Attack on Titan Review: Here’s What You Need To Know About Shingeki no Kyojin
If you pay attention to online reviews—and who doesn’t?—Attack on Titan is the best TV show of 2020. End of conversation.
And let’s look at this objectively for a minute.
IMDB has a best of all time TV episodes list. Each episode included in the list needs a minimum of 1,000 ratings to qualify. At the top of this list, edging out the Game of Thrones’ season 6 finale, Breaking Bad, and The West Wing, is Attack on Titan S03E17: Hero. With a 9.9 average rating across more than 26,000 reviews, this episode is dominating.
With this kind of ranking, fans (and even not fans) of anime have all been taking a second look at what was once a very niche anime series. If you’re a fan of dark anime, dark fantasy, and fantasy fiction—Attack on Titan is one you’ll want to be putting on your watchlist.
What is Attack on Titan?
Attack on Titan, known as Shingeki no Kyojin in its native Japan, is an anime series currently in its third season. It has been adapted from Hajime Isayama’s dark fantasy manga.
Based in a post-apocalyptic, dystopian world where humans live within walled cities, life is fraught with difficulties. Outside the confines of the city walls, Titans wait: horrific humanoid beasts that feed on human flesh. These Titans wander free in the desolate wasteland, waiting for victims. Eventually, two of these Titans use their unique intelligence to breach city walls. The Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan destroy entire cities and tear families apart—as is the case for Eren. He and his friends—Mikasa and Armin—join an elite army of soldiers following the loss of their families. Attack on Titan follows their journey.
Attack on Titan: The Review
It’s fairly easy to see what sets Attack on Titan apart from other anime in the shonen genre. Take Dragon Ball Z and other shonen series where the main characters battle and level-up strength-wise. Attack on Titan is happy to address the brutal realities of life—war, death, loss, duty, and resilience.
World Building ; Background
The majority of season 1 is dedicated to setting the scene—as bleak and hopeless as that scene is. Regardless of how austere the Attack on Titan world is, it is built in a way that makes addictive viewing. We also see the mysteries surrounding the Titans, and get an idea about the brutal world they’re living in.
Season 2 is equally compelling, but takes its cue from exploring the mysteries of the Titans—and a fair amount of backstory—as the Scout Regiment prepares to launch its attack on the monstrous behemoths.
Season 3 takes the series in a new direction yet again. Despite it being the most brutal so far, it manages to hold onto its core: the ability of humans to keep going, to persevere against the odds. For a show so bleak, Attack on Titan is incredibly inspiring that way.
Attack on Titan keeps viewers in a perpetual state of discomfort. Case in point: favorite characters can—and often do—die in the most brutal and unceremonious ways. For fans of Game of Thrones—and the notorious Ned Stark execution—or Walking Dead—and just about every character from season 1—the underlying message in Attack on Titans is simple. Nobody is safe.
Certain characters, too, realize special, game-changing powers. Eren is one of them. As a main character, Eren isn’t all that interesting on his own. Where he fails to build charisma early on might become a sticking point for some viewers—but if you stick with the series you’re bound to find the power reveal pretty memorable.
One of the most memorable plot points of the series has to be the set up at Shiganshina District.
The former home to Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, Shiganshina District is now the focal point of an ambush by their former allies. Nearly the entire Scout Regiment army is destroyed, and the team are up against almost guaranteed failure.
And then the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan roll in—the two responsible for levelling the city the first time. Eren is no match for either. Outside the crumbling walls of the city, the remainders of the regiment are trapped. The Beast Titan is destroying their hiding place, and there is only one option left for the rapidly diminishing team: win against unbeatable odds, or die trying.
Where other franchises might take this opportunity to teleport in an unrealistic savior, or invent some unbelievable weapon—all hastily written in an attempt to save the characters—Attack on Titan does neither. Instead, it executes a hail-mary plan that costs massively. Many of our beloved characters pay the ultimate price, and sacrifice their own goals and desires for the greater good.
This kind of realism lends authenticity and humanity to the anime series, and makes every victory the characters experience seem all the more sweet by comparison.
The action sequences used in Attack on Titan is impressively realistic, and the artwork is second to none. The horrific Titans give the graphic artists room to really exercise their creative chops, and stretch the limits of what we expect from anime. With the show’s high-wire acrobatic moves and tactical military exercises, Attack on Titan is able to tell a deeply thematic, incredibly beautiful story through its spellbinding animation.
Attack on Titan combines heart-stopping action with intriguing mystery and background development. The incredible character-building skill really takes us to the edge of our seat, and leaves us devastated when another beloved character is snatched away.
Attack on Titan took on the epic challenge of showing that an anime series isn’t just good for anime, but genuinely good in its own right—even up against the giants of the fantasy genre. If you enjoy great fiction, you’ll love Attack on Titan.
Convinced? You should be! Check out episode one of Attack on Titan right here.