Anime Discovery II: ATTACK on TITAN – #125 (AD II Finale)

attack-on-titan-part-2

It’s that time again. Once in a blue moon in the anime world, there is that one hit that manage to become one of the biggest hits of the year and still continue to be throughout the years ahead for them. Many anime in the past has been from Akira to Sailor Moon to Cowboy Bebop to Fullmetal Alchemist and now we have the latest anime to achieve this and that is Attack on Titan. Who would’ve known that this anime title from the spring season of 2013 that didn’t have much recognition at first and ended up where it is now?

Several hundred years ago, humans were nearly exterminated by giants. Giants 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 enclosing themselves in a city protected by extremely high walls, even taller than the biggest of giants. Flash forward to the present and the city has not seen a giant in over 100 years. Teenage boy Eren and his foster sister Mikasa witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a super-giant that appears out of thin air. As the smaller giants flood the city, the two kids watch in horror as their mother is eaten alive. Eren vows that he will murder every single giant and take revenge for all of mankind.

We know of the director of the show being Tetsuro Araki, known for directing Death Note, HighSchool of the Dead, and Guilty Crown but unfortunately only 1/3 of the shows he directed gotten positive reaction although that might have something to do with the material given to him so it’s difficult to see if he can pull it off and luckily, this show did.

From beginning to end, the show has an action-packed, intense and terrifying ride with a simplistic story of people just trying to survive and fight for their lives and to not be eaten by these giant human-like creatures that almost look like naked humans with no genitals. The show gets the viewer engaged either it be from the action sequences, the human conflict, or the much-needed humor throughout the series but when it comes to the political aspects, the show does have a slow pace for a while but yet that’s because many events are happening simultaneously instead of one event that drags on for too long (as in many shonen series do that) and the way series concluded, it leaves you wanting more of the show and that’s something a show like that should do.

There is a wide assortment of characters in this story and there are 2 reasons why I won’t delve into every one of them. First being that most of them are going to end up being titan chow and I tried to not get too attached to the ones I like although they are characters I really didn’t like or just found to be annoying (*cough cough* Jean! *cough cough*) and second…..yeah, that are too many to be named. It’ll be all day I mention every one of them. But let’s get some main and little reoccurring characters out of the way. Eren, our main lead, is the hot-headed one in the group who makes it his sworn vengeance to kill every titan out there and he does get emotional with that but then again, can you blame him? He saw his mother get eaten alive. You would be like that, too, and the more I think about it and with some re-watches, I’m glad what happened at the end of episode 5 that led to the next one as it never felt like some cop-out or easily disposable moment. Mikasa is one of the best female characters in the show, next to two other ones I’ll mention later, as while she kicks a lot of ass in here, she never comes off as being some generic tough girl lead and you can sense she really cares for her friends. Armin is our other protagonist and he is more of the strategist/thinking type of the trio and he does have an inferiority complex on how he’s cowardly and has to rely on his friends although he can stand up for them various times in the show and proven himself he can be courageous in other ways. For additional characters, Levi is known for being the badass Superman-esque titan killer on the show and he’s fine… I just never had that much concern for him but the scene-stealers of the show in my opinion happens to be two other ladies and they are Sasha Brause aka Potato Girl and Hange Zoe, the mad (crazy-ass!) scientist as they happen to the most funniest characters on the show and like I said in the beginning, delivers the humor that is very needed to contrast the darker moments that happen.

While people have said that Production I.G. is responsible for the animation, they’re right but it is the debut of a branch of them called Studio WIT and yes, this is their first production and the animation they brought us good. Maybe not the best as most people tend to describe it but this is decent animation with some still shots in there. The designs of the Titans, especially their faces, are terrifying from either the smiling titan or the Moe Titan as they’re going to be looking at you as they try to kill you. Hell, the Armored Titan is what you really should be afraid of as they charge at you like a quarterback going for a touchdown pass.

And now one of the moments you’ve been waiting for……the music.

The overall score for the show is handled remarkably by Hiroyuki Sawano and it has some great score pieces especially during the action scenes and set-ups. Of course, you know the main theme “Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen” (紅蓮の弓矢, Guren no Yumiya?, “Crimson Bow and Arrow”) by Linked Horizon is the theme that instantly become mega-popular once it dropped and many people were loving the hell of it. Me on the other hand? Yeah, I liked it. The song does its purpose of getting the audience pumped up at they begin to watch an episode and for the other theme for later episodes, “Die Flügel der Freiheit” (自由の翼, Jiyū no Tsubasa?, lit. “Wings of Freedom”) by Linked Horizon, it does the same thing, too, although everyone is not on board on it as much as the first one but it still fares as well. The ending songs are a nice touch, too. The first one, “Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai” (美しき残酷な世界?, lit. “A Beautiful Cruel World”) by Yōko Hikasa, is a big contrast of the opening theme with a more soft and solemn tone that does fit after an episode and the second ending “great escape” by Cinema Staff is more of what people wanted the second opening to be but this one is also alright, too.

And now the English dub brought to you by FUNimation and this is…..one of the top dubs in 2014. Maybe not the best but it’s a good one and actually made the viewing experience better in the dub. Also, to be honest, I don’t have any awkward problems with the adapted script. Yeah, there were a few weird lines here and there but nothing that threw me off. Now for the cast. Mikasa and Armin, played by Trina Nishimura and Josh Grelle, respectively as those two were acceptably well into their roles, especially Grelle in his emotional moments and how well-delivered they are. Nishimura’s performance as a whole for Mikasa does have her in a light that really hasn’t been noticed before. Of course with a big anime title like Attack on Titan, there are bound to be some L.A. voice talent in there, but the biggest surprise being the lead Eren is played by Bryce Papenbrook, who has had the hot streak of anime lately with shows like Blue Exorcist and Sword Art Online and in here, this might be one of his best performance since voicing Rin in Blue Exorcist and also one that requires a lot of yelling. Matthew Mercer delivers his usual grandiose voice acting as Levi and it made me care a bit about Levi and there’s another unexpected role with Lauren Landa (Kyoko from Madoka Magica) as Annie and she’s not really as notable in the dub but she does well in here. Now, the two highlights for me does go to both Ashly Burch for her role as Sasha and of course, much love goes to Jessica Calvello as Hange Zoe as both ladies easily made their best performances in voice acting to date with Burch being silly and lovable and Calvello nearly embodying the character of Hange.

FINAL VERDICT: There is no doubt that this is the case where a popular anime is a good show and Attack on Titan shows that it is a good show with thrilling and intense action that has characters that you can easily be invested in and be concerned with something were to happen to them. Granted, pacing can be an issue but nevertheless a small one at that. I could say that this is an example of a getaway anime to get people into the medium.

And with that said, ATTACK ON TITAN crushes the competition with an

8.5/10 – Low FIRST CLASS

 

ATTACK ON TITAN is available on DVD & Blu-ray from FUNimation Entertainment. Streaming options are available on Hulu, Crunchyroll & FUNimation EVS. At the time of this review, the show has been aired or still airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami program block.  A Second season has been planned for an initial 2016 release.

 

Well, people, this has been another year of Anime Discovery and the first year on this site as well. But don’t fret!! I will bring the Anime Discovery Christmas Special later on in December.

More news will come to Anime Discovery for 2015 at that time!

And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and don’t act like a Colossal Titan on the Thanksgiving TABLE!!!

ATTACK ON TITAN – animation by PRODUCTION I.G. / STUDIO WIT, distributed by FUNimation Entertainment

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