Friday, January 31, 2014

Shingeki no Kyojin



When humanity was threatened to extinction by the arrival of man-eating, human-like giants, the survivors built a settlement protected by three separate walls. For a century, the humans lived in safety, confident that the walls cannot be breached by dumb titans. The three walls are Maria, Rose, and Shina. These have four outer walls designed to attract titans and prevent pressure throughout the walls; making the task of guarding easier for defenders by concentrating in these four districts. It is in one of these outer wall districts, Shiganshina, that Eren Yeager and his family lives. A passionate young man, Eren's desire to join the Recon Corps was revealed to the family by the Yeager's adopted daughter Mikasa Ackerman, much to the dismay of Eren's mother. However he got encouragement from his father, Dr. Grisha Yeager, who promised to show Eren the research he has done on titans. The Recon Corps is one of the three military divisions created to protect people and fight the titans. They survey the territories outside the walls and gain foothold for humans; while the Garrison maintains and guards the walls. Lastly, the Military Police guards the king.




After meeting up, Eren, Mikasa and their friend Armin Arlert looked on when a loud thunderclap was witnessed outside the walls. As a hush fell on the residents of Shiganshina district, a huge head appeared over the wall. Later named the Colossal Titan, it managed to do the impossible; it towered over and damaged the previously unbreachable wall. The titans finally enter the humans' stronghold and a feast commences. 

Eren's mother was trapped when their house collapsed during the breach. Eren and Mikasa had to leave her to evacuate to the inner wall Maria. While the survivors ran for safety and the garrison debated on sealing the gate to wall Maria, another unusual titan appears. Like the Colossal Titan, the Armored Titan seems to have only one purpose in mind and that was not to eat humans. The Armored Titan breached the gate of wall Maria, forcing the military to evacuate all residents to wall Rose.

Eren's desire to join the military was not dampened by the events. He would also learn later that he not only has to face the titans but he also has to put up with the bickering factions among humans, an equally dangerous threat like the titans. He was joined by Mikasa and Armin in the training so they can fight the titans together.

With so little knowledge about the titans and the technology to bring them down, it seems that humans have no means of fighting back. Worse, there are more unusual titans like the Colossal and Armored Titans to worry about.


Mikasa, Eren, and Armin join the army

Action-packed and with an epic first episode, the series is titanic in so many ways. First, the post-apocalyptic setting is appropriate with the current obsession on themes of humanity in near extinction. Second, there is no magic and almost no effective technology used in fighting the titans which is reminiscent of a premodern* setting. Lastly, the beautiful animation, epic opening themes, and the battle scenes using the 3-D Maneuver Gear are worth watching.

I'm not just copying the usual words used in reviews when I say action-packed because even at the last minute of the episodes, something is always happening. There is no dull moment even when the series follows the usual pattern of introduction and history of characters/background of story/tension.

The characters are easy to like. It also has an impressive lead female character who doesn't fit into the usual female categories. Eren's passionate character is not only complemented by Mikasa's fighting prowess but also by Armin's talent for strategy and negotiation. Not an uncommon combination for a trio of lead characters. The series also has it share of bloody scenes and plenty of deaths.

Although I've heard some complaints about the animation, I doubt that it would work if it was done any other way. I think for the actions scenes to be effective, the animation has to have more depth and detail. I like the attention on scenes with the maneuver gears and first-person views of running/chasing scenes when turning at corners.

(top) Commander Erwin Smith and (bottom) Captain Levi of Recon/Survey Corps

Although Shingeki no Kyojin has nothing new to offer in its narrative and the types of lead characters, the premise of a nearly extinct human population and the fight scenes against titans have more than compensated for those. With 25 episodes, 1 recap, and a cliffhanger ending it's a series that won't disappoint.


Rating: 10 out of 10

*(premodern) based on the invention of 
the cannon (one technology used to fight titans) 
and the accepted timeline of historical eras

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