Hey gang, Valkor. Ever since I laid eyes on the first images from the manga of “Attack on Titan” aka “Shingeki no Kyojin”, I was disturbingly fascinated by the world in which giant, human-like creatures with even creepier human-like faces, ravaged a peaceful populace. And after watching season one of the anime series? You bet I was all in! How far in exactly? Shit, I flew all the way to Osaka, Japan – twice – to bask in all of the series awesomeness brought to life by Universal Studios “Cool Japan” Event. When the announcement came of a live-action series being made, I went nuts because it was being produced in Japan and thus far, the filmmakers on that side of the pond know how to handle their manga/anime transitions, with respect to the source (the Death Note duology is one of a favorites). So how does “Shingeki No Kyojin: Attack on Titan”, the live-action version compare to its animated/manga counterparts? Let’s find out shall we! Oh and major spoilers!
In “Shingeki no Kyojin: Attack on Titan”, the human race is on the verge of extinction; a brutal race of towering, human-like creatures known as “Titans”, have taken over the land, devouring any and all humans in their path. Those who survived are holed up behind a giant wall meant to keep the beast at bay so those who live, can thrive in hopes of a peaceful future. The story mainly focuses on Erin (Haruma Miura) and his friends Armin (Kanata Hongo) and Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara), who long for life outside of the walls, believing that titans no longer exist. Suddenly a Colossal Titan attacks, breaking up a piece of the wall, which allows smaller Titans (though still larger than humans) to wander in and start to feast. The trio gets separated and it would appear that Mikasa is devoured by a titan while attempting to rescue a baby (it’s not actually shown whether she gets eaten). But given Erin’s anguish afterwards, it would appear she died.
Fast-forward two years later and those who survived the first wall attack have moved within an inner wall; Eren and Armin have joined Survey Corp, with Eren still not fully recovered from the loss of Mikasa and mostly filled with a lot rage. The two are in the midst of an operation that would see the breach of the main wall sealed with the use of explosives. And it’s during the operation that Eren discovers that Mikasa is still alive, having survived the titan attack with a huge bite mark on her side as a reminder of that horrific day. She has become emotionless, distant as well as a sense of anger as she wishes only to kill titans. Adding to the mix, Mikasa has been working with and possibly in a relationship with Shikishima (Hiroki Hasegawa), but the two have proven to be fierce fighters against the titan threat. And this bit of revelation doesn’t sit well with Eren at all.
Back to the operation, which isn’t going well since the titans have now converged onto the army’s location plus the explosives that should have been used to seal the wall, instead was used in a suicide attack on the beast. Eren learns through Shikishima how to face the titans (with courage), but during his first flight, while it starts out quite successful and impressive to watch, he’s ultimately taken out, losing his leg. But he musters up his remaining strength to save Armin, who is in the jaws of a titan about to be swallowed. Eren is able to save Armin, but he himself gets eaten. Soon after, a new titan is born out of the one that ate Eren, which starts attacking other titans. But is it really friend or foe? You’ll find out more when part two is released.
I skipped over a lot of story and I mean there’s a lot of story packed within this 100 minute film. And I commend the filmmakers for bridging the gap between those who are unfamiliar with the series and those who are fans, as the film changes up just enough that newcomers can step in without knowing too much backstory, yet they toss in a lot of fan service for those who are already familiar with the mythos.
As a fan of the anime series, Shingeki no Kyojin: Attack on Titan live-action does not disappoint! Yes a lot has been reworked and the series has been condensed into a two parter, but when it comes to these types of transitions, one should expect some changes – major or otherwise. I’m not a diehard fan, but I am a fan and I think the live-action film, thus far, makes for the perfect companion. The story is a bit all over, but it does its best to squeeze in as many of the characters from the series as possible, while keeping the main character Eren in focus. It’s a gripping tale set in a dystopian setting that, like the series, shows us the effects the titan threat has on characters – one straight away kills himself, love blossoms, there’s anger, fear and sadness all wrapped up in an emotional and climatic ending. The actual titan attacks, though spread out, is just as disturbing as the anime; visually, the makeup work on the creatures are very well done, carrying over that big-eyed, wide grin of the anime that’s unsettling and yet… you can’t look away. The special effects aren't top-notch, hollywood style, but for what it's worth, I was impressed with the special effects. The acting is cheesy good, meaning it’s a mix of so-so to over the top. And my favorite out of all the characters in the film goes out to Satomi Ishihara who plays the research scientist “Hange”; for those not familiar with the character, Hange LOVES her job and what she really wants most of all is to capture a live titan to study it. Satomi does an amazing job of carrying over Hange’s excitement levels to perfection! And I enjoyed every minute she was on screen. Pic below kinda gives you an idea of what I’m talking about. In the end, Attack on Titan live-action was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to see part two!
I’m all for change, but there was one change that I didn’t care for all that much. It’s how Mikasa’s death triggers Eren’s anger towards the titans rather than the death of his mom. Anyone who got sucked into the anime knows that the scene where Eren’s mom gets eaten is by far one of the most disturbing scenes ever witnessed. The first time I saw it, I was floored! Yet in the film, you don’t get the same effect with Mikasa’s death because they don’t exactly show her get eaten, so we’re to assume she died. But considering the fact that she shows up in all of the advertisements - in full uniform, we know that she doesn’t die. So why have that scene at all? Why not replicate the mom scene? I was actually looking forward to that.
The looks of the titans are creepy and disturbing. Plus watching them eat humans, listening to that “crunch”. Wow! And their moans and crazy sounds they make will give you nightmares!
Shingeki no Kyojin: Attack on Titan is making the theatrical rounds in Japan with a limited release here in the states. It’s a film where if you have the opportunity to see it, do not pass it up. It’s an awesome reworking of the original story that’s just as gripping and exciting as its anime/manga counterpart. Out of TOV 5 stars, I’m giving Attack on Titan live-action a 4 and I can’t wait for part 2!