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REVIEW: "Attack on Titan" (Season 1)

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I completely agree. When I started Shingeki I thought it was gonna be an epic tale with awesome characters and a really, unpredictable story with lots of action. The beginning was precisely that, and I love the first arc, but then... it started to change a bit. The second arc felt somewhat different, but it was ok, but the next ones... Meh...

 

Currently I don't really like the manga anymore, it's monthly and the last chapters have been boring, also it's like I'm reading a different story! Like it has gone too far from the actual plot. This is not what I expected to see... I hope this changes.

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(Warning: The following review contains nothing except my opinion. Do not take any of my words as fact, for your mile may vary. Also, another warning, this review is going to be loooong.)

 Yep. I said I’d do it so here I am. Welcome, good people of KH13, to my first ever review of an anime series. I’ll be tackling the overly popular and, in my opinion, the abundantly over-hyped “Attack On Titan”.  I’m just going to say this right here and now: most people who will read this will probably get pissed of by it. But, I assure you as a reviewer, I will at least try to be fair and concise with my judgment, even if those judgements may be a little on the negative side. Then again, It’s no secret I’ve spent more time finding error in the show than good; you can easily tell if you’ve been following my statuses about my thoughts on the the show since it started airing on Toonami, so maybe negativity was what most of you were expecting from me. However, I can’t just sit here and bash everything, I have to do it in a fair manner. Besides, before anybody says I hate Attack On Titan, I’ll just say right here, there are things about the show that I like that save it from me declaring it to be absolute trash. Now then, let’s get to the review itself. As per usual, the review itself will be kept inside a spoiler tag because I want to speak freely about the show without spoiling too much for those who haven’t seen it and because, frankly, if you watch any other review of mine, you know that I assume my audience has already completed the to-be-reviewed material. So, strap into your maneuver gear and let’s get started:

 

 

Most of you already know the plot of Attack On Titan very well, but for the sake of the review, I’ll summarize it in my own words: Attack On Titan, also known by its original Japanese name Shingeki No Kyojin, is a 25 episode anime series based off the manga of the same name, adapting the first four canon arcs from the original manga. The show is set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans are forced to remain in closed-off settlements due to the outbreak of Titans, giant monsters who seek nothing but to exterminate the human race by eating them all. Our main character is Eren Jaeger, a member of the civilization’s army who seeks revenge on the Titans for killing his mother. He is joined by Mikasa Ackerman, Eren’s adoptive sister, as well as their childhood friend Armin Arlet and various other characters featured in the military as they all seek to eliminate the Titan threat once and for all.

 
Let me get this out of the way first: when I first watched Attack On Titan, I watched the original Japanese version, and I found it both boring and hard to follow due to the lack of diversity in the voice cast. This is something that I usually find fault in with most Japanese dubs in anime, but with AoT, it really hindered my experience to invest in both the characters and plot. So I greatly prefer the English dub instead, which has a much more distinct cast, better script, and notable voice actors whose work I happen to enjoy very much, one example being Bryce Papenbrook as our main Eren.
 
Now then, let’s start with the story: the story follows Eren and his friends from their time as normal kids, to the tragedy that would inspire them to join the military, to their training, to their assignment to the military and exploits following from there. The biggest thing about the plot in AoT is its full of twists and turns, which don’t really make the plot good per se, but I’ll get to that later. The first big twist comes after Eren and the others are given their first mission to guard one of the many walls that serve as the barriers of their civilization. They are then immediately ambushed and Eren, surprisingly, is eaten. But even more surprising, Eren survives and we discover that he has the ability to transform into a Titan himself. From this point on, the focus shifts over to Eren and his struggle to control his new power while dealing with the uneasiness of his military peers. The story shifts focus again, and for the last time, when its revealed that a Female Titan exists (all the known Titans were primarily male up until this point) and that it is another human like Eren who is able to shift into Titan form; this human is Annie Lockhart, a soldier featured in the beginning of the series but never given too much depth until this particular arc. Eventually, both Eren and Annie fight in Titan form. Eren manages to demobilize her, but instead of killing her, she’s kept in captivity until further information can be extracted, and at least for now, the civilization has a period of peace as the higher-ups decide that they have to make dealing with Eren and any other Titan shifters a major priority.
 
