Attack on Titan Ilse’s Notebook Review

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It’s time for an Attack on Titan prequel OVA. This one adapts a side story from the manga so it’s fairly short. The OVA does manage to pad itself out a little with a brief recap on the state of things though so it’s not extremely short. It’s around the length of the average episode which is a pretty decent length for an OVA. It’s fairly interesting, but I can’t say that it’s actually good as it suffers from the usual Attack on Titan issues.

The main character of this story is Hange (Or Hanji depending on which name you’re more used too) and she really wants to experiment on a Titan. As she has no conscience to weigh her down, she has always been the perfect person to lead the scientist division. She may creep the rest of her comrades out, but that’s just a side effect of being insane. You’re basically rooting for the Titans here since you don’t want them to be enslaved so Hange can stab them forever. Things aren’t moving quickly enough for Hange so she decides to go rogue and head after a Titan. Along the way she learns that there was once a Titan who could talk. What does this mean?

The Notebook/Journal that the heroes find is the main item of importance in this story. It’s another tragic tale, but that’s to be expected here. Ilse was running through the woods when a Titan spotted her. The rest of her comrades had already been taken down for the count so she had no backup. Surprisingly, the Titan didn’t destroy her right away as it prolonged the experience by stretching its face and trying to let her know about the war going on and how the series was all a lie. Ilse didn’t handle this too well and panicked so she was quickly eaten. It’s meant to be pretty important since it shows that Titans have some level of intelligence even if it’s been buried pretty deep. At the same time her death in the end made the whole thing suspect anyway. Maybe she was just delusional. The heroes don’t seem to think much of it either as they just use this as an excuse to go on the hunt once more.

Humor has never been a strong point of the series and that continues here. A running gag is that Hange is super unhinged so she chokes one of her comrades and nearly murders him. She loses her cool constantly and I don’t know how she still has her job. Well, the government is corrupt so I guess that fits. It doesn’t make me like any of her comrades though since they don’t speak up about this and just keep on enduring it. Levi and the others seem to turn a blind eye as well. At least he’s one of the few people along with Erwin who doesn’t fear Hange, but if he’s not going to do anything about it, then it doesn’t really matter all that much.

Attack on Titan never fails to deliver on the technical side though. The soundtrack is pretty good as we got an awesome techno theme at the beginning of the OVA. It played when the series was giving a recap of the situation and it made for some fun visuals as well. If the whole OVA was like that, then I wouldn’t have had any problems. The strategic part of the series is when its typically at its best. The graphics are also pretty sharp as it looks and feels very modern. The character designs are on point and the OVA had fun using Sunset effects for when it was getting late, but not quite night time yet. It all looked good and at least that helps the OVA speed along even if it can’t totally nullify the negatives.

In the end, the OVA was still a little too violent and dark by the end. The novels pointed out that Titans don’t bleed so we technically shouldn’t be getting any blood when they’re slashed. The anime has always chosen to ignore that though and either way we have the Titans eating humans as well so that doesn’t help. The scene of the Titan trying to rearrange his face came across as completely unnecessary and eating Ilse at the end wasn’t a great ending either. Following the novels more closely would absolutely help Titan in all of its future products.

Overall, Ilse’s Notebook is fairly standard Attack on Titan fare. If you like the show then odds are that you’ll like the OVA. Eren and the other main characters may not be in it, but the rest of the OVA feels like it could easily be a normal episode. I still say that the show is too violent and melodramatic the whole time and Hange is a pretty terrible main character so she holds it down. To make it more interesting, I wouldn’t have minded some time travel thrown in so Eren could be around to yell a bit. It’s not exactly the feel good film of the year, but if you really want to make sure that you’re an expert on Attack on Titan lore, then you’ll want to check it out. For the rest of you, just go prepare yourself for Season 2 instead. It is certainly drawing closer and closer with every passing day.

