Shingeki no Koyjin (進撃の巨人) is an adaptation of a manga, which was very popular in the manga-reading circles, but nothing more than that. Let’s face it – it was almost an absolute stranger when it hit the screens across the world. Within three episodes, however, not only did the anime become the most popular of the season, but the manga was being famed as one of the best in years as well.
Read my full review of the recently ended anime TV series Shingeki no Kyojin a.k.a. Attack on Titan.
This anime turned into a phenomenal event in Otakuland and it will hopefully continue doing this once the manga is advanced enough for a new series. It was one of the few series I was expecting with excitement, and a pretty strong one at that, and I believe I was not the only one. This was one show that started with a Bang! with a Wow! ever since it was announced, but was it going to live up to the expectations of humans, shinigami, deities, ghosts, aliens, zombies, pirates, ninja and every other creature that heard of it before the start? Let me give you my opinion on the matter…
Shingeki no Kyojin (also known as Attack on Titan, but I will keep to the romanised Japanese titles) began with episode one being shown on MBS on 6th April 2013 and ended with episode 25 being shown on 27th September 2013. The show was not only attractive, but with its unique combination of comedy elements, drama, heart breaking emotions and fear, power, emotional intelligence and childish silliness…it managed to capture the hearts of its viewers. All in all, at some point people were either watching Free! or Shingeki no Kyojin.
To be honest, I knew I would be following closely this show from the very first artwork I’ve seen, but there were many who thought – why would I watch this obvious attention seeker? Well, even they are now playing with their Levi figure or the chibi version of Armin Arlet. Yes, the fanbase is overwhelming and yes, the whole mainstream-ness will put many people off the show be it because of the overly high expectations or the perception that things people like are yucky. I cannot overpower people’s opinions, but I can give you my two cents, taken directly from my cloak with one of my little paw-like hands.
Instead of explaining the great soundtrack of the anime and the voice actors, things the Newtype awards and more similar have and probably will do in my stead, I would break up the story into bits and think about the meaning behind them…
Attention, minna-san, SPOILERS!
First, let me discuss the beginning of the story. We meet with young Eren and his foster sister Mikasa. The two children’s relationship is built upon the basis of a murder, a vile execution and a lot of drama. But Mikasa came to live with his eloquent father and his great housewife of a mother. What they didn’t know, though, was that their dream to become fighters for humanity would come true, but not in the beautiful and enchanting way the, as young children, think. What happens is that, after 100 years of silence, an extremely tall titan, with skin like armour, appears and slams through the very Wall Maria. After his clash with the gates, a huge hole is open into the otherwise immense wall and which seems like a little fence in comparison with the Armoured titan. Through this wall, giants can once again enter the human world, feeding upon none other than the very Mrs. Jaeger – parent of Eren and an adoptive parent of Mikasa. What happens next is chaos, dread and a lot of drama.
One of the most significant moments for me was the clash between the Survey Corps and the internal policemen. This is probably not one of the great moments the screenwriters and directors thought of, but it was the most important in my opinion. These men and women who risk and mostly lose their lives for the well-being of everyone, were easily branded traitors and not only! The one towards whom pointed all the guns was none other than Erwin Smith. For me he is one of the strongest characters. He is the cornerstone of the Survey corps and with that – humanity. He is the one who welcomes the new members, he is the one who buries them when they die, and he is the one who announces their deaths to the families.
This said, I believe we have much to see from the 13th commander of the Survey corps and the whole team, after all – Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Levi and Hanji are all special characters with immense abilities in either superhuman transformation, intellect, agility and instincts or leadership and power. With this, they are also a great team, because they complete each other and can create the ideal squad.
Then again, let me connect the so-called Scouting legion with the entire story, after all, it is what made Eren become what he is in one way or another. Without the return of the Corps that fateful day, he wouldn’t have even heard of them. This is also one of those moments that were reversed and repeated in the last two episodes of the Shingeki no Kyojin anime series. The completeness of this squad is what makes it so unique, though it (being the only part of society that is not afraid and is giving it its all) is unjustly despised. It attracts the strong and the dreamers. The unable disappear, but the strong remain and one day, maybe not soon, but this say will come, they will succeed in discovering the truth behind the titans.
“The only thing we’re allowed to do… is to believe that we won’t regret the choice we made.”
THE SURVEY CORPS The survey corps are strong, but they are also in a much bigger danger than the others. They, unlike the other two organisations – the Stationary Guard (Garrison) and the Military Police – are using in real battles their 3D gear and have the most deaths from all sections of the military. This is why, when the young cadets need to choose where to go, only the really crazy, the really ambitious or the really stupid go there.
In episode 2, they fought for it, in episode 25, things are so much different; this little loaf also bears a heavy meaning, but it is now an entirely different story.
Filled with meaning: the Survey corps members bit their hands to show their support and apologise to Eren for the lack of trust. 18 episodes later (in the 19th), the same mark shows the end of the old Survey corps team. Do you feel the pain for the people you came to know or is it something else…?
In episode 1, Eren and Mikasa are just children, they know nothing but how awesome it must be to be in the Scouting legion. In episode 22, they are already barely standing on their feet and are the ones to inspire instead.
“I don’t like the term “good person” nor “bad person” – it’s impossible to be entirely good or entirely bad for everyone. To some, you are a good person, while to others, you are a bad one.”
~ Armin Arlet
The fight between Eren and Annie was hinted at in a much different situation in episode 4. Then, she defeated him and everyone without an issue, but when they fought for real in episode 25, Annie lost the battle after a long and exhausting clash. Eren, or to say the abnormal titan he controls, could not murder his former classmate and friend, allowing her to crystallise, but it sure marks the evolution of his character and the lack of good judgment on the side of Annie Leonheart. This battle, which happened at the very end of the show, also marks the beginning of something very big – the battle between the different human-titans. What drives ones to battle against humanity and are they really against it or is there something deeper, hidden within the obvious? Let me remind you another quote from this show – Dot Pixis, a leader in the Stationary Guard said:
“If it means mankind will live on, I don’t mind being called a murderer”
What if the human-titans as well are sacrificing some humans for a greater good?
The show will not have a sequel, or at least for now it will not. The animation got too close to the manga and there is not enough material to adapt. Taking the better decision, unlike the creators of so many adaptations before Shingeki no Kyojin, the production and animation will be ceased for as long as it’s needed for the anime to be as good as it was until now. With its not really well-made drama, the show could have lost a lot of views, but if it managed to keep the greater part longer than episodes 1-3… It has done more than so many other shows.
I will give you all my final thought, I find the show a breather, it came and it went easily, like a breeze. It is a good combination of action and fantasy with a great hint of drama and life-stories. You get to know the oddities alongside the positives of the characters and even of the secondary and tertiary ones. The best things is that it did not claim greatness before appearing, it did it through the emotions that its fans expressed on- and off-line. Even the movie poster, which became a real promotional image, was initially announced as a simple fanart and not an official work. The subtlety and the uniqueness, because we can’t argue the uniqueness of Shingeki no Kyojin, is what created a phenomenon out of this show. Even more, the production team managed to combine a real character with specific habits and quirks with an anime-specific visuals and costumes with catchy music and steady timeframe of events.
I would suggest this show to the fans of Canaan, Jormungand and all shounen series, but with a note – Shingeki no Kyojin is bloody and aggressive. Would you recommend this show to your friends and why? Do you think that the fans of Naruto and One Piece would like it or it’s more for those that like Jigoku Shoujo and Mononoke? Have your say and share it with me.
Thank you for reading!
Official Shingeki no Kyojin Website
Images © 諫山創・講談社／「進撃の巨人」製作委員会