Header Ads

Attack On Titan : Season 1 Part One (Episodes 1-13).

Thanks to the boom in online streaming, anime is more accessible to Western fans than ever. Virtually every show is available, translated and totally legal within hours of their Japanese broadcast. But what we haven't seen for a while is a new true mainstream cross-over hit in the vein of  Cowboy Bebop, Dragon Ball Z or Naruto. Attack On Titan has become something of a phenomenon. Not only did it become a smash hit when originally simulcast, but it gained attention beyond the anime hardcore and has aired on the revived Toonami block in the United States. The original manga has been a constant fixture on best-seller lists on both sides of the Pacific. But as it makes its d├ębut on Collector's Edition Blu-ray and DVD in the UK from Manga Entertainment, should you believe the hype? On this occasion, it's an emphatic yes.

In a non-specific time and place what remains of humanity has retreated into a vast walled city. The walls are to protect from the titular titans, lumbering humanoid giants who seem to live only to eat any humans they can get their hands on. It's been over a century since the last Titan was seen in the city, so a relative peace has reigned. That's all shattered when a new kind of Titan (bigger than any seen before) appears seemingly out of nowhere, and changes young Eren's life forever. Along with adopted sister Mikasa and best pal Armin he vows to join the army and fight for humanity.

Perhaps the best way to describe Attack On Titan is "intense". After a brief introduction to the characters and setting, the first attack happens, and from then on it's a pretty much relentless. The attack sequences are visceral and unforgiving, the Titans themselves cutting quite the imposing figures. That's no mean feat when on paper the Titans are ridiculous- giant, and naked but sexless. Yet somehow these grotesque creatures stay on just the right side of silly, enough to make them genuinely disturbing in fact. As with the best zombie fiction, it takes an undeniably daft monster and makes them unsettlingly believable. The Titans are not completely indestructible, and the Scouts best chance to defeat them are using nifty equipment named Vertical Manoeuvring Equipment. Essentially giving their users the power of flight, it evens the ground somewhat- and makes for exhilarating action scenes.

Despite the intensity and the atmosphere of dread that prevails, it doesn't mean it's an unrelentingly bleak watch. Yes, there's lots of dramatic twists in the plot, and a high body count but there are lighter moments too. The characters are well drawn and likeable for the most part. It's not that unusual for anime, but main character Eren is actually one of the least interesting characters- he's pretty sketchily drawn as a character who lives only for revenge. Much more interesting is Mikasa, who has an interesting back-story and is perhaps the show's biggest bad-ass, to this point at least.

The series is told in several multi-episode storylines. The serialised nature of the storytelling (and the killer cliffhangers) means it lends itself to watching in large chunks. And it's so addictive, it's hard enough not to marathon the whole set.

The animation from Studio WIT is nothing short of excellent. Thick black lines around characters gives it a distinctive visual style, but it's not overly distracting. The action sequences are nothing short of masterpieces of visual storytelling. It even manages to keep this standard consistently with no obvious dips in budget. WIT must be applauded for keeping up a show of this intensity at this quality without missing a beat.

The series is no slouch in the sound department either. The music compliments the show perfectly, and it boasts one of the best opening sequence/song combos for a while. The dub courtesy of FUNimation is above average too.

This edition contains the first 13 episodes and a bonus disc packed with features including a making of and a comedy spin-off show.  Even if you watched the series streaming, there's more than enough here to justify a purchase.

Attack On Titan is easily one of the stand out shows to emerge from Japan in recent years. It offers a viewing experience like no other. If you love- or have ever loved- Japanese animation then this is simply unmissable. If the second half keeps up to this standard then we could very much be looking at a true modern classic.

ATTACK ON TITAN: SEASON 1 (part 1) is available on  Blu-ray and DVD from MANGA UK   also available from FUNIMATION in North America (Content may vary). Also available STREAMING Via  NETFLIX  [US/UK/CANADA]  HULU  [US only] and CRUNCHYROLL.