Japanese Title: Shingeki no Kyoujin
Reconnaissance Report by: Miki
Progress: Episode 1
Shingeki no Kyojin, or “Attack on Titan,” is a show about a city of people that have walled themselves in to protect against the Titans, giant humans who travel in packs and pop the normal-sized humans like Pez candy. Or Skittles. Take your pick. The Titans have largely been dormant, or have stayed away from the city, for a century. The city guards are ridiculed as freeloaders, but at least the Recon teams they send out to observe the Titans have some respect… until one day, a Recon team returns battered with several missing members.
When the locals ridicule the Recon team as being useless against the threat they’re sent out to monitor, Eren, a young boy with aspirations for the Recon team, acts out, and is dragged away by his sister, Mikasa. They stumble on their friend, Armin, a young free thinker who vastly outmatches most of the other children at the sport of argument, being bullied and rescue him. After chasing the bullies off, things seem back to normal… until the Titans attack.
The storytelling in this episode is mostly flawless – the characters are all introduced and little bits of their personalities and strengths are revealed in the natural flow of scenes, sometimes in unexpected ways. The opening scene and credits animation reveal a whole entire other aspect of the show – Spiderman-like guards trying to hunt and kill a titan – that hasn’t even come up yet in any major way. The fact that the show succeeds even without developing the characters these element chose to focus on is a testament to the potential of Shingeki no Kyojin.
The animation is also something deserving of note, both negative and positive. Bad news first, their choice of animation vs. montage seems a bit odd considering the effort they’ve already put into the episode. I understand that they only have so much of a budget, but deciding to make a close-up of a man walking next to a horse a still shot and animate a wide shot of a whole procession of horses and carts baffled me a bit. What I did like, however, was the choice to use bold lines that vary in thickness, as is common in manga, and animate them. The audio was suitably ominous and the voice acting devoid of any jarring performances.
If I were to relate this show to other anime, it seems to share a mood and setting with Claymore (or what I’ve seen of it anyway), and has all the foreboding, imminent doom, and sociological exploration of High School of the Dead with none of the outrageous fanservice. At least not yet. And here’s to hoping it never does.