Shingeki no Kyojin, known also as Attack on Titan is an anime that has brought about a new level of hype and appreciation for anime in general. It takes the intensity up a notch and has constantly served up a dose of adrenaline throughout the series. I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that Shingeki no Kyojin brought in a new generation of anime lovers.
The first thing that the anime adaptation of Shingeki no Kyojin does right is stay faithful to the source material, the manga of the same name written by Hajime Isayama. The manga itself is well thought of and planned out making the timeline clear for the creator. The overall effect of this is seen in the plot that ceaselessly moves forward following a rather consistent pace. Massive revelations and plot twists are planned ahead of time which prevents these situations from feeling forced or unnecessary. Because Hajime Isayama has Shingeki no Kyojin mostly planned out until the end, the plot of the show never truly suffers from unnecessary points.
The immediate impression of Shingeki no Kyojin is that the action is on par or even more intense than the powerhouses of shounen anime at this time. In terms of action and adrenaline pumping fights, the series can easily match the intensity of battles in Naruto or One Piece (a review of which can be found here). Shingeki no Kyojin easily introduces high quality action from the get go depicting high speed air combat and fancy sword play coupled with ample gore and violence all from the beginning of the series. The anime maintains this intensity throughout the series amping it up as more unique titans are encountered by the group.
What gives its combat scenes a distinct edge is the amount of effort that is put into producing each movement or maneuver. The detail put into the animation of the series is made most apparent during the scenes wherein members of the Survey Corps like Eren, Mikasa, or Captain Levy are shown using their specialized gear to take to the air, get behind a towering titan, and cut through its nape.
The titans themselves are shown to be quite menacing and intimidating striking fear in even the viewers. Interestingly enough, the approach to making the titans exhibit this air doom is done through multiple avenues which in turn really heightens the tension when titans do appear in the show. The first approach is by presenting the fear through the characters of the show. There have been countless instances in Shingeki no Kyojin wherein characters have been shown with a face of genuine fear and a feeling of absolute defeat in the presence of titans. Even the dialogue reflects this sense of doom as there have been multiple instances members of the military have been shown to give up due to lack of gas in their equipment or a shortage of blades in their holsters. Coupled with this, the overall design of the titans is unnerving. The titans are all designed to be humanoid in figure but with exaggeratedly abnormal proportions. Some are shown with their muscles exposed and their skin seemingly peeled away. This in itself is odd to see because it resembles an incomplete human. Despite their humanoid appearance, the titans are depicted as moving in inhuman ways. Majority of the titans are seen with creepy smiles or movement outside of the normal human gait. The combination of all these aspects of the titans really amplify the sense of fear and menace that is associated with the presence of titans in the show.
Shingeki no Kyojin also creates a perpetual state of tension by setting the scene of human extinction taking some time in its first season to establish the series’ setting. The show takes place following an event sometime in the past that forced humans to retreat behind three concentric walls following the appearance of titans outside of these said walls. While the walls stand, the human race is capable of surviving free from titan intervention. They are however bound to the confines of the walls limiting the population growth and resources available to them. The human race is then placed in a precarious situation when the outermost wall is penetrated by titans leading to the death of many and the beginning of the desperate struggle to survive as seen in the events of the anime. This general setting is presented in such a way that viewers are constantly reminded of the threat of a titan attack from the walls increasing the feeling of desperation.
Overall, Shingeki no Kyojin takes a simple but unique premise and elevates its quality by doing every step of production right. It takes a story out of the manga and generates an immersive world that pulls in viewers and has them thoroughly invested from the beginning. From the plot, to the art and animation, to the general ability to maintain the built up tension, the anime doesn’t show any signs of skimping or slowing down. While it may be a stretch for some, I personally feel as if Shingeki no Kyojin has singlehandedly brought in a younger generation of anime fans.