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DVD Review: Attack on Titan, Part 1 (Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack)

attack on titan blu-ray reviewAttack on Titan: Part 1
Blu-ray/DVD Combo
FUNimation
13 episodes

When a highly anticipated property receives its translation, rescripting, and dubbing, consternation and grumbling are always sure to follow.  How closely do you (and can you) stick to the original writing and voicing?  Stay too close, and you run the risk of unintentionally dulling a property; move too far away, and you could alienate a fanbase.  With Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin), FUNimation mostly found a nice middle ground with one of the most engaging anime of recent years.

Attack on Titan traces mankind’s resistance against the titans – creepy, sketchily-drawn giants that devour humans – when they unexpectedly tear open walls that had held them at bay for a century.  Eren, Mikasa, and Armin, a trio of spunky youngsters, join other cadets and the larger army in the fight to defend civilization against a seemingly unstoppable threat.  This DVD combo set encompasses the first 13 episodes.  The first half mostly deals with demonstrating the deadly threat of the titans, as well as showcasing the training by Eren and the others, while the second half deals with a large-scale battle between the army and their gigantic foes.

Attack on Titan is one of anime’s most gripping series both because of its genuinely terrifying plot, in which everyone is in constant danger and no one is safe, and because of the look and feel of the series.  From the dark, but colorful shades used, to the most unique and fun anime weapon of recent years, 3D maneuver gear, the series bleeds a style that’s all its own.  But SnK is more than skin-deep.  During my first viewing of the series, when it originally aired, I was so taken by sudden plot developments and the horrific (though rarely gorey) imagery that I missed the well-constructed tale.  My viewing of the DVD helped me focus on the storyline, which functions by unfolding rapidly and then slowly unraveling both secrets of the world in which the characters live and the back stories and personalities of the characters themselves.  Series fans rewatching the show will also note plenty of little giveaways in character quotes and actions that foreshadow major events later on.

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Attack on Titan, Chapter 54: Kind Krista to Unhappy Historia

One of the things I’m looking forward to in the eventual next season of Shingeki no Kyojin is watching some of the supporting characters take on bigger roles.  For instance, Historia Reiss (formerly Krista Lenz), one of my favorites, has taken a pivotal role recently.  Chapter 54, in fact, inferences that the significance of her role is no less than that of Eren’s.

Of course, the Historia we know from the manga is very different from the one we last left in the anime.  She’s gone through some painful experiences since then, and we’ve uncovered her traumatic past and felt the pressure that has been put upon her.  She had been masking herself with a facade, which has now been lifted to reveal rotting wood underneath.  Despondent and unsure of herself, Historia asks Eren if everyone is disappointed in the real Historia.

Eren x Krista

It was only a matter of time before Eren x Krista became a thing… (Art by クロバラ子, Pixiv ID 41371983)

What follows is a Naruto-esque assertion from Eren which I think rings rather hollow (Eren’s a better character when he’s a mess than when he inspires).  Because I think what we’ll eventually find out is that Historia is a kind person – not naturally, but because of the influence of her real mother (I’m guessing that’s the woman from the chapter) and some others, like Ymir.  Historia will shine through and do something important,  out of love for those around her.

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Shingeki no Kyojin, Chapter 51: The End is Worth the Means…Right?

The newest chapter of Attack on Titan leaves off where the last one ended, with the aftermath of the great battle that occurred.  Mikasa is taken away with broken ribs and Erwin, with one less appendage, is attended to.  And while physical clean-up is occurring, humanity’s military leaders are also cleaning up behind the scenes, figuring out what all the discoveries point to.

The most important of these revelations is uncovered through poor Connie.  His experience in his hometown, combined with other evidence, suggests that the titans (perhaps all titans) were once human.  While the manga readers have supposed this from early on in the series, this disclosure is apparently new to Levi, Erwin, and Hanji.

shingeki no kyojin manga

Capture by matsuoka-rinrin (Tumblr)

All three react with pain and discomfort.  The moody Levi, in a rare state, vocalizes the inference that he’s become a master murderer.  Erwin seems half-crazed, and more out of character than any of the rest.  And Hanji…well, Hanji’s reaction might be most interesting of all.

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PBS Idea Asks, “Are the Titans from Attack on Titan Really Evil?”

I think you all are going to like this.

The PBS Idea Channel, an award-winning Youtube series hosted by Mike Rugnetta, frenetically focuses on different aspects of culture each week in a fun and intelligent way.  This past episode, the channel attacked the titans.  Yes, the anime titans.  Mike Rugnetta and his crew focused last week’s show on Attack on Titan (they’ve also previously discussed Evangelion).

More specifically, PBS Idea asks the question, “Are the titans evil?”  From Kant to cancer, Nietzsche to the Daleks, and instinct to maxim, the episode presents interesting supports and angles to tackle a question the aniblogs have also been asking.

Check out the six-minute episode below and tell us what you think.  Are the titans evil?  And what do you think of the channel?

Attack on Titan, Episode 24: Remember When

The general feeling about Eren Jaeger is that, like countless leads before him in other anime series, critical viewers of Shingeki no Kyojin find this lead to be annoying and less-than-likeable.  Me, on the other hand – I’ve liked Eren relatively well, though that could be because I’m deep down in love with SNK.  And so, I’m willing to overlook his many negative qualities and chalk it up to “Well, if I was in that situation…”

That is, until this episode.

Eren Jaeger shingeki no kyojin

Art by 木又-友達募集中

For the first time in the series, I’ve found myself feeling rage toward Eren, as he watched his comrades die and his remaining family fly toward certain death because he’s unwilling to fight a turncoat who he knows to be have betrayed and killed his friends and fellow soldiers.

