I just finished watching an amazing anime series that until recently I had no idea was so widely popular or even existed.
Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by titans. Titans are typically several stories tall, seem to have no intelligence, devour human beings and, worst of all, seem to do it for the pleasure rather than as a food source. A small percentage of humanity survived by walling themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of titans.
Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a titan in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a colossal titan that appears out of thin air. As the smaller titans flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single titan and take revenge for all of mankind.
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I hadn’t heard anything about this anime series whcn I came across it on Netflix streaming. I do like to watch anime, but I’m not what you’d call a hardcore fan. Some of my favorite animated movies are films like Spirited Away by Hayao Miyazaki who also created some of my other favorites such as Princess Monokoke (which is the movie, by the way, that was my initial introduction to the wonders of anime and manga), Howl’s Moving Castle, and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
But once I started watching Attack on Titan, I was hooked! This series drew me in a way a series hasn’t done in a long time. It’s an intoxicating mixture of steampunk, science-fiction, horror and mystery with giant man-eating monsters, unrequited love and a number of compelling coming-of-age stories thrown in for good measure and, interestingly enough, reminds me a lot of the newer incarnation of Battlestar Galactica.
Both series have humanity on the verge of extinction due to the predations of a seeming unbeatable and relentless foe. Both series don’t sugarcoat the darker emotions of its characters when dealing with such fear, despair and hopelessness.
In both Attack on Titan and Battlestar, the characters are not saints. They are all too human with the same fears, passions, doubts and frailties. And many of the citizens in Attack scheme and plot to make sure they prosper at the expense of others and even question the necessity of having to pay their hard-earned taxes supporting those who battle the titans!
In Attack on Titan, however, there are some subtle, but important differences. For one, the humans in Attack on Titan, unlike those in Battlestar, have no idea whatsoever where the titans came from or why they’re trying to wipe out humanity. The majority of the titans seem to be these dimwitted, giant eating machines. Except for the ones that are not so dimwitted, and those are the ones you really have to watch out for.
Also, in Attack on Titan, all of the main characters are in their teens, not adults like in Battlestar, and these kid warriors are the only thing standing between humanity and its utter destruction. They cry, they scream, they shudder in fear, they throw-up when abject terror overwhelms them, they argue about the futility of their duties and yearn to run away and hide and yet, when those same kids gear up and fly off to battle the titans, their tiny figures whirling and circling and slashing at these gigantic, horrific monsters, their bravery is all the more stirring.
It’s not a perfect series. Sometimes I think the emotions are a bit overwrought and there are also scenes where the characters spend a little too much time debating the rightness or wrongness of their actions. But those are minor quibbles.
When the action starts, all that’s forgotten. I finished the 25 episodes in just over a week and was quite put out when I discovered there was no Season 2 yet! Oh, the humanity! How can this be! Say it isn’t so!
But, apparently, hopefully, there will be a Season 2. I hope so. I can’t just be left hanging like that. It’s too cruel. 🙂
Here’s the trailer for the series: