A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment
There is a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of anime out there, to the point where unless I’m willing to devote far more time to purely anime than I currently am, there’s basically no way to keep track of it all. That’s not a judgement about anime incidentally, there’s too much TV in general for me to keep track of all of it. But even before I started actively seeking it out, Attack on Titan was getting pretty ubiquitous. So I, being the enterprising sort, sought it out, and was actually surprised by how much I liked it.
The plot is…actually lets stop and talk about the world. 100 years ago, a bunch of giants called Titans showed up out of nowhere, which sucks because they’re absurdly hard to kill and all they do is eat humans (like literally, all they do is eat people. They don’t even need to eat people to survive, they just do it). All that’s left of humanity lives within 3 giant walls to keep the Titans from eating them. The actually story is focused on Eren Jaeger, a kid living on the outskirts of the outer wall. Since you can’t reasonably have a series about a bunch of people hanging around a peaceful village, sure enough as soon as the series starts an exceptionally tall Titan shows up and kicks the gate it.
The story, from then on, is about Eren and his childhood friends Mikasa and Armin, dealing with the attack and growing in soldiers to fight the Titans. If there’s one aspect of Attack on Titan I really love the most, it’s the Titans themselves. One could write an essay (and indeed I imagine some people probably have) on the visual design of the Titans themselves and what it is about them that makes them so frightening. On the surface, their design is simplicity itself: Giant naked people, with no genitalia to speak of, with fixed glasgow smiles. But as anyone who’s seen the show will tell you, that alone can be terrifying.
Another thing I’m a huge fan of, is the way it subverts or deconstructs some tropes and cliches common to anime. A good example is right at the beginning, when a character previously established to be a coward and a drunk has an opportunity to act like a hero. In a normal anime, hell a normal show, the guy would prove himself capable or at least die trying. In this, in the very first episode no less, he immediately proves our initial impression of him correct and wusses out. It’s not a lot, but it’s interesting to see our expectations upended. The writing is overall pretty solid, with good and well defined characters. The dialogue is overall well written and delivered (at least the subtitled version; Despite the fact that the dub is the default, Eren’s voice actor bothers me too much for me to watch it for any length of time) but the big draw, outside the world building and the Titans, is the animation. The sequences where they use a set of maneuvering devices designed to fight the Titans are gorgeously animated, as are the Titans themselves, and getting to see them in HD goes farther than any other element to making the Blu-Ray purchase worth it.
Of course part of the issue is that any DVD of a TV show where the entirety of the show is up on Hulu and Netflix for free, is that you have to justify the purchase, usually with special features. And unfortunately in that regard, well Attack on Titan isn’t precisely a Criterion Collection release. There’s 2 episodes with commentary, a Making of feature and…that’s about it, as far as substantial special features go. And while I’m complaining, you might have noticed that the DVD is entitled Part 1, rather than Season 1. The reason for this is that the DVD only covers the first half of the Season, 13 episodes. This release technique was a bad idea when Battlestar Galactica did it, and time has not sweetened it. Still, it’s still Attack on Titan. If you’re a fan and you want a DVD copy, then you’ll probably want this one. I wouldn’t blame you if you held out for a full season or maybe a release with more special features, but this one is still pretty solid. And if you’re not a fan of the show yet, well give it a shot. It’s certainly one of my favorite shows on TV now.
Elessar is a 24 year old Alaskan born cinephile and Bist du den Film? Nein, der Rezensent.
– gorgeous animation
– kickass action
– good story and unique monsters
– not a lot of special feature
– seriously, it’s a TV season DVD that only has about 4 hours of content on it
– bleak tone might turn people off