Attack on Titan

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Attack on Titan
Shingeki no Kyojin manga volume 1.jpg
Cover of Attack on Titan volume 1
進撃の巨人
(Shingeki no Kyojin)
Genre Dark fantasy,[1] post-apocalyptic[2]
Manga
Written by Hajime Isayama
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Shōnen
Magazine Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine
Original run September 9, 2009 – ongoing
Volumes 14 (List of volumes)
Light novel
Attack on Titan: Before the Fall
Written by Ryō Suzukaze
Illustrated by Thores Shibamoto
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Male
Imprint Kodansha Ranobe Bunko
Original run December 2, 2011June 29, 2012
Volumes 3 (List of volumes)
Manga
Attack on Titan: Junior High
Written by Hajime Isayama, Saki Nakagawa
Illustrated by Saki Nakagawa
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Shōnen
Magazine Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine
Original run April 9, 2012 – ongoing
Volumes 5 (List of volumes)
Anime television series
Directed by Tetsurō Araki
Written by Yasuko Kobayashi
Music by Hiroyuki Sawano
Studio Wit Studio
Production I.G (production cooperation)
Licensed by
Network MBS, Tokyo MX, FBS, TOS, HTB, TVA, BS11
English network
Original run April 6, 2013[a]September 28, 2013
Episodes 25 + 5 OVA (List of episodes)
Manga
Attack on Titan: Before the Fall
Written by Satoshi Shiki
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Shōnen
Magazine Monthly Shōnen Sirius
Original run August 26, 2013 – ongoing
Volumes 3 (List of volumes)
Manga
Attack on Titan: No Regrets
Written by Gun Snark
Illustrated by Hikaru Suruga
Published by Kodansha
English publisher
Demographic Shōjo
Magazine Aria
Original run September 28, 2013June 28, 2014[3]
Volumes 2 (List of volumes)
Light novel
Attack on Titan: Kakuzetsu Toshi no Joou
Written by Giggle Akiguchi
Illustrated by Range Murata
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Male
Imprint Kodansha Ranobe Bunko
Original run August 1, 2014 – ongoing
Volumes 1 (List of volumes)
Manga
Sungeki no Kyojin
Written by hounori
Published by Kodansha
Demographic Shōnen
Original run December 2013 – ongoing
Volumes 1 (List of volumes)
Anime film
Attack on Titan Part 1: Guren no Yumiya
Studio Wit Studio
Released November 22, 2014 (2014-11-22)
Anime film
Attack on Titan Part 2: Jiyū no Tsubasa
Studio Wit Studio
Released 2015 (2015)
Live-action film
Directed by Shinji Higuchi
Written by Yūsuke Watanabe
Studio Toho
Released Summer 2015 (Summer 2015)
Video games
  • Attack on Titan: The Wings of Counterattack
  • Attack on Titan: Lost in the Cruel World
  • Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind
  • Attack on Titan: No Regrets
  • Attack on Titan: In the Forest of the Night, Burning Bright
  • Attack on Titan: Wall Sina, Goodbye
  • Attack on Titan: The Wings of Counterattack - Online
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Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人 Shingeki no Kyojin?, lit. "Advancing Giants") is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. The series began serialization in Kodansha's Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine on September 9, 2009, and has been collected into 14 tankōbon volumes as of August 8, 2014. It is set in a world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by enormous walls as a defense against the Titans, gigantic humanoid creatures who devour humans seemingly without reason. The story initially centers on protagonist Eren Yeager, his adoptive sister Mikasa Ackermann, and their childhood friend Armin Arlert, who join the military to get revenge for the death of Eren's mother at the hands of the Titans. As the story progresses, the truth about the Titans begins to arise and the story shifts to one about political subterfuge, all in an attempt to hide or reveal the truth to the public.