Here’s the first problem I have with AoT: the story, after starting off strong and fast-paced, fluctuates between slow and fast paced throughout the rest of the anime, which deeply annoys me. That is just a minor issue however. The second problem I have is much more in-depth, and that is: the story, or actually the themes surrounding the story, is flawed. Immensely. The main theme is the strength of humanity combating a threat that seeks to eliminate humanity, but here’s the thing: humanity sucks ass. We constantly see the soldiers of the military act like a bunch of pansies. And yes, I understand that they are facing a great threat and deserve to be scared, but there’s a difference between emphasizing that and emphasizing that the characters are all chicken shits. For crying out loud, we get a scene with someone trying to be resuscitated and Armin starts crying and says that they’re all living in Hell. Yeah sure, a dude getting CPR is tragic as Hell, not at all like the scenes of soldiers getting slaughtered prior to that scene. That’s when you know the show is trying too hard. Not only are they chicken shits, but they’re all almost fodder. 
 
Every time you see the soldiers fight the Titan, ninety percent of the time they get squashed or eaten. I get it, the Titans are a powerful opponent, but is it so hard to make the soldiers at least understandably weak against them? Like, instead of seeing them get picked off one by one while the ones just waiting to get wrecked are screaming their heads off? Yeah, these guys aren’t soldiers. They’re just, like I said, fodder. Pure fodder trying and failing to invoke emotion from the audience.
 
It’s even brought up in the last episode, the idea of “abandoning humanity” and “fight fire with fire”... and then making that seem like a giant letdown on the character's part, which is also stupid, but that's not the point. This could had done this a hell of a lot earlier and saved us some trouble, instead of trying to force the opposite message down so bad that you have the main character get eaten on his first job. It’s almost as bad as making him into some kind of martyr because the government doesn’t know how to function in the slightest. Idiots.
 

Speaking of Eren, I have a problem with him. A big problem, as well as with Mikasa and Armin. I absolutely cannot stand our three mains at all, at least in the beginning. By the end, they turned out to be more tolerable for me, and I’ve even agreed with a lot of the things they’ve done and said too, but still, “tolerable” is about as nice as I will be with them. 
 
Let’s start with Eren: he is simply one of the most arrogant, semi-psychopathic bad leads I’ve seen. I mean, really, his motivation is to kill the Titans because he wants revenge for the death of his mother, I understand that bit completely, there’s nothing wrong with that… buuut, then we see that Eren spends more time talking shit to others because of his own obsessions and trying to force people to adhere to his own standards as well as talking shit about killing the Titans and looking like a creepy bastard who needs therapy while doing so. And then of course, he gets eaten, so there’s that. He then goes on to show how much of a confused and brain dead dude he really is after his Titan transformation and following, and even more creepy and insane looking when he talks about killing Titans. I mean, am I supposed to feel sorry for him? I’d rather send him to an insane asylum. I’ll give him one thing though: his treatment by some of his “comrades” because of his Titan shifting powers is really uncalled for. In fact, most of the higher-ups in his show are even more stupid than the World Government from One Piece; seriously, this civilization is run my morons. Okay, that’s the last time I insult them.
 
Speaking of Eren, let me bring this up before I move on: some people tend to believe that the twist in the plot where we find out Eren can turn into a Titan ruins the concept of the humans defending themselves against the Titans just based on their skills and the use of their maneuver gear. What do I think. Good. Fantastic even. Yeah, I don’t care at all for that argument. Why? Because like I’ve said already, the humans are pansies. The theme is already shit, so yeah, you might as well throw in the Titan thing, because at least that is a way that the humans can hold a candle in this conflict rather than just being fodderized left and right. Not to mention that it’s actually a lot more entertaining. 
 
