Attack on Titan: Something Like Apocalypse

[Review: Attack on Titan anime + manga]

Attack on Titan is not unworthy of the hype that surrounds it. I watched the first season within a few days (binge-watching as always) and rather liked it. I don’t have very strong feelings for this show; it’s not my favourite, but I would still recommend it to any bored anime fan who likes some action.

The action was one of the things that I really did enjoy in AoT. Given that it is a show about giants munching on people and selected soldiers hunting down these giants, there were plenty of chase sequences and some fantastic scenes of aerial combat. The show does not shy away from gruesome deaths and injuries, which does add to the realism of the battles.

The idea of humanity, which has always been the irrefutable power in the world, cowering before the strength of the titans and locking itself in a cage is truly thrilling. It may not be the first story to show humanity in danger, but it certainly is the first one (that I have seen) that presents it in such a scale, and with such style. Save for a few, people are essentially powerless against the might of the titans – their homes, entire cities destroyed and their entire world reduced to a few walls. It’s fascinating. The apocalypse is now.

To add to that, we learn that there is something more to these titans, something that has yet to be revealed, that will explain all the forces driving this catastrophe. The suspense is what keeps me invested in this story – a promise that there is something more than just giants hunting humans.

The show does have its downsides though. The greatest is the dull and dreary characters this show is brimming with– including the protagonist. When I watch fiction, I want something exceptional and fantastical in the characters. If I wanted boring, I’ll turn to the real people around me. The characters delivered by AoT are uninspiring and almost tiring to watch. Even our primary protagonist, Eren Yeager, is nothing more than a wide-eyed nutcase who never really seems to think. He possesses great strength and determination, but for the most part, is little more than a pawn used by those above him for their own purposes. I suppose it is realistic that he is not too intelligent or even observant but seeing as he is the main character, I had hoped for more depth and charm.

The burden of intellect and appeal then falls upon Captain Levi, the only character in this show who is not a chore to watch. It makes sense that Captain Levi is the most popular character on this show. In a story made up of such boring people, of course the only person with a functional mind and mouth would stand out. The ordinariness of the other characters throws into sharp relief the coarseness and wit of Levi Ackerman. He may not be one of my favourite anime characters, but as far as AoT goes, he is the star of the show (at least for now).

Something I also dislike in this story is how forgettable everyone looks. The art, when it comes to the character design, is rather repetitive and indistinctive, and I always have trouble remembering who’s who (especially when I am reading the manga). It’s a difficult feat for me to attach a name to a face (except for the main characters) and the names easily slip from my mind. It’s difficult to care for the fates of characters one cannot even remember.

I think the characters are the main weakness that AoT has, and it is a fairy considerable weakness, given that characters are central to a story. I do hope that the characters develop and improve over the course of the series, especially Eren Yeager, and that they somehow stop being boring. Apart from that, AoT is all good fun, and I definitely do think it’s worth the watch.

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