A spin-off light novel series began in December 2011, and has received a manga adaptation. Two additional spin-off manga series are also being serialized, and a television anime adaptation produced by Wit Studio and Production I.G aired in Japan on MBS between April and September 2013. Four video game adaptations developed by Nitroplus staffers in collaboration with Production I.G were announced to be released as bonus content for the third and sixth volumes of the Blu-ray Disc release of the anime, with another game developed by Spike Chunsoft for the Nintendo 3DS. A live action film adaptation is also in production and set to premiere in 2015. Attack on Titan and all three spin-off manga are published in North America by Kodansha Comics USA, while the novels will be published by Vertical. The anime has been licensed by Funimation for North America, by Manga Entertainment for the United Kingdom, and by Madman Entertainment for Australasia.

Attack on Titan has become a commercial success, with 40 million volumes in print as of July 2014.[4] The release of the anime also saw a boost in the series' popularity, with it having received critical acclaim for its atmosphere and story. Although it also gained fame in neighboring Asian countries, the series' themes have been a subject of controversy.

Overview[edit]

Setting[edit]

Over one hundred years prior to the beginning of the story, giant humanoid creatures called Titans (巨人 Kyojin?) suddenly appeared and nearly wiped out humanity, devouring them without remorse or reason. What remains of humanity now resides within a country surrounded by three enormous concentric walls: the outermost is Wall Maria (ウォール・マリア Wōru Maria?); the middle wall is Wall Rose (ウォール・ローゼ Wōru Rōze?, pronounced like rosé) and the innermost is Wall Sina (ウォール・シーナ Wōru Shīna?). Inside these walls, humanity has lived in peace for one hundred years; many people growing up without ever having seen a Titan. This all changes when one day, within Eren Yeager's hometown, the Shiganshina district which juts out of Wall Maria, a giant 60-meter (200 ft) tall Titan known as the Colossus Titan mysteriously appears and breaches the outer wall, allowing smaller but still deadly Titans to infiltrate the district. Many are killed and the wall separating Shiganshina from the lands within Wall Maria is breached when a second Titan smashes clean through. Mankind is forced to abandon the land between Wall Maria and Wall Rosé, evacuating the remaining population into the inner districts. The sudden influx of population causes turmoil and famine.

The Titans are giant humanoids, usually masculine in form and naked (but lacking genitalia). They vary between 3 and 15 meters in height, with the exception of the so-named Colossus Titan. Titans appear to instinctively attack and devour humans on sight. Despite this behavior, they apparently do not require food for sustenance, as they do not prey on animals and have survived for one hundred years in a human-free environment prior to the inner wall breach. Most of their energy has been found to come from sunlight, though they remain active, however sluggish, in the absence of light. Their skin is tough and difficult to penetrate and they have the ability to regenerate from injuries, even the loss of their head, after a short time. The Titan's only apparent weakness is a spot on the nape of the neck which, when cut deep enough, effectively kills the Titan.

Combating the Titans is the military, which is divided into three branches. Foremost in the story is the Survey Corps (調査兵団 Chōsa Heidan?), also called the Scouts, which goes out into Titan territory in order to try and reclaim the land. The Corps are heavily derided in society due to them sustaining many casualties in conflict. Another branch is the Garrison (駐屯兵団 Chūton Heidan?), which guards the walls and the civilian populace. Due to the hard life of the Survey Corps, most military recruits join the Garrison. Last is the Military Police Brigade (憲兵団 Kenpeidan?), who guard the royal family. Those in the Brigade have an extremely relaxed life and never see conflict; however, only the top ten of each graduating squad can join this branch. Each of these use a weapon system called the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment (立体機動装置 Rittai Kidō Sōchi?) which allows trained humans to navigate quickly in a three-dimensional space. Although it permits great mobility to a skilled user, it carries a large risk of overtaxing the muscles, requiring extensive physical conditioning and agility; however, it is the most effective equipment to kill a Titan.

