Eren Yeager has grown up in a city surrounded by walls. Three in fact and they are the only things keeping the titans (really large humanoid monsters) from eradicating what is left of humankind. However, Eren wants out of the city. Then, a titan breaches the gate and Eren’s world comes crumbling down. Training as a soldier, Eren eventually gets to fight against the titans.
Attack on Titan is another one of those shows that will blow you away with the opening. The music, the action sequences, the sheer horror and visual feast presented in episode 1 just kind of freeze you in place glued to the screen. It hits every nerve and makes you just sit and take it in. And that high emotion can carry you clear to the end of this first series if you let it. However, what you find when you step back from those emotions is that while Attack on Titan is amazing in so many ways, there are some issues sitting beneath it that just continue to threaten to unravel your viewing experience.
Firstly, I have to be honest and point out that I fell in love with this series in minutes of watching the first episode. I rewatched that first episode so many times I lost count, but it kind of did everything you would ever want from a first episode in an anime. We met the characters, knew what the threat was, and felt that threat. We weren’t just told titans were bad or scary. We saw them literally tear Eren’s world apart and lay waste to the town. It wasn’t the gore that sold this episode (although visually it is quite confronting). It is the way we see this destruction from the multiple perspectives. We see it from Eren’s point of view as he is helpless to save his mother. We see other characters who are either running or hiding or crying or trying to fight and failing. We get down and personal with them even though we only know some of these characters for a short space of time. But we also see the bigger picture. We get the sweeping shots of the city and the overhead view. We see the titans looking down at the fleeing humans and you can’t help but see ants scurrying from the rain. It’s an intense first episode and sets up a world and a conflict that are inherently interesting and clear.
The rest of season one maintains this clarity of titans bad but it does spend a lot of time muddying its own waters by building in multiple human conspiracies. While this is not necessarily a problem in terms of narrative, and is in fact needed unless all you want is human vs monster conflict, the issue is that very few of the characters in Attack on Titan are anything more that the mouth-piece of whatever ideal is needed in that setting. Actually, if we are honest, most of the characters shout. A lot. Repeatedly. I really, really wish some of these characters would stop shouting (Eren particularly).
Possibly if these sub-plots (although it kind of feels like some of these human conflicts are going to end up being fairly important to the main plot) had been handled better or if the characterisation had been up to it this could have been a really interesting way to flesh out the world established in episode 1. Instead it all feels like clutter and a distraction from something that was infinitely more interesting.
By the time we get out of the city with Eren (okay, and Levi who is probably the coolest character I’ve come across in a modern action anime) the level of excitement has gone down significantly but this is where they start turning that around. The speed at which the extras get knocked off in this sequence (even though they are apparently trained for this) is disheartening (which I think is the point given we’ve kind of been led to believe they have a chance and this clearly shows they don’t). At every stage after this you get the distinct impression that these characters are well out of their depth and that sense of shared helplessness really helps drive home the drama as they struggle against the fate of dying without accomplishing their goals.
Of course, there’s no getting around the elephant in the room. It didn’t end and then season 2 got pushed back and back. Season 2 is meant to come out this year so let’s hope but at the moment no matter how amazing an experience you had with Attack on Titan all you’ve been left with are questions, spin-offs and adaptations.
I know I haven’t spent a lot of time on characters. There are actually some pretty cool characters in this story but all of their character journey’s have been cut short at this point and time due to the story just stalling. So I’ll do a better review of the series as a whole once I know where they go. That and any of the extras we meet are likely to just get eaten anyway.
Essentially if you like action with high stakes and a bit of horror, aren’t turned off by gore, and you don’t mind characters who aren’t fully realised, then Attack on Titan will amaze you. It’s beautiful, fast paced, and dramatic and when it is at its best it truly shines and those moments will carry you over the slower bits. If we actually get a continuation that matches the feel and quality of season 1 then this could be a very memorable anime. Otherwise I think it is one of those ones that had its moment in the sun but without finishing won’t have staying power.
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32 thoughts on “Attack on Titan Series Review”
Loved the first season, but it has felt like forever waiting on season 2.
