Welcome back to another review post!
This time, I’ll be reviewing the very popular Shingeki no Kyojin, which was the rage last year. At least, it was, until Tokyo Ghoul made its debut and took over that spot as the hottest anime of the year. I know I’m really late for watching this anime and reviewing it only now but I had reasons for doing so. Simply put, I was unable to stomach the violence and gore scenes Shingeki no Kyojin had the first time I tried watching it and so abandoned it after watching a few of those scenes. But feeling that I could stomach horror better now, I decided to try watching it again.
Shingeki no Kyojin‘s genres are action, drama, fantasy, shounen, horror, mystery, tragedy, mature and psychological. The story follows a spirited youth, Eren Yaeger, his foster sister, Mikasa Ackerman and their childhood friend, Armin Arlert who all live within the Walls, which protect them from the outside world, where the Titans roam.
The Titans are enemies of mankind and prey on them even though they have no need of them for sustenance. In a battle against the Titans a hundred years ago, the remaining human survivors built the Walls to protect mankind – Wall Maria, Wall Rose and Wall Sina. As a young boy, Eren admired the Recon Corps, the military section who venture outside the walls to learn more about the Titans and find a way to reclaim land for mankind. But because of the Recon Corps high fatality rates, his family were not supportive of his future plans to join them.
One day, together with Mikasa and Armin, he witnesses the appearance of the Colossal Titan and its attack on Wall Maria. Together with the Armoured Titan, the two break through the wall, allowing other Titans to enter the walls and rampage through the city. While trying to pull his mother out of the debris of his house, a Titan approaches and his mother begs him and Mikasa to run. As he refuses to leave her, she turns to a friend, Hannes instead to save her children and as Eren and Mikasa are being carried away, Eren watches horrified, as his mother is brutally killed and eaten by the Titan.
In his anger and despair, Eren vows to kill and eradicate all the Titans and joins the military years later together with Mikasa and Armin. There, he meets a bunch of other youths who have different reasons for joining the military – for reputation, to join the Military Police and others, sketchy. He does well enough to graduate within the top 10 of his class in fifth position.
Soon after, the Colossal Titans makes a reappearance and attacks the artillery on the walls of Wall Rose. But before Eren could get in a critical strike, it vanishes into thin air. The new recruits are then quickly assigned to defend different parts of the breached city of Trost and Eren is placed on the same team as Armin.
During the battle between the invading Titans, Eren is incapacitated after having his left leg bitten off by a Titan but when he sees Armin in danger of being eaten, he rescues his friend and sacrifices himself instead. Armin watches in horror as Eren loses his arm from the Titan biting it off and is swallowed.
All hope is seemingly lost as Armin’s entire team is wiped out with the exception of himself. When Mikasa arrives, asking for Eren’s whereabouts, Armin tearfully reveals to her his death and Mikasa flies into a fit of rage, brutally killing all the Titans that stand in her way and overusing her 3D Maneuver Gear. Just when she is about to get eaten by a Titan after falling down from the buildings, a 15-metre class Titan appears and attacks the other Titan. It goes on to attack other Titans that stand in its way and it eventually collapses, succumbing to its injuries and fatigue.
Amidst all the smoke spewing out from the Titan, Mikasa watches as a figure emerges from the Titan’s neck. Quickly, she recognises the person to be Eren and goes over to hold him. Still in disbelief and shock, she puts her ear to his chest and listens to his heartbeat. She hears it and begins to cry a flood of tears. (My eyes teared up at this point too)
From then on, Eren is revealed to be a Titan Shifter and mankind scramble to deal with this new discovery – is he a threat? Could he be used to help mankind with the fight against the Titans? Despite not knowing much of all this himself, Eren is forced to go through trial and justify himself and him as a threat. With so many more questions emerged at this point, the story has only just begun.
Shingeki no Kyojin is thrilling, gripping and captivating. It just is.
