If you’ve been following Japanese pop culture as of late, you may have heard of a certain anime/manga series that has generated so much attention all over Japan and the world. A series that details a world where humanity is under the eyes of man-eating giants. Hajime Isayama’s “Attack on Titan” is a series that has captured the imagination of many anime fans around the world with its combination of action and despair. At New York Comic-Con 2013, Titan cosplayers literally flooded the convention center. As the website io9 once said, it’s Japan’s equivalent of “The Walking Dead.”
Attack on Titan highlights humanity’s struggle against the Titans, a race of man-eating giants living outside an enclosed civilization. The civilization is protected by huge walls and a military unit trained to fight against the Titans. One day, a 60-meter Titan known as the Colossal Titan breaks a wall down and chaos ensues. Titans begin to rush into the town and eat people. One boy, Eren Jaeger, witnesses his mother being eaten by one and swears to kill all the Titans. Together with his foster sister, Mikasa Ackerman, and childhood friend, Armin Arlert, Eren joins the military in hopes of getting revenge and to explore the world outside of the walls.
Attack on Titan is known to be very violent compared to other shonen series. You will see a lot of people dying left and right. Add to the fact that there is a huge sense of despair as humanity weeps in the presence of the Titans. They are not sure on how to get rid of them completely, no matter how hard they try. But the military uniforms and the battle gear they have sure are stylish. The uniforms are special, as they have a touch of what made the Stormtroopers from Star Wars memorable. They represented soldiers who had the greatest training in the world, but many of them couldn’t do much against tough opponents. In essence, the Stormtroopers looked awesome, but most were just regular joes being sacrificed for a greater good.
The 3D Maneuver Gear used by the military in Titan is a unique battle device. If you ever wanted to be Spider-Man and look cooler than he does, this is what you want to use when traveling through the air. The gear uses gas and grappling hooks to move around quickly. There are hand-grips that attach to blades stored in emission systems attached to the wearer’s legs. The action scenes detailing the use of the gear are amazing to see. Several cosplayers have created their own 3D Maneuver Gear much to the delight of fans worldwide.
Now what really makes Attack on Titan popular worldwide? It has been said that Titan is popular because it covers the universal theme of overcoming your limits. We’re all trapped by walls inside our mind and we often need to break them down. George Wada, producer of the anime, also said that the manga’s message is that Japan needs to explore the world outside its borders. He wants youth to get out and see what it’s like outside. One critic says that Titan has gotten so much attention is because of the uniforms, the uniqueness of the Titans, and the fact that horror is the big trend globally. Ben Applegate, editor of Kodansha Comics (publisher of the English version), says it’s all about the characters. The cast is full of diverse characters with interesting quirks. From the tough yet kind Mikasa to bad boy captain Levi to the gluttonous Sasha Blause, there’s a character that will touch any fan’s heart.
The music is also pretty good. The 1st opening, “Guren no Yumiya” by Linked Horizon, has become a staple in Japanese karaokes and generated tons of fan-made openings. The soundtrack of the anime is composed by Hiroyuki Sawano. He is known for doing the music for popular anime series like Blue Exorcist and Guilty Crown. For the Attack on Titan OST, Sawano used a mix of orchestral pieces and contemporary songs. He even manages to get a variety of singers for some of the songs as well. The OST fits the setting and it won’t disappoint any fan that loves an epic score.
Even though the anime ended, Attack on Titan fandom let their passion for Titans be known at NYCC. It was literally “Attack on NYCC.” While there were still Naruto, BLEACH, and other anime series being cosplayed, the number of Titan cosplayers outnumbered them greatly. For every Naruto cosplayer, there were 10 Titan cosplayers. Titan fandom was spotlighted by Business Insider and Fujisankei Communications International (FCI) at the con. When was the last time an anime got that much attention in America? This is a series that will appeal to anyone, anime fan or not.
You can watch all 25 episodes of Attack on Titan on Crunchyroll, FUNimation, and Hulu. FUNimation will be releasing the series on Blu-Ray/DVD in Spring 2014. The manga is available in English via Kodansha Comics.
Isn’t it a good time to devour, what the Manichi Shimbun calls, a “once-in-a-decade hit”?