Attack on Titan is one of those great shows that only comes around maybe once every ten years. It checks all the boxes for a great shonen anime, and delivers on every ounce of hype attributed to it. And, boy, was there some hype over this one when it was first released back in 2013. With a killer first episode and beautiful animation with flawless movement sequences, this show has everything a shonen lover could possibly want.
The first episode is everything every shonen anime should have in their first episode. I firmly believe the mark of a good show is a good first episode, and this one certainly lives up to that. We’re introduced to the threat of the titans, giant humanlike creatures that have been terrorizing the planet that eat humans to survive. They have scattered most of humanity into small settlements, but there is one large settlement protected by some gigantic walls, and that’s where we find our protagonist. Eren. (Spoilers for the first episode beyond here) In the very first episode, a massive titan – significantly larger than your average titan – appears outside the walls of the city, kicks a hole in the wall, and lets a bunch of titans in. They proceed to devastate the city and force the citizens to retreat to another inner wall. Eren’s mom is eaten by a titan in front of Eren and we get the classic “character with PTSD that exhibits clear PTSD symptoms but PTSD is never brought up because Japanese culture” trope.
The first episode is action-packed and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It introduces a ton of questions for the show to answer in later seasons and episodes. But don’t worry, it isn’t just the first episode that keeps you hooked. Every episode thereafter keeps up with the fast-paced action-packed theme of the first. Spoilers ahead! We later find out Eren is able to transform into a titan, and the story just gets so wild from there. There is something innately satisfying about watching the characters shoot around on their 3D maneuver gear that makes you want to keep watching. In the third season there are some slower “diplomacy” parts, which a lot of people do complain about. I think these parts were much worse in the manga, and were handled well in the animation.
It should be pretty obvious that I do recommend this anime. I’d give it a 9/10 total. The animation is beautiful, the story is engaging, the characters are lovable and I found myself personally invested in each one’s backstory. However, there is one problem keeping it from a 10/10, and that is how the anime ended season 4. Major spoilers ahead for season 3 ending! It simply didn’t seem to make sense. A lot of people questioned why Eren suddenly had such a change of heart and was acting the way he was when he was chained with Historia. It also felt like the entire story was shifted away from the main character and onto Historia’s story. It just sort of seemed weird to have the main character, who was so hell-bent on revenge and destroying all the titans, to suddenly and randomly have no will to accomplish his goals anymore. And the issue of Eren’s basement is still unsolved! There is a fourth season coming, however, and hopefully that season explains everything we need to know.