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Attack on Titan

Anime shows more than simple good vs. evil

By Vanessa Ray
On October 30, 2018

What’s in the basement?
The question that’s been plaguing “anime-onlies” since the first episode of “Attack on Titan” (AoT) aired back in 2013, is on its way to being answered this season.
Unfortunately, due to a delay, fans are going to have to wait just a little bit longer.
At the end of episode 49’s “glitchy” ED, Wit Studios informed fans they would be taking a short break, with the second half of season three starting up again in April 2019. 
There have long been speculations if season three was going to be a split cour, however, it was not officially confirmed until last week.
So far, episodes 38-49, the Uprising Arc, have aired, and I, like most who have read the manga, am eagerly awaiting episodes 50-61, the Return to Shiganshina Arc.
 Warning: From here on out there will be both anime and manga spoilers. Anime spoilers will go through episode 49, and manga spoilers will cover up to chapter 72.
A little recap for those who haven’t watched the anime/read the manga in a while or at all.
In the world of AoT, man-eating titans have taken over and humanity has locked itself up behind three concentric walls – walls Maria, Rose, and Sina. The only hope those behind the wall have is a small group of elite soldiers called the Survey Corps, whose job is to go beyond the walls to fight the titans.
AoT begins as a very cliched Shonen
anime, with the young protagonist, Eren Jaeger, who, after watching as his mother is devoured, makes a promise to “kill all the titans.” He’s edgy, hot-headed, and motivated solely by revenge.
Eren starts off as the type of character avid anime watchers have seen multiple times before, and is no different than Luffy from “One Piece,” Ichigo from “Bleach,” or Goku from “Dragonball.”
The worldview in the beginning of AoT is very black and white, with obvious lines drawn between good and evil. The audience is led to believe every bad guy is intrinsically malevolent, and the virtuous heroes will prevail. It is rife with the idealistic markings of the standard Shonen anime.
However, we soon learn AoT is not a good versus evil story. The world our protagonists inhibit is cruel and unrelenting, and as you watch the first season and move into the second, you begin to realize you are, in fact, watching a Seinen series.
Season one and two are full of moral ambiguity and mind-blowing reveals. The complexity of the entire 104th and their development is what makes us care about their safety. 
Jean Kirstein, the cocky, selfish jerk who originally hated Eren due to his closeness with Jean’s crush, Mikasa Ackerman, ends up turning his back on an easy life in the Military Police – his whole reason for joining the military, in favor of fighting the titans with the Survey Corps.
Fan favorites Reiner, Annie, and Bertolt, all ranking high in the initial fan poll, turn out to be the ones who destroyed the wall.
 Going into the third season, class differences and economic disparity as well as bigotry and othering are tackled.
Through it all, the question of who really is good, or could anyone be good or evil given the circumstances, hangs over the story.
One of the best aspects in all of AoT is witnessing the change in Eren, which starts in episode five. The day after graduating training, the Colossal Titan – the one who kicked in the wall of Eren’s hometown of Shiganshina – shows up.
With titans pouring in, Eren, confident in both his and his comrades abilities, orders his squad to move out. His idealistic worldview and belief he will “kill all the titans” is quickly destroyed when his squad is promptly wiped out and he is swallowed alive. 
Inside the stomach of the titan, Eren screams in desperation. He doesn’t understand how it all happened – how he is going to die without killing a single titan.
Even though Eren survives the ordeal due to his abilities as a titan-shifter, we find out quickly that anyone can die, and in the cruel world of AoT, ideals are meaningless. What matters is fighting for survival.
One of the most famous lines in the anime is spoken by Mikasa while the woman “worth 100 soldiers” is trying to spur the rest of the 104th into action.
“If I win, I’ll live; if I don’t, I’ll die,” she stoically states to her shell-shocked comrades. “But if I don’t fight, I can’t win, so fight!”
Watching Eren develop from a simple, idealistic, and righteous hothead into a complicated, pragmatic, and at times ruthless character is the reason he is my all-time favorite protagonist.

For those who loved all the titan fighting and gore of season one and two, the first part of season three, with the new squad Levi taking on the corrupt government, might sound boring – however, it is anything but.

As an avid reader of the manga, I would encourage anyone who has only watched the anime to take this time during the break and start reading the manga.
The manga is released every month in Bessatsu Shonen in Japan and is available on sites like Crunchyroll and Amazon on the eighth or ninth every month.
It is currently on chapter 110 and the twelfth episode of season three ends with chapter 72.
There is so much nuance and brilliance in Hajime Isayama’s manga. If I just watched the anime without reading the manga, I don’t know if I would love it as much as I do.
Seeing how deliberate Isayama is with his characterizations, and the amount of care he puts into crafting his story, has been one of the great joys of reading the manga. Not to mention it’s a lot of fun to be one of those super cool manga readers who says “that didn’t happen in the manga!” a million times every episode.
While I wanted to focus this review on both the anime and manga, I would be remiss to not at least mention my displeasure with the way Wit has handled this season.
AoT is one of the most popular anime of all time – second only to “Death Note,” and above the likes of colossal hits like “Naruto,” “Code Geass,” and “One-Punch Man.” Its manga sales rival “One Piece,” something many thought no contemporary manga would ever do.
With that kind of worldwide acclaim, there is absolutely no excuse for Wit’s lack of transparency and communication.
Had it not been for Japanese fans showing their version of TV Guide, no one would have known 
I cannot think of a single other large or even mid-level anime where something like this happened.
Wit has had issues from the start, and I truly hope they take these next few months to get it together, because AoT has the potential to be one of the best anime of all time.

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