In June of this year, I went to a book shop, and I bought my first copy of Attack on Titan. I heard a lot of good things about this series from people on the internet, so I thought that i’d check it out. It is the first manga I have ever bought, and 3 months in, I love it. So today’s post is about why I love this series. Of course, this article has spoilers, so don’t moan if I reveal plot points you haven’t reached yet. Of course, if you’re not interested in AOT, then read on.
The main plot of this story is that, in a future earth, the human race has been mostly eradicated by a strange race of creatures called Titans. They range from 3-15 metres in length. They eat humans, however they seemingly need no sustenance (besides a bit of sunlight). What is left of humanity is surrounded by three 50 metre walls (called Maria, Rose, and Sheena/Sina respectively). The main characters are Eren, Mikasa, and Armin. Eren dreams of leaving the walls and exploring the titan territory. Prior to the events of the series, the walls protected the remains of humanity for 100 years. THEN A GIANT TITAN DESTROYED THE WALL and caused turmoil and bloodshed, killing many people, including Eren’s mother. Eren then vows to kill all Titans. Through the course of the story, secrets are revealed, information is gained, and Titans are killed. That is the gist of the series, without revealing too much.
It seems like your general dystopian story, with Jack and the Beanstalk mixed in, right? It is more than that. And I want to go onto the reasons I love it. I’ll start off with the antagonist. Giants are often portrayed as stupid, bumbling creatures. The threat levels are usually dropped when this massive creature is beaten by a young boy cutting a beanstalk down with an axe. The Titans aren’t smart, but they actually make that up with their extreme brute force and numbers, causing humans to go down in the food chain and become prey. The most dangerous creatures on earth, the hunters are now the hunted. The humans are constantly losing battles against the titans, losing hope, and losing dignity, later retreating inside a wall that is no more than a cage in humiliation, only to have it be broken down one hundred years later, right when the people inside it are starting to feel safe and peaceful. It seems pitiful, and you feel sympathy for the characters. Their lives were destroyed by these creatures of mass destruction.
I love the setting too. I was never one for dystopian novels. I never read the hunger games or divergent because they’re all the same. I knew when I read this, it would be dystopian. But by golly gosh, Hajime Isayama managed to bring something new to the plate. This world is not completely oblivious to the days of old, while it has been years since life as we know it today ceased to exist, the characters show genuine curiosity. While I will discuss characters in a moment, Eren’s dream to go beyond the walls is perfectly handled. The bit in volume two where he reads an old book, and he learns about the sea is just perfect. It shows how long these walls have been there. It’s all that these people know. They’re oblivious due to the Titans.
The books are also very nice to newcomers. displaying various pages of information between ‘episodes’. While small, they explain the world and the environment that these characters live in. This is very useful to newcomers as they begin to understand it all.
Clearly, the cherry on the cake is the characters. I absolutely support them. I always find if you cannot support a character, you cannot get invested in a story if you find them unlikeable. It’s one of the reasons I never fully liked The Fault in our Stars, because I never really liked Hazel, especially at the start of the book. I’ll start with Eren. Eren is a good character. He initially wants to explore beyond the wall, but when he loses his home and his own mother, he vows vengeance. And the titans have his wrath. He is also an amnesiac, whose father gave him strange injections (which are probably responsible for his special ability) and has a key to his (currently inaccessible) basement.This gives some mystique and intrigue into the character. He’s also very impulsive, and realistic. He isn’t a clean cut hero, which is good because that makes him more 3 dimensional. Armin is the most relateable. He feels inadequate, compared to his survey corp friends. He fails to see his gifts, because he feels second best. I love that. Everyone has felt like that before. But he is a valuble asset, and over the course of the series, he becomes more confident. Then we have Mikasa. Oh god, I LOVE MIKASA. If she were real, I would totally date her. She is the most dedicated. But not to the king, but Eren. She owes her life to him and treats him less like a brother, and more like a soul mate. She is dedicated to keep him safe, in order to repay a seemingly unpayable debt. I love her. By far my favourite character. Girls with swords are awesome.
Final thoughts: Attack on Titan is a series that will make you feel dread, joy and anger. A book that good deserves awards. It’s characters, despite the fantastical setting, are grounded to earth and are realistic on all aspect. While early volumes sort of put the supporting characters on the back burner, they DO get explored, and you grow to love them as much as the core cast. I wish I could talk about them all, but we’re past 1000 words almost. The drama is the best part of this whole thing, one character could be dead by the flick of a page, and that element of surprise keeps you gripped. As well as finding out the secrets of the titans, the characters, and even their own government. I would recommend everyone who loves good fiction to read Attack on Titan. It is the best manga, the best story, and my favourite book series. Full stop.