After two years of quiet on the Attack on Titan front, with the manga gradually continuing the epic story, the franchise has exploded again at the release of the eagerly awaited live action Attack On Titan movie. We finally have a 2016 release date for season 2 of the anime, the manga will go over an impressive 70 volumes soon, and there's a new alternate universe anime that will re-imagine the characters as Junior High students.
Despite the overwhelming hype for the movie, the fan and critical response has been vastly negative. By all reports, Attack On Titan parts 1&2 changed too much of the story, while not really selling a slightly altered modern setting, and shoving in an awkward romance for good measure. The special effects, however, have been mostly praised. The film has done phenomenally well in the Japanese box office, and we can only expect this success to boom as Attack On Titan 2: End Of The World is released in Japan while the first movie finds a second home in the United States. Beyond the movies, a live action television show attempts to flesh out the alternate storyline, but can it redeem the film?
Movies Slammed By Critics
Potentially the most enjoyable part of the live action movies is reading the bad reviews. Japanese critics and fans have not been kind to Attack On Titan Part 1, and preview showings of Part 2 garnered a similar response. The reviews go into everything from plot holes, to hammy acting, to the badly realised 3D manouvre gear.
It's sad really: the story is so exciting and gritty that fans initially welcomed the idea of a live action film. But considering the fantastic nature of the action, it's unsurprising that the movies struggled with bringing this to life. Cho Eiga Hihyo (think Rotten Tomatoes) had this to say about Part 1...
"The Attack on Titan live-action film was created with the concept of changing things that were ‘unrealistic’ in the manga, rather than simply adapting the manga to the big screen. Unfortunately that concept undermined the entire film, making it feel even more like an ‘unrealistic’ manga than the work it was based on."
The general consensus is that the shift into modern day was messy and not well thought out, while the aspects of the manga and anime that made the story so appealing were cut.
The original plot is complex and thrilling, but the story is essentially driven by interesting and engaging characters. Unfortunately the Attack On Titan movies watered down the main characters until they were just cliche archetypes: Mikasa lost her ruthless edge, Eren lacks the fury that drives him in the original, Armin is barely there, and Levi actually isn't there. But many fans pointed out that beloved character Zoe Hanji is still her whacky self, and she's the best part of the movie.
It was a good move on Toho's part to chose Hanji to helm their tie-in live action TV show. Her mission to find out more about the Titans has lots of story potential to pack out episodes, but does the TV show manage to flesh out the live action universe? Critics say, wait for it... no.
TV Show Disappoints
Before we delve into the reaction to the TV show, why not check out the trailer? Unfortunately the English translation is a bit shaky, so there's a transcript here.
Entitled Signal Of The Counterattack, the show is being released online in between the live action Attack On Titan movie releases. Intended to do some worldbuilding, as well as provide character depth and backstories, the show has again received a mixed response. Hanji's plot seems to be the best thing about it, and her experiments on the Kyojin are suitably creepy. But the episodic plots are far from engaging, and often become too silly to really fit with the tension of the world they're supposed to be building up.
Fan favourite Sasha gets some backstory, and as the anime has yet to explore her history this is one of the highlights of the show, but still doesn't really do her interesting character justice. After a promising start that focuses on Hanji and Sasha, the show shifts focus to original characters, in an episode that shows some of the male trainees competing for a female trainee's attention, and it all gets a bit too slapstick and cringeworthy.
Only 3 episodes have been released so far, so it's possible the web series could bring it all together for a rousing finish. The movies desperately need some depth, and the characters are pretty one-note in the films, so can the TV show provide the depth the live action universe so desperately needs? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
You can check out the live action show on dTV here, though it hasn't been subtitled yet. And while you wait for the live action movies to be released in the USA (or for the anime season 2 coming next year), at least we've got that Junior High chibi anime to enjoy... right?
So what do you think of all these new Attack On Titan releases? Let us know in the comments, or join and write a post or review!