Overall 4/10

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Attack on Titan: The Harsh Mistress of the City Review

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There are some series that can start out on a high note and keep that level of quality intact. Look at the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. It has the super emotional song from the first film, but still managed to get by just fine in the sequels without it. That’s because the writing and characters were on point. Other titles like Skip Beat can start out decently interesting and go into the gutter. It’s not about how you start a race, but how you finish it. That’s true in life, cooking, platformers, pie eating contests, and anything else that is worth your while. This novel may have started out to be pretty good and a contender for best novel in the franchise, but crashed and burned in the second half. The title should have been a giveaway I suppose.

The plot of the book takes place in a small little town in the Titan World. The bridge collapsed so everyone is kinda sorta trapped in the town. They can go outside though so I guess they aren’t really trapped at all. I don’t know exactly how the layout is since it doesn’t make much sense, but essentially all of the other villages have left them for dead. All of Rita’s bosses end up getting bumped off so she is suddenly the leader of the military. She goes from being a really nice person to a corrupt dictator and decides that the only way to give the people peace is to murder them and anyone who falls out of line or looks at her the wrong way is subject to death. She will destroy anyone who defies her wish of a Utopia!

Meanwhile, Mathias is the other main character. He was a rich guy who never had to work for anything and was ignorant of the ways of the commoner. He was good friends with Rita, but he ended up murdering her other best friend so he had to go into hiding. He must now find a way to take her down and considers that he may have to use lethal methods. Friendship and camaraderie is thrown to the winds in this tale as everyone does what they feel they have too. Things get a lot worse before they get better and they never really get better so just focus on the first part.

This adventure is two novels long and the first one was actually pretty decent. It was a fun enough tale about Rita and Mathias and how they lived very different lives, but did their best to connect with each other. It wasn’t a bleak and gritty story the way that most Titan adventures were and it was cool to just have a happy scene for once. It figures that this wouldn’t last right? The story started to get a little more grim as Mathias made a deal with some bandits to rob his father in exchange for getting him to the town where Rita was trapped. It didn’t go very well so the bandits murder a bunch of soldiers and then Mathias panicked so he blew up one of the young workers who was helping Rita. He panicked again after that and ran off. This basically happened in the final pages of the first book so it was quite a downer.

The second novel is where it really goes off the rails though. Rita was apparently traumatized after seeing her best friend murder her other friend so she decided to go down a dark path. She forces people to get eaten by the Titan she planted in the city and tortures others until they get her some intel. Nobody is safe now and she murders her father and is prepared to do the same to Mathias if she can find him as well as her best friend Amanda. The novel shows us in great detail just how insane she has become. It gets about as bad as the main Titan series in that regard and there’s no way she can come back from this.

This is why the ending of the book is rather hard to swallow. The author suddenly tries to make her sympathetic as she was only trying to help and she’ll be a nicer person now. She has this 180 character development in the span of 2-3 pages as Titans attack the city and suddenly we’re supposed to see her as a nice person again. Mathias also forgives her for murdering everyone and putting the townspeople in jeopardy every day since it just doesn’t matter now. Never mind the fact that one of Mathias’ main allies was poisoned to death right in front of him on Rita’s orders. She may claim that it was for the greater good, but she stepped well over the line of vigilantism and became an evil villain during this book. It was far more extreme than the book and characters acknowledge afterwards and it was just puzzling the whole time. It was an even more drastic character arc than Shu’s from Guilty Crown and that’s pretty scary. It may not be in Black Butler levels quite yet, but Rita is easily one of the most evil main characters that I’ve ever seen.

It goes without saying that I didn’t like her. Regardless of how good she was in volume 1, she nullified it all in the sequel. I didn’t care for Mathias either as there is no way he should have panicked so much upon seeing the scout and he handled the situation as badly as possible. It was hard to take him seriously as the rebel leader since he was always terrified of everyone and got tricked so many times. He was just annoying to see. The rebels were also a bit much as they were all too overconfident and full of themselves even though they could never do all that much when it came time to fight. The super hyped leader of the Rebels went down in the worst way possible as his drinking habits finally got to him and poison ended his career. You’d think that he would have been a little smarter about something like that.