Yes. I would have preferred not knowing anything about a season 2 until they were ready. Rather than constant dates and then push backs.
It took me forever to watch this, I did it a few months ago, because of the hype and not wanting to be disappointed. Definitely agree that it grabs the viewer and doesn’t let up, I love that. I had to bingewatch it nonstop because it was just that good 👀✨
Tbh I didn’t expect a lot of the characters to die, it was gutwrenching but I liked it. Felt like no one is truly safe in that series 👌
I really really want s2 to be as good as the first, cause I need it to be good ORZ
I can;t wait for Season 2
I never finished this anime. I got halfway through and had such a hard time keeping up with who was who and the gore was a bit too much for me. I may try re-watching it again because before I didn’t watch it on a consistant basis so that probably contributed to my confusion and lack of caring about the series.
If the gore was a problem, then the show probably isn’t for you. It definitely goes for sensationalising gore as often as it can get away with it.
Attack on Titan will definitely remain one of my alltime favorite Animeseries. But I agree that it is not perfect. The 2nd part of the season did at times feel like it was dragging out the story. That said though it is still a fantastic series, and I can’t wait for the start of season 2. Great and well written review (as always😊)
Great review! Even I fell in love with the series right from the first episode. It was so well executed. The female titan arc was my favourite, though.
Looking forward to season 2.
I loved this show and can’t wait for season 2
Oddly enough, I wasn’t really hooked on this until the fourth episode or so. The first episode did get me interested but it took time for that tiny seed to interest to grow into something substantial. By the Trost arc, I was firmly a fan.
Agreed that the characters don’t get too fleshed out and that Eren yells a lot. The latter irritated me at first but I got over that eventually. The conspiracy issues and slow-paced episodes are ones I liked so I don’t share your disappointment.
For now, I’m enjoying the manga a lot so I really hope that s2 will be as impressive as s1.
I think the conspiracies could work if any of them go anywhere but as it stands everythings just kind of left hanging. If the continuation was not going to happen, or was that far away, I’d have rather they simplified the story and kept it cohesive. However, if and when this gets a continuation, I’ll re-evaluate season 1 because so much of it depends on what happens next.
It’s funny I had never really realized that everyone was shouting. I mean I guess I just thought it was normal because they were i6n grave danger most of the time but Eren really shouts A LOT… it’s a bit irritating but I guess it’s part of his brooding/hating teenager seeking revenge kind of personality. I find it really odd that they have delayed the second season so much especially given the sucess this anime had. I wonder if that’s a sign of the greatness (or lack there of) of the second season…
This would be the worst drinking game ever. Every time someone shouts… You wouldn’t make it through the first episode.
Definitely a show that nailed the first episode. The rest is still decently solid, if, as you said, a bit on the shouty side. Part of what makes Levi stand out so much is the lack of shouting on his part.
One of the things that really kind of struck me was that they got away with the characters not being fully realized, largely because within the context of the story, it was okay if they were a bit broad in terms of characterization. Half the first season is just dealing with the walls being breached, while the second half concerns itself more with the existence on the infiltrators. There’s always so much going on, the characters being a bit two dimensional actually kind of serves the needs of the story better than if they were more fleshed out.
Which is really weird, and something I think only this show could ever get away with.
Yeah, the focus of this story always stays ery broad on the world itself so the characters really do just need to give us something to attach to for the moment. Though, at times it seemed like they were trying to give us a bigger character focus but the characters just weren’t up for the task and those are the scenes that started to drag. (And Levi’s lack of shouting was definitely one of his appeals.)
This is a really, really good write up on a show I haven’t watched in three years. The description you gave of the first episode really brought me back to that moment where I watched it and also fell in love.
I’ve been meaning to give this series a rewatch before the second season, less because I’m forgetting the events than because I want to see how it holds up to scrutiny from my more seasoned eyes. I also want to bundle the Levi OVAs into that.
I think a lot of people will be rewatching this should the second season actually be coming. It’s one of htose things that they’ve given us so many dates I somehow don’t think I’ll believe it until I actually see episodes being released.