Sunday, August 25, 2013

Shingeki no Kyoujin

I’m going to talk about Shingeki no Kyoujin today.  This is a little unusual for me since I usually only post about series that are finished.  That’s because I never know if I’m going to like a series or not until I see the ending.  The notable exception to that rule was Bleach.  I ended up doing about 6 posts on Bleach, 5 of them while it was ongoing.

At any rate, I’m going to post about Shingeki because it’s the first series I’ve watched in a long time that I find myself waiting impatiently each week for the next episode to come out.  So needless to say, I really like this series.

Okay, background:  Shingeki (English version of title: ‘Attack on Titan’) is about the human race fighting for its survival.  The setting is a mostly feudal society of humans that live behind three massive, 20+ foot high walls that protect them from the giant, human-looking species bent on wiping them out.  These giants are called “Titans” or “Eotenas” or “Kyoujin”, depending on the subbing group and translations.  These kyoujin prey on humans, eating them whenever they can.  The kyoujin come in a multitude of forms, from the not very tall 5 meter form up to about a 20+ meter form.  “Normal” kyoujin are basically brainless, mostly slow-to-move, eating machines that chow down on humans as often as they can catch them.  Along with these “normal” kyoujin are the “abnormal” or “aberrant” ones.  Abnormals include brainless ones who can move quickly and also include intelligent ones.

The main characters in this series are Eren Jaeger, Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlart, who are young kids at the start of the series when a massive, intelligent kyoujin breaks the outer wall, allowing the brainless kyoujin in to attack and eat the humans.  Eren-tachi are rescued but get to watch a kyoujin eat Eren’s mother.   Humans retreat to inside the second wall, and Eren-tachi grow up and train to be soldiers.  For Eren it’s a quest – to kill as many kyoujin as he can, but also to free humans from the restrictions of living behind walls.  The soldiers wear battle gear called multi-axial maneuver gear that allows them to move acrobatically and aerobatically to defeat the kyoujin by slicing a section out of the nape of their necks – essentially the only way they can be killed effectively.  There are three groups of soldiers, the regular city guard type called the Garrison, the soldiers called the Gendarmerie who guard the elite citizens who live in safety behind the third wall, and the group that Eren wishes to join, the Reconnaissance or Survey Legion.  This third group makes raids and forays outside the walls, and has the logo of a crossed white and black wing, which Eren sees as wings of freedom.

At episode 5, Eren-tachi have just completed training when the massive, intelligent kyoujin who broke the outer wall shows up again and breaks the second wall.  Brainless kyoujin flood in and attack the humans and Eren is eaten by one.  Mikasa, who is probably the best fighter in the group and also happens to love Eren, almost loses it but is rescued at the last minute by a massive kyoujin who begins killing all the kyoujin around him.

It takes about 4 episodes from the time Eren's eaten to find out, but the kyoujin-killing, massive kyoujin turns out to be Eren!  Eren has the ability to transform into a kyoujin.  This ability polarizes the humans, some of whom want to kill him immediately and some of whom want to use his abilities to fight the kyoujin.  In the end, Eren shows he can be useful by using his kyoujin form to lift a boulder and move it to block the breach in the second wall.  Humans win a battle with the kyoujin for the first time ever, thanks to Eren.  So after a trial, Eren is taken into the Survey Legion under the direct control of Captain Levi, and they begin to work with him and try plans to extend human’s range and re-take the area inside the outer wall.  This is currently where I am in the series, having just watched their unsuccessful attempt to capture the human inside a massive, intelligent female kyoujin.

There are multiple on-going questions rising up as the series progresses, which is one of the things I really like about it.  Like:  If Eren has the ability to become an intelligent kyoujin, who are the humans inside the other intelligent kyoujins?   Eren’s father injected Eren with substances as a child which probably gave him the abilities he has.  Where is Eren’s father now and what is this kyoujin-creation all about?  Where do the kyoujin come from in the first place?  When the research arm of the Survey Legion gets too close to answers, they are sabotaged by someone, probably among the humans.  Who among the humans is working with the kyoujin to destroy humanity and why?   And who’s the spy/traitor among the Survey Legion?

So many questions.  And if you have read ahead in the manga, don’t tell me the answers!  As I said, it’s been a while since I’ve waited so impatiently for next episodes of a series  to be released.  I’m enjoying it.

At any rate, I’m sure I’ll be posting about this series again.  The story line is totally unique and the music is awesome, especially the first ED.   If you aren’t watching it, I will warn you that there’s a lot of blood, and lots and lots of death in this series.  But the story and characters are worth it.   

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