In the end, the only real good character was Amanda. Even she was a little fishy as she took forever to make a move and just allowed people to be tortured and eaten. At least she did something about it though. She also got a lot of hype as being the best fighter in the squad, but naturally once she turned good, Amanda was surpassed by Rita. So much for the hype eh? She still put up a good fight though and was probably the only character who actually stayed true to herself. Again, the book kind of glossed over the fact that Rita was so evil in the end as she gets Amanda back her gear and they team up again. It just shouldn’t be so smooth. If anything, I think the ending should have kept Rita as a villain, it certainly makes more sense than suddenly making her a hero again.

Even the ending doesn’t offer much hope though as the heroes lost their town to the Titans. Their plan is to head to the next town, but they already know for a fact that the Town doesn’t want them and will attempt to slay the group. It’ll come down to yet another fight and that should give the Titans an opening to move in and take them all down. It’s Attack on Titan though so you should never expect anything even remotely happy for the conclusion.

Overall, What started as potentially the best Titan novel ended up being the worst one. It’s why I always say that you can’t really tell these things ahead of time. A whole novel (or 2 in this case) is more than enough time for a story to turn rotten. You won’t even recognize the characters by the end as they could basically be other people. In the end, what really destroyed the book was that it was way too dark and violent. If you thought the other novels were gritty, this one is far more intense. The novel could have made Rita’s character transformation a little less drastic and it would have worked a lot better. There’s no good reason for her to become a full fledged mass murderer. She should have just gotten more obsessed about the rules and we could have had the town be under a curfew with a lot of punishments handed out every day. The situation didn’t need to jump all the way to 10 so suddenly. Had the book showed some restraint, it would have been a lot better and glossing it over so much at the end didn’t help either. If you want a good Attack on Titan novel, I suggest checking out Before The Fall. It’s the only good one at the moment and shows you what Titan novels should be like.

Overall 1/10

Attack on Titan: Lost Girls Review

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It’s time for another Attack on Titan novel! After that last one, I prepared myself for just about anything. This one splits into two very short stories which end up equaling a novel that is still 100 pages shorter than the last one. As such, it goes by fairly quick. On the other hand, it doesn’t stop the first story from severely holding the whole thing back for basically the same negatives as the last novel. Lets dive right in!

The first story is about Mikasa and how she first met Eren. It turns out that Eren was a lot meaner and more unlikable than we all remembered. Mikasa had been pretty bored at the time and only got to spend time with her parents on rainy days. One day, her doctor showed up and brought his kid along. Eren didn’t like to play with dolls and immediately started helping Mikasa break rules that she had never questioned. The two get to be friends, but Mikasa is always worried that one day Eren is going to go too far and anger the wrong people. This could end up being a fatal mistake.

At least Mikasa is a likable heroine here. She helped out around the house when her mother got sick and was always courteous to those around her. She stood up for Eren when he was getting bullied and didn’t give up even after he kept ditching her. Whether that was the right move or not if another story. Mikasa ultimately did grow up to be a very likable character as well as one of the best fighters in the series so she’s certainly never strayed from that path.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about Eren. He could be a likable main character at times in the anime although he ultimately dropped off quite a lot in the manga. In this book Eren is not even close to being a good character. He starts off very quiet and reserved and comes across as just very aggressive and mean whenever he talks to Mikasa. He compares her to a Chicken multiple times and even predicts that she will one day be destroyed. He picks fights with just about everyone and gets beaten up multiple times. Even though Mikasa is the one who helps him out of these situations, he refuses to visit her and spends all day hanging out with his new friend Armin. The way that Eren handled the situation was terrible. Whenever he appeared, you knew that Mikasa was going to feel sad again since that’s what Eren does best.