In fact, as I now segue into some more positive commentary, I love seeing Eren, and especially Annie later on, beef up into Titan form and start tearing shit up. Those moments and fight scenes are some of the best that this show has to offer, and its helped along with their great production in terms of animation and music. And honestly, I love seeing all the other Titans, especially the bigger and more badass looking ones like the Colossal Titan, create chaos and beat down the human soldiers. They are literally like forces of nature, demolishing anything that comes in their way.
 
Now back to the negative, and continuing with my distaste for the main cast, starting with Mikasa. Mikasa has to be one of the most wooden and over-glorified female leads I have ever have to witness in any medium. She is the combination of Kristen Stewart and an unchained bulldog who doesn’t know how to stay still or keep her mouth shut. Her entire existence just feels like some kind of annoying fly that keeps buzzing around in my face, telling me to care about her because the internet has her on some kind of pedestal, too. Her whole character is solely directed at Eren, being Eren’s protecter, being strong enough to protect Eren. She is, by definition, a static character, as well as a satellite character and dare I say a flat character. That's not exactly a bad a thing, but it still has to be done right, and for Mikasa, it's not. She has no personality and her only purpose in life is to be Eren's overbearing nanny. Another thing: everything about this character feels forced. Her backstory, for example: her parents being killed, her being kidnapped, her being saved by Eren, and her killing her kidnappers, all of that just feels like a forced, emotional play just for the sake of giving her a sad backstory. That is not how you make a good character. It is how you make a boring and uninteresting character because she still has no personality. At all.
 
Now for Armin: not too much to say about Armin really. Not as much as Mikasa or Eren that is. My problem with Armin is that he is just wasted potential, and he’s also annoying as sin, probably the most annoying character in the show. One of his defining traits is that he is not the typical solider and is better suited with brains rather than brawn. However, whenever the show wants to establish that, they simply just make Armin even more of a bitch and even more annoying for me to put up with. Whenever he’s not acting like a scared mouse monologues to himself to get a point across to the audience and/or just pointlessly, he’s screaming or crying to himself like a scared baby. I literally can not believe how he is handled in this show at all.
 
As for other characters, there are actually a lot I can speak highly of. In fact, every character I like can not even be considered a main character in the slightest. My favorite character is actually Jean, a solider who starts off as an antagonist to Eren and somebody who seeks to live the easy life of a military policeman instead of fighting on the front lines. However, he eventually learns the importance of doing his duty as well as being a leader to his fellow comrades. He still acts like a bit of an asshole, but at least he’s an interesting asshole who gains some integrity, unlike Eren, our supposed “hero”. Other characters I like are Levi, Eren’s no-shit-taking superior; Hange, one of Levi’s teammates and a mad scientist type character who is just entertaining to watch by herself. Others include Pixis, Erwin, Annie, Connie, and Sasha a.k.a. Potato Girl. The only problems I have with this is that none of them are given that much time on screen at all, which is a crying shame to be honest. I'd kill for less Eren, Mikasa, and Armin.
 
One last note about characters: another comment about this anime in why it’s so “great” is that is has the atmosphere of knowing that any character can die at any moment… yeah, after the whole Titan shifting concept was thrown in with Eren, I call serious bullshit on that. Also, barely anybody actually important dies in the anime anyway, so it’s all for nothing if that’s even the case at all. In fact, main and side characters don't even get fodderized or anything. It's always the grunts, which also brings down that ideal.
 
