Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Anime Corner: Attack On Titan (2013)

When it comes to modern anime, few shows have managed to break through into the mainstream quite like this one. And it's not hard to see why. From the badass opening theme/credits to the fast-paced animation and grand scope, Attack On Titan is large scale sci-fi/fantasy action that rarely falls victim to the stereotypes of many shows before it. But that doesn't mean it isn't totally immune to criticism.

Pretty instantly, I was hooked to this show. Starting off with a bang, I never really knew what was going to happen or what to expect, with the show constantly reminding the audience of the danger of the situation by killing off characters left and right, even going so far as to off one of the leads within the first 10 episodes. Sadly, they backed away and brought them back to life, and it was around this time that I began to notice some chinks in the armor of an otherwise incredible show. Taking risks like that gains my respect, but finding a cheap way out of them lessens the entire experience for me. But it's not just that, where the show fails is in introducing giant fighting monster cliches that can only be described as uncharacteristic for a show that had been so clever up to this point.

There are a handful of pretty solid characters here, but again the stereotypes start to emerge when you examine the archetypes and roles they fill. You have the brave young idealistic hero with more courage than he has strength; the quiet but strong and proficient fighter with a big heart; the physically weak super intelligent kid whose lack of skill with weapons is more than made up for with their genius ability to strategize. Like I said, nothing new here, but this isn't a show that needs to have the most mindblowing and unique characters, as the story and world they built here is the main appeal.

Apart from the more technical aspects, the major highlight of the show for me is in the design of the Titans themselves. The unpredictable and twitchy movements they make is disturbing, and the creepy hundred-toothed grins don't make them any less unsettling. They behave almost like giant toddlers, and the fact they can't be reasoned with makes them all the more formidable. Not only are the action scenes incredible, but the behavior and visual design of these creatures make them even more suspenseful.

I haven't had a chance to check out season 2, but from what I have seen, I can still say this is a very solid and entertaining show that's sure to win over non-anime fans as well as some anime purists. If I were to rate the story, world-building, animation, and music all separately, they would probably all get A's, but as a whole show I wouldn't be quite so generous. It's very easy to watch and get sucked into, but there are close to a half-dozen episodes in the middle that really don't go much of anywhere and it totally kills the pacing. Also, watch it dubbed. The visuals are too good to be distracted with reading.

Episode count: 25

My grade: B+
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