Shingeki no Kyoujin (進撃の巨人)

All posts tagged Shingeki no Kyoujin (進撃の巨人)

The vengeful main male protagonist, featured in the 'Attack of Gabe' parody video.
The vengeful main male protagonist, featured in the 'Attack of Gabe' parody video.

The fifth entry for this blog’s audition of the ‘Anime of the Year 2014’ title is also a replacement for one of the titles in the original list, with Shingeki no Kyoujin replacing Kakumeiki Valvrave (will watch this one after the second season finished airing). I actually did not plan to watch this series at first, but I changed my mind after I watched the ‘Attack of Gabe’ parody video during the Steam Summer Sales a few months back. I’m sure glad I have decided to watch this anime, because this title shared one thing in common with Highschool of the Dead. Confused? Then read on to find out why I say that.

No matter how I look at this monster, the phrase 'giant zombie' really fits it well.
No matter how I look at this monster, the phrase 'giant zombie' really fits it well.

This is the end. The world was infested by a bigger, naked and non-rotting version of the zombies from the I am a Hero seinen manga which has quickly ravaged the human civilization as we know it. 100 years later since the outbreak happens, the remnants of humanity keep themselves safe behind 3 layers of city-walls. The slightly emotional Eren (a.k.a main male protagonist), his one-dimensional yandere female companion Mikasa (a.k.a. main female protagonist) and their weakling sidekick Armin (the side character that actually keep both of them alive) live their lives peacefully behind the outer-most wall. Suddenly, the story kicks in, the outer wall goes down and Eren’s  mother got eaten right in front of him. His emo quotient was then turned on to the max, and he swore that he will only find peace on Earth after he killed every single one of the zombies with his own bare hands.

Just like the manga I referenced before, this anime also doesn’t call their zombies with the Z-word, instead preferring to call them Titans. For starters, let’s go straight to the major weakness this anime has: badly crafted presentation. One thing I don’t like about this anime’s presentation is, that unlike many other action titles I have reviewed here before, this anime pull a page from One Piece’s playbook and like to do the episode recap thing right before the opening theme plays. I found out I have been using the fast-forward function in PotPlayer in this anime more than I did in the last 50 anime titles I reviewed here before.

Now if that’s the only thing this anime has actually copied from One Piece, I could just look the other way and ignore that issue. After all, this anime doesn’t play full-length OP themes. But no, this anime copied another of One Piece’s anime features that didn’t exist in the manga, and that would be the extremely slow pacing of the One Piece anime. If you think Majestic Prince is slow, this anime is even slower. I can understand this kind of pacing if this anime actually has the plot that has the same quality as the one seen in the aforementioned ‘I am a Hero’ manga. But considering that this anime is more like Naruto instead, which means that action scenes is aplenty, a much faster pacing should be in order. If this anime has, for example, the excellent pacing of Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo?, this anime would only need 13 episodes maximum to present the storyline that is shown in all 25 episodes used in this anime. The horrible pacing this anime has will affect other elements of this anime, that I will note even more below.

This one sure do look like a special infected from Left 4 Dead series
This one sure do look like a special infected from Left 4 Dead series.

The story of this anime itself is actually very good. Not as good as the ‘I am a Hero’ manga, which is arguably is Japan’s answer to The Walking Dead, but enthralling in its own sense. Better than Hataraku Maou-sama for sure, and slightly edging what you can see in Majestic Prince. But because of the horrible pacing, I found myself having the ‘When will this arc gonna end?’ feeling, which is something I don’t have when watching the two anime I mentioned in the previous sentence. Looking back, the amount of plot this anime has is not very much actually; Hataraku Maou-sama definitely packed roughly the same amount of them in less episodes. This anime ends up abruptly, in a kind of cliffhanger, although the one in this anime is not as good as the one in Code Geass’ first season.

Therefore I expect there will be a second season, mainly because so that I can have the answers for some of the very glaring loose ends still presents in the anime after the final episodes windows down. For example, did the main male protagonist’s mother really died? If yes, then what happened during the flashback where his father zombified him with Titan powers surely contradicts that event. Plus, what is the main female protagonist doing (or where is she) when he was zombified? Somehow, it will not surprise me if in the future season(s) of this anime, it turns out that she can become a Titan too.

