Hello folks, Fenrir here with an unusual bit of “Food for Thought” on the latest Internet meme! So awhile back Kaushik and Pluffei voiced their impressions of the 2013 spring anime season, and notably mentioned an interesting title: Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan). In the words of Pluffei, it’s an anime that looks “really freaking cool” with bold animation and appealing music. A few months later, and a sudden surge in popularity Pluffei was definitely on mark in her prediction that Shingeki would be a show to watch out for.
But, what I find that most people didn’t expect, was the surge in parody videos that take its incredibly catchy theme-song–Guren no Yumiya–to new heights of comedy and the obscene, in a very brilliant way. So what is it about this shonen hack-n-slash a bunch of man-eating-giants that appeals to the masses–or at least, inspires parody?
For those not in the know, Shingeki no Kyojin is a shonen manga-turned-anime that depicts a post-apocalyptic world in which much of humanity holes itself up in walled cities to protect themselves from man-eating, gigantic Titans that ravage the land. While much of technology has devolved to an archaic, medieval-like system and aesthetic, humans have developed the unique 3-D Maneuver Gear which allows them to move in a three-dimensional space to access the Titans’ weak point: the nape of their necks. Otherwise, Titans are a force to be reckoned with, nearly impervious to conventional weaponry and attack strategies, such as cannons and rifles, as they rampage through villages and eat humans at will and–disturbing enough–to their great pleasure.
Thrust in this world are our heroes: Eren Jeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman, and their friend Armin Alart. The trio (Or well, Eren and Armin; Mikasa is in it to protect Eren) dream of a day when humanity can crawl out and live in the land beyond their walls, and after a series of tragic events, enlist in the military to lead in the defense against the Titans–hoping to make their dreams a reality.
While I leave an in-depth review to our anime experts–ie. Kaushik and/or Pluffei–I will say that from my experience with Shingeki no Kyojin it is a pretty fun anime to watch. I admit, after watching several trailers that floated about the Internet I had to look up the manga, which I appreciate for its style and its interpretation of giants, changing them from the doofy fee-fi-fum monsters easily bested in Disney movies–such as Jack and the Beanstalk–and in Disney-certified series such as Once Upon a Time, which portrays them as misunderstood gentle-giant-guardians. Shingeki no Kyojin, on the other hand, relies on body horror in design, with many giants possessing grisly, blank-stares, gaping smiles, and in their strange proportions make them terrifying indeed. Perhaps the most iconic giant, the Colossal Titan, is the best example of Shingeki’s excellent monster design that once again makes the idea of a giant a very frightening force to be reckoned with.
Of course, it has mixed appeal for this very reason. Some seem to find it terribly crude, while others praise it for its style and its desire to go for the grotesque. I personally do not think it is the best anime ever, but again it is something fun to watch, and if anything, it lovingly subverts some tried-and-true shonen tropes with Eren being a hero, yes, but definitely not the only hero and definitely not the most skilled, so that’s a bit of a plus. Overall, though, I leave the final criticism up to our own anime experts–but I do recommend it, if only for a fun animated romp with some pretty nifty animated sequences and giant-monster-action.
But perhaps what is most intriguing about Shingeki no Kyojin is its attempt at balancing its premise–which is criticized as a less-than-impressive monster-hack-n-slash–and giving it feeling necessary to evoke emotion for its characters. So added to the mix of unsettling imagery (Seriously watching people get eaten is entertaining but not everyone’s cup of tea) is Linked Horizon’s opening theme: Guren no Yumiya. It’s definitely uh… dramatic. And uplifting, in a way, with its promise of fighting for freedom, etc. etc. And it also has the appeal of being incredibly catchy with an ear-worm beat, and rhythm that matches the animated sequences to the song…
… And that can be applied, it seems, to other videos as well. Much like the idea that Guile’s Theme can fit just about anything, it seems that the (over-)dramatic gravitas of Guren no Yumiya can fit in with just about anything and everything that the Internet would love to mix with it. And even if no one watches the series–there’s probably a good chance that somewhere along the line, whether it was via your tumblr dashboard, Facebook feed, or Kotaku, one of these parodies had to pop up in the recent weeks.
Because let’s face it, even if a show isn’t that great–it does live on in parody. So with a combination of catchy opening music, with beats that can be well-timed to just about anything? You’ve really got the makings of some parody gold that definitely gets the Shingeki no Kyojin name out there.
Arguably the best and oldest of the parodies out there– not only is the timing of the video excellent, but the fact that is the content is just perfect for the almost over-the-top dramatic appeal of Guen No Yumiya. Obviously it’s been pulled from a Bollywood film, much like that Nyan-cat remake — but what is incredibly lovely about this parody is the fact that it works so incredibly well. Every kick, every flourish seems to make better use of the song’s flow than the anime’s own opening.
Seriously, it’s way too perfect, and in its ridiculous perfection launched the beginning of a new meme–and several other parodies that have followed in its wake.
There’s a pretty sick Snuggle version that takes stomping out wrinkles and ultra-soft fabrics a serious issue.
Also we have Attack on Toddler (Shingeki no Yoji), that takes us back to the 90s and that one rather terrifying toy-clown episode that scarred many a 90s-kids’ impressions on clowns. Heck, it fits pretty well into the blank-stare-gaping-smile aesthetic of Shingeki’s giants.
And very pertinent to my interests? Attack on Tamago, which makes use of the original op’s iconic slo-mo flip sequence. You also learn how to make a pretty sweet omelet too, haha.
Even the show’s voice actors took a stab at it. Kaji Yuki (Eren Jaeger), Ishikawa Yui (Mikasa Ackerman) and Shimono Hiro’s (Connie Springer) notable “screaming” highlights the sort of over-the-top dramatic that Guren no Yumiya evokes–but hey, it’s this over-dramatic that only adds to the song’s appeal. I mean, it’s just funny, listening to them trying haha.
The list goes on-and-on, but it seems to prove how even what is considered “sub-par” by the critics can develop that all-too-important fan-following that inevitably makes it memorable. And really, parodies are so much easier when there’s something catchy to go along with it–so while it might not be the intended reaction–it definitely had an impact on its fans.
Annnd that’s all there is for this issue of Food for Thought–tune in next time for more uh, insights into the world of fandom! And don’t let the ear-worm get you down, the full version of Guren no Yumiya will be released sometime in July, I believe, so fans can soon make their daily commutes, exercises, and general life activities all the more dramatic.