What's up, Eyz?
Hey there, Waezi2. Glad to be back!
This should be fun!
Let's check out this pretty popular manga. Before we start, I would just like to had I used to read a ton of mangas about a decade ago.. but I sort of just stopped once I noticed how much I was spending.
And if you want to know why I'm telling you that, it's because this is the book that sort of-brought me back to the medium.
And what a book it is. Attack On Titan is another example of a series I haven't read, but no one shuts up about(I don't read much mainstream manga). One half of the people who told me about it claims that it's spectacular. The other half that it's a wast of paper.
So I finally gave it a look.
Eyz, will you do the honer and tell us what it's about?
Personally I like to call the series "Attack on Titans", since it's closer to the actual original title (and it's the way I've been reading the manga in French, over here). Plus it just makes more sense (I remember thinking why the Planet Titan was supposedly attacking before reading this series). I still suspect some legal issues regarding the title which forced the translators to use such a random title (my guess? Due to some trouble regarding the Clash of the Titans/Wrath of the Titans Hollywood films).
The story takes place in a sort of alternate reality, in some vague European setting (possibly Germany? I'm saying this because of the names of most characters). In this world a sort of "plague" happened and now there are all these giant "titans" roaming the outside land. To protect itself, humanity built these giant walls (or did they?). And now every isolated community sort of forgot the threat of the titans on the other side of the walls.
The story begins as titans finally breah those walls. We are introduced to our main protagonists, Eren Yeager, his foster sister Mikasa Ackerman and their childhood friend Armin Arlert.
After witnessing the horrifying attack and losing their family, the three children decides to joins the military. A few years later, they are now soldiers in the survey corps, responsible for protecting the city whenever it's attacked by the terrifying titans.
But when you are a normal human, and you are fighting gigantic monsters who can regenerate, the odds are REALLY not in your favor.
So... you could call it the "300" of manga. Couple of soldiers who are going to fight an seemingly unbeatable force, knowing that they will most likely not survive. They die, so others may live.
The key-word being; "may."
Actually, I would rather compare it to, say, The Walking Dead. With giant monsters instead of zombies.
What really surprised me in this series, for this type of fiction anyway, is that where you expected probably something closer to fantasy or even more traditional "shonen" mangas for kids (in Japan - believe it or not - this series is aimed at young kids and not adults, like "seinen mangas") there's a lot of focus put on the political aspect of this strange post-apocalyptic universe.
Also the whole medieval slightly-steampunk-ysh military is put in the foreground, front and center.
Yes, the story is surprisingly realistic, considered the fact that involves giant monsters. And that's what I really like about it; the realism of war.
In manga, war is usually just something you... well, do. Even if the soldiers are 12 years old(like in Naruto), they just fight. Because, well, dattebayo!
But here, most of the soldiers who has to fight the titans for the first time freaks out. And honestly, that is only to be expected.
If we keep in mind that humanity is ridiculously small(like only 840 humans left in the world) they probably send the recruits to battle much earlier than in the real world. So they may not be as prepared as they could have been. This is shown right before the titans attack in chapter 3, where the newly-trained soldiers talk about what will happen WHEN they have defeated the titans. When, not "if". But once they finally see the horrifying creatures that is the enemy that they realized how screwed they are.
Which is unusual, since most manga-series start of with our heroes beating something that seems like a big threat with ease, like when Luffy(from One Piece) takes down a sea monster with one punch. ONE PUNCH. Here, many has to die before ONE titan bites the dust.
That is a point the manga gets across pretty well (which, from the little I've seen of it, the anime doesn't seem to do as well). I like the fact this seems to be the first time mankind came across titans. Or at least the first time they realized these things did exist in "recent history". People living protected by these giant walls, forgetting the hidden threat outside.
The characters seem to struggle a lot to just survive, rather than fight easily through waves of new monsters. Each victory seems to matter.
|This is my happy face.|
To be honest, apart from the main trio the other characters are kind of in retreat, for the first few volumes in the manga. Something I imagine the anime could introduce better, with several books released with enough history to introduce everyone around the same time.
