Today marks my last official winter break weekend. The spring semester begins this Monday and I’ll be back to having an irregular posting schedule (I predict I’ll only be able to post a couple times a month and blog hopping will likely have to cease).
Anyway, today I wanted to share a non bookish post since I am currently experiencing this awful post binge hangover (aka I don’t know what to do with my life now that I’ve finished this epic, epic show), and I must discuss this anime with someone, anyone.
After I got a good dose of catching up on all the Asian dramas I wanted to squeeze in during my break, I went ahead and signed up for my free trial with Crunchyroll (when I was in middle school and high school I used to use AnimeCrazy but that free online streaming site has long closed down; I don’t think I’ll be continuing with Crunchyroll though since they don’t offer a lot of the anime I used to watch and want to rewatch), a site that offers English subtitles for anime watchers that don’t understand Japanese.
But before I get into how amazing Attack on Titan was, I wanted to give a brief rundown on what I’ve been watching this last month. In terms of Asian dramas, I marathoned She Was Pretty, It’s Okay, That’s Love, Kill Me, Heal Me, Prince of Lan Ling, Sound of the Desert, Detective vs. Detectives, and Oh My Venus, which recently just finished airing.
It’s Okay, That’s Love was the only particularly wonderful one that stood out from the bunch. I actually ended up quasi reviewing that one on here a few weeks ago. Like I mentioned in that post, She Was Pretty was way overhyped and I wasn’t that fond with that one despite popular opinion. And soon after watching those two dramas, I was recommended by a lot of fellow WordPress users and Asian drama watchers that Kill Me, Heal Me would be the perfect antidote to help me get over It’s Okay, That’s Love. That one also had similar themes to IOTL in that it explored mental illness, this time with a character with DID or multiple personality disorder. The actor, Ji Sung, that performed that role did a phenomenal job (no less was expected from him since he’s pretty famous and experienced anyway). Also, funnily enough, the brother and sister in Kill Me, Heal Me were love interests in She Was Pretty. That’s like Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort in Divergent and then The Fault in Our Stars. 😄
As for Prince of Lan Ling and Sound of the Desert… both were Chinese historical period dramas. Of the two, I definitely enjoyed Prince of Lan Ling more since the plot proved to be fast and there were a lot of action (with martial arts and all that jazz) and war scenes. However, PoLL was nowhere near Legend of Condor Heroes level. And though, Sound of the Desert was produced from a book written by Tong Hua, an author that created the story of one of my favorite Chinese dramas, Bu Bu Jing Xin, and featured one of my favorite actresses, Liu Shi Shi (also ironically was in Bu Bu Jing Xin), it was very dry compared to the former. And Detective vs. Detectives was a short Japanese drama not really worth talking about.
In addition to all that drama watching, I also watched the Korean movie, Always, which was so heartbreakingly beautiful and went to see Mockingjay Part 2 with my friend at the theaters. Mockingjay Part 2 plain infuriated me. It was well done but there was too little material to split into two parts; most of the film had too many dragged out scenes…
So, as you can see, I had to compensate a lot of my reading time for all this watching, but I have no regrets. I can usually read during the school year but I have a hard time keeping up with shows and movies, since I have a huge tendency to binge watch things which isn’t very healthy for a student.
After all this motion picture entertainment, some brilliant and others disappointing, I didn’t expect the most impressionable and favorite of mine would be an action packed, super bloody and gory anime.
I’m not one to like violent and grotesque action filled stuff. Most of the time I go for the cutesy, romantic shoujo anime. But after Attack on Titan reached its popularity these past couple of years (as of July 2015, 52.5 million copies have been sold in print for the manga) and a lot of my friends (with diverse taste) praised this anime to be their top favorite, I wanted to see what the hype was all about. Subsequent to watching Your Lie in April, an anime about friendship and music, and also hyped up by many anime lovers but ended up being a total disappointment for me, I was keeping my expectations low with Attack on Titan and ended up being blown away by everything with the latter.
All I can think of right now is that it was so epic. I am aware this was adapted from a popular manga series, but it’s a pity it wasn’t a book series, too. Since finishing the anime, I’ve watched the OVAs (original video animations), Attack on Titan: Junior High (a hilarious parody on the anime), scoured through the unfinished Attack on Titan wikipedia, updated by the manga/anime’s fans, to learn of the events that take place after the show. Apparently, there’s going to be a season 2 in 2016, which by the way I feel so bad for old, loyal fans of the series since the first manga volume was released in 2009 and season 1 of the anime in 2013, meaning it took them years to create a second seasons adaptation. The wait must have been excruciating for them then since I can’t seem to handle my impatience right now. But in short, I can’t seem to get enough with this world, the plot, and, best of all, the characters.
