Attack on Titan is not just the best Anime of last year, but one of the best stories period.
2013 turned out to be a banner year for entertainment. I cannot remember a year in recent memory where more phenomenal movies came out that will have a lasting impression on cinema for years to come. It is also the year of, The Last of Us, a Video Game that transcended its genre and became one of the greatest stories of any medium, while pushing the envelope and setting a new bar for the gaming experience. However, quite possibly the greatest surprise this year came out of Japanese anime in the form of the massively popular show Attack on Titan.
Do not stop reading just because I said the word anime. For some this a taboo equated with cartoons for children, but hear me out.
Attack on Titan tells the story of a world, that at one time must have been our own, but is now overrun by giant human looking creatures known as Titans. These Titans have no motivation other then to eat people, and this caused the population of the world to dwindle into such minuscule numbers that the population lives in a small circle on a map surrounded by giant walls. The Titans have been dormant for years until out of nowhere they attack and destroy another 20 percent of the population. So the military must take action.
I will say no more about the plot for it would ruin the absolute whirlwind experience of watching it. However, I do want to make note of the things that make it unique and why if you never saw, or are a fan of anime, it will piqué your interest and show its genius. You cannot help but get caught up in the brilliant characters, world, and story that is Attack on Titan.
Zero Evidence of Anime Convention: I grew up with anime and love its specific style and storytelling tropes such as chibi characters, exaggerated features, giant robots. But, the absence of all of this is one of Titan’s greatest moves. There is not a note of anything that is a common anime trope (except for the intensity and maturity of the tale). The show’s animation style and European/American influences on storytelling, sets it apart from other anime. The allegory is deep, powerful and based in a realism.
To Fight a Monster, Become a Monster: Titan does not beat around the bush nor shove commentary down your throat. It’s an examination on war and how it affects those involved. The literal allegory of humans fighting giant-sized human-looking monsters is ripe with themes of Man vs Self, Man vs Progress, Man vs Man’s own grandiosity peppered through the narrative. It delves deep into the disappearance of humanity when we are a witness or participant to major acts of violence. It also poses a very important question – How far must one go to defeat a threat so great it could actually destroy existence? Is becoming a monster yourself, loosing part of your humanity, the only successful way to victory? If so, what is the cost of that victory and is too great? These questions are constantly bombarding your moral ideology as you watch the show and it breeds intense thoughts and moral discussions.
Pacing and Intensity up to 11: The story hits you like a freight train. By the middle of the 26 episode first season it will be hard not marathon through the last part. It makes daring choices, pays HUGE dividend and will have you begging for the second season to start (it hasn’t yet). I must also note that the action is hard-hitting, brutal, unflinching – something anime tend to do very well but this has a grit to it that forces massive visceral reactions.
Do yourself a favor, whether you are an anime fan or foe, this show is on par with the greatest TV currently airing: House of Cards, Mad Men, and Game of Thrones. It is foreign, subtitled, and animated but that is not something to fear. Many of the greatest works of art are, and when it is transcendent of its medium your consciousness ignores preconceptions and they become as easy to watch as any American show/movie. It is on Netflix Instant as well as Hulu+. By the 4th episode you will be totally hooked.
I will wait here for you. I am sure there is a lot you will want to talk about once you experience this epic one of a kind work.