You may or may not have heard of the Japanese anime series, Attack on Titan by now, but it has taken America by storm. You can find Attack on Titan merchandise anywhere from Hot Topic to FYE and you can watch it streaming on Netflix now or when it aired on Adult Swim for anime Saturday's. I have seen people from kids to the elderly wearing the iconic scouting legion jacket and people's excited reactions to the pop figures, tee shirts, and other merchandise Hot Topic carries. I used to be one of these people caught up in the excitement that an anime I liked actually had merchandise in America that was easily attainable and didn't involve $20 shipping or a trip down into SF's Japantown to buy. I used to eagerly await the next chapter every month and would watch the anime religiously as my pile of figures featuring characters like Levi, Eren and Mikasa accrued. But one day it just stopped. I started resenting everyone that liked the series, I became ashamed of my chibi attack on titan belt, I stopped caring about the new chapter updates, and I decided the entire series sucked. I felt (and still do) that the characters lack substance, that it never answers any questions brought up early in the series, and that it is super over hyped up over here. Essentially, I grew out of it.
Months after my escape from the fandom my sister came into my room to let me know that the Japantown theater would be screening the Attack on Titan live action movies. I had heard some things about it but not much more than it would be live action with CG titans. As soon as I heard about it I immediately looked it up and tickets were actually sort of selling out so I decided what the heck and bought four tickets two for each day as they were screening each movie on different dates. I figured nothing could go wrong but as soon as I mentioned what I had done on facebook all of the comments I got in response were along the lines of, "don't get your hopes up" or "get ready for colossal disappointment." (Get it, because the colossal titan???) So that wasn't very reassuring. The reason why I was so willing to spend almost $70 on these movie tickets ($15 each not including tax) was mainly because it meant two trips to Japantown and an excuse to watch another movie in their awesome New People Cinema theater which I had only been to once before to see the Naruto movie, The Last.
And so, the day of the first movie approached. My friend and I made our way to Japantown, got there around four/five-ish and wandered around the mall buying things and eating as we saw fit until our showtime of 7 o'clock approached. As we arrived at the theater we really had no expectations, we each had strange Japanese snacks in hand and the surrounding group seemed as excited as we were so things were set. And then the movie happened.
I cannot begin to describe the horror that was Attack on Titan part one. The titans all looked super scary and extremely realistic but that was not a good thing to me. They were so horrifying it made you want to laugh and they each looked like blown up humans.
|(Isn't this horrifying???)
Titans aside the storyline was really strange. A lot of the well known characters from the original series did not appear or were modified and had their names changed. The one character that I believed stayed true to their manga/anime counterpart was Hanji Zoe, the crazy titan loving member of the scouting legion, who screamed and yelled about titans throughout the movie to an uncomfortable extent. Mikasa was transformed into an Eren fangirl who also became involved with the Levi-esque character and was a victim of domestic abuse. Armin was virtually nonexistent in both films and Jean and Sasha were the only other two characters from the original series chosen to appear in the film. The first film doesn't deviate too far from the general plot of the original story and ends around where Eren becomes a titan for the first time. I really enjoyed the scenes of titans feasting on people, especially when they first break into the town and massacre everyone. This part left the audience in shock to say the least. Another part that got a strong reaction from the audience was when everyone had just embarked on their first mission outside the walls and it was their first night out so they were taking a break and restocking and the like. Eren had gone into this cave and was chatting with one of his comrades and all of a sudden we hear moaning and they turn over to see two other people having sex on the floor together. The girl of that couple speaks up and says what we're all thinking "Hey isn't this weird? They're watching us" and the guy replies "Nah, don't worry they're not looking" and they continue without further complaint. I guess this turned the girl Eren was talking to on as she leans over to him and asks "Hey Eren, would you like to be my daughters father" (She's a single mom just for future reference) and as he is clearly taken aback by this she leans forward, rips open her shirt kisses him and says "Do you like single moms?" As she is forcing herself on him an eye opens up behind them and a titan emerges from nowhere and eats the single mom. This shocked everyone in the audience, but it was by far my favorite part of the movie.
As for the second movie, Attack on Titan: End of the World, I had no expectations at all. I was ready for another bad movie and I hoped it would make me laugh as much as the first one did. I was wrong again though as this one felt like it had way less action, more confusing story, and more questions that went unanswered. Basically we find out the Levi character has been the bad guy all along planning to destroy all the walls and let the titans in and that the world was actually a post-apocalyptic one. The story behind that is that in our current day and age humans created titans, it was common for people to be titans, but then one day things went terribly wrong and people started becoming titans out of nowhere and eating people. So every titan in the world was actually a human (this is slightly similar to the original story as far as I know) and that explains all the random technology that was left behind inside the walls like the nuke that's mentioned in the first movie. Apparently the government was witholding this information from everyone so that they would stay inside the walls and have no desire to leave them and so that makes the government guy a bad guy as well. It just so happens that both the Levi character and the government guy are both titans, the armored and colossal ones respectively, leading to a fight between giants at the end. Jean ultimately gets killed off (I believe this is because there was no girl character for him to end up with) and Levi helps take down the colossal titan with Eren and Mikasa. Hanji even gets to blow stuff up with and RPG. One part of this movie that really really really bothered me was when Levi captures Eren and takes him into this future room where he explains what happened in the past and he uses an Apple TV and they have a jukebox and all this technology and it just felt so untrue to the original story. They also change clothes with no explanation and Levi and Mikasa kiss. At the end after everyone has been defeated the go to the top of the wall and see the ocean and birds are flying and everyone's paired up and happy, Eren has Mikasa, Armin has Sasha, and Hanji has her gun. (I'm not joking)
|(Just imagine that but without the guy in the cloak or the guy next to him)
All in all I have a love hate relationship with these two movies. Maybe anime should just stop trying to make the transition to live action. Especially an anime involving giants who eat people that can fly through the air. I thought the movies as movies were good but as something trying to relate to Attack on Titan I thought they were terrible and should not exist. I will however be buying them whenever they make their way to America on Blu Ray so maybe that tells you all you need to know.
TLDR: The Attack on Titan Movies were really weird.