Before I start this quasi review, I’ll give you guys a short premise on what this story is about: Over a century ago, Titans, giant humanoids that range from 10 to 50 feet tall, wiped out all of humanity by killing and devouring them. Now all that remains of the human population are in three concentric walls (Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sina). Attack on Titan follows the story of three young friends: Eren Jaeger, his foster sister, Mikasa Ackerman, and their childhood friend, Armin Arlet. One day Wall Maria is breached and their hometown of Shinganshina is seized by Titans. Eren witnesses his mother’s being crushed and devoured by a titan, and vows he will avenge her death by killing all the Titans one day. Then our story fast forwards five years later (our characters are roughly 16 years old), and we see that the trio and other young teenagers are learning how to combat Titans. They’re preparing to join the military, which is sectioned into three branches: the Survey Corps (which goes into Titan territory outside the walls to directly fight and learn more about the Titans’ race; the casualty rate for this branch is extremely high), the Garrison Regiment (which guards the walls and protects the civilians), and the Military Police Brigade (which guards the royal family and has the most relaxed lives out of the three). Eren naturally wants to join the Survey Corps, and Mikasa and Armin, wanting to follow their friend, decides to as well. And so Attack on Titan follows their journey after they graduate the 104th Training Corps and their dealings with Titans.
Here is an English subtitled trailer of the anime in case you’re interested:
Hijime Isayama is a genius mangaka. The storyline is just so unique and one I’ve never heard of before. I read some more about the inspiration between Attack on Titan, and Isayama drew influences from other action movies and animations from his childhood. Also a lot of the details, such as the names, in the anime and manga (from what I gather) are from real life historical battles. I found these small easter eggs clever and very interesting.
The art was the only disappointment with this series. By no means is it bad but it’s nothing like the beautiful art found in other anime, such as Vampire Knight and Chihayafuru. However, everything else really makes up for this.
My favorite aspect of this anime is the characters. You know you have an amazing cast when each character is irreplaceable. It was a Harry Potter or Percy Jackson and the Olympians type of cast. There were a lot of them but each had their role and significance. Also, as I’ve heard how George R.R. Martin is quite brutal with killing off his characters… Isayama is no different. If you read/watch this series, do not get attached to the characters. In an interview, he once mentioned that his original draft of the ending was to kill everyone off. But he did release a statement that after the surprisingly immense popularity this series have shown, he’s reconsidered that finale… but I still have my doubts. One can never be too wary.
Not only is it easy to connect to the cast members, there was a lot of great character development, which added more depth to the story. Even prior to the breach of Wall Maria, Eren had dreams of going into the Survey Corps. In fact, the first couple of scenes the audience sees Eren arguing with his family about joining that branch. It’s dangerous and most of the members, however skilled they are, are often killed during expeditions outside the walls. But his initial motivation in joining that branch was due to Armin’s discovery of there being an outside world beyond the walls. And after his mother’s death and witnessing the brutality and horrors of what Titans do, it only added more fuel for him to join the Survey Crops. But he was really rash about it. Completely reckless and even a little bit narcissistic about his skills. But as the anime continues, Eren begins to find a balance and is able to control himself more. For me, Armin was the one that went under extreme character development. He began as Eren’s antithesis, being more timid and booksmart than relying on his strength. By the end of season one he really does become more brave and confident with himself. Mikasa on the other hand is still very one dimensional. Aside from her great strength and undying devotion for Eren… there’s nothing else really. She has a dark side to her, as does Eren, that I’d like the anime to explore more in season two.
And my absolute favorite character is Levi. He’s the head of an elite squad in the Survey Corps and considered the most powerful soldier. The scenes with him were the most impressive in my opinion. And I also found his background intriguing. He often fights and appears as stoic Captain, but behind that strict facade of his he’s completely softhearted and has deep morals and good ethics. The OVA episodes with him were by far my favorite. I really want to learn more about his background.
Of course, I can’t not talk about the music! The soundtrack wasn’t that beautiful, after all this is a shonen anime/manga so there’s a lot of epic battle themes. The instrumentals fit appropriately in the anime but it’s not something I’d listen to if I want to relax or study. Instead, they fit more when you’re in the middle of a battlecry or punching someone. 😄 So it’s not an OST I’m obsessed over. I like things more like Akatsuki no Yona, Kamisama Hajimemashita, or Joe Hisaishi, but this was still majestic in it’s own way. So I will share with you guys my favorite track from the soundtrack, “Eye Water.”
And with that track I end my long quasi review here. Thank you for reading! I really appreciate it. I know I’m primarily a book blog but non bookish posts are sometimes my favorite to compose (if I’m in a fangirl mode). Hope you all have a nice weekend! 🙂