I really liked the trio of main characters from the go, they're all different and unique enough to each contribute his or her part to the fight. Although Armin got the chance to shine a little more later on, since he doesn't appear to do that much at first. Mikasa's probably my favorite female manga heroine in ages.
The later volumes would develop and expand upon most of the cast, even supporting characters got a chance to tell their story (or suddenly become important key players in the plot).
Since you just started, and I'm about ten volumes farther, I won't spoil the surprises to you. But keep an eye on everyone - and I do mean everyone! Some throwaway lines do or background scenes do come into play later on. It really helps that the author seems to have a clear idea of things to come and isn't just improvising page after page.
Yes, I have only read the four first books, but I sense that there are many surprises yet to come. In the flashback in the flashback in vol 4, we get some more details on some of the other soldiers. It's almost like the build up to making one of them a traitor. But that is very unlikely, since they are fighting titans who wants to eat them.
And just like you, I think I prefer Mikasa of the main trio. She is something that is rare in manga; a female character who are not over-hysterical, nor is she meaningless for the plot(like Sakura from Naruto). She is levelheaded and calm, one of the reasons to why she is the best soldier on the field among the newly trained squad. In fact, she is so cool-headed that it's close to sociopathic.
But then again, when you are surrounded by man-eating giants, trapped like a rat, being a sociopath seems rather unimportant compared to survival.
(also, I noticed the lack of pantyshots in the story. Odd for a manga.)
But I have a problem with Eren. Not with his character, but rather his role in the series. As I said before, I like how realistic the series is, and I kinda feel like it's losing some of that realism by throwing a messiah into the mix. Because, isn't that what Eren is? Like Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh, who has a magic puzzle from Egypt, or Naruto from... well, Naruto, who has a demon sealed inside of him? I get that the story would be rather short if it wasn't for Eren and his ability to turn into a titan, and that humanity need some kind of edge. But still... it bugs me a tiny bit.
Mikasa is a fun character. Like she was a response to the usual cliché main heroines of mangas. She's not a frail damsel in distress and actually ends up saving the day more than once.
For all intends and purposes, it feels like a manga aimed at adults. (but then you notice a couple of classic shonen tropes here and there, and the fact the main heroes are so young - adults are typically useless or villains in shonen mangas)
You just touched a very interesting point I'm sure people will have a problem with as the story progresses.
It starts like a mature story, hence my comparison with The Walking Dead. But let's just say what the plot really revolves around - what are the Titans, where they come from and why - will turns this tale slowly into a more fantasy/typical manga.
Honestly sometimes I wonder if in 5 or so years there will be a fighting tournament and everybody transforming into Titans... You know, classic manga stuff.
Any speculations - from your point of view, what might happen farther down the line?
Well, if the titans are zombies, that would explain how there keep coming more of them, despite the fact that they don't have sex organs. And the basement that Eren's father told him to go to may have their family history, as well as explaining the history of the titans. It could be an Einstein-guild thing?
Maybe that's why Eren has memory loss? It's so he don't know about his family's guild and shame until it's absolutely necessary?
Another thing that could indicate that titans are human-made could be the sudden appearance of the colossal titan(the one who is higher than the wall). Maybe it's one that has been developed in order to smash the wall?
Then again, it could be evolution, and it's just the first of it's kind...
See? We have much more fun guessing than knowing.
Man, I almost forgot the part with Eren's father. The man is either linked to the origin of the Titans or at least knew (knows?) the truth about it. It wouldn't be much touched upon in the last chapters, so I guess it has something to do with the overall series' main end game.
Fun fact, I originally thought this colossal titan would turn out to be Eren's father, I had this entire theory in mind, explaining the timing setting the beginning of the series in motion and all that...
A lot is explained/introduced later on, so I won't touch upon that. But let me say - most of the fun is speculating about this whole story, since the author clearly has the story in mind and he can actually hint at later stuff. (Like I said, pay attention to background details!)