The story is pushed by Eren’s determination to exterminate all Titans and his strong sense of justice. Among all the characters, he’s the one that’s most driven and ready to charge into battle for the sake of mankind, making him so interesting to watch – you just don’t know what crazy, admirable thing he’ll do next. Eren, of course, easily became my favourite character in Shingeki no Kyojin because of his hardheadedness, passion and impulsiveness. To me, he was a character who had qualities other characters lacked; he had a valid reason for joining the military, was a devoted friend to those who were close to him and genuinely wanted to help others if he could. Also, might I mention how amazing Kaji Yuki was in voicing Eren? I first fell in love with his voice after hearing him voice Mabuchi Kou in Ao Haru Ride and was thrilled to hear him voicing Eren when I was watching Shingeki no Kyojin.
Some other characters that caught my attention while watching the series was Mikasa and Levi.
Mikasa is the first character from the series that instantly appealed to me. With her cool demeanor and unrivalled, impeccable fighting skills, she found her extremely cool and badass. She’s not a person of many words but when she speaks, they’re hardly useless words. She’s highly protective of Eren, him being her last family because if she were to ever lose him, she would have lost her family twice. She’s quite pitiful that way but it justifies her fierce protectiveness of Eren, which goes beyond normal boundaries. Mikasa would do practically anything for Eren and go with him anywhere if it meant that she could be nearby to watch over him. In addition, she’s also a prodigy who had little to no problems during her military training, even graduating at the top of her class.
As for Levi, I was sceptical when he first made his debut in the series. I had heard so much about him, that I was pretty curious to see what this character would be like and why so many people loved him. He sure is a mysterious character, a no-nonsense, business-like guy who doesn’t speak much but is highly talented and skilled in fighting, like Mikasa. He came off to me as aloof and somewhat uncaring but those opinions changed when I saw the scene of him swinging by the trees in the forest, passing by the dead bodies of his men and looking intently at each one of them. It occurred to me that maybe Levi was just really good or just used to suppressing his emotions so as to not let them get the better of him, like Erwin Smith and that’s what makes them such good leaders. I finally understood why Levi was so likeable when I saw him don an apron and mask for spring cleaning.
My verdict on Shingeki no Kyojin is highly favourable. Stories about a dystopian world aren’t usually my thing but I found the animation and fighting sequences, as well as the character development all simply amazing. The voice actors were wonderful and I felt that the story had the right balance of push-and-pull. At one point the characters are given time to train so we take a break from all the adrenaline pumping fight scenes and at another, the characters are thrown into battle so we get the hype from the amazing action sequences. Get what I mean, the balance between the character development scenes and action scenes? I’m sure you do haha.
The gore and violent scenes of the Titans devouring humans took me a while to get used to but I realised that most of them weren’t so bad because the scene immediately switches away from the horror the moment you get the idea of what’s going on to show you the next part of it; usually the blood of the victim splattering everywhere to surrounding characters’ shocked and horrified faces. The only time that I actually reacted in shock such that I instinctively threw up my hands in front of me to block my computer screen was when one of the soldiers in hiding lost all hope in ever winning against the Titans and loaded a gun to shoot himself straight through the mouth. I’ll never forget that scene.
Oh yes, I think the series’ first opening song also deserves a mention! I think it was appropriately composed to make the viewer feel all adrenaline-rushed and hyped up; the graphics for the opening scene alone is fantastic, showcasing the famous 3D Maneuver Gear in action and the intensity of the war between mankind and the Titans just by sheer numbers. It’s in fact, one of the most pumped-up opening songs I have ever heard that makes you want to get up and charge into your computer screen into battle with the characters to fight for freedom. At least, that’s what it makes me feel hahaha. 10/10 for the opening song!
I’m definitely going to read the manga now to see the continuation where the series left off though it probably won’t be as adrenaline-filled as watching it in animation. Shingeki no Kyojin sure surprised me, by surprising myself at how much I liked it. For now, characters struggling to survive in a dystopian world is the rage.
When will humanity get tired of watching humanity struggling to live? Hahahaha
Character likeability / Character background: 9/10
Overall story: 8/10