are beautifully animated and intricate thrill rides full of the best breed of blood and destruction. Proving that both violence sells, and that anime can often have a budget meter in place that seems to mandate the pacing set forth.
While it is very smart to have there be a certain level of build up to the instances where Titan battling is a thing, all four of them. Attack On Titan very often shifts away from the battling in the middle of a warzone, or even while a Titan is currently attacking a group. With the replacement being conversations that likely seemed to take up less time in the storyboarding phase, but often become unrealistically long conversations assuming that the bulk of brawls are not being sped up.
Or perhaps right after ending the episode with a big reveal of something of a grabber, the next episode would follow a different perspective for a bit, and only get back to what capped off the prior episode a couple minutes in. Which, as a weekly broadcasted show, makes sense. But viewing it as a continuous series, it feels a bit off, and at times a bit unnecessarily thick with scenes that could be omitted or shortened if not for the ever present gap a show must fill because of how timeslots are arranged.
I’m sure that will be remedied to some extent when it is inevitably dubbed and put on store shelves, though. And while there are numerous other nits I have with things such as the very bland religious group introduced but never viewed as important enough to be focused on for more than a minute. The show manages to remain and engaging and energetic rush for half the time, and interesting enough the other half, even if it is not necessarily due to the characters. Seeing as how after you introduce an upbeat scientist warrior who very enthusiastically studies the Titans, all others seem far less interesting.
Meanwhile, the visuals are certainly a reason why I see it managed to become something big enough to talk about casually in the West. As the general style seems to be something more akin to a Western animated show heavily inspired by anime, than anime classic. With thicker lines, less stylized eyes, and a very present control over the quality of every scene in looking as best as they can make it weekly. Although, I would’ve appreciated a bit more color in the palette.
There are times when I can openly state that something is quite flawed, but still enjoy it as the flaws are unrelated to what makes it good, and certainly belongs in that weirdly named group. Its focus on a large cast of characters is questionable, and even then they are remarkably tropey for the most part. But it has two giant pink monsters who rip each others faces off in beautiful detail. And I like that sort of thing.
A solid title that may be lacking in an infinite amount of different ways, or just a few big and difficult to ignore issues. Varies based on the title, but still worth giving it a go overall!