Attack on Titan
The Sacrifice of Humanity to Save Humanity
Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人, lit. "Advancing Giants") is an anime series directed by Tetsuro Araki based off the manga by Hajime Isayama. This series takes place in a world where humanity has been nearly wiped out by massive humanoid beings, Titans, and forced to cower inside a humongous city protected by enormous walls.
Yes, everything is huge in Attack on Titan, including the story. This first season is actually split into two story arcs: Crimson Bow and Arrow, and Wings of Freedom. The series primarily follows Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman (Eren's adopted sister), and their long-time friend, Armin Arlert, as they struggle to find their place in their world after Titans attacked and destroyed their home along with everyone they loved. Soon they make new friends, allies and enemies as they seek their freedom from humanity's cage.
Sometimes the price of freedom comes dripping in blood, but Attack on Titan takes that to an extreme. This anime is definitely not for the faint of heart, and it doesn't shy away from reminding us of that. Death and dismemberment is everywhere, and even has a key role in the development of the story. If the massive streams of blood and limbs isn't enough to make you flinch, the realistic screams of agony, terror and vengeance certainly will. It would help if the story gave the viewer some time to breathe every so often, but, for the most part, the violence is near constant, frequently spanning several episodes before a pause is taken.
If you can stomach the horrific visuals and the blood-curdling screams, there is still much beauty to see in Attack on Titan. I'm not just talking about the breath-taking scenes of the city and the countryside, even though there are many of those. Although, the best thing for me is the characters.
It is extremely common for an anime to create characters who basically just represent a standard stereotype, but that is not the case here, for the most part. Almost each character feels unique, especially as they change through facing repeated nightmares, making it feel like you're watching real people fight for survival. This really does a fantastic job at making you feel for the pain they face, especially their deaths. And those who fit into an anime stereotype normally are so exaggerated that it's obvious that they are being made fun of.
While some stories become so well known for killing off popular characters in horrific ways, even though Attack on Titan leaves piles of bodies in its wake, it never feels like you're losing everyone you are rooting for. Part of that might be due to the extremely large cast of the characters, but mainly because of the ways the survivors change from the experience. I'm sure the constant flood of new characters to replace the fallen helps, too. There were times I wished the pace would have slowed down to let a few of those deaths sink in, though.
The conflicting attitudes of a few of the more powerful and panic filled characters does leave me with some concern with the future of the series, though. There are still far too many "scum" characters in very powerful places making it feel like all the best parts of this story could come crashing down in the near future. I really hope I'm wrong, though. A second season of Attack on Titan has been announced and will be airing in 2016, so there's still time before we see if my fears become a reality or not.
Yes, I may have a few worries about its future, but I still highly recommend this series. The story is fantastic, the characters amazing, the visuals and the music are awesome and, most importantly, it is a very entertaining experience... As long as you can stomach the constant onslaught of blood and violence. Just be prepared for a near-addiction-level anticipation for the series' return once you're done with this first season. At least there is the manga, video games, and a new live-action movie series to keep you going if needed.
Attack on Titan is available on multiple sources, including Crunchyroll and Funimation.
Need a second opinion? Check out ShadowedBlade.net's review.