GUH.

Of course, I changed my tune a little when I thought about how much of myself and other Christians I saw in the Eren of episode 24.

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Attack on Titan Podcast at Ashita no Anime

An atheist and two Christians walk into a podcast…

And they talk about Attack on Titan.

Sorry, no joke here, just the short of Ashita no Anime’s most recent podcast, featuring Alexander, Japes, and myself.  Though it’s about an older episode of Shingeki no Kyojin, I hope you’ll still check it out.  I’m not much of commentator, but Alexander and Japes are excellent.  And while you’re at, please check out Ashita no Anime and Japesland, a fairly new blog that often makes connections between Christianity and anime, as we do here.

Ashita no Anime Podcast 10 – Attack on Titan with Charles & Japes

Attack on Titan, Episode 07: Grace, Guilt, and Good Ideas

Another week, another terrific episode of Shingeki no Kyojin.  But at this point, everything still feels like setup and context – when do we find out about some of these secrets (looks like very soon)?  When will the troops start fighting back with ferocity (other than Mikasa)?  When do we start getting to know the other characters?

I should sit back and just enjoy the series and all the build-up, I suppose, but my anxiety is that the series will conclude without finishing the run of the manga, and I’ll be left out in the cold.  Well, if that’s the case, at least we got to see some real development for one of Attack on Titan‘s terrific characters, Mikasa Ackerman.

This week, Mikasa addresses the remaining squads with a speech that half inspiring and entirely condemning.  The characters, some reticently, follow Mikasa into battle, but with different reasons in mind, and resulting in different consequences.

Mikasa Ackerman

Art by へび

Note that more than once it’s mentioned that if the troops just stay there, they’ll eventually die.  It’s simply a rational and good idea to take their chances.  There’s also a feeling of guilt – those in the supply depot are trapped and dying, and Mikasa is running into battle by herself, so these elite cadets should at least help, right?  But when reality strikes again, in the form of the ominous giants (and an out-of-commission Mikasa), many of the soldiers begin to crumble, particularly the guilt-driven Jean, who stands frozen in fear while his comrades die.

However, one soldier stands out by being brave, and perhaps it’s a surprising who it is.  Read the rest of this entry

Attack on Titan, Episode 05: Reality Bites

So, any expectations of Eren Jaeger and the corp going forth an immediately kicking giant butt all but faded away in episode five.  The group gets it handed to them, and very quickly.  Dismemberment, probably death, and lots of spilt blood fill the scene as the giants show that they only seem slow and lumbering – their reflexes are incredibly quick when their prey is in sight.

After the training episodes, this one returns the series to the fearsome tone conveyed earlier in the series.  The giants are, at this point, my favorite anime villain ever.  This is how you create a great villain – they make you feel dread and think about the possibility probability that characters you root for can die at any point and any time.  In this way, the series carries a Saving Private Ryan kind of feel, conveying the horrors of this war, fantastical as it is.

In the face of danger and imminent death, Eren remains headstrong, brave, and haughty.  He will not sit idly by, and through flashbacks, we find out a little more of what he and Armin want and what they seek, which is in one word, freedom.

Eren Jeager and Mikasa Ackerman

Art by めろ

It’s hard to make this episode into something optimistic or hopeful.  After all, the quest for freedom, and even less than that, survival, is getting squashed completely and easily.

Yet, Eren continues to fight so that he won’t remained confined within the walls of civilization – he wants something more.

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Attack on Titan: Straight from the Old Testament

I’ve been totally floored by Attack on Titan, the new series this season about GIANTS.  Although our own Goldy wrote about the series’ potential, I wasn’t prepared for how riveting, exciting, and frightening this show would be.

Among other things I missed?  The connection to religion in the first two episodes (what do I do on this blog again?).

Justin, who has been comparing the manga to the anime, pointed out connections to religion in episode two, particularly.  Noteworthy is the street preacher who is entirely absent from the manga and the frightened people who call out to God as they witness the horrible events happening to their village.

The connection that stands out most though (and why shouldn’t they?) is the giants themselves.

Shingeki no Kyojin giant

Art by 大汐

Giants are the stuff of legend.  They are the enemies in fairytales (“Jack and the Beanstalk) and stuff of children’s nightmares (BFG).

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Attack on Titan, Episode 01: Breaking Down Walls

I’ve enjoyed a number of the opening episodes to this season’s new series, but perhaps none more so than Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin).  The opening episode, and particularly the attack by the titans, was exciting, unsettling, and frightening.  It’s every bit as compelling as Goldy mentioned it might be.

Episode one was filled with concepts that are ripe for analogizing, as the haughty and hiding villagers hid behind a wall of fall security, believing they were safe from the horrible dangers beyond.  And though I’m aware that one analogy has to do with the ancient church keeping it’s people in the dark, the idea that stuck out most to me had to do with sin.  As such, this post is a little bit “gloom and doom,” but hey, what would you expect after a tense episode like that?

Shingeki no Kyojin

Art by taka

When someone becomes a Christian, they are given a new heart, but that doesn’t mean they no longer struggle with sin.  Indeed, we see the sin in our lives more obviously now and should take active steps to stop it.  But sometimes, oftentimes, the reaction of a Christian might be to simply ignore personal sins.  After all, it’s easier to pretend some vice isn’t there than to deal with it, particularly if it’s an addiction or something that might cause us embarrassment if revealed in the open.

I’m reminded of the villagers of Shingeki no Kyojin.  Although warned by the “heretics,” they mostly feel secure within the walls and even ridicule the brave soldiers who do recon beyond it.  After all, why worry with what’s out there, when everything’s fine in here?

Except, everything is not fine.  Read the rest of this entry