This series continues to enjoy upping the grittyness factor as much as it can and this story is riddled with it. For starters, a grown up beats up Eren for many, many pages. Keep in mind that Eren is only 9 years at the time and the beat down is very brutal and descriptive. It just keeps going on and on and on. This isn’t even the only time that Eren is beaten as a group of kids also took him out. It’s a scene that we really didn’t need in the volume, but it’s meant to show how corrupt the world is. Nobody is going to stop these guys and by the time the heroes investigate, the criminals are already dead via car crash.

There’s also a random magician who tries to get Mikasa to murder him and succeeds, but the twist is that it was a trick knife. The point of it was to show that ultimately anyone can be corrupted and convinced to murder someone. Before that, a mob ended up beating up Mikasa a bit by mistake as she was shoved to the ground and hit a few times. I believe that one aspect of the series which continues to bring these situations up is the overall locale. The slums are shown to be in extremely poor condition with people doing their business in the streets and the place just being in shambles. It makes for a lot of unnecessary details that don’t help the book, but just remind you of what a tough world the place is. Eren and the others will never get too much peace because they are defying the system. A bunch of people will die to the Titans and the other humans. It makes for a very somber piece.

Mikasa’s story was basically just a tale of grit and how you can’t trust anyone with the actual plot being on the backburner. The other story was about Annie which took place the day before she attempted to kidnap Eren. She needed her roommate to explain that she could not make it the next day but in exchange Annie was told to try and locate a missing person. The case is 10 days old with nobody actually looking so Annie would have a tough challenge ahead of her. Luckily, she is fairly determined and does have some time to burn.

This story was a considerable improvement over the last one. I’m always up for a good mystery. Some lingering elements of the Titan writing style remain as the areas continue to be described as being excruciatingly bad and it seems like everyone is either a drunk or a criminal in this world. Nonetheless, there is less time for grit and less opportunity for it since Annie does have her Titan powers and regenerative capabilities so she is never in any real danger. It really is handy to have powers like that right?

The end of the case may not be the most satisfying, but there were a sufficient amount of twists along the way and it was an interesting one. I liked how the rich father of the missing girl was actually smart for a change and was good at telling if someone was lying or not. It may not have helped him much in this scenario, but at least he wasn’t just oblivious to the whole thing. I’m a little skeptical about Annie transforming into Titan mode to take out the villains though. It’s not a question of whether it was necessary or not, but I feel like someone would notice even if the place was fairly deserted. It’s hard to miss the explosion and the light blast that hits the Titan to start the transformation right? I definitely wouldn’t mind a novel adaption of the actual mission to get Eren from Annie’s point of view. She’s a fun main character and has always been an interesting villain. Learning more about her background could help solve some mysteries in the long run.

There is a bit of an epilogue where Mikasa and Annie meet each other. I’m guessing it relates to the actual TV special/OVA content. It’s always cool to see veiled threats being hurled at each other and then the novel ends with Mikasa striking Annie down. Those two were certainly good rivals and if Annie ever breaks out of the ice that she’s in, I wouldn’t be too surprised if she ended up joining the heroes. It would make sense in a way as she was never too committed to the villains and seems like someone who could make a turnaround.

Overall, This novel had two very contrasting stories. On one hand, the first story was pretty terrible and had just about everything that’s wrong with the franchise as a whole. The second half was good and is certainly one of the better attack on Titan products, but still doesn’t exactly fall into great territory. Respectively, the first story would probably score a 2 while the second would get a 6. If we go halfway, then that’s around a 4 although the halves aren’t necessarily weighed equally. It’s like how a negative review always seems to hurt more than a positive one helps an item. In this case that’s the score that the novel gets though. I’d just advise to skip the Mikasa story when you get the volume and just read the Annie one. It’s still worth a purchase even if the book is a little small in that case. Alternately, buy the first Before The Fall novel. That one’s a solid story and easily had the least amount of grit from the Titan novels. I’m finally reading the last two part adventure for now and then the Titan novel marathon will be over. It was a good run even if the scores started to fade out. At least it’s always interesting to read, whether for good or bad.

