Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) 1

Shingeki no Kyojin … Whoa.

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Bateszi has been talking about the manga for quite a while, and while I didn’t actually go and read it, his enthusiasm rubbed off on me to the point where I was afraid the anime would be a letdown. Whatever flaws the first episode had (and it has a few), the feeling of fear and powerlessness in face of a terrifying, devastating foe more than makes up for them. This is the story of Eren, a boy living in a city with walls 50 meters tall to keep the giants (titans) out. From the scenes at the beginning and end of the episode you can see why. The giants are nasty, brutish things that seem to wander aimlessly around the countryside eating people. But at the start of of the show there hasn’t been a giant in the city for 100 years. Plenty of time to get complacent.

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Eren is a hot-headed kid, constantly arguing and fighting with people bigger than him for exhibiting that complacency or disagreeing with his belief that humans now live like cattle, which leads to my first beef with this setup. Even with the church (everything in the show resembles a medieval European civilization) and the government using any coercion they can to keep people from complaining, I can’t believe there aren’t people in that city who resent that enclosed way of life, that is, besides Eren, and try to rebel or at least sneak out. Okay, there IS a force that goes out to kill giants, or at least try to figure them out. The fact that only a tiny fraction returned this time can’t help recruiting, but still … Worse, this debate between Eren and whoever he meets gets to the point where it’s clear the creators simply want to show different sides of the argument. It’s about to get dull when a problem walks up.

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Maybe the manga comes up with a reason for this new, really really REALLY big giant to show up and kick down the outer wall. It doesn’t matter. Whatever the giants are a metaphor for, if anything, we can figure it out later, because now Eren and Mikasa (his little sister and probably the only reason Eren’s lived as long as he has) are rushing back home, only to find themselves reenacting a scene from Barefoot Gen. The show does not shrink from giving us every gruesome detail; it’s hard to watch, but the point is made that these giants have no moral limitations whatsoever, and it makes their smiling, dull faces even more frightening. This is maybe the best of the new shows so far. Only Aku no Hana comes close.

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