Plot[edit]

The story of Attack on Titan centers around the adventures of Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman, and their friend Armin Arlert. After the wall which protects Eren's hometown is breached by Titans, including the 60-meter skinless Colossus Titan and the abnormally intelligent Armored Titan, a young Eren suffers the death of his mother at the hands of a Titan. Once Eren and his friends are evacuated from the district to safety, he vows revenge against all Titans and later enlists in the military, accompanied by Mikasa and Armin. After a period of grueling training, the three elect to join the Survey Corps which would allow them to leave the safety of the walls and fight the Titans one-on-one. Following graduation, the three are positioned in District Trost which juts out into the Titan-infested lands of Wall Maria. However, they are surprised by the sudden appearance of the Colossus Titan which breaches the wall as it did to Eren's hometown 5 years prior.

During the ensuing battle with Titans, Eren is devoured by one of the Titans before Armin's eyes, seemingly dead. Later an intelligent Titan appears that begins fighting the other Titans instead of harming humans, and this Titan is soon discovered to be Eren, having developed the ability to transform into a Titan at will. Though he is seen as a threat to mankind, many others, including those within the Survey Corps, see Eren's ability as a ray of hope in the fight against the Titans. He is soon placed in the Special Operations Squad led by Lance Corporal Levi to attempt to seal the Walls once more, as more mysteries arise. Others are discovered to be able to transform into Titans, with several seeking Eren for some unknown purpose. The Walls themselves seem to be hiding something from the populace, as is the royal family and the Military Police who also need Eren to keep him from causing an uprising, as well as his friend Krista Lenz, who is also central to the political turmoil.

Production[edit]

Hajime Isayama first wrote a 65-page one-shot version of Attack on Titan in 2006.[5] Before serialization, he had already thought of ideas for twists, although they are fleshed out as the series progresses. While working at an internet cafe, Isayama encountered a customer who grabbed him by the collar. It was this incident that showed him "the fear of meeting a person I can't communicate with," which is the feeling that he conveys through the Titans.[6] When designing their appearances, he uses several models such as martial artist Yushin Okami for the protagonist Eren Yeager's Titan form[7] as well as Brock Lesnar for the Armored Titan.[8] George Wada, the anime's producer, stated that the "Wall of Fear" was influenced by the isolated and enclosed nature of Japanese culture.[9] He also said that the inner feelings of every individual is one of the series' main influences.[9]

Isayama estimated his basic monthly timeline as one week to storyboard and two weeks to actually draw the chapter. The story is planned out in advance, even marking down in which collected volumes a specific "truth" will be revealed.[7] In September 2013, he stated that he is aiming to end the series in 20 collected volumes.[10] Originally, Isayama planned to give the series a tragic conclusion similar to that of the film adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist, where every character dies. However, positive response to the manga and anime has caused the author to contemplate changing the ending due to the impact it could give fans.[11][12]

Media[edit]

Manga[edit]

Written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan began serialization in Kodansha's monthly publication Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine in its September 2009 issue. The chapters are collected and published into tankōbon volumes by Kodansha, with the first released on March 17, 2010. The most recent, volume fourteen, was released on August 8, 2014.[13] As of July 2014, the manga had 40 million copies in print.[4] The series' twelfth collected volume was given a first printing of 2.2 million copies, making Attack on Titan one of only two manga series ever to get an initial print surpassing 2 million, the other being One Piece.[14]