Closing thoughts: Attack On Titan has some good ideas in it, and it was handled very well production wise and especially action wise. But as far as writing goes, it really needs some improvement. It feels like its trying too hard, trying to force emotion as make a complex story with plot twists but in reality just turning it into a great, big mess, of characters who I don’t care for, characters I actually do care for but don’t get the recognition they deserve, characters who act like idiots, and overall, themes and messages that I think are weak and contrived, including making humans and soldiers alike look like pussies, even when it goes into a better direction. Score? 6/10. Just shy of average.

 

That is my review for Attack On Titan, in all of its brutally honest detail, and just to clarify, I’m not going to watch the second season or read the manga, though that’s probably obvious. Make sure to leave to your own thoughts below, but remember: no fighting or bashing. This review, once again, is strictly opinion.

I definitely agree with this too, what you said in this for the most part were my gripes about this series, i don't see the hype for it or like it TBH. That being said...Be prepared for the rage that's going to come after you've said this. :

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My hands to you sir.

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I agree with everything. When I watched AoT I had high expectations from all of the hype and k recieved a huge let down. I don't like any of the main characters except Jean and a few others. AoT might be my least favorite anime, and I didnt really enjoy watching it at all. The over hype it gets bugs me. And don't worry, if you get a lot of rage in the next few posts don't worry, I'm here with ya bro. ;) this is KH13, so I don't think anyone's gonna be all like pissed off. This ain't Reddit.

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I completely agree with you, though I actually enjoyed SNK quite a lot. The action was great, and I quite liked some of the characters too. I didn't watch it for the plot so I didn't really mind it being weak.

Though I gotta say I liked how they made humans seem so weak compared to the titans, they wouldn't stand a chance against them without [spoiler!] Eren transforming into a titan (though that was a dumb plot twits IMO). More important characters should've died, though, to make the show more believeable.

 

I think the overhype is killing the series. People expect too much and are let down when it turns out not to be as good as they thought and then they start hating the whole thing.

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I completely agree with you, though I actually enjoyed SNK quite a lot. The action was great, and I quite liked some of the characters too. I didn't watch it for the plot so I didn't really mind it being weak.Though I gotta say I liked how they made humans seem so weak compared to the titans, they wouldn't stand a chance against them without [spoiler!] Eren transforming into a titan (though that was a dumb plot twits IMO). More important characters should've died, though, to make the show more believeable.I think the overhype is killing the series. People expect too much and are let down when it turns out not to be as good as they thought and then they start hating the whole thing.

This.Exactly what happened to me.

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read yp volume 7 of the manga because mt friend had let me borrow them, but after i gave 6 and 7 back i just never asked for the rest.

 

it was good but i thought it already ended? idk seems like one of those stories thats meant to be cut short, kinda like blue exorcist or fullmeral alchemist and stuff. some things just arent meant to be dragged on.

 

so i liked it, but i agree with various points in your review :) it wasmgood, but the overhype kinda killed it (as all overhypes tend to do). i mean perdonally i preferred the realness of the despair and pain in elfen lied, but thats just me. so from what i read i enjoyed it but bow im just like "meh". nice review!

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My opinion:The set up, your standard big threat corners Humanity into a lone city shtick  And in my opinion it had a good set up for the characters at the start... But I never really felt like we got any payoff from the set up. That being said I liked the themesongs, and some side characters were fun.Though I can't stop comparing it in my mind to Gurren Lagann:

Let's see, humanity is cornered to sheltered cities, where they mostly live in peace. Some people desire to leave the city, but it is against the rules/certain death. The walls are suddenly broken forcing a prominent change in the protagonists lives. The threat keeping them from venturing out are giant. (titans and mechs)  A main character gains the power of the threat. And there is a death scene for a main character early on in the series. And the main character gets put on trial at at least one point in the series.

 

As silly and light hearted Gurren Lagann can be at times, it actually dealt with grieving in the show. And showing how a death can change how someone acts. Sure you arguably have a bit of that in AoT, but in my opinion it wasn't done as well. Though I also haven't watched Gurren Lagann in a long time so I could be misremembering it.

Edited by Tigerruss

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