Friday, June 27, 2014

Anime Review: Attack on Titan (Season 1) (TV)

Attack on Titan (Season 1) (Review)
Japan/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...it makes it feel like something was actually on the line."

After a millennium without direct threat, Titans -- humanoid giants ranging from 3 to 15 meters in size who lack intelligence and devour humans for pleasure rather than survival -- emerge and attack the final percentage of human survivors.

I won't go too deep into the story to avoid spoilers and an overly long review, so I'll try to keep it short. So, a little more back-story, the last of the human race, which is on the brink of extinction, have sealed themselves in a layered city protected by three large walls -- much larger than the average Titan. But, a Titan much more powerful and larger appears and breaks a hole into a wall, allowing the Titans to enter the first part of the city. By now you're already introduced to the main characters: arrogant but ambitious Eren, his skillful and protective foster sister Mikasa, and their cowardly but brilliant friend Armin. After the devastating event, the trio, especially Eren, set out for vengeance by joining the fight against the Titans. The rest of the season consist of epic battles, good character development, and a handful of twists and turns. The ending was epic, but somehow felt slightly unfulfilling -- not necessarily bad, but it felt like something was missing. (stick around for the short teaser after the credits!)

Before I get into more detail, I'd like to state: I'm not an avid anime fan or critic, and I'm not familiar with the manga. So, this review is coming from more of a casual fan. Anyway, I really enjoyed the dark story. There are some unexpectedly devastating plot points, and I think the emotional depth of these plot points helped amplify the superb action -- it made it feel like something was actually on the line. I also really enjoyed the focus on character; it has a lot of characters, though, so there is some incomplete character development and arcs. On that note, the amount of death in this anime makes it difficult to guess who'll die, which also keeps you on the edge. You can make some safe bets, though, but not for all. The only issues I has with the story were the repetitive themes and some pacing issues. The theme of triumphing over self-doubt is great and all, but it hits you over the head with it in almost every episode.

As for the action, it's very fast and ferocious. The military and scouts use a 3D maneuvering device which allows them to freely flow through the air and attack the Titans. (They can't use it on flat ground, though.) I really liked it because it gave the action a full canvas; the characters can fly any which way to attack, and the attacks are usually vicious. The Titans attacks are usually slow, but when a character gets caught, he likely won't get away. Later on in the anime, the action becomes more versatile when it adds a new form of fighting; I won't spoil it, but it basically increases the scale of the battles. Ultimately, all of it is epic. Maybe it's the fast action, the feeling of potential loss, or the epic music, or a mixture of all of the above, but it can best be described as epic. I had goosebumps, I had my hair-raising from the action.

I watched the Netflix Instant stream, which uses the original Japanese voice acting. I loved it. As usual, the Japanese voice cast is very enthusiastic and genuine, which really makes the story more effective. It's a great looking anime, too. There are quite a few scenes where it skimps on the animation -- where the movement is implied rather than actually animated -- but I didn't mind as much. It's worth noting, though. The music was fantastic; the soundtrack is epic, it's just chilling and worth a listen, even if you don't watch the anime. Although it felt it was a bit repetitive and had some pacing issues, I did enjoy Tetsurō Araki's dark direction; Araki crafts an uncompromising and entertaining anime.

Overall, Attack on Titan is a great anime series. I think it's a great introductory anime for new fans or those trying to get back into the genre, like myself. (I'm a big fan of Dragon Ball Z and Cowboy Bebop.) And, I thought it was wildly entertaining. Its story is often devastating, its characters are interesting, and the action is the definition of epic. Don't let the repetitive themes and pacing issues scare you away, it's without a doubt worth the time.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore. (although the Titans are nude, they do not have distinguishable reproductive organs.)

By the way, if you have any recommendations for someone like me (an anime fan trying to get back into anime) let me know in the comment section below, or tweet me @JonathanCA_KMR. Thanks, it's really appreciated! Also, this review is for the entire first season (25 episodes), the Blu-ray is for the first part of the series, which I believe is 13 episodes.

2 comments:

  1. Wonderful review. I am glad you enjoyed it and want to get back into anime. On Netflix there are a few titles worth checking out: "Eden of the East", and its two concluding movies "King of Eden" and "Paradise Lost" (this is the oldest one I would recommend since its popularity already peaked); "Madoka Magica", a magical girl anime (think Sailor Moon) that goes dark and mature really fast with a lot of thought provoking ideas in its conclusion; "Kill la Kill", lots of crazy, Looney Tunes style action and over the top nudity; "Fate/Zero", the first half of a reboot to the Fate/stay night franchise with the second half coming this Fall.

    If you want something more recent, "Terror in Resonance", from the creator of "Cowboy Bebop", is being simulcast (streaming online right after airing in Japan) on Hulu. And there is a ton of anime on Crunchyroll like "Torodora", a romantic dramedy.

    Just for the record, all of these shows got high marks from Anime News Network, who I think do some of the best reviews of anime out there. Also, this guy did a great video review of "Fate/Zero" that convinced me to go watch it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8I7a2RRrTE

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    1. Thanks for reading and the recommendations! I've heard great things about Death Note, so I think I'll be starting that this weekend. Afterward, I'm probably going for Kill la Kill. There's just sooo much available, though, it's hard to prioritize. Once again, thanks for these recommendations!

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