Japanese Title: Shingeki no Kyoujin
Reconnaissance Report by: Skie
Progress: Episode 1
Shingeki no Kyoujin comes out of the gate strong. Its style, design, and sound are all superb, as is the attention to detail in animating even highly dynamic sequences. There are a few odd choices regarding what doesn’t get animated but that’s a minor bump in the road for the first episode. The story begins with the reveal of a titan more than 50m tall and the decided lack of sound that fades into eerie music is a fantastic choice to develop instant foreboding. From the first few minutes there’s a sense of fight or flight with panic simmering just below the surface and it’s a delicious tension. The style of art is thick-lined with stark shadows that adds grit and texture to the heavy atmosphere, grounding the viewer in an emotive, highly charged setting.
The main characters (Eren, Mikasa, and Armin) and the main premise are introduced within moments and empathy for said characters is cultivated from the beginning – humanity is forced to live within stone walls for fear of becoming meals for the colossal titans. Parties sent out to learn about and combat the titans are decimated even while the main characters yearn for a life outside the walls. It’s an idyllic city set on the edge of destruction and when the chaos comes, the show neither shies away from the brutality nor embraces it too much. The scenarios are emotionally charged, wringing a reflexive cringe or painful groan as people are crushed or eaten by titans. And these titans are terrifying! While human at first glance, it is their wicked, insane grins and vacant eyes that evoke a primal shudder of revulsion.
The character designs are fascinating and the technology has a nearly steampunk twist with the swords and cables that allow the guards to swing through forest and city. I will say, however, the eyes of the characters have a tendency to go ‘crazy’ while expressing strong emotions and this was kind of distracting from the otherwise excellent voice acting. The flavor of the atmosphere evokes Ergo Proxy, Last Exile, and Claymore for me – and seeing as those are all excellent anime in my opinion, I am curious to see if it rises to the occasion in developing a unique identity while satisfying one’s hunger for a heavy-hitting anime.
This is definitely a story worth watching unfold. It’s a delicious blend of tension, drama, and brutality that I am interested in seeing realized to its full potential.