Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin): Season 1 Review

I have always been curious why there has been a strong following for Funimation’s anime series Shingeki No Kyojin aka Attack on Titan. Fans of the show often keep an ear out for updates and spoilers and react strongly to deviations to the plot committed by the live-action adaptation (which I plan to see once I’m caught up on the anime). Now that I’m hooked to the series as well, I understand the success behind this gripping show that has more layers than an onion and puts its fans through the wringer with each intense sequence.

Synopsis: Eren Yeager and his family live in a world where humankind is protected from giant cannibals called Titans by huge walls built to surround their overpopulated communities. When the wall breached and his family is killed, Eren, his adopted sister Mikasa and good friend Armin decide to become soldiers to avenge their fate and destroy the Titans once and for all.

I must say that the first three episodes of Attack on Titan was pretty slow but after the fall of Wall Maria, things began to get interesting as Eren and his friends began to navigate through life as cadets.

Its interesting how Eren was built up as a hero from the beginning with his single-minded goal of exacting vengeance from the Titans. He was a standout because he compelled people to take action with his words and with his deeds. When he mysteriously develops the skills to produce and control a Titan, so to speak, things become more complicated and audiences make no mistake that the stakes have been raised tenfold.

I loved that within one season, the story was organized by arcs. This made the flow of the story clear and effective. I liked that as the story progressed, the series revisited the same time but only with different perspectives to underscore Eren’s evolution. As the series told the main story, it also did not forget to connect the characters’ backstories which deepened the viewers understanding of their personalities and how the Titan plague has shaped them.

While Eren was the main character this season, the series made sure to develop other characters as well such as the naturally skilled Mikasa Ackerman who stops at nothing to protect the only family she has left. Armin, who lacks proficiency in fighting, stands out as an excellent tactician. Jean, a selfish and ambitious cadet turned upright and loyal soldier. There’s also Commander Erwin Smith who leads the Scout Regiment and my very favorite character of the lot, Captain Levi Ackerman (relationship to Mikasa to be explored in further chapters).

There were also other team members and cadets that played memorable parts but not everyone made it out of this season alive, succumbing to brutal deaths either being eaten or crushed by the Titans. Actually, I think one of the reasons audiences find themselves so invested in Attack on Titan is the series’ ability to develop characters so well and its ruthlessness in killing off these characters just as fans begin to root for them. Its pretty sadistic but effective.

Its just a testament to the creators’ commitment to make a statement that no character is truly safe, raising the stakes even higher. Elite teams are decimated in a matter of one sequence, plans fall apart, lives are lost to seemingly endless degrees and mankind is not even given ample time to mourn before the next assault is mounted.

There’s also great dialogue that inspires as well as piques curiosity. There’s a lot of bravado in the words but in a world ruled by brainless giants who see people as tasty snacks, one would need all the inspiration they could get. The coded conversations are also something to think about as it leads to more questions.

Its pretty tiring to follow. Yet, at the same time, it engages the audiences adrenaline. The fact that its also an intelligent series that continues to raise questions about Eren’s abilities, the Scout Regiment’s main objectives, the origin of the Titans as well as their identities, makes for a great subject of puzzlement, discussion and speculation. No wonder the forums are always abuzz with theories.

Attack on Titan, compared to most manga adaptations, does not care about sanitizing its content for its audience. It understands what needs to be done and makes no qualms doing it, just like the characters it successfully creates within a world filled with horror and uncertainty. Some can’t help but be drawn to this series because of the countless mysteries yet to be uncovered, but once one starts watching, its pretty hard to quit.