This past weekend saw the annual Midwest gathering of costumed anime zealots at the Anime Central convention in Rosemont, Illinois (“ACen” for those in the know). A few Knox students attended the famed convention, dressed to the nines as characters from their favorite Japanese series with the intentions of wandering through “merch halls,” chatting and taking pictures with others dressed in costumes and enjoying discussion panels focused around any and all anime series. I live about five minutes away from the Rosemont Convention Center, and I cannot express how surreal it is to see Pokmon trainers and Sailor Moon clones walking around outside of my local pizza place.
Until this year, the most I knew of anime was the little amount of it I watched with half of my attention when I was young. And then there’s Studio Ghibli movies directed by the great Hayao Miyazaki — you’ve probably seen either “Spirited Away” or “My Neighbor Totoro.” Aside from that, I associated anime with the dark side of fiction-loving. Then I was introduced to the 2013 anime series “Attack on Titan.”
If there has ever been a perfect example of a gateway television show, “Attack on Titan” takes the cake for anime. The dark subject matter, nuanced characters (including multiple fleshed-out females), stunning animation and thrilling pacing make for one of the best series I have ever had the pleasure of viewing.
I decided to focus on “Attack on Titan” of all animes for my post-ACen review because of its booming popularity among the masses. I was recommended the show not by an avid anime-niac (appreciate it, appreciate it), but by someone who told me, “I wasn’t expecting something this good from the anime genre.” It’s not all over my Facebook newsfeed, but it’s there and people are genuinely talking about it. Ok, so what the heck is it?
The story follows a young Eren Jaeger living in some post-apocalyptic time in which giant monsters called “Titans” are newfound threats to the human race. The grinning three-to-15-meters-high ogres seem to posses one goal: eat people. Yes, specifically Homo sapiens. Non-human animals aren’t on the menu.
It has been 100 years since the Titans first showed up on the scene, and Eren, his adopted sister Mikasa and their friend Armin live relatively peacefully within the towering walls of their safe town. Shockingly, a 60-meter Titan peers over the walls and breaks through, shattering the village’s security. Those who survive flee to a deeper village behind yet another supposedly impenetrable wall, and many begin training to fight the most immediate threat to the human race since the gay agenda.
It’s epic. Not for kids. Lots of blood, sweat and tears. Just watch the show’s intro theme and your pulse will quicken as your cursor moves farther and farther away from the “pause” button; once you start, it’s almost impossible to quit (summer will be a good time to watch.)
Now, if I gave you that synopsis and commendation and I said that Joss Whedon was the man behind the curtain, you’d give “Attack on Titan” a watch without a second thought, right? But it’s anime. Just the word itself seems to reek of unwashed cosplay costumes and otherworldly candy-colored hairdos.
Yes, the animation is different from anything you’d find domestically. Yes, there is a lot of shouting. Yes, there’s a sense of self-seriousness that we tend to mock because that’s the cool thing to do. But I guarantee that it’ll blow your mind. “Attack on Titan” is better than most mainstream television shows that we get nowadays, and certainly rivals HBO’s massive hit, “Game of Thrones.”
The English dub was released last month, and I’d recommend it if you’re new to the anime genre. They have thus far aired the first three episodes with the English dub. My only choice when I watched the series a while back was to watch the original Japanese voice acting with English subtitles, which was completely fine, but because I’m trying to push this show to an even wider audience than it already has, I have to mention the dub. It’s a fine dubbing, actually, with some freshly polished animation to boot. The dub is not yet on Hulu or Netflix, but if those are your main sources of television, they do include the subtitled episodes. The dub should be up fairly soon, not to worry.
You may not think that “Attack on Titan” is “your thing,” but trust me when I say that it probably is. Besides, everyone needs a break from “Game of Thrones.” every once in a while, am I right?