Sunday, July 27, 2014

Why Attack on Titan Revolutionised Anime Entirely

Why Attack on Titan Revolutionised Anime Entirely

  You liked it. You watched it twice. You bought the figurines and the manga. You told all your friends about it. You printed the survey corps design on your jumper and wore it every day. Ever stopped to think why this anime held so much of a place in your heart?

   Actually, this anime has not only influenced you, and all of the audience. This anime has potential to shake the entire entertainment industry and bend its rules. Even though it hasn’t yet.

  First off, this anime starts with westernised theme: from clothing to naming, at first glance it seems like a typical anime aimed at audiences outside Japan. But with the introduction of their new mob of zombies, everything takes a whole new level.

   I believe the main thing with Shingeki no Kyojin is that it doesn’t hesitate to kill off a main character even though that may seem less elaborate on the manga, this anime is the only one that I know of so far that has been able to pull that easily and successfully, leaving you to create the emotions yourself rather than having a lot of extended screen time of repeating the same scene over and over to induce the grieving of the characters over one’s death to the viewer.
image from here

  Attack on Titan shamelessly destroys have its cast on each episode in real time. Let’s assume for a moment, that you were in the survey corps during the first unexpected titan attack. That you were one of the people who ran out of supplies and needed to go to the building swarmed by Titans just to get the gas for your escape. Now, Eren, Mikasa, Jean – your classmates, are “main characters” to you, right? That still does not mean that this is the perfect time for flashbacks since someone (your friend who is the center of those flashbacks) is about to die in this episode. During a time where you really needed to stay on high alert for quick reflex actions, it would seem irrational for you to start remembering things (for the sake of the viewer) and what a coincidence it is that Eren got eaten just when you remembered the time when he stepped on your paper boat! Because during the time when a titan is so close to you both, you just had to remember your childhood grudge on the “main character” that was about to die, and realize how foolish that was to not give him his share of cake as a punishment, right? And you didn’t feel any adrenaline rush because the people who made the anime are not ready to give up a main character so easily, no? 

   If this paragraph above really happened, then the fourth wall (you, bonus points if you are a girl with a Roman name) is very distant from the actual real time battle between the survey corps and the titans. Sadly, the assumption above is what happens with most anime, including long ones like Hunter x Hunter 2011, Naruto, Fairy Tail, One Piece, Bleach, Detective Conan, etc. These anime have always been known for success because they do not kill the main cast, and keep increasing and investing emotions into the protagonists’ personality so they’d all look like the role models, idols, and heroes of the viewers. 

   But the viewers can never replace these main characters, or actually be with them in a canonical appearance. However, with Attack on Titan, the characters are actually there, no sudden moments of random emotions flowing, because in real life, nobody is a bland useless high schooler with no dreams (modern day setting anime stereotypes), but at the same time, nobody is a peacock with wings of infinite traits, who grows new traits to match the modern culture. These soldiers are human beings, each have their moments, their weaknesses, like we do. And if you were actually on a rooftop, the only thing you’d see of your friend is his kicking legs as the titan gobbles him up, then your pupil would widen in shock for a millisecond, before another scream behind you makes you look forward and press on with your maneuver gear. That is exactly what every other character does; not because they do not care about their comrade, but because they need to press on right now. The sun is boiling their shoulders with all that leather jacket on, and the air from the titans is just giving their bodies more energy to feel the situation and grieve later than stand there without a scratch nor a bruise.

   Speaking of bruises, they do not roll up their sleeves and raise their arms to show the world that they got hurt while working; since everybody is in the same situation, people change and don’t have to tell the viewer about it. Remember how Reeves was a selfish person but also held his own ideals close and took Levi’s side? The author does not need to explain how people change with every character, like the unexplained reason as to why Annie trained Eren and gave him a chance to learn more about himself. It’s like how an atom will remain an atom regardless of whether you understand it or not. This is how the world works, and how it was portrayed beautifully in Isayama’s work.

   This explanation might make Attack on Titan look realistic i.e. boring. But actually this realism is what puts you before the fourth wall and know more about the characters. Even some soldiers that are weak willed survived so far for a reason. Eren’s life is not only there to fascinate you, but it’s there because he wants to live and fulfill his dream of eliminating the titans.

  So instead of looking at role models, you look at people that you can relate to, and not high schoolers. Simply put, Attack on Titan is brave enough to let go of potentially useful characters and leave you to reflect on it on your own, trusting that you will get the emotions they imply.

   That said, why hasn’t the series influenced new anime yet? Why is the new male stereotyping consistent in new anime and the same boring personalities used over and over? Publishers still doubt that going out of the mainstream style will profit them, so they are waiting to see how many years Attack on Titan will survive. However, I do hope that the manga continues its own and does not fall into fanservice. Even the awesome-looking Tokyo ghoul will not be able to rise as much as Attack on Titan because it relied on using methods of success that are already out there: i.e. fanservice. If Isayama-san really decides to end Attack on Titan quickly, that will kill a great series, but that would protect it from becoming like Case Closed is now.

   Do you agree that Attack on Titan is a game changer? Do you believe that killing the protagonists should be used increasingly in the future? Tell us below, and Play More Zelda!

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