I’ve been drowning in finals stress as of late, and I needed something to take my mind off things. Fortunately (or perhaps not), I was recommended a show that was supposed to be really good. Boy, was it ever.
Instead of focusing on school, I was sucked into a world where knowing the difference between “afferent” and “efferent” no longer mattered. Attack on Titan (AoT) premiered in 2013–more info on imdb— and has gathered a large fan base. I don’t usually watch shonen anime, which is targeted towards 10-17 year old boys, but as we know, even Disney isn’t just for children. AoT is full of blood and violence, so if you’re squeamish about heads being bitten off, you’re probably going to have a bad time. Of course, the show isn’t all about gore. There’s a strong undercurrent of humanity’s desire to “be free” instead of closed in behind walls. The power of friendship and the sacrifices people make for others are present. These themes are familiar, but they are powerful reminders that people can’t achieve anything without the help of others.
Our protagonist is a young boy named Eren Yeager, who lives in a world where humans live behind the safety of walls to avoid being eaten by giant beings called titans. Hundreds of years ago, titans appeared out of nowhere, and much of humanity was destroyed. Those who survived managed to do so by retreating to a walled-in community where titans haven’t been seen for 100 years. I wouldn’t consider it a spoiler to say that Eren’s carefree life ends pretty much after the first episode, when a colossal titan breaches Wall Maria, the outermost wall. Most titans are dimwitted and rather slow, but there are abnormal varieties that behave unexpectedly. The colossal titan manages to climb over the wall, and another armoured titan smashes a hole in it. Droves of hideous giants pour into the town as people run for their lives. Eren watches helplessly while a smiling titan eats his mother; this traumatic incident spurs his desire for revenge. Eren swears that he will kill all the titans no matter what.
Those who escape the massacre at Wall Maria—where 20% of humanity was decimated— are taken as refugees at the second-innermost wall, Wall Rose. The people of Wall Rose aren’t very welcoming as they have never seen titans and do not want the newcomers to be using their finite resources. Eventually, many refugees are sent back to retake Wall Maria, because there isn’t enough food to go around. This mission has devastating consequences because normal citizens aren’t trained to fight titans. Eren and his friends Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert eventually join the Cadets, a group of young men and women who undertake rigorous training to learn how to battle titans.
One thing I appreciate about this show is the equality between men and women. Women aren’t portrayed as needing rescue, but are skilled fighters who battle titans without flinching. Titans can only be killed by inflicting a deep cut to the nape of their necks; blowing their head off with a cannon or otherwise hurting them has no effect as their bodies regenerate. Soldiers use 3D maneuvering devices to fight the titans, which makes them more agile, a plus when avoiding the grasp of hungry hands. Will Eren and his friends graduate from the Cadets only to end up as titan fodder? Where did the titans come from, and what are their secrets?
This show is an amazing blend of drama and fantasy, and is a must watch for those who like seeing people get gobbled up by titans in a variety of ways. It’s actually quite cathartic. Will humanity get the best of the titans, or is it time to give up? Let me know what you think about AoT in the comments!
Featured Image: mlatimerridley.com