Anime of Tomorrow
Attack on Titan (first impressions)
Spring 2013 to summer 2013 (25 episodes) (Japanese title – Shingeki no Kyoujin) (more info)
I’ve often sold myself as the guy whose tastes differ with mainstream opinions in order to stand as the representative of anime fans who think a lot of big titles are highly overrated. However, today I’m taking a more relaxed position as the voice of reason to try and calm things down a bit. When I saw this image indicating that Cruchyroll had given Attack on Titan five of five stars with only two episodes out, my first reaction was, “really?” and the second was, “hold your horses.”
It’s just my own style to refrain from giving new anime I’m optimistic about a score because there’s no guarantee that the same level of quality will continue to hold up as the series continues. But I’m not willing to let a perfect score go unanalyzed with so little to go on. All we have so far is the setup, in which a young Eren and his childhood friends witness the power of the monstrous and disturbingly human titans that seem to have crawled straight out of the uncanny valley.
The only thing that the humans have done is get their asses handed to them, with no glory whatsoever. Episode two in particular was incredibly lackluster with several time skips and way too much summarizing of what happened in between. Sure it was stuff that had to be said, but it could have been said more elegantly and in a way that didn’t sound like reading a history textbook.
Now, let me be clear. I’m not saying Attack on Titan doesn’t deserve those five stars, because it very well might. The music for the opening and ending themes is epic and orchestral—befitting the grand scope of the setting that not only is big, but FEELS big. It’s got a fresh art style too with very sharp lines that makes all the edges pop out, giving everything a lot of personality. The writing has done a great job getting me emotionally fired up, although the only emotions I’m feeling are hatred or disgust for everyone outside Eren’s circle of friends and an uneasy sickness towards the titans. We have been treated to a oversized, dark and hopeless situation that needs a hero to turn things around.
But I have a worrisome suspicion that our hero may be a rather shallow trope. He’s a cocky, loser kid who is quick to make enemies of those stronger than him and has some rather unfeasibly grandiose dreams. If that isn’t a familiar formula then clearly you don’t watch mainstream anime because that sounds an awful lot like Naruto to me. The preview for episode three even indicates that Eren continues to be the stereotypical screwup in basic training.
If we’re looking for a beautiful action series that’s likely to have some masterfully flowing battles flavored with a thick revenge sauce, I can definitely see Attack on Titan being just that. But I don’t foresee it being some deeply thought-provoking introspection on the human condition, which leads me to my conclusion that Crunchyroll’s praise is premature.