Since I’ll be talking about an immensely popular anime turned live-action movie, I might as well give some attention to the elephant in the room: I don’t like the ATTACK ON TITAN anime that much.
No, I don’t hate it but it’s something that I wasn’t too impressed with. Back when all of my classmates in college were quoting the show’s opening German sounding song by fucking up its lyrics and joking about how they “want to have sex with the bears and the eagles,” I was part of the minority who thought the anime wasn’t all that. Sure, it had a great original concept, slick action animation and some nice twists on Anime Tropes here and there (basically, trust no one) but at the end of the day ATTACK ON TITAN the anime was still nothing but another generic Shonen Anime that adhered to the usual bullshit like how well-timed speeches about how awesome humans are can somehow save the motherfucking day even if the reality of the situation says that everyone’s pretty much fucked six ways to Sunday.
That being said, I went to the cinema to watch ATTACK ON TITAN not as a Fan of the show but as a Dude with some stock knowledge of the thing and an open mind, which is possibly why I’m one of the few people who actually liked the cinematic take on ATTACK ON TITAN and preferred it over the anime.
Now before the 3D Maneuver Gear fueled lynch mobs gut my ass for such blasphemy, hear a brother out.
One of my major issues with the anime was its highly inconsistent tone: one minute it’s as dark as the most depressing Seinen Anime you could think of (hello BERSERK) and then all of a sudden it shifts gears and goes full Shonen Bullshit when Eren saves the day and everyone is inspired by his pure testosterone, even after he treated them like shit because they don’t get a War Boner like he does whenever he sees a Giant Naked Cannibal in the distance. The movie on the other hand, decides to stick to PTSD Induced Depression and this works in the story’s favor very much.
First of all, the story of ATTACK ON TITAN takes place in a world where the remains of humanity are basically two-legged cattle for the infinite number of Giant Naked Cannibals bumming outside a humongous wall that’s nothing but a glorified prison for the people. How the fuck are Shonen Tropes and Shenanigans going to make things better for the folk that live in fear of being eaten alive? At best, that shit would just leave you dazed and confused for a couple of weeks, not all gung-ho and ready to fight the powers that be. The movie thankfully decides to ditch all the Heroic Bullshit and just show how depressing and fucked up an environment would be and unlike its more popular action packed animated predecessor, ATTACK ON TITAN the movie at least shows some semblance of maturity its setting implied, something which the anime never really bothered with.
While it did improve in terms of tone and setting, one thing the movie adaptation loses points for is found in the Character Department. The anime isn’t perfect but at least its characters were pretty diverse and had a semblance of depth. Here in the movie, everyone’s pretty much a One-Note Asshole who are all needlessly mean-spirited. While it does make sense to have pretty much everyone in the cast carry baggage since, hey, this is the end of the fucking world as we know it brought to you by Giant Naked Cannibals, the way it’s handled in the movie makes them seem more shallow than broken. Character motivations are described in literally one line of dialogue and then forgotten because fuck that shit, Giant Naked Cannibals are in the horizon. At least the main trio (Eren, Armin and Mikasa) were more subtle, relatable and realistic as compared to their original anime counterparts that were nothing but walking-talking Anime Stereotypes (The Hero, The Useless Best Friend and The Chick respectively) but everyone else in the cast outside of some nice character moments like the Single Mother (a movie exclusive character) was flat and forgettable. Some notable characteristic changes for the Trio include the fact that Eren’s more confused than forever angry, Mikasa can finally stand on her own and isn’t a Badass Murder Machine that can’t function without Eren and Armin isn’t an Annoying Aryan Hobbit that eternally bitches about how fucked up the situation is (i.e. stating the obvious). Again, small changes compared to shifting the entire story but welcome ones nonetheless.
One thing I’m in the minority for liking about in the movie, as mentioned earlier, was its tone and when I thought about it and the changes I preferred, everything slowly began to make sense. While the anime was more of an Action/Thriller loaded with high octane combat sequences against the Giant Naked Cannibals along with a big conspiracy going on in the backdrop, the movie was surprisingly more of a Slasher Horror Movie than what the anime set out to be.
Check it out: The characters are nothing but Forgettable Walking Stereotypes, people tend to shit their pants in fear instead of fucking running away from the Shambling Killer that’s slower than any Filipino Government Corruption Probe, characters tend to do a lot of stupid shit, it’s raining gallons of blood, there’s more emphasis on the kills than anything else, a good majority of the finale takes place in an Abandoned Industrial Area, a fucking sex scene happens right the fuck out of nowhere (but to be fair, it made sense in context) and the Giant Naked Cannibals are basically a horde of gigantic Jason Voorhees that, as the genre demands, are slow as fuck, immune to most damage that’s not Plot Relevant, stealthy and silent despite their size, experts at teleporting into good vantage points and prone to killing everyone on sight.
Maybe if I were a fan of the show I’d side with those who didn’t like ATTACK ON TITAN as an adaptation of an anime they love but since I’m just a Dude With An Open Mind, I didn’t take offense to this particular movie. Then, again, not everyone likes Horror Movies and that’s something that shouldn’t be taken too damn seriously.
Sure, it has its flaws in character development and pacing especially in the middle act where shit just bogs down but at the end of the day, I enjoyed ATTACK ON TITAN as much as I enjoyed every single entry of the FRIDAY THE 13TH franchise: they’re not Cinematic Masterpieces and they are seriously dumb as fuck and yet they’re still enjoyable for what they are. ATTACK ON TITAN, though, has the benefit of basing its main story on a popular title and whether or not the movie will follow some of the story’s major twists if the teaser trailer at the credits’ middle is to be believed, ATTACK ON TITAN is still more than just your regular Slasher Horror Movie even if it does play out the tropes by the number without doing anything new outside of adding Giant Naked Cannibals to the plot.