Attack on Titan, or The Progression of Following a Trend

Shingeki no Kyojin manga, vol. 1, translated as Attack on Titan

Shingeki no Kyojin manga, vol. 1, translated as Attack on Titan

If you’re not already plugged in to anime or manga communities on the web, the title Attack on Titan probably means nothing to you.  But let me tell you, it is hott. stuff.

I first heard about AoT from PBS Idea Channel (a truly FABULOUS YouTube channel, even if it’s a bit far-fetched at times).  It’s a manga series turned into an anime set in a world where humanity has been driven into seclusion by brainless giants called titans intent on eating people.  The story centers on three main characters – Eren, Mikasa, and Armin – with a healthy supporting cast.  Major themes explore humanity’s forced imprisonment (the bird-in-a-cage metaphor does not go unnoticed) and what the characters are willing to sacrifice to beat the titans – even their own humanity.

So I knew AoT was pretty popular.  Naturally, I included the available manga on my November order for the library.  My library has a pretty robust manga collection, and only two or three other libraries in our system owned them.  Whether or not they’re appropriate for a teen collection… well…

The books came in late December.  I picked up the first volume from my desk… and then the second… and then I exercised some self control and put the books into the system, even though it killed me to leave the story on such a cliffhanger!

And then a friend had to go and tell me that the anime was free to watch on Hulu.  That was 10 days ago, and since then, I’ve watched all 25 available episodes.  Ooooops.

In those 10 days, the grip of fandom had me.  I couldn’t stop thinking about the show, the characters, the incredible mystery of it all.  I put library holds on the rest of the manga; I looked up cosplay for the uniform worn by all the main characters; I kept searching the internet for what people were saying about it.  It was a mild case of obsession.

While the show is one of the hottest anime out there right now, the series has some major flaws.  Incredibly long internal monologues during action, the theme of sacrificing one’s humanity which goes against years of hearing the contrary, battle scenes that cover 7 or 8 episodes.  And the GORE.  Oh heavens – this show is definitely for mature audiences.  So much blood and dismemberment.  I’m a little worried for myself that I love this show so much.

Attack on Titan by deviantart user GH18

Attack on Titan by deviantart user GH18

Yet I kept coming back for the mystery and the surprises.  Several times, I heard myself exclaim, “WHAT THE WHAT?!?”  Another thing is that the action has real consequences.  We lose secondary characters to the titans.  Characters whom we’ve grown fond of.  The creator is not afraid to take them away from us, and I really appreciate that (even while my heart is torn out).  AoT doesn’t pander.  The main characters are teenagers faced with a horrific reality that adults would run from, crying.  And they’re still teenagers, not super-teens able to calmly take whatever is thrown at them.  I definitely think that warrants a place in the teen section of the library.

Unfortunately, I can’t exactly go around singing the praises of AoT.  If my teens are anything like me when I was in high school, the danger of mom or dad walking by your screen at an inopportune time (when a soldier is getting chomped in half, or two titans are knocking each other’s limbs off) makes watching AoT not really possible.  Oh well.  At least I’ll know what they’re talking about if they do see it!

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