Monday, December 9, 2013

Attack on Titan, Seasons 1-2 (anime TV series), via Crunchyroll

Attack on Titan is a dystopian fantasy series.

One hundred years prior to the start of the series, giant humanoid creatures called Titans appeared. Although Titans technically don't need to eat, they seem to enjoy devouring humans. The little that remained of humanity after the Titans attacked retreated behind three concentric walls. The innermost wall is where the most wealthy live. Wall Rose is the middlemost wall, while Wall Maria is the outermost. Life for most inside the walls in fairly peaceful. The only ones regularly exposed to Titans are the Survey Corps, which makes trips outside Wall Maria in order to study and, when possible, capture Titans.

At the start of the series, Wall Maria falls, breached by a Colossal Titan so large that it's able to look over the wall. As much of the population as possible is evacuated to the area inside Wall Rose, but that still leaves many to die. Eren, Mikasa (a girl Eren's family took in years ago), and Eren and Mikasa's friend Armin are all part of the evacuated group. Eren, who watched his mother die in the attack, swears that he will kill all Titans. When the three of them are old enough, they join the Training Corps, the first step to becoming part of one of three groups of soldiers: the Survey Corps, the Military Police Brigade, or the Garrison.

This was the show my dad and I watched after finishing Puella Magi Madoka Magica, and it turned out to be a fabulously good choice for both of us. We watched most of it in two or three marathon sessions and only stopped when my mom asked us if she could use the TV for once.

Considering how much I disliked Eren, it's kind of surprising how much I enjoyed this show. He was obsessed with the Survey Corps, he wasn't always very bright, and the only reason he made it out of some of the fights he ran headlong into was because Mikasa backed him up. My dad and I nicknamed him Crazy Eyes Eren – he was basically powered by insane rage. Mikasa was a much more appealing character. Unfortunately, Mikasa and Eren were a package deal.

Eren, Mikasa, and Armin's training was fascinating, and I especially enjoyed seeing the 3-D Maneuver Gear in action. The moment that most hooked me on the show, however, came several episodes in (episode 5?). It was a moment so unexpected that my dad and I were in shock. I still wasn't very attached to the characters, but I needed to know what was going to happen next.

The series' biggest draws were its WTF moments and its battle scenes. I'm so glad I waited until the first two seasons had been completely aired before watching them, because waiting for new episodes would have been excruciating. As it was, my dad and I were extremely disappointed that there wasn't a third season – season 2 ends with lots of questions left unanswered.

The animation was a mixed bag. On the one hand, there were moments when you could tell the director (or whoever) was trying to save money – I recall quite a few “panning across stills” scenes. On the other hand, money saved in some scenes was put to great use during battle scenes. I thought those looked absolutely fabulous. On the whole, I really like the look of the series. It certainly looked much, much better than the four volumes of the manga I flipped through.

I'm really glad I watched this series and would jump at the chance to see a third season. As it is, I think I might suffer through Eren again just to rewatch some of the battle scenes.

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