A comedic spin-off of the series, titled Attack on Titan: Junior High (進撃!巨人中学校 Shingeki! Kyojin Chūgakkō?) and written by Saki Nakagawa, began serialization in Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine's May 2012 issue. It follows the main characters as they battle the Titans while in junior high school.[15] Another manga series based on the prequel light novels Attack on Titan: Before the Fall started running in Kodansha's Monthly Shōnen Sirius from August 2013, drawn by Satoshi Shiki.[16] An additional spin-off based on the No Regrets visual novel was serialized in the Shōjo manga magazine Aria, titled Attack on Titan: No Regrets (進撃の巨人 悔いなき選択 Shingeki no Kyojin: Kuinaki Sentaku?). It is written by Gun Snark and illustrated by Hikaru Suruga. It focuses on the origins of Levi, one of the most prominent characters in the main series.[17] Kodansha increased Aria's print count by roughly 500% because of the demand for the prologue chapter, which was published before the manga's serialization began in the November 28, 2013 issue.[18] A yonkoma spin-off, called Sungeki no Kyojin (寸劇の巨人?, "Titan Short Skits") and drawn by hounori, is released on Kodansha's "Manga Box" smartphone and tablet application since December 2013.[19]

In North America, the series is published in English by Kodansha Comics USA. They published the first volume on June 19, 2012,[20] with the thirteenth set to be released on August 26, 2014.[21] In January 2014, the manga reached the mark of 660,000 copies in North America.[22] The first three spin-off manga have also been licensed by Kodansha Comics USA, who published the first volume of each between March and June 2014.[23][24]

Light novel[edit]

A light novel series titled Attack on Titan: Before the Fall (進撃の巨人 Before the fall?), written by Ryō Suzukaze and illustrated by Thores Shibamoto, began on December 2, 2011. Its story is set before the events of the manga and it is published by Kodansha. Three volumes have been published so far. While the first tells the story of Angel, the blacksmith who develops the first prototypes of the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment, the following two follow a young man who was found as a baby in the stomach of a Titan. Vertical will release the novels in North America from summer 2014.[25][26]

Anime[edit]

An anime television series adaptation produced by Wit Studio (a subsidiary of IG Port) aired on MBS between April 6, 2013 and September 28, 2013, directed by Tetsurō Araki (Death Note) with Yūki Kaji starring as Eren, Yui Ishikawa voicing Mikasa and Marina Inoue as Armin.[27][28][29][30] Both Funimation and Crunchyroll simulcast the series on their respective websites, and Funimation intends to release the series on North American home video in 2014.[31][32] The anime has been licensed in the UK and Australasia by Manga Entertainment. It was also obtained for streaming by Crunchyroll. An OVA version of the "Ilse's Notebook" special chapter from tankōbon volume 5 was originally scheduled to be released on August 9, 2013, bundled with the volume 11 limited edition, but was postponed and included with a limited edition of volume 12, released on December 9, 2013, instead.[33] A second OVA was released on April 9, 2014, bundled with the 13th volume of the series, this one focused on the members of the 104th Training Corps.[34] The anime currently airs on Adult Swim's Toonami block at 11:30 p.m. EST, with the first episode having aired on May 3.[35]

For the first thirteen episodes, the opening theme is "Guren no Yumiya" (紅蓮の弓矢?, lit. "Crimson Bow and Arrow", styled in German as "Feuerroter Pfeil und Bogen") by Linked Horizon, and the ending theme is "Utsukushiki Zankoku na Sekai" (美しき残酷な世界?, lit. "This Beautiful Cruel World") by Yōko Hikasa. For episodes 14-25, the opening theme is "Jiyū no Tsubasa" (自由の翼?, lit. "Wings of Freedom", styled in German as "Die Flügel der Freiheit") by Linked Horizon, and the ending theme is "great escape" by Cinema Staff. Both "Guren no Yumiya" and "Jiyū no Tsubasa" were released as part of the single "Jiyū e no Shingeki" on July 10, 2013.[36][37]

The anime will be compiled into two animated theatrical films with new voice acting from the same cast. The first film Attack on Titan Part 1: Crimson Bow and Arrow (「進撃の巨人」前編~紅蓮の弓矢~ Shingeki no Kyojin Zenpen ~Guren no Yumiya~?) will cover the first 13 episodes and be released on November 22, 2014, while the second film Attack on Titan Part 2: Wings of Freedom (「進撃の巨人」後編~自由の翼~ Shingeki no Kyojin Kōhen ~Jiyū no Tsubasa~?) will adapt the remaining episodes and is set for release in 2015.[38][39]

