Attack on Titan Collection 1 (Blu Ray) Review - Second Opinion

Way back in my single-digit years, I watched Neon Genesis Evangelion. On reflection this might not have been the best idea for a neophyte child, especially when the Angel-eating and everybody-turns-into-lemonade bits came up.

Re-watching it as a teen with a modicum of analytical discourse, one big thing struck me about it – innovation. Near as I could tell, nothing had been done like it before. It was groundbreaking on its own, juxtaposing a giant robot story against an intense interpersonal saga of character development, black comedy and psychological deconstruction, but as a popular release during the early-to-mid ‘90s period of anime gaining burgeoning attention in the Western market – alongside luminaries like Ghost in the Shell and Akira – it was damn near revolutionary.

I would go so far as to brazenly offer that Attack on Titan is to the current anime generation as Evangelion was to the earlier one. Love it or hate it, it’s an experience.

You’ve probably already read Ryan’s in-depth and much more interesting review, but allow me to offer a second opinion: it really is that good. It really is that unique. It really is that revolutionary.

On paper, the plot goes thus: humans live inside walls, get attacked by giant naked people lacking both genitalia and table manners, and in turn attack said naked people with wall-harpoons while wielding absurdly-large Stanley knives. If that over-simplification of the plot doesn’t immediately grab you, either I’m doing it wrong or you should majorly reassess your standards in life.

While, as Ryan put it, the story is fast-paced and action-oriented (though I’d substitute “with the force of a car crash” to instead read “with the rush of skiing down Everest with rocket boots”), quite a bit of it is still devoted to character development. This is an area where the anime excels over the still-very-excellent manga; the latter devoted entire chapters to character ruminations and internal debates which, in many cases, swiftly ground the plot to a halt. In contrast, the anime still features those moments but rather during action than on its own whilst maintaining the pacing, which is definitely a positive step.

On the flipside, the action is bolstered greatly by both the in-action animation and an absolutely rockin’ soundtrack courtesy of Hiroyuki Sawano. Seriously, those looking for a new album to burn the calories with at the gym should follow Ryan’s example and hit up Amazon. (Note: those looking for “Guren no Yumiya”, the excellent anthem in the opening credits, should look for Linked Horizon’s “Jiyu e no Shingeki” EP, featuring both that song and the one that opens the anime’s second half – neither song are on the Attack on Titan soundtrack proper)

It’s clear screenwriter Yasuko Kobayashi and director Tetsuro Araki respect the original material to do justice to it in the anime, since many sequences from the manga are recreated shot-for-shot and characters presented largely as they are on-page (and quite beautifully for both, courtesy of WiT Studio and the absolutely gorgeous Blu-Ray presentation). Both the Japanese and English dubs do not disappoint, with the latter expertly handled by director Mike McFarland. Special mention has to go to Matthew Mercer’s portrayal of Captain Levi in the English rendition; his surefire delivery of dialogue and badass baritone turned a character I didn’t much care for in the manga into, well, a badass.

On the technical side, those keen on specials features will definitely get their beaks wet. As well as commentary on select episodes, there’s an in-depth hour-long documentary on the creation of the English dub that’s got some great content with McFarland and the various voice actors talking about their respective processes. There’s also an ADORABLE series of shorts with cute chibi renditions of the characters that you should watch whether you’re into cute things or not.

At the end of all my rambling, I cannot recommend Attack on Titan enough. The fact I can’t give it a definitive genre speaks volumes towards its unique status, being a narrative roping in monster killer, war epic, horror story, character deconstruction and urban fantasy all at once. As I said, it’s as landmark and genre-busting as Evangelion was before it, and I’d bet money that one day people point to Attack on Titan being as formative to anime as they do to Evangelion now.

If nothing else, it is really freakin’ cool to see dudes flying on ropes and slicing up walking giants with oversize stanley knives. Personally, that’ll never get old for me.

- Chris
Attack on Titan Collection 1 will be available on Blu Ray and DVD from Madman on the 18th of June 2014.

Attack on Titan is also available on the Playstation Network, Google Play, iTunes and 
For those hardcore fans among us, there's a very special Limited Edition on offer.


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