Attack on Titan has built itself up to be one of the most popular anime in recent years since Season 1, first aired in 2013. Since its start 8 years ago, it has garnered a massive fan following with just 4 seasons out as of now. The original author of the manga, Hajime Isayama has consistently delivered, in terms of the story right until the conclusion of its monthly serialization. With the second half of the final season set to continue in 2022, the hype behind the series is now higher than it has ever been and it is so for a good reason.
The world of Attack on Titan is a dystopian one unlike any other. One in which humankind constantly lives in fear of being slaughtered by barbaric man-eating Titans. Humanity is forced to survive within a series of massive concentric and seemingly indestructible walls to protect themselves. In this gritty and cruel world, characters are left with no other choice but to fight for their survival. The story follows Eren Jaeger, a headstrong and impulsive young boy who witnesses the world around him crumbling in front of his eyes, as he vows to liberate humanity from the oppression they’ve faced for several years.
For being as popular as it is, Attack on Titan is a dark and gory show that has as much spectacle as it does substance, with gripping character writing and scenarios as compelling as its stellar animation and action. The story starts extremely fast-paced and throws you right into the thick of things from the very first episode. While the first season ought to hook you on to the world and story, the second season is where the plot and characters start to develop. The fast pace of the first season is sacrificed in the second, for meticulous world-building that expands greatly upon everything shown previously. The following seasons use the platform set by the preceding ones to turn the rest of it into a thrilling roller coaster ride from start to finish. Despite its dark and grim setting as well as visceral action, the show wastes no time in getting the viewers invested, making it hard to stop watching once you get started. Here are some of the reasons why:
Concrete Social Structure
The world of Attack on Titan has a concrete sociopolitical structure that initially depends upon which wall they live behind. The people living on the outskirts of the country live at a much higher risk than those living further inside the walls. Those who live closer to the borders are constantly on the edge of potential danger while those who live further in can afford to live a more luxurious and relaxed lifestyle. Consequently, a natural hierarchy is created in society. This hierarchy is also reflected in the structure of the military, as the troops stationed under the Survey Corps face more Titans as they are tasked with venturing outside the walls. The Military Police in contrast are much more under-prepared, given that they only oversee the common affairs within the innermost wall, being promised a lifetime of stability. While everything appears well defined on the surface, the framework of the society is inherently fragile, with a single Titan being enough to plummet the cities into ruins. Like any other society, there are also religious groups, petty criminals, city police, and journalists who react to the happenings around them. These aspects are cleverly woven into the main story and majorly influence the chain of events, especially highlighted in the high octane political drama that is laid out from the third season onwards.
Logical Progression of the Narrative
Another reason why the narrative is so engrossing is that every story beat is logically sound, with all the plot developments building upon their predecessors. This is true for the characters as well; while Eren may be a little irrational at times, the supporting cast makes decisions that play by the members' ideologies and motives. The screenplay is tight and the exposition feels like it is always shrouded in mystery, giving us just enough clues to keep us wondering, but not enough for us to figure everything out. The series demands your attention to the very end to fully understand the events leading up to the end game. All of these elements factor into a tense and gripping build-up that leads to some incredible moments with a payoff that makes it all seem worth the investment.
Choices and Consequences
The writing in Attack on Titan doesn’t pull any punches, with all the characters facing very real ramifications of their actions and this credibility keeps the show engaging every single episode. Much like Game of Thrones, this series keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats because of the grave consequences that some actions can lead to, irrespective of the character’s relevance to the plot. The writing frequently puts the characters in uncomfortable situations where decision-making is extremely crucial and the choices are grueling, with a lot at stake at every fork in the road. One is also shown the world from each character’s perspective, making it easy to empathize with the entire cast and get behind the decisions they make. This builds up to some immensely poignant moments throughout the series that inevitably evoke an emotional response out of you.
For those who don’t mind subtitles, the Japanese dub evokes a lot of emotion. While the English dub is almost as great, it doesn’t reach the same highs in terms of voice acting. Attack on Titan also has a lot of special episodes that are not a part of the main series. These flesh out the world a little more and can be watched in-between seasons.
All in all, Attack on Titan is shaping up to be a modern classic of an anime on all fronts. It is the perfect series to get into for anyone who is unfamiliar with anime, or for doubters who are yet to understand its appeal. The animation and visuals are dynamic and fluid, making the show incredibly satisfying to watch from a visual standpoint alone. The score is also grand and immersive, playing a crucial role in elevating some of the more impactful scenes to another level. Varying from anthemic and operatic chants to somber and emotional instrumental ballads, the soundtrack is diverse and feels like it is influenced by a variety of different styles of music. The high production value of the anime only enriches the already thrilling narrative and turns the show into something you won’t be able to experience in any other medium. With the anime series nearing its climax, there’s absolutely no better time to get into it.