In August, 2014 a new OVA series adapting the prequel manga Attack on Titan: No Regrets was announced. It will consist of two episodes, to be bundled with the 15th and 16th volumes of the main series, scheduled for release on December 9, 2014 and April 9, 2015, respectively. Just like the main anime series, it will be produced by Wit Studio with direction by Tetsurō Araki.[40]

Video games[edit]

There have been four video game adaptations of Attack on Titan developed by Nitroplus staffers in collaboration with Production I.G.[41] Nitroplus clarified that the studio as a company is not involved in the Attack on Titan Blu-ray Disc games, while individual staffers are.[42] The games are visual novels and were included in the first copies of the third and sixth Blu-ray Disc volumes of the anime. The games cover spin-off stories about the characters of Attack on Titan. Hajime Isayama himself is supervising the development of the games.

The third Blu-ray volume was released on September 18 with Seko's Lost in the Cruel World visual novel about Mikasa, and a preview of Gan Saaku's No Regrets (悔いなき選択 Kuinaki Sentaku?, lit. "A Choice With No Regrets").[43] The sixth Blu-ray volume was released on December 18 with the full version of No Regrets about Levi and Erwin's past, Jin Haganeya's visual novel In the Forest of the Night, Burning Bright about Eren and Levi, and Seko's Wall Sina, Goodbye visual novel about Annie.[43]

An action game, titled Attack on Titan: The Last Wings of Mankind (進撃の巨人 ~反撃の翼~ Shingeki no Kyojin ~Hangeki no Tsubasa~?, subtitle lit. "Wings of Counterattack"), was developed by Spike Chunsoft for the Nintendo 3DS and released on December 5, 2013.[44][45][46]

A smartphone social game, titled Attack on Titan: Howl Toward Freedom (Shingeki no Kyojin ~Jiyū e no Hōkō~) is in development by Mobage for iOS and Android platforms. In the game, players play as a character who has been exiled from Wall Rose. Players must build and fortify a town outside the wall and expand it by manufacturing items as well as using Titans and exploiting resources from other players.[47]

Live-action films[edit]

A live-action film was announced to be in production in October 2011.[48] In December 2012, it was reported that Tetsuya Nakashima has left his position as director of the live-action film. According to film distributor Toho, Nakashima had considerable creative differences on the scriptwriting and other matters.[49][50][51] In December 2013 Shinji Higuchi was revealed to be directing, and would also be responsible for special effects. Yūsuke Watanabe (live action Gantz, 20th Century Boys and Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods) and critic/subculture expert Tomohiro Machiyama will be scripting the movie with series creator Isayama.[52][53] In July 2014, it was revealed that two films will be released in summer 2015.[4]

Other media[edit]

Two guidebooks to the manga titled Inside and Outside were released on April 9 and September 9, 2013, featuring concept art, character profiles and interviews.[54][55] They were combined into one and released in North America on September 26, 2014 by Kodansha USA.[56]

A 16-minute drama CD was created with the anime's staff and included in the January 2014 issue of Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine.[57]

Reception[edit]

Attack on Titan won the Kodansha Manga Award in the shōnen category in 2011,[58][59] was nominated for the 4th annual Manga Taishō award and both the 16th and 18th annual Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize.[60][61][62] The 2012 edition of Kono Manga ga Sugoi!, which surveys people in the manga and publishing industry, named Attack on Titan the eighth best manga series for male readers,[63] while the 2014 edition named it the sixth best.[64] Attack on Titan was the second highest selling manga series of 2013, with 15,933,801 copies sold in a single year.[65] In April 2014, Oricon reported that 30 million volumes of the series have been sold.[66] In the first half of 2014 it topped the chart, ending One Piece's five-year reign as the highest selling series in that period, with Isayama surprised about it and thanking the readers.[67] The manga's publisher, Kodansha, credits Attack on Titan for the company's first revenue increase in eighteen years.[68] The anime is noted to have helped in boosting the series' sales while Mainichi Shimbun called it a "once-in-a-decade hit."[69]

