Check-in Station: Attack on Titan ep1 (attack of the pessimistic children)
Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) is THE anime that I’m excited for this season. That and Railgun S. So I’m going to be honest and let you guys know that I’m not exactly impartial to this series. But I can still definitely be fair and avoid being a fanboy. I came across this series after someone tweeted some very kind words about it. I read the first dozen or so chapters and was hooked. It was one of those manga that was just relentlessly brutal, fiendishly goring and swam in a river of hopelessness. It also has a very nice twist not too long after you get past the prologue. The only reason I stopped reading was because I needed a break from the intensity. And before I felt like going back, I got word that it had been greenlit for an anime adaptation. Since animation is pretty much my favorite form of entertainment that doesn’t require me to be 21 or older, I decided to give the manga a break and wait to see how the anime turns out. I can always return to the manga, plus I personally believe that like movie adaptation to books, it’s hard to be impartial when watching an anime that has been adapted from a manga you’re intimately familiar with. So past a certain part of this story, I’ll be as ignorant as most anyone who hasn’t touched the manga. Now that I got all that out of the way, it’s time to see how I liked the first episode of this series, minus the manga snobbery.
I’m not gonna get too into the synopsis for this episode. It’s very straight forward. I’m gonna focus more on the characters this time around, specifically three very important children. A trio of kids are introduced in this episode. Two boys and a girl. The boys are very pessimistic about their world, but in different ways. And the girl, Misaka, is just kinda living her life in a very nonchalant way. If you’re familiar with American television’s Walking Dead, she comes to remind me Michionne. A very strong, too-the-point and quiet character, who you’ll learn is incredibly athletic/physically gifted. She’s also sort of an adopted sister to one of the boys, Eren.
Eren, I suppose, is THE main character. The episode certainly focuses on his views and frustrations with the world. And he’s intensely headstrong, especially for someone in as complacent a world as the one he currently lives in. A place that though it may be surrounded by giant man-eaters, is full of people just content to live in their sanctuary and not progress or fight back. Speaking of fight back, he seems to have obsessive desire to join the Recon Corps. A group of soldiers that venture beyond the wall to learn of the outside world and try to find weaknesses in the titans. They pretty much suck, as is shown by the very dramatic scene of defeated group of them returning from beyond the wall with nothing to show for their effort save their comrades severed body parts.
Come to think of it, the soldiers’ commander gave a dead soldier’s mother his arm. How the f*ck is that a consolation?! That’s g*ddamn disturbing! If his d*ck was the only thing left would you plop it down in her arms? Just tell the b*tch he died valiantly while trying to fight his way out of the titan’s mouth. Instead you have to cry to everyone about how you’re an unsuccessful, sh*t commander? Sheesh! That was the present to the mother, and by extension to the village. A severed arm! Brilliant.
The other boy is Armin, a somewhat pessimistic and weak boy about Eren’s age. He’s first shown getting stomped by a pair of bullies for stating his view that the village isn’t safe just because of the wall. He should learn that making people scared, tends to make them defensive. He may take less punches to the face that way. Regardless, he’ll eventually come to be the brains of the group. Should he survive, of course. There’s a lot of death to be had in this show.
There’s a lot of build up in this episode to its climax. It does a good job of establishing what the “normal” is for this world, and some of its complacency. All that is effectively shattered when the ultra-titan (practically a god) shows up and kicks in the 50 meter high wall (you can’t forget the height, they repeat it constantly throughout the episode). From that moment, the fear and panic sets in, and you start to see the shows capacity for violence, gore and pure soul extinguishing death. Everything kills people, not just the titans, but their actions. When the ultra-titan kicks in the wall, you see people violently blown away. Surely killed by the impact wherever they land. You see people crushed by the massive chunks of debris from the wall. You even see people struggle who have survived, but are unable to move because they’ve been incapacitated by the attack, like Eren’s mom. Her death was probably the first instance of censorship that I noticed. It’s not that bad, and I don’t know if they’re gonna show it when the show is released for purchase. But if this makes anyone feel better about it, I’ll tell them that if you see them cut away from something, imagine its goriest outcome and that’s what happened. I guarantee. So yeah, what that titan did before biting into Eren’s mom; he really did what you thought he did. As if the poor woman wasn’t already broken as it is.
This development really sucks for Eren’s dad, who is a doctor. He takes off before the attack for business inside one of the inner walls. But the geography and political landscape of this show will explain itself soon enough. So I’m not gonna get into why he’s meeting with people there, or about the multiple walls that keep out the titans.
In essence, I’d say this show was very effective with its first episode. It has to straddle the line between being entertaining in the format of animation, while still attempting to divulge the important details and atmosphere of the world that the manga fans love. Though I will say (as strange as this may sound), that some parts did seem a little overly dramatic. The scene with Recon Corps returning was pretty good, but when the commander starting screaming about his failures and you saw the speed/drama lines all over the place for dramatic effect, I thought that was a bit too much and silly. And this isn’t manga snobbery, this is anime snobbery. I just didn’t like the direction for some parts of that scene.
As much as any show that I’ve watched since I started the blog, I plan to see this series through to the end. That’s a high commitment considering that the show doesn’t even have a set number of episodes, yet. But after seeing the superb effort put into this first episode, it gives me hope that this will be a long running quality production along the lines of something like Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Again, an extremely high standard since I thought the effort, and detail that went into Brotherhood was outstanding. But that’s where I’m throwing the majority of my chips for this production. Other shows I merely hope to enjoy and have fun. I’m passionate about Attack on Titan.