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Attack on Titan: The Roar of Awakening (2018)

Attack on Titan: The Roar of Awakening’ is, officially, the third ‘recap’ movie, retelling one of the key story arcs of this smash-hit anime’s second season, the arc known as ‘Clash of the Titans’.

Ahead of the release of the Blu-Ray release of season 2 this month, The Roar of Awakening is having a flash showing at a number of movie theatres around the UK, mostly on February 21st, and a ‘Secret Cinema’ showing at a mystery venue at the Glasgow Film Festival, on March 1st.

Attack on Titan takes place in a dystopian future world where mankind has its back firmly against the wall, preyed upon by platoons of apparently unintelligent cannibalistic giants which come in a variety of sizes and who are very, very difficult to kill.

The last few tens of thousands of survivors have been driven into a refuge of concentric walled cities defended by a handful of brave militia, the bravest of which are the Scout regiment, who use gas-launched grappling hooks and swords featuring sectional blades – so that they are always sharp – to take down the titans at their only vulnerable point, the nape of the neck.

As with any good tale, AoT follows a few heroes and heroines – there are some great female characters – who all have their own strengths and weaknesses, which are gradually revealed as the plot unfolds, and which drive the narrative.   

If you’re new to AoT, this is as good a place as any to start, and seeing it on the big screen will allow you to backtrack through Seasons One and Two and the recaps (if it really grabs you) so you’re all caught up. But fair warning: it is undoubtedly one of the most gruesome and (thus far) pitiless anime series around, so probably best to avoid if your stomach churns at the sight of animated blood, torn-off limbs or decapitation by giant teeth.

It doesn’t feel quite right giving this a star-rating, given its twin roles as full-length taster and pure fan fodder, both roles it performs pretty well.

If you’re already a fan, and something of a completist, you’ll enjoy this, but I am not entirely sure RoA will convert many non-believers on its own. This kind of catch-up rather illustrates the strength and weakness of nearly all anime series, to my mind: the plot is far, far too intricate, the character backstories and their changing roles too extensive to fit neatly in digest form. Unusually for anime, the level of exposition here is only moderate, so you could be forgiven for not having much of a clue what is going on at some points if you don’t know the series.

If you do get a bit lost, though, there’s plenty to look at. The action doesn’t miss a beat and many of the scenes look great on a big screen, with a pleasingly naturalistic colour-palette and decent use of shadows (often a let-down of hand-drawn examples of the genre; AoT is mostly hand-drawn with sparing use of CGI, mostly where a number of horses are running at once, for instance).

The animation itself is as competent as one might expect from the highly-accomplished animators and studios involved, and the action scenes are pretty well done. However, don’t expect to be blown away; the series wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, visually, when it came out, though its fairly workaday look is, arguably, better suited to the trad/medieval setting – Knightpunk, anyone? – than a more stylised approach.

What makes AoT interesting are all the questions which lie behind the setup: why is humanity in this dire state in the first place? Can it survive against apparently impossible odds? What is the true relationship between our brave protagonists, and their often complacent charges (townspeople), and the Titans themselves? 

The climax of ‘AoT: RoA’ will leave you with a bunch of questions, but that’s part of the fun, eh? We all know there’s a Big Reveal coming at some point. I, for one, am looking forward to July this year, when Season Three starts to emerge…

Find a screening near you here.

FROM Anime Limited
2 hours

*Screener provided by Anime Limited*