Why you should watch Attack on Titan…
By Ohi Ahimie
The latest season of Attack on Titan just finished premiering, and the show will return in early 2022. That means you have lots of time to catch up. I suggest you do so.
What is Attack on Titan? It is a popular shonen anime (Japanese animation) and manga (Japanese comic book) series that pits the last vestige of humanity against a bizarre race of killer monsters called Titans. The manga first started publication in 2009 in Bessatsu Magazine and recently concluded on April 9th, 2021. The series is writer and illustrator Hajime Isayama’s debut work, and it quickly exploded into popularity. The series was first adapted into animation in 2013 by Production I.G, known for series like Psycho-Pass and Ghost in the Shell. Attack on Titan is one of the best-selling manga ever, with over 100 million copies sold. It streams on Crunchyroll, Funimation, Amazon Prime, and Hulu.
Shonen literally means “young boy” in Japanese, and refers to a type of anime typically aimed at its titular audience. A stereotypical series features a (typically) young male protagonist who’s a bit of a rascal, but ultimately good at heart; this is a very hero-centric genre. The Hero often discovers he has magical powers or some kind of martial arts ability (often both), and goes on adventures, fighting stronger and stronger opponents, learning life lessons about growing up, and saving the world with the power of friendship. This is all done with a large cast of colorful characters.
To oversimplify, shonen are Japanese action-fantasy hero’s journey stories. They’re great fun and beloved by millions around the world. If you’ve met someone who loves Dragon Ball or Naruto, you know a shonen fan. In fact, if you liked Harry Potter or Percy Jackson, you’ll probably like shonen anime.
What’s Attack on Titan about? Humanity is all but gone, and the perpetrators are a race of giant humanoids called Titans who prey on us. Humanity’s last bastion is a collection of towns and cities entirely enclosed behind three incredibly large and sturdy walls. No one knows where the Titans came from, or remembers how the walls were erected. Despite the ongoing apocalypse, the walls successfully keep Titans out, so times have been relatively peaceful.
Barely escaping and scarred from by his mother’s death, Eren Jaeger vows to join the Scout Regiment – the division of the military that specializes in recon missions beyond the walls and in combat against Titans. The Scouts’ new mission is to figure out the mystery behind the seemingly coordinated wall attacks, as well as to fight off the invasion as best they can.
Attack on Titan is a dark fantasy story and, despite the shonen tag, is not a children’s show. It’s violent and gory, but also tackles some mature themes. The show really makes you feel the despair of living as one of the last members of the human race, awaiting your inevitable extinction. Attack on Titan is a war story that pulls no punches.
“War is hell” is something that a lot of action media feel obligated to trot out, but seldom do so in a way that doesn’t feel hollow. Not this series. The devastation of war is one of the main themes. There is a real human cost of war and the characters do what they do because they feel like they truly have no other choices.
I don’t want to say too much (this is an extremely spoilable show), but this story goes a lot of surprising places for one where fighting monsters is the main focus. Conversations can be tenser than any fight scene. Oh, and I hope you like plot twists.
Speaking of war, let’s talk about the action. The Scouts use special mobility gear to perform attacks on Titans. This equipment shoots tethers into buildings (or Titans) and allows the users to move with extreme speed and agility – perfect for large, slow enemies. The characters use these devices to maneuver around and get to weak spots around the nape of Titan necks where they finish the job with swords.
Other anime have the problem of trying to visually stand out in a medium full of martial arts and energy blasts – while they have the same thing going on. In this show, everyone is Spiderman. There is a lot of fast paced, high flying action as the soldiers weave around the geography of their city and onto the dangerous enemies they fight.
And did I mention that it’s beautifully animated? I love the fluidity of the camera motions like in the gif above. That and the way objects smoothly move onscreen really sell the movement! Just look at all the building whizz by. It’s always fun to see the characters do midair acrobatics and pull off daring maneuvers. Many a Titan is killed in exciting and stylish fashion.
It would be criminal for me to not mention this series’ music before I wrap up. I have to start with the first season’s iconic opening Guren no Yumiya (translation: Crimson Bow and Arrow) which tells you what to expect from this show: epic themes and rock music.
It’s not all adrenaline pumping battle themes, however, as the show also has music like season 3’s more emotional Apple Seed.
Now that you’ve been thoroughly convinced, here’s some viewing information.
There are four seasons of Attack on Titan, but the third season was split into two parts. A similar thing is happening with the fourth and final season, the first part of which premiered from December 7 to March 29 this year. So even though we will have to wait until 2022 to continue the series, it will still be considered the fourth season.
Since it just premiered, the fourth season has no translations yet. So, if you don’t like subtitles, you’ll have to wait a bit, though I think the best way to watch is in the original Japanese.
To watch the first three seasons in English, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Funimation have your back. For Japanese, you can watch on Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Funimation. These are also the services where you can watch the latest season. Funimation seems to have the most amount of language options, with audio and subtitles for English, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.
Attack on Titan is a show that has enticed me with its refreshing mix of classic shonen tropes and sharp deviations from others in the field, as well as a riveting story. I hope it does the same for you.