Overall 4/10

Attack on Titan Kuklo Unbound Review

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After that last Titan novel, I was beginning to wonder what had happened to the franchise. It’s not exactly known for churning out quality content so was something changing here? Apparently not as this novel goes back to the Attack on Titan that I grew up with. Violent, Edgy, and Unfair. While the story is fairly engaging, the novel gets off to a very bad start and a scene near the middle reminds you that things will never turn out too well for the heroes. The place is just too corrupt.

This story takes place a few years after the last novel. The Titan who broke through the city last time ended up murdering someone, but her kid lived on. People began calling him the Titan’s son so he was sold into slavery and endured a rough life. He eventually escaped thanks to the help of Sharle and now calls himself Kuklo. He wants to join the Survey Corps so that he can murder the Titan who tried to eat him, but many obstacles stand in his way. Does this kid really think he can handle the pressures of the outside world?

Lets get into the basics of why this novel was just no good. First off, the start of the book is just way too dark. Kuklo is trapped in a cage for years and tortured the whole time. By the time Sharle is able to save him, it’s basically too late for his childhood. Attack on Titan does love its edge though and that continues in the next novel that I’ll be reviewing soon. It’s just not a fun way to start a novel and the staff behind Attack on Titan are just too obsessed with giving everyone tragic backstories. You can make a character have an emotional backstory without making it quite that bad.

The main bully through these years was a guy named Xavi. The novel doesn’t handle his plot very well either. For starters, he doesn’t really get any consequences for his actions as he just gets promoted higher and higher through the ranks. When Kuklo finally makes it to the army and finds Xavi, it doesn’t go over so well. Xavi’s flunkies hold Kuklo down while he gets beaten to unconsciousness once again. Keep in mind that these are the heroic soldiers that we’re supposed to be rooting for. Where were Kuklo’s friend and his boss? They were just watching and basically said that Kuklo was asking for it. There were dozens of witnesses, but they all just stood by and let it happen. Again, there’s no consequence for Xavi and Kuklo just has to endure the whole thing. The novel tries to paint the situation in a way where Kuklo was in the wrong there, but I’m not buying it.

This continues as Xavi sneaks into Kuklo’s locker and sabotages his equipment. This leads to Kuklo almost dying during a training exercise. His response to this? “It doesn’t matter” Kuklo was just happy that he lived through it and it helped him improve his balance. That’s okay, but he should have told the commanders about this so they could punish Xavi. Instead, Xavi is free to make another attempt on Kuklo’s life as he takes out a knife and tries to finish him off old school. Kuklo beats him again and decides not to mention it. Ultimately, Xavi somehow turns good and after nearly getting the whole team knocked off by going on a crazy charge against a titan…the others are cool with him. Kuklo’s even going to teach him how to fight.

It was definitely a very unsatisfying resolution to a poorly handled plot line. The less said about it the better. Still, Attack on Titan is a series that thrives on the notion that humans are just as bad as the Titans, if not worse. The manga has a lot of speeches about this were the characters are proud to be evil if it means that they can win. It’s easy to see why there are so many bad apples in the series, they’re encouraged to be like that from all of the speeches and pep talks.

While he may be lacking in common sense, Kuklo is a good main character. He still makes most of the good calls and does his best to help people out when they need it. While his goal for revenge may not be the most heroic out there, he is helping the cause in the end. His physical abilities are pretty impressive and while he is certainly not meta human at all, he’s one of the better fighters in the series by the end. A little training can definitely go a long way.

