Manga UK have already snapped-up the DVD license for release over here so expect that to drop within the next year or two, but for now you can watch Attack on Titan on Crunchyroll: http://www.crunchyroll.com/attack-on-titan
Mankind is on the verge of extinction; mysterious giants have appeared on Earth rampaging all over the world and eating any humans they come across, seemingly for the fun of it. The giants have forced the last surviving remnants of civilisation to retreat behind 50-metre-high walls. The only humans left have confined themselves to this tiny space, hemming themselves in like cattle. The Attack on Titan manga began to be released in the UK in June 2012 (published by Kodansha Comics) and has failed to make much of a splash, but now the anime is taking the world by storm.
The story begins over 100 years after the last serious threat from the giants, or ‘titans’, and the humans have grown lax and are under-prepared for any possible attack against them. As if on cue a ‘Colossal Titan’ suddenly appears – towering over even the massive walls marking the border of human civilisation, and smashes through mankind’s greatest defense with ease. The protagonist Eren – only a child at this point – can only watch as the literal and metaphorical walls of his world come crumbling down and his own mother is eaten right in front of his eyes as titans begin to pour in. Now driven only by the desire for revenge, Eren enlists in the military to become a ruthless fighting machine. The series then chronicles the desperate attempts by the human forces, including Eren and his friends, to defend their land, their families and their lives.
Attack on Titan has become an instant hit, inspiring everything from outrageous cosplays to Minecraft mods, for a number of reasons. In part its success can be attributed to the beautiful artwork perfectly re-envisioning the medieval European town setting, in contrast to the harsher and more minimal style of the manga, but its attraction most likely stems from its uniqueness compared to other anime series out there at the moment. Aside from the setting, the sheer darkness and maturity of the content really set it apart – the show is not for the faint of heart as the action revolves around literally bone-crunching, gory violence.
The only fan service to be found here is in the form of your favourite character being bathed in the blood of his/her enemies. One of the other truly original facets of the series comes from the humans method of attacking the titans: the 3D manoeuvre gear. Each soldier is equipped such that they can use these gas-propelled grappling hooks to fling themselves through the air using buildings, trees or even titans as anchors. Not only is this a fascinating concept but it allows for the gorgeously animated, presumably big-budget, combat sequences which have got audiences hooked.
There are naturally some flaws in the series however, namely rooted in pacing issues. The series starts with a bang and manages to maintain the high pace and adrenaline-pumping action – not only in battle scenes but also in story development and shocking plot twists. For a good number of episodes before petering out into slower-paced episodes, some even devoid of meaningful dialogue or exposition. This would not be inherently bad however, Attack on Titan plays on your expectations with agonising cliffhangers that have left many fans disappointed. This could have been a pacing decision intended to snag as many viewers as possible with the explosive beginning, which certainly was effective, alternatively the animation budget may have begun to run dry. In earlier episodes attempts are also made to insert some light-hearted comedy which, whilst certainly not unfunny, feel more than a little out of place against the backdrop of the series.
One consistent plus about Attack on Titan is its immense soundtrack by Hiroyuki Sawano (who has previously composed music for Blue Exorcist, Guilty Crown and other series) which ranges from rousing orchestral or choral pieces to heavy rock insert songs and always makes for a fitting accompaniment to whatever is on screen. Whether the titans are instilling panic through a wave of destruction, or whether heroic soldiers are fiercely fighting back, the music completes and adds to the epic atmosphere of the series.
Adding to the scale of both the story and the conflict is the large cast of characters, many with surprising depth and likeability whilst others (including Eren) are disappointingly one-dimensional, with an array of famous voice actors to portray them. However, given the brutal nature of the show it’s best not to get too attached to any characters as they could be picked-off at any time without ceremony!
Attack on Titan is a perfect show for anyone who wants something dark or gruesome, or who just needs to escape from the droves of high school rom-com anime out there. With a magnificent setting, a plot that keeps you guessing and some of the most intense battle sequences out there, although potentially marred by pacing issues, the series is set to be one of the best of the year.