Popular Japanese animated series, Attack On Titan, has taken the world by storm, and generated a global buzz in the years since being adapted from Manga. What makes it so popular? What keeps fans watching from season to season?
Attack On Titan, or Shingeki no Kyojin in Japanese, is based on an, equally popular, Manga series by the same name. The story is the brain child of Manga artist, Hajime Isayama, and is set in an alternate reality where humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction by a horde of man-eating titans. Ranging between 3 and 15 meters in height, Titans run around wreaking destruction and swallowing humans up, by the mouthful.
The tale centres around a young, hotheaded, Eren Jaeger, supported by childhood friends Mikasa and Armin who – after their home town is overrun by titans – join the military training corps in order to fight to save humanity from an unthinkable end.
Things go on as predictably as they can, until the youngsters first face off against titans, following graduation from training. Eren, through a happy accident, discovers that he has the ability to transform into a titan. This means that, for the first time since the struggle began, humanity is offered a glimmer of hope against the incessant onslaught. Along with this discovery comes even more questions.
The narrative reads simply enough, but there appears to be more to the magic, because Attack On Titan has kept audiences entranced for years. Accomplishing this without using Animé’s more typical tropes.
No Fan Service
Fan service, is a popular trick animé developers employ to attract viewers. They fill the series with sexually suggestive scenes and scandalously proportioned female characters, who are – more often than not – never appropriately dressed for the fight at hand.
Shingeki no Kyojin bypasses this cliché trope, and never portrays, even a smidgen, of panty shot. Instead, female characters are fully dressed and the focus falls completely on their contribution to the resistance and overall narrative.
Shonen storylines are usually targeted at a young male audience, featuring a hotheaded main character who often acts without so much as an ounce of thought for personal safety. Characters in shonen tales usually contend with impossible odds, as does Eren, but he enjoys the support of strong female characters, who never show an exaggerated amount of vulnerability – in light of the situation.
These kinds of storyline are usually filled with characters who deliver inspirational orations in times of great difficulty, and – given the situation – are in abundant supply throughout various parts of the tale.
Character development is integral to fan engagement in any story, Shingeki no Kyojin has a lot of great characters who show a tremendous amount of personal growth and discovery as the series progresses. Armin for instance, who is a rather sensitive and meek lad at the open of the story, has developed into a valuable member of the Scouting Legion (The resistance’s special operations wing) by the 3rd season. Helping with strategic planning, offering valuable insight and going as far as killing when necessary.
The story offers glimpses into the backgrounds of the many of the characters close to Eren and posse as the story progresses. Offering deep insight into what motivated past desicions and how they might behave in the current situation.
The Plot Thickens
The Shingeki no Kyojin narrative has similar appeal to Zombie stories, in that it puts humans at the bottom of the food chain. The series confronts viewers with an uncomfortable helplessness. Having to survive great odds after one’s false sense of security is suddenly shattered, what choices are best for humanity’s continued endurance?
It’s a story that resonates with all humans, despite their backgrounds, because we all have personal struggles to overcome. That is probably why we find Attack on Titan to be such an engaging narrative.
Not only that, the series isn’t short of plot twists and jaw dropping discoveries that constantly shift one’s initial assumptions about a situation or character. With mystery and suspense aplenty, audiences will always be guessing what lies around the next bend and being very wrong. Especially with the introduction of various human factions with differing motivations as the narrative progresses.
Humanity is at odds with a formidable foe, who’s motivations are, at first, unclear and they’re not going down without a fight. A combination of chance and enginuity interplay in nail biting fashion, and Attack on Titan depicts it all very vividly. The use of colour and captivating animation, especially in use of rapidly changing angles of Multi-Axis maneuvers during the utterly gripping battle scenes is a cut above numerous big animé titles.