New To Blu: Attack On Titan Part 1

Attack on Titan got a stellar blu ray release this week. Read our review.

I have been out of the anime game for a spell, mostly because way too many new shows were coming out and I couldn’t keep up with the onslaught. Attack on Titan had been blowing up on the internet and when the whole series was available on Netflix, I decided to take the plunge. From the second the opening animation started this show had me absolutely hooked. It made me remember why I became enthralled with the world of anime in the first place.

Anime can be very derivative and cliché but Attack on Titan takes every opportunity to present its ideas in a fresh and engaging manner. All of humanity lives in a city that is encased in huge walls to protect them from giant monsters: Titans. Titans are gargantuan humanoid beings that look like naked people and have an insatiable hunger for human flesh. They are not unlike zombies, in a way, but don’t adhere to the normal undead conventions. The main protagonist, a young boy named Eren Yeager, witnesses a horrible act that changes the course of his and his friend’s lives forever.

Now, this series could have taken the normal Shōnen route and had epic battles and speeches about loyalty and trying your best, which it does, but it takes a darker and more tragic path than others in its genre. The first six episodes of this show has some of the most harrowing and upsetting things I have ever seen portrayed in an anime series. It plays with convention and takes you places you don’t expect to go. Don’t get me wrong, the action is spectacular, and the battles have incredible animation and choreography.

The humans form a task force known as the Survey Corps to attack the Titans. Since the Titans are huge, the soldiers have a personal rappel system called Vertical Maneuvering Equipment that lets them zip around the buildings and move around three dimensionally high up in the air. It makes for fast-paced and kinetic fights with everybody catapulting themselves around to get to better battle positions. The high quality animation makes watching these scenes absolutely exhilarating and I loved every second of it. Unfortunately, the animation does dip in quality during the story segments of the episodes but that happens in pretty much every anime TV series to save money. The look of the show is somewhat gothic with steampunk trappings; it fits the overall aesthetic and somber feel of the show perfectly.

If I can gush for a moment, Attack on Titan has one of the best soundtracks I have ever heard. The music is an interesting mix of church hymn style choir singing and heavy metal inspired guitar riffs.  It reminds me of the bad ass music on Revolutionary Girl Utena. It’s quite effective at establishing the mood of any particular scene and makes the action even more intense. The opening theme, Guren no Yumiy, is incredibly catchy and one of the most memorable I have heard in ages.  It’s definitely worth picking up a copy of the soundtrack if you can find it.

Attack on Titan does have one major flaw: the pacing. It has some of the worst pacing I have EVER seen in an anime.  Everything starts out with a bang, goes along at a breakneck pace then screeches to a halt midway through the season. I have no problem with exposition or character development but it’s obvious that these interludes are just stalling for time. There is absolutely no excuse for filler in a 26 episode TV series. Every single episode should move the plot along but we get side stories about minor characters that don’t matter and lengthy drawn out discussions about trivial matters. It really drags the entire series down. Luckily, the pace picks up again towards the end and it regains the quality of the early episodes.  It doesn’t ruin the series but can make for frustrating viewing.

If you are looking for a new anime to sink your teeth into, Attack on Titan is a good place to spend your time.  Even though it drags its feet at some points, the majority of it is so outstanding that it doesn’t matter. The entire series is currently available for streaming on Netflix and the first 13 episodes have been released on Blu-ray (with an English dub) by Funimation.

-Michelle Kisner