Manga, TV Shows

Watching: Attack on Titan

Shingeki no Kyoujin

Sometimes, buzz just gets to you. I heard about Attack on Titan from at least 5 different sources over the last month. About how people were watching a dozen episodes in one sitting, how the manga is the next big shonen blockbuster and how it pushes boundaries in terms of graphic content (the Eating-humans-alive-and-spraying-blood-everywhere kind, not the Will Eisner kind), for a title aimed at teenagers. Then I went to Anime Expo and found out that there were AoT cosplayers galore. I sat next to one at a panel I was attending, and while making conversation, asked him if the series is really getting better as it progresses. “It’s good enough”, he said.

This could only mean one thing – anime marathon. One lazy Sunday later, my thoughts about the series:

  1. 13 episodes are out, with 11 remaining from the season. I cannot wait! And I am giving myself reasons to not start the manga, because I am sure it will spoil the anime for me. But it’s haaaaaard.
  2. Giants are the new zombies! I am stretching things a bit too much here, but with Jack and Pacific Rim, and now this (it’s going to be a live-action film soon), I get the feeling that pop culture winds blow in that direction, now that we are done bleeding the shuffling dead and the bloodsuckers. Giants have always been played (at least in recent times) as bumbling behemoths that can be incapacitated by resilient humans, but using them as cause for mankind’s extinction is a concept that is only beginning to be explored.
  3. The characters are a little too high-strung for my taste, especially the lead Eren Jaeger. When Eren is not yelling at the top of his voice at every single situation, he’s busy being intense and angsty about life.  Maybe it says something about my expectations from a shonen series, that I expect moments of lightness to bookmark the intense scenes. But the arc until episode 13 (The Battle of Trost) just builds up the tension steadily. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but I feel somewhat lost minus minimal ecchi or slapstick. It’s me, I know. (Oh well, you could argue that Sasha Braus provides the comedy, but come on, it’s not what I meant, you know it!)
  4. Story-wise, the series does live up to the hype. At this point, it is hard to pin down the themes of the manga. Lots of intriguing “hints” are dropped about the world at large. We have not seen society within Wall Sina. Levy, from the Recon Corps is a bad-ass whose story arc looks like it will be very important going ahead. Unexplained events – Eren’s father’s involvement, Eren’s own past, the mysterious disappearance of the Armored Titan on Wall Rose, the origins of the kyoujin. Is it political drama? Is it a military sagaOr It could be played as just dystopian horror. The body-count is staggering in the first 13 episodes, and I have no doubt it gets worse.
  5. What I do not like was the fact that the shonen hero template of Eren follows Full Metal Alchemist a bit too much. Teenagers caught up in wars, and Eren becoming important not because he is an everyman but because he’s his father’s son. What I do like is the combination of the core trio – Eren, Mikasa and Armin, and how they seem to complement each other’s skills. For this is truly the hallmark of a good shonen series – characters that evolve and learn from each other, and from circumstances around them. And I love the 3D-Maneuver Gear. It’s a bitch to cosplay with them, but the visual concept is brilliant and very Spider-man-esque.
  6. Aditya on Twitter asked me what I thought about the fact that the giant-killing machines in Pacific Rim are called ‘Jaegers’. Del Toro is co-writer of the screenplay. Del Toro is also the man who is optioning the manga Monster as an HBO series, which supports the assumption that the man knows his Japanese comics. Hell, the whole kaiju concept comes from Japanese movies. HOWEVER, the idea for PR (according to the Wiki entry) came about in 2007, AoT started in 2009. I am going with coincidence, or maybe a sly reference at the script-rewrite stage.

All in all can’t wait to see more of this series.