#Review: Attack on Titan, Season 1

I have now watched the entire first season of this … show. This program. This anime. And while I’m neither in love with the program itself nor the format, there are some interesting things going on here.

The premise of Attack on Titan is that the human race, under assault of giant man-eating humanoids called Titans, has withdrawn behind three concentric walls that, for hundreds of years, have protected them from Titan attacks, but also prevented humanity from going anywhere outside the safety of their walls. In the very first episode, a Colossal Titan, one larger than any ever seen before, shows up and basically wrecks the outer wall, allowing the Titans inside. A full 20% of humanity perishes in the events that take place over the next several months, as the Titans have feasts and the humans try to fight back.

Good stuff:

  • This show does action really well. All of the Titan fights were really cool, and the Spider-Man-esque way the characters get around, via waist-mounted cable guns, never looks anything short of amazing.
  • The designs for the Titans are uniformly awesome. None of them look like any others, but they all really skate up to the uncanny valley and they are all really creepy. None of them move quite right, although some of them move much more strangely than others, and the way some of them have faces that would look perfectly normal on a banker or a grocer when they’re actually man-eating monsters is really something.
  • The actual story itself is pretty cool; I want to know more about these things and more about the world.

Bad stuff:

  • This may be a manga thing or an artifact of how Japanese translates into English– and I should point out that I watched about 80% of the season dubbed, not subtitled– but my God, the dialogue was terrible, and the melodrama off the charts. There was no set of circumstances perilous enough (or exciting enough) that they could not be interrupted for a lengthy philosophical conversation, even if the characters were, say, on horseback and fleeing from a giant, when you wouldn’t expect them to be able to talk. The voice acting in both languages has one volume: screaming. And any individual sentence would always be 20 times as long as it needed to be, with lots of recursive clauses. Even if this is how Japanese sounds to an English speaker when translated literally, you solve that problem by not translating it literally. If you’re going to do a dub, try and make the dialogue sound natural to an English speaker.(*)
  • Character design for the human characters could be better, especially since they tend to be wearing uniforms and thus dressed the same all the time. I had trouble differentiating between a lot of the characters.
  • The flashbacks. My God, the flashbacks. Again, nothing is too exciting that you can’t interrupt it with a five-minute flashback to people talking.
  • Pacing. The episodes are short, at about 22 minutes each, but there’s a couple of minutes of recap and credits at either end of that, so the actual episode length is maybe sixteen to eighteen minutes? I am not exaggerating when I say that most episodes are 14 minutes of talking about what is happening right in front of the characters and carping about philosophy and then four minutes of something actually happening, then a cliffhanger.

So, it sounds like I hated this, but the positive stuff is actually interesting enough to me that I’m probably still in for the second season– especially since the things that are crappy about it lend well to making fun of the show while watching it, which … is a way to enjoy TV, I suppose. I may try out a season of My Hero Academia before I go into S2 of Attack on Titan just to see what things are in common across the two shows and maybe recalibrate my expectations a little bit.

Also, my wife brought home the first two volumes of the manga from the library, and I read the first one, and the anime really does appear to be a scene-for-scene translation of the manga. I have not read the second volume yet and really am not feeling much of an itch to do it, so I think I’ll stick with the series for now.

(*) This may be a good time to remind people that my academic background is in Biblical Studies, and the Hebrew Bible in particular, so I have a lot of Opinions about how to translate things. My lack of facility with Japanese hurts me a bit, but I can go on for a while about this sort of thing.

On Anime

First things first: the power was back on before bedtime last night; technically we ended up not having to stay at the hotel but decided to do so anyway, mostly because the boy was having a ball. As of right now we’re home and everything appears to be fine. Both my school and our son’s school both appear to have the power back on as well; there was some speculation that this might cut into school starting back up tomorrow but that no longer looks like it’s going to happen.

I have been, for some time now, casting about for some new Thing to become a Fan of, and for some reason(*) just before the power went out I’d decided to watch a few episodes of Attack on Titan on Netflix and Hulu(**). I was on the sixth episode of Season One, right at the end of a damn cliffhanger, when the lights went out, and as I’m typing this I just finished the 10th episode. And there are bits about it that are ridiculous, and I’m not sure if they’re manga tropes or something specific to this show (my God, the melodrama; everyone is always screaming) but so far I’m really enjoying it, to the point that I’m considering dipping my toe into…

(shivers)

… the manga.

I mean, there’s 33 volumes. Surely just buying one won’t hurt anything, right?

God help me.

(I’ve got Full Metal Alchemist and My Hero Academia on tap to check out next. Let me know which rabbit holes you think I need to fall into, if there are any.)

(*) a bunch of my current students are major weebs, and I still like to check stuff out whenever I notice a bunch of my kids are into something. It’s not like I’ve never had kids who liked anime before, but this year seems to feature a particularly high concentration of them for some reason. Why Attack on Titan in particular? I dunno, I’ve just always liked the look of the monsters for some reason.

(**) Started on Netflix, but Hulu has all four seasons of the show and appears to have better subtitles as well.

KOKOMO-CON 2019: The Cosplay

I did not take a ton of cosplay pictures today, but what I did get was of pretty impressive entertainment value. More on the show tomorrow; I’m beat.

Hall of Heroes Con 2019 Cosplay, Day 2

Cosplay and broasted potatoes. More cons should feature food trucks with broasted potatoes. Also, the two panorama-style photos are from the cosplay contest, which … Jesus.

Hall of Heroes Con 2019 Cosplay, Day 1

Cosplay! Getcha cosplay right here! Highlight of the day: selling not one but two books to Genderbent Freddy Krueger In Comfortable Ugg Boots. Second highlight is the mother-daughter Wonder Woman combination, because come on.