Some times the journey is more fun than what the mystery box was hiding all along.
Even if the ending ruins it, I can already say this was great storytelling. I just hope it stays intelligent and doesn't end up as all those other shonen mangas.. (Please no tournaments where "Titan shifters" fight one another...)
Anyway, the manga and the anime are huge in Japan. From what I glimpsed they ended the first "Season" of the anime before things got weirder in the manga (and as you can see from Eren's "early death" in the manga - what a great cliffhanger that was! - the whole story was only getting started there).
What are you hopes for the series, down the line? Or fears?
I actually only have ONE actual fear for the series; that it will drag out.
That's what normally happens to a popular manga. They are sometimes allowed to go on and on and on till the point that it's just ridicules, or the original plot has been changed so much that you can't recognize it(like "Dragon Ball", that stopped being about finding the balls and instead became about fighting). Eventually, we stop caring, just waiting for it to end. Seriously, I stopped reading "Naruto" three years ago(72 books? DUDE!), and just waited for it to die. And without being to sure, I think the same thing is about to happen to my favorite manga series; "Blood Lad".
But then again, as you said earlier, the writer seem to know EXACTLY what it is he want to do with this story, so maybe it won't happen? And I'm not saying I want it to be a SHORT story, just not too long.
But then again, some stories work well with being long, such as "Monster" or "Liar Game".
Hajime Isayama's taking sort of an unusual route, at least for a manga.
I really think this will have a precise end in sight and won't go on as long as One Piece, for example.
Instead he's spreading the series into an entire franchise with several spinoffs already launched. My own fear is for all this to dilute the original content, make it less "special".
You've probably heard of the typical spinoffs mangas have usually. Like non-canonical "SD" (super deformed) parodies? Naruto or Dragon Ball received books like this. Evangelion has an entire lineup of different sort of books of different genres taking place across alternate realities.
Well, Attack on Titan instead has a "canon" spinoff prequel telling the first time mankind faced Titans. And there's this sidestory spinoff following the point of view of a character that you probably haven't seen yet (he appears early on in the anime, but much later in the original manga). Levi, who's quickly becoming a huge fan favorite.
And there's talks about two more spinoffs already!
And I look forward to read the spin-offs.
I'm glad I gave this series a chance, and even though "Blood Lad" still is my favorite, "Attack On Titan" is most likely the best written series on the market right now. Everyone should read it, so they at least can have an opinion about this very unusual manga series that provides a different kind of action, a good mystery, and a pretty grim and fascinating look at human behavior.
Shall we call it a wrap, Eyz?
Now let me tie this (Japanese) MANGA review on such a (US) COMIC BOOK-oriented by asking you - have you heard about the "comic" Hajime Isayama is writing with/for Marvel Comics?
... Huh... I actually didn't know that.
Hey, wouldn't it be awesome with a Stan Lee cameo? :P
Actually I really thought we should mention this at some point, Isayama is writing a Attack on Titan/Marvel Universe crossover comic (eyzmaster.blogspot.ch/2014/11/… ).
Complete with Titans attacking the MCU's New York City, and it even contains an appearance by the Guardians of the Galaxy - which I imagine he became a fan of after watching the movie from the looks of it.
This sounds completely crazy. And definitively crazier than anx of the official spinoffs.
If anything it's another sign of manga authors/publishers trying to broaden the appeal of mangas and make expand series outside the regular main books (along all these spinoffs we talked about).
I never expected to see a manga officially cross over an American comic. Let alone such a weird pairing.
(I'm totally gonna buy that, though.)
I'm glad that you mentioned it, because it only further prove my point that this is a very unusual manga.
Once again, thanks for taking the time to do this crossover review with me, Eyz. And to those of you reading this review, please check out Eyz's blog (eyzmaster.blogspot.com) as well as his Deviantart account to see his awesome artwork(theeyzmaster.deviantart.com).
See ya around, Eyz!
This was fun!
Thanks for the shout out! And see you folks around here!
And thanks for wasting time with us:)