Six of the seven English volumes published in North America at the time charted on The New York Times Manga Best Seller list for the week of October 13, 2013,[70] and volume one has been on the list for 61 weeks straight.[71] Volume one was also number one on Nielsen BookScan's list of top 20 graphic novels in American bookstores for October 2013,[72] and for the month of September, the series had more volumes on the list than any other series.[73] The Young Adult Library Services Association in the United States named the series one of its "Great Graphic Novels for Teens".[74] Kodansha USA's English release is nominated for the 2014 Harvey Award for "Best American Edition of Foreign Material".[75]

Many have analyzed Attack on Titan as representing "the hopelessness felt by young people in today's society."[1] while writer Mao Yamawaki called it a "coming-of-age story of the boys and girls at its core," with a new mystery every episode. It is these mysteries that critic Tomofusa Kure says amplifies readers' expectations. The artwork of the manga has been criticized as crude by some reviewers, with Isayama himself admitting his drawings are "amateurish." However, those same critics stated that after years of serialization, the art has been improving, and Kure believes that had the illustrations been "refined", it would not have conveyed the "eeriness" that is a key characteristic of the work.[1] In a short review, Jason Thompson noted how the characters conveniently receive "power-ups" to create plot twists, but concluded that these said plot twists and the manga's post-apocalyptic world are "too good to miss."[76]

The anime adaptation won multiple prizes during the 3rd Newtype Anime Awards, including best director, best script, best soundtrack, best theme song, top female character, and title of the year.[77] It received the award for best TV animation at the 2013 Animation Kobe Awards.[78] Carl Kimlinger from Anime News Network was sharply critical of the first two episodes of the anime adaptation. He did praise the show for "[bringing] back the terror of the fee-fi-fo-fum set", but then said that it "does not a good show make". Kimlinger criticized Araki's direction, saying he "clearly intends it to be powerful and unsettling, but it's just crude and unpleasant."[79] On the other hand, other critics from Anime News Network praised much of the series. Rebecca Silverman said it "is both gorgeous and appalling in its visuals", and "an excellent mix of what 18th century Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe defined as horror versus terror: the one is physical, making you want to look away, and the other is intellectual, making you want to know what's going to happen next."[80] Though there are several apocalyptic action shows, Carlo Santos noted that "few get as close to perfection as Attack on Titan does". Santos described it as "a masterpiece of death and destruction" even if he only watched the first episode.[81] Theron Martin praised the musical score and the "intense, impactful first episode" despite he felt it has "limited animation". Martin also compared Attack on Titan's vibe and visual aesthetic to Claymore.[82]

The series has also gained popularity in neighboring Asian countries. For instance, coverage of the anime appeared on the front page of the Hong Kong free Chinese newspaper am730 on May 27, 2013, concerning its popularity within Hong Kong as well as China and Taiwan.[83] However, the series also attracted criticism: the South Korean Electronic Times magazine accused Attack on Titan for having a militaristic message that serves Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's political leanings;[84] while the series also resonated with Hong Kong youths who saw the invading Titans as a metaphor for Mainland China.[83] Hong Kong media commentator Wong Yeung Tat praised Hajime Isayama's style and the versatility of Attack on Titan's setting, which opens itself to the readers' various interpretations.[85] In 2013, after media linked to a 2010 blog post by Isayama indicating that the design of the character Dot Pyxis was based on the Imperial Japanese General Akiyama Yoshifuru, an Internet flame war about the general's war record ensued on his blog, including death threats to Isayama.[86]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ As Attack on Titan aired in MBS's Saturday 25:58 (Sunday 1:58 am JST) time slot, the premiere technically occurred on Sunday, April 7, 2013.

References[edit]

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