You already know my thoughts on Xavi so we can skip that. Sharle is a good heroine. While she almost made a pretty big mistake, she logically thought the situation through fairly quick and came to the right conclusion. Her dagger came in handy quite a few times during the novel. Another heroine appears towards the second half as the third main member in the Kuklo squad. She’s pretty tough and makes for a good training rival to Kuklo. While she isn’t as crazy about breaking the rules as he is, she isn’t a super stickler for the rules either. Once the main character gets into danger again, she brings the squad out to help. Cardina is a good ally as well, but one that tends to get on your nerves a lot. Not helping Kuklo against Xavi and the others was pretty bad. It was hard to get over that. Beyond that, he’s a good Yes Man type character as he goes along with whatever Kuklo is doing without too much resistance. He’s a little quicker on the uptake than Kuklo when it comes to government matters so it certainly is handy to have him around.

One thing I still like about these prequels is that the author makes it a point to say that the Titans don’t really bleed. Whenever you slice a limb off, only steam comes out. If the anime had followed this logic, season one could have easily been a 7. The novel is decently long at around 300 pages and that gives it time to include a lot of events. As you may know, the manga version of this is quite long. I’ve been reading it as well and can’t remember almost any events from the book. It’s either an incredibly loose adaption or that’s how much they’ve stretched it out. Either way, reading this book will save you a lot of time over reading the whole manga.

Surprisingly, Angel from the first volume doesn’t show up here. I thought he’d have some kind of big moment, but instead only the rival showed up. The rival looked pretty good as he openly defies authority and fears no one. I can certainly get behind that character and it’ll remind you why the last novel was more engaging. It easily had the superior cast. The two commanders here weren’t great either as they constantly put the heroes at risk for no other reason than to test their resolve. It’s no wonder the Survey Corps were disbanded for so long.

One thing that I have to note is that the Titans shouldn’t be seen as a huge threat anymore after this volume’s climax. Now that the heroes have finally mastered the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment and can slay Titans, that should have completely changed the dynamic of the series. In the main title, the Titans still outnumber them greatly and the heroes never make any strides, but it doesn’t make sense to me. If you’re taking them down so easily, it should be a simple matter to start reclaiming the Earth. That would stop once the Colossal and Armored Titans show up of course, but the normal ones shouldn’t be a threat at all. I dare say that the series could have ended with this novel if not for the super types.

Overall, Attack on Titan is a series that is usually doomed because it loves being grim dark way too much. It goes out of its way to show you how rough life is under these conditions because you have to worry about Titans as well as your fellow humans. It’s hard to root for either side when you know that the majority of the citizens are also pretty bad. While it’s an interesting read, the negatives are certainly large enough where it ends up making the novel bad in the end. I’d highly recommend reading the Before The Fall novel instead. At this rate, that one could end up being the best Attack on Titan novel. It’s just going to be hard for the series to top that one although I’m sure that they’ll try. I’ve still got more novels to go so things could change…possibly. It is cool that I’m finally reading more books though, it feels good!

Overall 3/10

Attack on Titan Before The Fall Review

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Attack on Titan is a series that I definitely am not much of a fan of. I’ve gone on record to remind people that it’s a series which could not live up to the hype and is riddled with flaws. The manga ranks among my least favorite titles and while the anime notched a 5, that is certainly low compared to most of the titles that I watched. Luckily, a franchise can always turn things around or at least get a good product into the mix somewhere. Attack on Titan managed to do that with this novel as it’s actually pretty decent. It’s still dark and violent, but in book format it’s just not quite as bad and books have always had this edge over other forms of media. It’s a fairly interesting tale, even if there isn’t much of an ending since it continues on into the next novel. (Would have been 2, but I got the fancy omnibus at the ready)

This book takes place before Eren’s adventures in the main manga. It’s a prequel that shows us how the humans first learned about the Titan’s weaknesses and it’s far back enough where the status quo may already be in place, but people still talk about the old days. If you want the true backstory, you’ll have to actually go and read the manga. The story follows Angel, an inventor who does his best to make weapons and equipment for the rest of the fighters. He has a friend who is in the corps and another one who is on the wall. The three of them look out for each other and Angel wants to eliminate the Titan threat so they can see the ocean someday. This is Titan though…so expect some major casualties sooner than later.

