Attack on Titan review: Nine years of humans and not-so-humans


Ren Lloyd

Examples of popular anime that brought anime to global attention include “Dragon Ball”, “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” and “Steins; Gate”. “Attack on Titan” serves excellently as an entry-level show for aspiring anime fans, especially without the sentiment that stems from childhood shows like “Naruto” and “Bleach”.

Elijah Pacis and Ren Lloyd

Attack on Titan” began its fourth and final season nearly a decade after its 2013 anime release and twelve years after its creator Hajime Isayama published the series’ first manga chapter. The series found wild success worldwide and assisted the push for anime’s mainstream-friendly status.

Beginning in the walled nation of Eldia, the main characters Eren, Mikasa and Armin, alongside the rest of the people living within the walls, believe that all of humanity now exists trapped in the safety of the walls. Outside the walls, large, human-like monsters called Titans torment the nation by consuming anyone that dares set foot outside. The Titans broke into the outermost wall where the main characters reside. This tragedy resulted in the loss of the outermost wall and 10,000 deaths, and a later 250,000 deaths resulting from the government discreetly mass-executing people to reduce food shortages. 

Later in the story, viewers learned that all Eldians possess the ability to transform into Titans, albeit without changing back. However, Eren, Ymir, Reiner, Bertholdt and Annie could transform at will between human and Titan forms. Those five characters contributed to forming The Nine, a group of extraordinary humans that could morph in between both forms. In a shocking reveal, the people of Eldia learn that other humans live and thrive in the rest of the world, and imprisoned the Eldians as punishment for their Titan-shifting.

The plot shifted from battling Titans to a multi-continental conflict between different characters and their respective nations, with the powers of The Nine on the line. Seasons three and four depict a character-driven storyline based on each character’s perception of a perfect world. They aim to realize their ambitions differently: Eren pursues the freedom of Eldia by destroying every other nation, while Reiner wants to end the cycle of the Titans by destroying Eldia.

“‘Attack on Titan’ has incredible complexity; the stellar storytelling, planning out the development of all the characters including side characters, the minimal details, the captivating animation, the plot twists, the soundtracks… the list goes on. If you’ve never watched it, do it now,” senior Daniel Mathew said.

“Attack On Titan” combines shounen and seinen aspects, combining the power of friendship between the main trio and the treachery of the remaining characters. It also featured psychological elements through twists and turnarounds in the plot. Initial assumptions about different characters typically fall through leaving the viewer appalled at the shocking revelation. 

The animation improved across the ten years since the first season dropped. The show underwent a change in the animation studio, shifting from Wit Studio to MAPPA. Overall, the animation withstood the test of time from season one, with each new season bringing a noticeable improvement to the dark, gritty spectacle. The series stands head-and-shoulders above other shows in similar categories including Parasyte, Monster and Death Note

When it comes to the “Attack on Titan” music, the film features extravagant and orchestral music and a fast-paced rock theme. But starting on season three, it adds an alluring and angelic mood, then the theme changes again in season four when the music shifts back to the orchestral rock that exudes an element of fear and darkness. The opening and ending themes for “Attack on Titan” represent the progression of the show, highlighting the epic, hopeful beginnings transforming into a harsh, bleak ending. It also matches the shift of the main conflict from one between humanity and the Titans to humanity with itself.

“Attack on Titan” enjoys an unpredictable plotline, generation-defining animation quality and an iconic music score. Season four part two will end on April 4, 2022, and MAPPA will release the third part of the season in 2023, marking the end of a decade-spanning masterpiece. This show spread anime’s influence globally, helping to bring Japanese animation to the forefront of the entertainment industry.