Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

details
Title: Attack on Titan.
Writer(s): Hajime Isayama.
Artist(S): Hajime Isayama.
Publisher: Kodansha Comics.
Format: Digital.
Release Date: September 9th, 2009 to April 9th, 2021.
Volumes: 34.
Genre(s): Action, Dark Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

thoughts

The buzz and hype around this series are larger than life itself. With the launch of the anime series adaptation in 2013, the franchise has only grown and accumulated millions of fans eager to discover this world filled with terrifying human-eating titans. After all, how can one even resist the temptation to unravel the mystery behind this world built within walls? For mangaka Hajime Isayama, this world has brought him to develop strong and complex heroes, questionable alliances, mysterious political landscapes, deadly yet fascinating titans, and a plethora of plot twists keeping readers on the edge of their seats trying to figure out the truth about these beasts. Collected in 34 tankōbon volumes, the manga came to an end in April 2021 while the anime is currently at its final season this year.

What is Attack on Titan about? Within the triple concentric walls of Paradis island lies the last inhabitants of humanity, regrouped following a devasting war centuries ago, now protected from the humanoid giants known as Titans, roaming outside the walls, eager to devour the smallest of humans at the first opportunity they get. In the year 845, Eren Yeager, a young boy who witnesses a devastating tragedy to these Titans, vows to join the military and become a part of the Survey Corps, a group utilizing specialized verticality gear to hunt down and eradicate Titans. As he uncovers secrets about his past and the untold history of this civilization, the truth brings him to embark on a long and perilous journey to set things right once and for all.

While there are countless fans out there who would vouch for the absolute greatness of this series, count me out of it. It took me forever to immerse myself into mangaka Hajime Isayama’s story-telling style and even more to acclimate myself to his artistic vision. Undeniably capturing a post-apocalyptic setting through the setting and premise, he quickly embraces the dark fantasy elements through his action-packed battle scenes and creates a tantalizing world where questions surge from the walls at a moment’s notice. Once the story introduces these titans and delves deeper into the mystery around their existence and abilities, the story brings into play an inconceivable amount of intrigue and suspense, inevitably followed by a myriad of plot twists, through its politics and history.

With the story focusing on its young cast working together to demystify these titans, their origin, and their raison d’être, there’s a sense of urgency, trust, and hopelessness fused together that make for a unique dynamic among these characters. Unfortunately, I often found myself greatly distracted by their voice and their motivation. Frustration piling up as the writing continuously irritated me, often seeming pretentious and sometimes quite self-evident, it was difficult for me to ever connect with any of these characters, ultimately only following their journey from afar, never caring for their plight. Luckily, the action sequences make for exciting moments throughout this series and the plot twists just kept coming, always making you wonder what else the mangaka will unknowingly reveal to the reader.

What also stops me from adoring this series more than I wish I did is the artwork. Oh boy, it is rough. I don’t want to pull my punches but I do admit that mangaka Hajime Isayama gets better at it further into the series but it’s still nothing impressive. At times, there’s a stunning and splendid beauty to his drawings, conveying a titanic and spectacular quality to key moments. At others, his character designs are weak, his ability to draw emotions amateurish, and his grasp on movement awkward. In fact, if you were to try this series out, you’re better off checking out the critically-acclaimed anime instead; they do a much better job with the action sequences, the music, and the artistic style. Meanwhile, the manga remains an excellent source to discover mangaka Hajime Isayama’s story and direction. It remains to be seen if the anime will go with another ending though. In fact, the manga ended on an anticlimatic tone that felt like it butchered everything it built up in terms of characterization, themes, morals, and message. There’s nothing like a disappointing ending to tarnish a whole series.

Attack on Titan is a mystery-ridden, plot twist-heavy, and action-packed universe filled with man-eating titans, youngsters protecting their home, and secrets hidden from humanity.


