Anime is a medium dedicated to representing the action-packed pages of Japanese comics called “manga.” An incredible adaptation of this super-charged action is none other than “Attack on Titan.”
The series, based on the manga by Hajime Isayama, follows the story of Eren Jaeger, a ferocious and rebellious boy living in a post-apocalyptic world where the primary setting of the series is a walled-in city surrounded by wilderness. Jaeger and the citizens of the city are terrified of the world outside the walls due to the ever-present threat of the Titans, monstrous gigantic humanoids who have no need to sleep or eat for sustenance or have any ability to communicate with others or be reasoned with. They only desire to eat humans. Jaeger’s home is shaken to the core when a Titan more massive than any other ever seen kicks in a portion of the wall protecting them from the Titans and hundreds die. Jaeger soon finds out there is more than meets the eye when it comes to the walled-in city as well as the true nature of the Titans. Jaeger, his adoptive sister Mikasa, and his best friend Armin become wrapped up in a world-shattering conflict after joining the Scout Regimen, an elite force of soldiers tasked with exploring the most dangerous parts of the world to learn as much as they can about the Titans.
The art direction for “Attack on Titan” is simply phenomenal. Like a lot of anime, the degree of detail and clarity in each shot is garnered exactly to the emotional attitude or intensity of the scene. The scenes that are far more emotionally intense have more physical motion animated than scenes where characters are just walking and enjoying life (although, I will say, there are not many of those).
Another thing that should be noted is the level of maturity in the storytelling. Obviously, this isn’t exclusive to the anime series. After all, it’s based on the original manga. However, the amount of polish that can be captured in an animated, active visual representation is extraordinary. The premise is engaging because we can understand a society terrorized by a destructive enemy quite easily. The part that draws us in is the pure terror we are shown when the characters see a Titan coming at them to devour them for the first time.
The series, like most great media, uses many allegorical themes. As the series progresses, many of the characters grapple with conversations about patriotism, duty, pursuit of knowledge, ethics, and their own mortality in extremely stressful ways. The experiences they go through feel real, because the animation and voice acting makes us believe it is real. We are pulled into the experience by the sudden frantic nature of a Titan appearing out of nowhere and characters having to react in the moment, with many characters not surviving when a Titan attacks. Many characters also experience survivor’s guilt, post-traumatic stress disorder, and shell shock, leading to a cogent anti-war message.
The series has its first season on Netflix but has all available seasons on Crunchyroll, a streaming service dedicated specifically to anime. “Attack on Titan” receives an A rating.