Attack on Titan – 01

titan11

Thanks to Netflix and a relatively light Fall season, I am pleased to finally crack open the massively popular Attack on Titan, a show I eschewed virtually sight unseen, choosing instead to follow Gargantia, Majestic Prince, and Valvrave. I’m only past the first episode of AoT, but I can already see I made a major oversight; one that will be corrected forthwith.

AoT’s cold open shows us the very moment the people of Shiganshina are royally hosed, then after the credits, rewinds to the morning before the shit hits the fan and begins the process of masterfully building up the dread and tension preceding the events of the cold open.

As we follow Eren (a loud-mouthed portentous shonen if ever there was one) and his sister Mikasa (a girl of few words but immense strength) as they wind their way through the streets of their huge hometown, the walls, streets and structures have a strength, solidarity, and safety to them. Even the sounds of everyday life are lulling.

titan12

If there is one shortcoming to this first episode, it’s that Eren isn’t necessarily likable at first. His reasons for wanting to strike out into the outside world aren’t unreasonable, but he can be over-emphatic in his protestations and scolds.

Sure, he may have had a vision of doom descending on Shiganshina, but he’s fighting against a century of idleness and contentment. Conviction and loudness are no substitute for hard evidence. Also, the episode tries to paint Armin with broad strokes, but there’s not much to him yet except that like Eren, he’s not content to stay within the walls.

Then the evidence arrives in the form of a hand grasping the top of the 50-meter outer wall, and it’s a powerful “Toldya so” moment that shakes every inhabitant of the city to their core. Then…a hole is blasted in the wall with such force it causes widespread destruction to the rest of the city. And that’s before smaller Titans start rushing in.

Any early quibbles I might have had with Eren or Armin go out the window when the appalling carnage starts, with throngs of humans running for their lives and many being scooped up and gobbled up like hors d’oeuvres. There’s a distinct sticky aura of awfulness to the spectacle, and the utter powerlessness of the three young protagonists.

titan13

When Eren rushes home hoping against hope his house is still intact only to find his mom’s legs crushed under its ruins, it’s a gut punch. Before I can recover from that, a Titan eats her with cold satisfaction as a fleeing Eren watches, flooring me yet again.

Amidst the wholesale butchery and mass despair, there are obviously glints of both hope and levity. Mikasa’s imposing brawn is employed for a snicker when she and Eren rescue Armin from bullies, and the smash cut from Hannes momentarily facing off against a Titan to reconsidering and scooping up the kids, and retreating was a legitimately funny “oh shit” moment.

As for hope, well, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin are still alive, which means anything is possible. Obviously, they won’t stay powerless for long. But nor is any viable counterattack likely in the immediate future. The onslaught of the Titans has only begun, after all. For now, surviving is the name of the game.

9_brav2

Welcome to my weekly (or bi-weekly) Attack on Titan retro reviews. Comments are welcome as always, however please limit discussion to this episode and avoid spoilers, as I am writing these reviews as I watch AoT for the first time. Thanks—HB

Advertisements

Author: braverade

Hannah Brave is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

7 thoughts on “Attack on Titan – 01”

  1. I enjoyed reading this review very much. It’s nice seeing/revisiting an anime through the eyes (and words) of someone that’s watching it for the first time, fresh to the series and the characters. I remember when I saw the first ep, the ending was so cruel to me (kid Eren seeing his mom die in such a horrible way) that I almost dropped the show.
    Curiosity won though, and I’m glad that I kept on watching :D

  2. I loved this show for having such an intriguing premise where despair reigns and it’s not about the good guys winning, but how does humanity survive.

  3. I dropped Titan after three episodes. I disliked the art style, found the titans just derpy, and thought the story line was humourless and turgid, and Eren irritating. Still tastes differ I suppose.

    1. Not unreasonable points. AoT’s MAL score (8.66 by >400k users, good for 50th) is lofty, but it does not enjoy universal acclaim of say, Steins;Gate (9.18 by >240k, good for 2nd).

      Still, I’ve been curious about it for the better part of two years, and now that I have a bit of time to watch it, I like what I’ve seen so far.

      I’m also getting into AoT with the second season yet to air until 2016, fortuitous timing I also had with PSYCHO-PASS.

      So, as with PSYCHO-PASS 2, I’ll have the opportunity to be inevitably disappointed with the sequel along with all the other fans. Yay!

      1. Psycho-Pass 2 had the distinct misfortune of not actually being written by Urobuchi and by someone who didn’t actually get the point of the series.

        AoT’s second season just continues adapting the manga, and I can tell you as a manga reader that the unadapted content is even more superb than what you’ll see in the first season.

Comments are closed.