What makes this anime so good is that it makes us question what it means to be human – by comparing us to over-sized, monstrous human-looking giants whose sole purpose is to eliminate our existence.
WARNING : SPOILERS BELOW (OBVIOUSLY)
Yes, I know I’m late to the gun show, but I was only able to catch up to the Attack on Titan craze only recently.
After watching the first episode, I was instantly hooked. It took me only two days to finish the entire first season (yes, I know, I have a problem) and that was with me consciously trying to stretch it out knowing the second season is not out yet.
I finally had the pleasure of discussing the show with someone at a pub but he maintained that he disliked the show because it took the characters about five minutes of internal dialog before taking on a decision, which could be quite tiring especially in a show advertised as action.
I think this is is exactly what draws people to watching anime.
Each character in Attack on Titan has their own history, and each decision they partake in is deeply connected to their familial background and past.
Granted it does get quite tiring having to sit and watch them go through the reasons why they are participating in a particular action but I believe that is part of the anime’s emphasis on the humanity of the main characters.
What makes good science fiction is that query of what makes us human. This query is often brought out through contrasting human characters against androids (ex. Blade Runner, I robot) or in this case, against titans.
Characters such as Mikasa, Armin and Eren are constantly emphasizing that their decision to join the Scouting Regiment is to save humanity from the titans, therefore indicating that it is our conscious intent to take on a decision, especially one that is detrimental to our own safety (Remember, Mikasa says repeatedly that the most important thing is to “Stay alive”) in order to to maintain the safety of the greater good.
It is our ability to sacrifice that separates us from the mindless actions that the titans undergo.
The titans are quite the complex villain. On one hand, they are monstrous and they strike fear because of their grotesque cannibalism and destructive behaviour. On the other hand, almost all of them have dorky haircuts, smile in a creepingly vacant way, and they run amok the streets without any pants.
Perhaps what makes the titans so creepy is the fact that they resemble human beings – however, they lack the qualities of what makes us human. For example, they have no genitals, which throws reproduction out of the window.
This could also indicate that they maintain no relationships with each other — which we can see through each episode as no titan, as of yet, has shown dismay over the death of another titan. Thus bringing me to my second point: they lack empathy. And empathy is such a strong, motivating force in the post-apocalyptic world of Attack on Titan because if it wasn’t for empathy, none of the characters would have wanted to be a hero – and Eren, would have never been able to keep his motivation in succeeding in his career as a Scout. We know this because everytime Eren is about to fail at a mission, it is the image of his mother getting eaten by a titan that keeps him going.
Personally, I can’t wait to see where they would go with this series. Do we ever find out if the titans are controlled by a corrupt organization that wants to annihilate human existence? How are they made? Are Eren and Mikasa ever going to get together?
I, for one, am just dying to find out.