Hey guys, it took me a while to get to Shingeki no Kyojin just because there was so much hype over the summer and I didn’t want all the fandom to skew my perception of how I reviewed the show. That and the fact that since summer is convention season, I never had time to sit down and properly watch the whole thing – and I did want to watch the whole thing all at once without disruptions or people texting me constantly asking me what I thought of so-and-so episode. I just knew I needed to find the right time to watch such a highly praised anime. This weekend I found the perfect opportunity to sit down and watch all twenty five episodes, OVAs and specials of Shingeki no Kyojin this weekend.
When I approach an anime that’s been rated high and higher by fans and viewers and even reviewers, I try to delve into the anime world with a grain of salt. After all, some fans definitely embellish, some are diehard fans who love the show despite its flaws and so on. I really feel like Shingeki no Kyojin lived up to my expectations in terms of the general reception that I’ve encountered up till now.
Now, with all those introductions out of the way and without further ado, let’s get to the good stuff…
I have to say that immediately after finishing the entire anime adaptation of Shingeki no Kyojin… I found myself at a loss. I could have gone and reviewed current anime, or manga or even written a rant. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I literally stood up from my chair for twenty seconds after the credits finished and stared at my laptop wondering what the hell am I going to do with my life now? Honestly, I could go on about this show for quite some time. There’s just SO MUCH in the story, the characters, the art and animation and the sound so Part 1 of the review will touch on some overarching themes that I thought were significant to the show’s success as well as the amazing characters while Part 2 will delve more into my review on sound, animation, final thoughts and ranting.
Be prepared, ladies and gentlemen because this is going to be a pretty LONG post… and this is only part 1 because I really had too much to say after pouring out my fangirl feelings and reviewer thoughts into a Microsoft document.
“You don’t stand a single chance to win, unless you fight.” – Mikasa Ackerman
Shingeki no Kyojin or more commonly known as Attack on Titan to North American fans, is one of those shows that take you on a crazy fast, perplexing and awesome –I lost my reviewer self and just became one of the Survey Corps members– journey. I use the word perplexing to describe the show (among others) because the world of Shingeki no Kyojin is set in a time and place that we are utterly incapable of understanding fully. Even for people, today, who are living in completely war torn and corrupt societies, can’t begin to imagine the anxiety these characters feel in this world. The story begins with a little history lesson pertaining specifically to the world we’re dealing with. In fact, the world itself encompasses only three giant stone walls, one within the other. The outermost being Wall Maria, the second Wall Rose and the third Wall Sina. Mankind was pushed into the inner areas of these walls as a result of these incomprehensible and inhuman monsters called the Titans, who prey on humans, only.
Consequently, Shingeki no Kyojin falls in the categories of shonen, fantasy, dystopia (which is a popular theme in Young Adult fiction recently but not as much in anime) and even tragedy. I mean, it’s really hard to deal with dystopian worlds because either the world is just utterly destroyed and there are a few badasses that form a kickass hero group or the world is on the verge of destruction and a battle needs to be fought. In both of these scenarios, the heroes somehow have an ace over the enemies at hand. Shingeki no Kyojin falls somewhere between these two clichéd dystopian worlds. However, it creates such scenarios and such an atmosphere that as a viewer, you’re constantly struggling with the fearful possibility of death – EVEN TO THE HEROES, and as a viewer, that’s probably what will scare you the most. You don’t want your favourite character for ten episodes strong suddenly swallowed by a giant Titan and have that be IT for them. It’s my firm opinion that heroes, or even just regular characters become the most memorable to you when their purpose in the story draws out an aspect and secret about human nature and I definitely feel like this is what make the characters of Shingeki no Kyojin shine.