The main cast is relatively small so lets start with Angel. Angel’s a fairly good main character. He may not be as headstrong as someone like Ichigo, but he has his moments and definitely does get his shots in. He does his best to help out his friends and doesn’t stay paralyzed in fear of the Titans for very long. He becomes a more outspoken and dependable guy as the book goes on and he certainly spared no expense in working to eliminate the titans. It’ll be interesting to see him as a supporting character in the next volume since he had such a big role here, but time does go on and he has to get old eventually. While he may have made a mistake in judging the weak point of the Titans initially, Angel did a good job in noticing the general area at all. He can also be said to be one of the first humans to take down a Titan. He wasn’t literally the first as his friend also took one down and there may have been others in the past, but certainly not many.

Maria is the main heroine of the story and she’s a good character. She stays strong even after the Titans increase the body count. She’s certainly good at surviving and was encouraging for Angel to have around. She may not have been on board with some of his crazier stunts, but she came around. I’m glad that they also didn’t try pushing any kind of rebound romance here as they just stayed as close friends. Xenophon was essentially Angel’s rival. The novel makes sure to keep mentioning how they don’t get along, but I can’t say that I really understand why. They seemed to get along just fine whenever the two of them were on screen and their personalities don’t really clash. It’s hard to see why there would be any bad blood between them at all. I felt like the author maybe didn’t think this part through, but regardless, it’s good that they got along after that. None of them ended up being petty and suddenly turning evil or anything like that.

I also liked the general of the Survey Corps. Jorge is certainly a much better character than Erwin or the old Pixel guy from the main series. Maybe he also made some morally dubious choices at some point or other, but we don’t see any of that here so I like to think that Jorge didn’t cross that line. He certainly did a good job in the hand to hand fights and considering that Angel had a cool new weapon on deck, Jorge did quite fine. He kept his cool under pressure and also came out to help even when he wasn’t allowed too. Wars are won on the battlefield after all and someone had to make a move against the Titans.

One very interesting difference in this novel was that for the most part, Titans didn’t bleed. When they were slashed, smoke would simply come out from the wound healing back together so quickly. I think the only time there was some blood was when they were blowing up a titan to find out if he had any weak points. Titans didn’t feel any pain or seem to have much intelligence at all. It was certainly an interesting look at them, but I still would have felt iffy about the humans doing a lot of experiments on them like in the manga so I’m glad that didn’t happen.

While the novel is technically not all that long, it still seemed longer than the average light novel. Perhaps it was because the text was a little more dense with all of the terminology and plans as opposed to yelling out attack names and just slashing away at the villains. That…or I was just imagining things, some novels can just feel longer than others. I know for a fact that the Naruto novels seemed to be the smallest ones that I read, but that could be because those were related to Naruto so I was able to blast through them because I’m a big fan of the franchise…even if the first novel was a little dicey.

Overall, This novel was surprisingly good. It’s still the normal Attack on Titan fare in many respects, but in book format it just works so much better. After all, I do find the concept of Attack on Titan to be interesting and that’s why the anime actually wasn’t that bad. This book had an engaging plot and the characters were pretty reasonable. We didn’t have a lot of morally dubious characters or iffy moments where you have to remind yourself to root for the humans. There still were opposing factions and a lot of crazy guys running around, but they didn’t invade the main cast so that’s a good thing. I look forward to seeing what the sequel does with this and now that we’ll be catching up to the manga version, it’ll be neat to see how much of it I can recall. The next volume is double sized since it merges 2 and 3 so it may be a bit before that review pops up, but no worries…it’ll definitely be coming! It’s still pretty surreal to be reading about manga and anime characters in novel format, but it’s definitely a good feeling.

