Friday, January 23, 2015

Lessons from Anime: Attack on Titan

It’s been awhile since we’ve done ‘Lessons from Anime’. Better talk about something really big.

Oh… I know!

If you watch anime at all, you know about this anime. Its huge for its soundtrack (especially its opening theme) alone, as well as the well-choreographed fights scenes and intense actions. Also… character death. It’s the Game of Thrones of anime in that almost anyone can die.

Also Levi.

I love me some Levi :)

And while I'll probably come back to Attack on Titan later for examples of what it does right, today I want to talk about Attack on Titan in relation to pacing. Because as I was re-watching this show, when I should have been doing my homework, I realized one of the major draws of Attack on Titan. It’s so easy to watch because it is so well paced. You know how they say ‘give the reader a reason to turn every page’? Attack on Titan is the anime version of that. Every episode ends with some sort of cliffhanger or well-timed death that leaves you in desperate need of more. Attack on Titan gives you a reason to keep watching.

First let’s talk about what Attack on Titan isn’t. It is not an unpredictable show. While it does have a few good twists here and there, most of its turns are properly built up and foreshadowed. Usually, you can see where a certain thread is going a few episodes before it happens. So why then is it so very watchable? Because it’s not TOO predictable. It’s not insulting. It’s exciting to figure out the twists before they happen and makes us want to keep watching even more.

What makes Attack on Titan so good is how it plays with expectations. The first few episodes are tense and devastating for the main characters and the viewer as we are all shock dropped into a titan attack. These titans, might I remind you, look like this:

Of course they can also look like this:

But it’s a mixed bag of terror and derp.

But after these two episodes, it’s time to rebuild. We get to know the new recruits of the army and see their friendship. We get a real sense that the rest of the series is going to be about them learning to strike back.
Lol, nope
Just when we’ve had time to relax, the show kick starts us again into a desperate survival situation that none of the characters are fully prepared for. And then the death begins. But we keep watching because, no matter how many times the show breaks our hearts, it also gives us hope. We want to have hope that these characters will survive. We want to see them get through this. And so with every heart wrenching episodes end, we keep watching, hoping things will get better. And hey, sometimes they do… before they get worse.

Crushing your feels

It’s a never endless cycle of hope and despair, but its organized so well into a tightly wound mechanism of a show that it absolutely propels the viewer through from episode one until the last. This is a ‘watch in two days’ kind of show. And I can’t wait for the second season.

All the way in 2016…


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