Shingeki no Kyojin: A Review

[Note: There are no spoilers from the manga or the anime. Everything is general, and if you have watched it or even read it, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this.]

What it’s about:

On that day, mankind received a grim reminder. We lived in fear of the titans, and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls.

IMdB: 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 Jaegar and his foster sister Mikasa Ackerman witness something horrific as the city walls are destroyed by a colossal titan that appears out of thin air.

What it is:

This anime made my mouth open wide for longer than 5 seconds more than a handful times. This is the type of world where more people get killed than the entirety of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. It exists in a timeless universe – not in the past, present or future of our world, but in a pocket universe where Titans existed long before the existence of machines. In this world, machines were not invented to improve humanity’s lifestyle, but for the continuous existence of humanity itself.

There’s lots of shouting (especially from Eren), lots of action, lots of character development, and lots of tears. My friends weren’t kidding. I felt like my ear drums would break from all the intense shouting. I think my mind is forever scarred, what with how everyone got crushed like ants all the time. And my heart has become immune to all other fictional deaths, what with all the deaths I’ve experienced just from this show alone.

Why it’s good: 

It teaches you a lot about what it takes to be a soldier, a survivor. Constantly, people have to be reminded to “FIGHT!” Some lines are repeated all over the anime that it kind of becomes engraved into your head and heart once you’re done with it.

If you win, you live. If you lose, you die. If you don’t fight, you can’t win! – Eren Jaeger

People, who can’t throw something important away, can never hope to change anything – Armin Arlet

Only the victors are allowed to live. This world is merciless like that. – Mikasa Ackerman

It’s the kind of anime that sticks with you, the kind that leaves you with phantom faces with phantom voices following you around, making you feel as if you’re still living in that universe, even after you’ve told yourself that you’re done with it.

The concept of the villain, and of the world itself, is scary and genius. First off, the villain – the Titan – is basically a stupid giant human cannibal.

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Unlike other villains, it doesn’t want revenge. It doesn’t want world domination. It doesn’t want power. It doesn’t need to eat. It has lived a hundred years without eating humans. But it is all it ever eats. It doesn’t eat animals. It wants only one thing – and this is just a theory, but it’s one that I can side with, and one that I love the most – to annihilate the existence of humanity.

Second, the fact that it looks human. It is, in every aspect, a human being, except for the fact that it doesn’t have two things; sexual organs, and a conscience. Countless times, characters had their feet rooted to the ground, unable to fight, and I think it’s because the image of a gigantic human biting off a human’s neck is just too fascinatingly cruel that they feel they cannot look away.

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The world itself is scarier than the world of the Hunger Games. And I think what makes it scary is the fact that humanity has never won against the Titans, ever. For the past who-knows-how-many-years, Titans have been eating humans.

The humans in this world pretend that they have a system.

Walls

So that ‘there is peace’. But…

You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.”…Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. – Joker, The Dark Knight (2008)

No matter what plan the humans think of, no matter how determined every single one of their skilled soldiers are, they will still be crushed in less than a second without remorse, without even a body to prove that you have existed. This is their anarchy, their ‘chaos’.

Every single man, woman and child in this world lived with losing a loved one as a social norm. It’s a dark fact I’d like everyone to consider. Everyone is already dead, in everyone else’s eyes. That’s what’s sad about this whole thing – even the humans think of other humans as just tiny insects with no importance. But it’s also beautiful, because sometimes, sometimes a character sees through that corrupted notion and calls everyone else out on it, making us realize it along the way too.

Of course, every soldier is prepared to die. But these people aren’t just pawns on a chessboard. They all have names, families and feelings in their hearts too. They are all humans who live and bleed. – Riko Brzenska (Shingeki no Kyojin)

So you have a dark world, and an even darker society. Combine that with real-life everyday problems like corruption in the system, hierarchy in social status, differences in privileges and human rights and what do you get? Awesome badass characters who naiively try to fight against it.

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The differences in character personality is great, too. There are a few who are extremely righteous, but most of them just really don’t care. They feign an act of indifference, but all for different reasons. But the fact that they had grieved over the death of a loved one united them.

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And I think that’s brilliant. These clashes of personality, and this unity for one tragedy, has bonded them together, and changed them greatly. You get to see how much they have grown in a span of 5-7 years. That’s something I don’t usually see in anime.

You also get to witness the amazing 3D Maneuver Gear.

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This made the whole world look kind of sci-fi, but also, kind of not. The 3D Maneuver Gears are as close as we can get to a ‘high tech’ fictional gadget in this world. Every other man made thing you see in the anime is pretty mundane. But the function of it makes the people actually fly. It’s a pretty brilliant concept, and I like how something as complicated as that is a seemingly-ordinary thing for them. Plus, it makes the animation really cool to watch. You gotta respect the amount of effort (and physics, I bet) put just to make sure each maneuver looks even just a little legit.

The music is amazing, too. There were some points where I gaped like a fish because “wHaT just happened omg” and the music dramatically intensified my feelings. So kudos to that! The animation was splendid, hands down. Especially, like I said, with the whole 3D Maneuver thing.

Why it’s not-so-good:

I can’t really say because it would mean telling a huge amount of spoilers. But let’s just say the anime ended leaving me really confused and I really need to talk to someone about it. The internet cannot be trusted. It’s full of spoilers from the manga.

Anyway. I’m going to start the manga now. But I still have questions about the ending of the anime. So if you haven’t watched it, do drop by and say hello after you have. If you already have, and enjoyed reading this, (or not, oh no), then feel free to leave a comment.

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