Back to this anime’s presentation aspect, while the pacing is simply horrible, the flow of the story is smooth (it is going to be hard to screw up the plot flow with this kind of pacing). The usage of flashbacks in this anime is done nicely too; the part where the main male protagonist inadvertently turned the main female protagonist into a yandere (and a bad-ass zombie killing machine at that) at the molecular level is one of the finest moments this anime has. The way the events are stacked could be so much better though; the arc in the final three episodes where the giant female Titan’s identity was finally revealed is the kind of story arc that will usually be presented in the middle of a series run, not the end of one. This is another consequence of the horrible pacing, and that’s why this anime’s cliffhanger ending isn’t as good as the one in Code Geass.

This particular one here is quite good-looking too even as he munched on a human.
This particular one here is quite good-looking too even as he munched on a human.

Character developments did not escape the effects of the horrible pacing either, plus other factors like huge character cast and high characters churn rate does not help either. Let start with the main male protagonist. His character has pretty much static development strategy from start until the end of the anime. Only notable development he has is during the final arc in the last three episodes, which actually worried me a bit. The main male are better off staying as a low-dogmatic character like he is throughout the series, unlike in that final arc where there are signs that he is going the high-dogmatic way. Last thing this anime needs is a failure of a character like Uchiha Sasuke is.

As for the main female protagonist, her character development is worse because her character regressed as the storyline timeline moves forward. Her character, right before the first 1-year time jump as the three main characters joined the Training Legion, are still good, even if she is already a yandere back then. She is actually more decisive, make some good decisions and has actual control over the main male protagonist. After the time jump, she merely become an object whose actions are largely dictated by the main male protagonist’s. Her character needs to revert to the pre-time jump state, or her yandere-ness has to be dialed up to the max just like the main male protagonist’s emo meter.

The side character, who is also the narrator of this anime, is by far the best character in this anime. His importance in the anime is so great, he can actually be considered as a plot device character. He is the only character that is assured to live until the end of the series, because if he died, that would be the end of the two main protagonists, and the end of humanity too. His character development from the initial breach of the wall up until he becomes one of the planners of the capture in the anime’s finale is the only extensive developments in this anime.

But for other characters, due to the pacing, many of the side characters simply has non-existent character developments. Many of the unfortunate characters also has aborted development due of being devoured by Titans too. The character that has been unmasked as the female giant Titan for example, she is barely visible before that capture arc; some of the characters before her has more screen time than her. If a second season comes out, the first thing the writer needs to do is to flesh out her character dramatically, with a faster pacing than the one seen in this season.

The nastiest nightmare you can ever have if you live in this anime's settings.
The nastiest nightmare you can ever have if you live in this anime's settings.

Character Design:-
Character designs in this anime is just average, even unoriginal. The first time the main female protagonist is shown, I remarked to myself on how similar she is with her counterpart in Bleach. In a zombie apocalypse that takes place in the Middle Ages, black hairs are surprisingly very common and so is blonde. More realism than in Highschool of the Dead for sure, although I am a Hero character designs is much more realistic.

Voice Acting:-
Voice acting in this anime is generally solid, but not more. I wish there is at least one outstanding voice acting gigs in here, but there is none. I have a nagging feeling I can find a character that is already dead in this anime whose voice actor is going to be better than the ones voicing the two main protagonists.

Watch this zombie extermination video and wait for the first OP theme to play.

The two power metal OP themes of this anime are really good, especially the second one. In contrast, the two ED themes are forgettable. The OST is really good too, and so is the insert song that plays near the end of the first major arc.

So many sleep-deprived characters in this anime.
So many sleep-deprived characters in this anime.

Animation & Direction:-
The animation quality in this anime is really good, whether it is for general animation and also character animation. Combined with great use of static background scenes and excellent integration of CGI animations, this anime is the most visually-impressive title within this audition so far, even eclipsing Majestic Prince. Choreography for action scenes is great too, although Majestic Prince is still better in this department.

While I will put the blame squarely on the director for the horrible pacing, his technical skills in cinematography is much better than all the directors of the titles in the audition combined. And the director is consistent too unlike his counterpart in Fractale. Now if only his story compositing skills matched his camera works skills…

7 out of 10.
A very promising action title ruined by a director who think he is doing a comedy or a slice-of-life title. Yahari Ore no Seishun Love COme wa Machigatteiru still leads the audition for the time being. I hope the next entry will come faster than this one.

If this scene really happens, I would have awarded a perfect score to this anime.
If this scene really happens, I would have awarded a perfect score to this anime.