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24 thoughts on “Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama

  1. I watched a couple of episodes of AoT and that was when I realized my anime days were pretty much over. It was ridiculous. but I probably would have loved it 15 years earlier 🙂

    I was NOT tempted to ever try the manga, as I saw a few bits of the artwork and man, you are nice calling it rough.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It takes some time to get hooked and I personally think that the hype and buzz are what really gave this show the fanbase it got. You just won’t see me recommending this over other classic series that was part of my own childhood though.

      Hahahah I was really kind speaking of the artwork. I remember how shocked I was by the artwork when I cracked open volume 1. I think I just got used to it further down the line… And he does get better towards the end when everything gets bigger and crazier and full-page art becomes more prominent. But still… It’s harder to overlook with the manga.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am sorry that this one didn’t work out for you! I think that, sooner or later, I would give a try at the anime, even if I keep changing my mind about it. But I think the manga is not for me. Post-apocalyptic is not my genre, and the art is not working for me, either…
    But I hope that your next adventure with anime and manga would be better!

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  3. As you know, I am not really into comics/manga, but I can see that the artwork is important part of the experience. Not connecting with the characters is something I can relate to though. It’s always a big minus in my book. I don’t mind not liking the characters, but I need to connect with them at some level and be invested in what happens to them. Too bad this didn’t work for you!

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    1. Yep. The artwork serves as a vessel for the story-telling, to my eyes. I can learn to love it but even after 34 volumes, I had a tough time appreciating it, I do think there’s a problem hahah It sort of makes everything harder too, like connecting with the characters. Thanks for reading even if it’s not something you’d ever think of reading right now! 😛

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  4. Aww man! That sucks the manga wasn’t impressive to you. I’ve only seen the first season, or a few episodes of the first season, of the anime. I watched it a couple years ago when it came out and really liked it. However, I remember being more impressed by the graphics than the story, which I was hoping would be strengthened in the second season, but then there was a long break between the first and second seasons, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It took me so much time before the plot really caught my attention too, so I’m not too surprised that the anime had a similar effect on you. I do know that there’s a lot of praise for the anime’s visuals, the action scenes, and the score. And yes, the delays between seasons is pretty crazy. At least the show is close to its end now! 😀 Might be a good time to binge through it all soon. 😉

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  5. I mostly enjoyed the first season of the anime. Parts of it were hard to accept (using snap-off razer blades like swords, flying around using their gizmo gear, the titans themselves, …), but I was entertained. I guess I lost interest after that, though, as I never continued to the second season. I gave the live action movie(s) adaptation a try and found I preferred the anime. Sorry to hear the manga overall disppointed. I doubt I could have gotten through 34 volumes of it. The premise of the story just didn’t seem to justify that length, although I’m sure there might have been much more to it than I witnessed in the little I watched.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep… All the juicier parts are thrown into the story only further down the line, it’s also why it took me forever to get through those 34 volumes. It was sometimes so mundane that the hook missed its target for me. I mostly kept going because of the hype but the issues I had from the get-go dragged along with me and never really allowed me to enjoy it more or as much as others. I don’t think I’d dare try the live-action movies though. I’m already having a tough time imagining it all hahaha and based on what you’ve shared with me here, I think I should be good without it too! 😛

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  6. Ouch, man! This is a damning review from such a manga fan as yourself, Lashaan! I was never very eager to try AoT, but now I’m pretty certain I won’t try it at all – doesn’t look like I’d enjoy it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You mean Bleh? 😛 Yeah, I think my time with this particular title is done 😉

        I like Naruto, though. Not love it like DB, or even FA, but I enjoy reading Kishimoto’s work. I am partial to Naruto as a character, and to Nine-Tails 😉 I do hope the Shippuden story arc is as good as you advertise, Lashaan! 😀

        On the other hand, I’m having a great time with Demon Slayer! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hahahah I’m mostly letting emotions run the show instead of reason with Shippuden. 😛 I had the most fun with the younger days and I’m expecting the final volumes of the series to be a struggle to get through. I hope I’m wrong though.

        I’ll definitely give Demon Slayer a try soon. I also want to dive into Jujutsu Kaisen quickly and see what the hype is about. 😛

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