If like me you keep up to date with gaming and trends, you will be on the look out for anything coming out of Asia. You won’t have missed the sensation of Attack On Titan. The manga series created by Hajime Isayama which, is inspiring anime, games and more. The question is, what is Attack on Titan? Lets have a brief spoiler free look.
Shingeki no Kyojin, or Attack on Titan, is an incredibly dark story, that shares many features of recent western culture films. We are led to believe that centuries ago, a race of humanoid creatures called Titans, appeared and launched a devastating attack on humanity. The remnants of the human race were forced to retreat to a large city-state, behind three walls Maria, Rosé and the innermost Sina. The walls were designed to keep the Titans at bay and within each a civilisation developed. The closer you get to the outer wall, the more rural and village-like the civilisation becomes. All carries on for centuries until the Titans attack again.
The draw of this series is very much the titans themselves. I don’t feel there has been a more disturbing enemy in fiction. The titans come in 4,15 and 50 metre sizes and look like huge naked men. The titans have oversize faces, with horrible grinning, blank stares. the lack of any reproductive organs is a relief to the viewer but just serves to make them even more unnatural. Their only objective is to kill humans, usually by lifting them and biting them into pieces or eating them outright. Worse than this, there appears to be no reason other than hatred. The Titans managed to exist for centuries without eating humans, so they are not necessary for food. Making matters worse, Titans are able to regenerate their lost body parts, so any attack on them only serves to slow them down. The only weakness is the nape of their neck. If it is sliced by a blade the Titan dies. With their height and brutality, this is easier said than done meaning humanity’s last hope rests, with its army and soldiers.
The army is split into three sections and like the civilisation itself they get more important as they approach the centre. Survey Corps are on the front line and try to recapture territory from the Titans, Garrison Regiment look after the walls and civilians and the royal guard the Military Police Brigade looking after the capital. This brings a clear class struggle into the survivors as the MP get the job furthest away from the Titans and death. The class struggles between military and between the walls of the city are an ongoing theme, adding another dimension to the humanity under threat main plot.
The story begins by following three young survivors of the new attack, as they survive, join the military and rise through its ranks. The three go through the normal rights of passage and we see deeper into each of their pasts . All the while the mystery of the Titans continues to unravel, what motivates them? Why have they attacked after so long? Why are there different kinds?
In all this is an excellent series, which has all the potential to be remade in the West, either live-action or as a series. The graphic violence and adult themes of violence, survival and class struggle allow the story to continue deeper and take on surprising turns. If you have any interest in Manga or Japanese films then this is a must. The first series of the Anime is on Netflix and it would be a good starting part. Be prepared though, we are going to be hearing a lot more of this one.