Disclaimer: There will not be any spoilers of season 2 since it’s still a fresh, but there will be some spoilers from season 1.
Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin
Manga: 21 volumes (ongoing series)
Anime series: 25 episodes (Season 1)
5 episodes (Season 2, ongoing)
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, dark fantasy
Where to start with this series… It’s hard to start at just the beginning, because I’m still not over the trauma from the first episode of season 2 that recently dropped. However, that intense emotional reaction is what makes this series something not for the faint of heart and something you need to spend some serious time investing in. Attack on Titan is the kind of series you shouldn’t binge with the idea that it’s typical or something for the casual viewer. It’s intense. From the first episode in season 1, Attack on Titan let you know how powerful it was going to be, and that’s when I became invested in this series.
The series is about this world where humans once had free range over the land, but then one day these gigantic monsters called titans showed up and demonstrated their unwavering bloodlust for humans. In a matter of years, the Titans nearly destroyed the human race, and those who were left corralled themselves into one area, later erecting 3 walls to protect themselves. Inside the walls, humanity progressed for 100 years in unnerving peace, with some humans never seeing a titan their whole life. Only those who are a part of the Survey Corps would see a titan, but that all changed one day. A titan (later known as the Colossus Titan) appeared and kicked down a section of the outer wall (Wall Maria), which forced the last of humankind to come face to face with the darkest aspect of their reality: they are not safe.
The series itself has many characters that it keeps track of, but it’s centered around 3 young teens: Eren Yeager, his foster sister Mikasa Ackerman, and their friend Armin Arlert. To cut a lot of fluff, the first season follows how these 3 cope with what happened on the day Wall Maria came down and the titans flooded in. Eren is hell-bent on getting revenge after seeing his mom sadistically eaten by a titan as he was carried away to safely, Mikasa is keeping her word in always protecting Eren and remaining by his side, and Armin who, while being academically and intellectually gifted, is crippled by his self-doubt and a possible inferiority complex. The 3 eventually enlist into the military and become a part of the Survey Corps; which is the branch of the military that is involved in direct combat with the Titans. This also makes this branch the most dangerous to be in with a high turnover rate.
Attack on Titan has a lot of powerful moments with a lot of death, but what makes it refreshing is that the deaths aren’t meaningless or just put in for shock value; they’re strategically placed and traumatic in their own right. This series is about the last bit of people left in the ENTIRE WORLD trying to fight for their right to live. They never know what day will be their last but they know it’s coming eventually and want to push that back as far as they can. Their primal instinct to just make it to the next day is made apparent in their willingness to take on risky tasks knowing that they may die how their comrade did as they were plucked off by a titan right next to them.
As powerful as this series is, there has been some pushback in between seasons. One of the biggest issues I can think of was the spacing between seasons. The last episode of season 1 was released on September 29th, 2013, and the first episode of season 2 was released on April 1st, 2017 (I honestly thought this was an April Fools’ joke). While waiting for more episodes, season 2 was constantly getting pushed back, and the restlessness of fans could be heard thorough the internet. Many fans turned to the manga or tumblr to follow the series, which is also ongoing, and stopped believing in a new season. Even a movie was released, which gained some mixed reviews across the board, but that came out faster than season 2 which added fuel to the fire to some of the AoT fan base. The beauty that I found was that didn’t stop some fans from showing how passionate they were for the series, but the horde of AoT cosplayers stopped showing up at some anime conventions I’ve attended, and it made me wonder if the series was losing its fan base.
For those who are wavering about AoT, I say watch the first episode of season 2. I’ll admit, I was one of those who kind of lost hope in the franchise. In those 3 years between seasons, I kept seeing Attack on Titan spin-off series and seeing the spoilers from the main series and wondered if I’ll ever see all the emotion from the books in action. What I love about anime is how good animation and voice actors can give life to 2D characters. The range of facial expression and subtle changes in their voice can give you so much more than what you can get in a manga. It’s not just AoT but every anime that has made you feel from the bottom of your heart. The plot can be great but what helps it sell is the atmosphere that is created from the music, the colors, the movement, and the passion and emotion drawn out from the voices behind the character.
AoT has a lot of powerful moments that deal with titans or without, which is rare, but what brings you in is the ability this series has to bring out the most raw and primal emotion all humans possess, the will to live. Whether it’s in the battle cries the soldiers make as they whisk off knowing they’re going to die or the sorrowful tears that are shed when someone breaks down because they’re feeling helpless; each moment is a sign of life in these characters, a sign of humanity, wanting to survive, and willingness to do whatever it takes so they can just make it to the next 15 minutes. Just watch the first episode of season 2 and it’ll make you feel like there wasn’t a 3 year gap; the heart throbbing intensity is still there, the need to tell your favorite character to fight is still there, and the sinking feeling of terror is more alive than in season 1. Trust me, it’s a good one.
4 lurking behind the wall like a creeper titans out of 5