Fandom Friday: Attack on Titan (Vol. 1 - Manga Review)

I haven't done a Fandom Friday in awhile, so here is my first manga review written originally for my Special Topics in Librarianship: The Graphic Novel class in October 2014.  Updated since this is my new manga/anime obsession ... ;-) 

Cover of Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 Manga by Hajime Isayama
(c.) 2010 by Kondansha
Title: Attack on Titan, Vol. 1
Creator: Hajime Isayama (English translation by Sheldon Drzka, lettering by Steve Wands)
Published: 2010 (English version published 2012 by Kodansha USA Publishing).
Rating: T - Ages 16+ by the publisher.

About the Book:
In this post-apocalytpic sci-fi story, humanity has been devastated by the bizarre, giant humanoids known as the Titans. Little is known about where they came from or why they are bent on consuming mankind. Seemingly unintelligent, they have roamed the world for years, killing everyone they see. For the past century, what's left of man has hidden in a giant, three-walled city. People believe their 100-meter-high walls will protect them from the Titans, but the sudden appearance of an immense Titan is about to change everything.

The Artist Librarian Review:

When the Titans break into Shinganshina district, young Eren Yeager vows to end the Titan threat that has destroyed his home.  Five years later, with his best friends, Armin Arlert and Mikasa Ackerman, military trainee Yeager comes face-to-face with his mortal enemies.

So first let me say: Wow.

Shingeki no Kyojin, Attack on Titan's Japanese title literally translates to "Advancing Giants." My first introduction to Attack on Titan was at a pop culture convention in 2014 --there were so many Attack on Titan cosplayers! However, though I thought their uniforms and gear were cool, that alone didn't interest me enough to find out more; to read or watch it.

Now, after reading the first volume for school, I'm torn. I'm intrigued to read more even though I'm a squeamish type of girl ... The back cover review blurbs about the anime being an "action/horror story" and "Japan's equivalent of The Walking Dead" (i.e. the zombie apocalypse AMC show based on a comic book series) worried me for a moment, but the story's got a fascinating pull. Kind of like I wanted to look away but couldn't ... ;-) 

The sketchy, drawn quality of some of the art and panels was an interesting touch. Again, I haven't read a whole lot of manga, but I'm used to associating more cleaner line-work and art to manga. However, I think the roughness of those sections work for the dystopian type of world the humans live in: It's a gritty, believable world. 

And wow, that ending!  It's clear that no one is safe in this manga --anyone can die and it definitely ups the stakes. 

Update: In April, I started watching the anime reruns on Cartoon Network and I am so hooked!  The combat scenes with the 3DMG (i.e. gear that allow the military to fight like Spider-Man with swords against the Titans) are amazingly choreographed.  The English dubbing uses voice actors that I think capture the characters perfectly.  And from first hearing the incredible opening theme, I've fallen in love with the television soundtrack and score by Hiroyuki Sawano.  I don't know how to describe it ... kind of orchestral, with some rock and electronic parts ... The closest I can compare it to is Daft Punk's Tron: Legacy film score, but even that isn't an accurate comparison.  Listen to a sample for yourself here.  I've also mentally added the Survey Corps uniform on my Costuming Wish List ... which officially means that Jen has found a new fandom, LOL.

Fair warning: it's TV-14, so definitely don't let the little guys watch this show.  As with the manga, there's lots of blood depicted, since the Titans do ... eat people (though most of the actual death scenes are off-screen cut-aways, you often see the aftermath), some language (such as b-st-rd, a--hole, sh-t, etc. but they are in their world's equivalent of the military), and some intense sequences.  Unless you know the child well, I'd recommend the manga and anime to teens and up, as the published ratings suggest.  Check out the trailer below to get a feel of the series!

I'm currently working on catching up with the manga --that fascinating pull I wrote about earlier?  It's definitely the characters: As they wrestle with survivor's guilt, questions unanswered about the Titans' origins, and struggle with morality (e.g. Do the ends justify the means? Do the needs of the many outweigh the few? What does it mean to be human? etc.), like many dystopians, you may find yourself looking at the world around you in a different light. 

What do you think about Attack on Titan?  Have you ever read manga or watched anime?  Are there any you recommend?  What about dystopians?  Why do you think they are so popular right now?
Fandom Friday: Attack on Titan (Vol. 1 - Manga Review) Fandom Friday: Attack on Titan (Vol. 1 - Manga Review) Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 6/12/2015 09:10:00 PM Rating: 5

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