Our main character is Eren Yeager, a boy from Wall Maria, living in one of the small defense towns called Shiganshina. These small outermost, as grim as it sounds, were created in order to lure and distract Titans from larger and more key cities in the event of an invasion. That’s exactly what happens to Eren one afternoon when he’s on his way home with his adopted sister Mikasa. For the civilians and regular folk, the walls are their protection, the saviour, the salvation; there’s even a church devoted to it, which gives you an idea of just how much mankind depends on these walls. Eren starts off as your typical shonen hotheaded, stubborn and determined but I feel like throughout the series, he doesn’t get as annoying as, you know, Naruto, after a while and he becomes the kind of person who’s strong enough to acknowledge his weaknesses in order to become stronger. He doesn’t dive into these things stupidly, but doesn’t hesitate to act when he’s reminded of the burdens he shoulders. At the beginning of the series, Eren as a child encompasses the anger that mankind bears against the world, for being pushed within the walls, for living like trapped livestock and living in fear every day. As the story progresses, Eren transforms into this symbol of hope and change, someone who, like Annie says, goes against the flow.
“The world is merciless… and it is also very beautiful.” – Mikasa Ackverman
I really liked Mikasa Ackerman. She’s beautiful, tough, has natural talent for maneuvering her 3D gear and she values family above all else – well, Eren. 😉 But you know what I mean. Because she’s such a stoic character, it’s hard to figure out her thoughts but you’ll always come to the conclusion that she does everything with Eren’s best interest and Eren’s life in mind due to the losses she suffered when she was a child. At the same time, she represents almost this callous and jaded state of humans as a result of the cruelty of the world. She’s the type of character who’ll fight for her loved ones, who’ll fight because she knows how detrimental it is to stop fighting.
“Everyone can make a choice after they’ve learned what it will result in. It is so easy to say we should have done it this way afterwards. But you can’t know what your choice will result in before actually choosing.” – Arwin Arlert
Arwin Arlert is the character that surprised me the most. He was weak and fearful at the start of the series, always running a few steps behind Eren and Mikasa even in their childhood. I feel that as a character, he drew out all the flaws and insecurities of humans in his existence in the show. At the same time, he’s also the type of character who realizes that strength doesn’t necessarily have to be physical. When you push yourself beyond your fears in order to do what needs to be done, that’s strength greater than any reckless punch you can throw.
There’s a really strong and constantly charged atmosphere surrounding the idea of human dignity in regards to life and death. The last of mankind within the walls are protected by three divisions under the King – the Military Police Brigade, the Survey Corps and the Garrison, which are essentially the police who oversee the main gates of the walls. All of these men and women who work in these separate departments were all military trained and taught to use 3D maneuver gear in the field. However, some have fallen indolent to the protection of the high walls while others binge off government taxes to drink or pocket alcohol money by embezzling funds. The Survey Corps is really the only division that understands the precariousness of mankind’s safety against the titans as they are the scouts that venture into the outside world in order to research and slay titans. They’re the best of the best as well, those green capes aren’t just for show.
Enter the best AMONG the best – Levi (Rivaille), the leader of the Special Operations Squad, more commonly known as the Levi unit. I don’t think I have to say much about Levi because I’m sure you’ve encountered him somewhere over the internet. He is one of, if not, the most talented and skilled Survey captains of the corps. He’s the type of character who is willing to sacrifice much for the survival of lives but who never forgets the responsibilities he holds for the deaths of those he leads into battle. Again, because he’s one of those really stoic, utterly expressionless characters, it’s almost impossible to figure out what he’s thinking, let alone his personality. He’s very much the perfect soldier (on top of being a clean freak LOL) Levi is just really awesome, he’s just, the coolest because up till episode nine when he makes his first appearance, all we’ve seen are fumbling newbies and freaked out cadets. To see a fighter so cool-headed, composed and badass makes him a respectable, if not, favourite character, on first glance and I think I’ve become very much of a Levi fangirl myself.
“I don’t know the right answer. I never have. Whether I believe in myself or whether I rely on my comrades… Either way, no one knows the outcome. That said, all you can do is try your best to make a decision you won’t regret.” – Levi
I really wanted to do Shingeki no Kyojin in one post altogether, however there is just TOO MUCH to go through. Thank you guys for reading all of Part 1. If you got to the end, you’re a real trooper and if you want more be sure to follow me through wordpress or any of the social media outlets and Part 2 will be up really soon!
What are you pondering today?