Every so often, an anime comes along that renews people’s interest in the form, one you absolutely have to share with everyone you know. We’re talking gateway stuff, anime that leads newcomers who had maybe only seen Akira and Dragon Ball Z to suddenly build enormous anime collections in a ridiculously short span of time. Many an anime fanboy and fangirl has been borne of titles like Cowboy Bebop, Death Note, and Fullmetal Alchemist. And mark my words, we’ll soon be adding Attack on Titan to this pantheon of gateway anime, as it’ll surely prove a reinvigorating force in the scope of an already strong North American industry following FUNimation Entertainment’s release of Attack on Titan: Part 1.
So I know some readers at this point are thinking, I’ve already read the manga and I torrent every episode of the series as it airs in Japan, and I’ve known it was great since before the first episode aired, so get with the times, old man. And that’s awesome, bro. I’ve heard it before. I have. But seriously, kudos to you. The thing is, not all of us are so up-to-date. And surely almost no one who isn’t already a fan of anime is going to go out of their way to seek out and watch fan-subs of Attack on Titan, or any other anime for that matter. That’s for the hardcore audiences… and those hardcore viewers are created by series like Attack on Titan…
Set in some distant future, humanity has been pushed to the brink of extinction by a mysterious breed of seemingly mindless giants called Titans that feed on humans. Mankind has barricaded themselves away from the Titans inside a series of concentrically walled-in cities, and they’ve been safe there for 100 years. But in the series’ opening moments, the safety of the walls is compromised when a new breed of Titan appears, one that towers not only over all other Titans, but over the walls themselves. From there, the series follows a group of young soldiers who are among the forces attempting to reclaim the world for mankind. Though they put on brave faces, the question stands: when faced with the horror of the Titans, will their ideals, valor and camaraderie be enough to unite them against such massive, monstrous foes?
Compared by some to The Walking Dead (though I honestly think that’s doing Attack on Titan a grave disservice), Attack on Titan is so unpredictable that it keeps you unblinkingly frozen in place and yet so stressful a viewing experience that I could hardly cope with it at times. It’s one of those series where any character can bite it (or be bitten, as the case may be) at any time. To that end, there’s a line in the manga’s trailer that says, “Your hands will shake, but you will still turn the page,” and that really captures the experience of the series perfectly. You’re horrified just thinking about what might happen to the characters next, but you absolutely have to know.
Part 1 of the first North American release of Attack on Titan from FUNimation collects the first 13 episodes of the series’ 25-ish episodes, and is available in a Blu-ray/DVD combo pack. Take it from me, you’re going to want to make use of FUNimation’s Marathon Play feature from the get-go, as the series gives you little choice in the matter. You’re going to marathon it, and skipping over the credits and titles for each episode feels like it takes an eternity when you’re wrapped-up in the storyline.
The set comes loaded with special features, including a series of “Chibi Theatre” shorts, which I find rather off-putting given how much it clashes with the horrors experienced by the characters in the series; commentaries; textless openings and closings; trailers; and a fascinating, nearly hour-long documentary about FUNimation’s production of this release, which gives incredible insight into the process of adapting anime for American audiences. What’s more, there are three versions available of Part 1: a standard edition; a limited edition with an overall more attractive presentation in addition to a lenticular art card and a beautiful, full-color 24-page booklet; and a collector’s edition you can purchase through FUNimation’s site that includes military pins, a replica of Eren Jaeger’s key necklace, and a sword necklace. If you’ve got the cash, the collector’s edition gets my recommendation. The swag is pretty sweet!