Attack on Titan, or Shingeki no Kyojin in Japanese, is the newest worldwide phenomenon in anime and manga. It is the story of humankind’s battle against titans – enormous humanoid monsters that eat people alive. To survive humans have retreated behind 3 concentric walls and developed 3 dimensional maneuver gear that gives them the ability to reach a titan’s height – and to kill as many as possible.
I love Attack on Titan because it is original, it is honest, and brutal, and the characters are worth caring about. The titans and their intensely creepy designs are quite unique. Titan pajamas, anyone? The story isn’t like other anime – no matter how hard you try or hope or wish or fight you will not get what you want, you will not have magical powers, your friends and parents will die. This is so refreshing, albeit really depressing. The characters are well-designed and pretty complex, and despite being a little bland in the manga they are brought to life so well in the anime.
The Japanese series is originally serialized as a monthly manga by artist/author Hajime Isayama, then collected into 4 chapter volumes. Currently there are 11 volumes published in Japan, and volume 7 was just released in English by Kodansha Comics. The author is planning to complete the series in 20 volumes, so we have about 40 more chapters to look forward to.
The series has also been made into an incredible anime that just finished its first season. You can watch it over here on Crunchyroll. There are 25 episodes, each completing a chapter of the manga. Everyone is fairly sure that there will be a second season of 25 more episodes released early next year!
If you’ve only read the manga I highly recommend taking the time for the anime. The voice acting is award-worthy, the visualizations of the aerial fight scenes are simply breathtaking, and the music is really powerful, if not somewhat too dramatic. The animation team is able to take Isayama’s admittedly crude drawing style and transform it into one of the most incredible adaptations out there.
If you’ve watched all of season 1 you should go out and read the manga right now. There are things you missed. And you need to know them. And then you can read past the story covered in the anime by picking up volumes 9 and 10 when they’re released later this year or early 2014. Why wait for season 2? Look for the manga at the library!
The opening of the anime is now a meme, as it should be – it is overblown, dramatic, weird, and really iconic. My favorite variation of it is the Attack on Cat video just posted yesterday. Make sure you watch it at least twice to catch all the crazy feline shenanigans.