Overall 7/10

Attack on Titan Review

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Attack on Titan has easily become on of the most popular anime titles of all time. It became an overnight sensation when the anime started airing and rose to heights that only premiere titles like DBZ, One Piece, and Sword Art Online reside. I wasn’t born early enough to fully appreciate the hype of DBZ and One Piece was more of a gradual burst than such a quick burst. So, I can only compare it to Sword Art Online in that regard and I’ll make more comparisons as the review goes on. Let’s face it, you’ve probably seen the poster above this a million times by now. It’s a pretty incredible way to hype up the show. I did read the manga prior to watching the show so I knew what to expect and it definitely isn’t my cup of tea, but the series had so much potential that it’s scary. It’s a series that really had everything in its favor (Like Sword Art Online) and just messed up on some of the fundamentals, which held it back.

The Earth is not how you may have remembered it. Titans have conquered the planet and what’s left of humanity now hides behind a group of large walls that separates them into a few groups. There are the Survey Corps who try to regain some of the lost land and the Military Police who like to lounge around and just try to enjoy their lives. We also have the normal people who just have to endure this existence. It’s tough because their food supplies are diminishing and the area won’t be able to hold everyone forever. Unfortunately, the Titans are basically invincible since their only weak point is a spot at the back of their head and they can regenerate all other injuries pretty quickly. Turns out that a boy named Eren may be the last hope for humanity thanks to his….you ready for a possible spoiler depending on if you count it? His Titan ability may be their only chance! (I wouldn’t really call it a spoiler since that’s one of the big selling points)

Well, where to start right? I think that I’ll start with some of the big positives so you can see just how much the show had going for it. I’m not typically into voice acting since most voices are good enough for me to still enjoy the characters, but Attack on Titan has one of the best voice actors in the business for the main character. This is a great advantage since Eren’s personality revolves around his constant yelling and determination. He’s constantly talking back to someone or thinking up a plan. He’s a great main character in many respects while falling short in others. I’ll talk about him more in detail later, but the voices are very good for the show.

The animation is pretty great as well. I don’t consider it to be very legendary or awe inspiring, but you can still tell that this is a relatively new anime. The main reason why it is not used to its fullest extent is because the anime is very grounded. There are no energy attacks or cool designs to really be found here. That being said, we get glimpses of how the animation could have looked when Eren transforms or when you see a gleam in the Female Titan’s eye. The animation is pretty in depth and it’s another positive to throw in Attack on Titan’s corner.

We also can’t forget that Attack on Titan has one of the greatest soundtracks in anime history. There are very few shows that can even come close to attaining the array of songs that Titan possesses. Everything from the openings to the talking themes to the battle music is great here. There are naturally many themes that aren’t as good as the others, but I can name at least 5 very catchy themes and that’s a great amount. The main Titan theme is a classic, Mikasa’s theme when she tries to avenge Eren is awesome and Eren’s final awakening during the second last episode had a great theme as well. These themes really enhance the scenes and make everything a lot better. It’s hard for you to stop your heart from racing when the music starts to pick up.

Finally, the show also had a great director. I don’t know who directed the show, but he knew what he was doing. It’s basically the opposite of what I’ve come to expect from Naruto Shippuden. He can make just about any scene interesting. That’s something that many shows simply can’t pull off. Even if it’s just your average “Characters Introduction Montage” it will still be infinitely more interesting than if someone else had attempted to adapt that scene.

As you can see, Attack on Titan had some supremely overwhelming positives on that side. Stellar voice acting, An amazing soundtrack, great animation…..how could it not be the next big thing? Well, you can have these positives over and over, but you won’t get very far if the source material is no good. That’s the case with this series and it’s where things start to go downhill.

It’s different from what happened with Sword Art Online. Sword Art Online had all of the positives that I just mentioned for Attack on Titan and it was on pace to become one of my favorite shows of all time. Then arc 2 happened and the show went from being a possible 9 all the way down to a 5. It was just terrible and distasteful. Attack on Titan sets the tone from the very first episode and I knew that things were going to get dicey very quickly.
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The big factor that really shreds Attack on Titan is the excessive violence. Toonami somehow managed to squeak a TV 14 for this show, but you can definitely tell tat it’s basically at a TV MA level. I think the only reason why the show gets away with it is because the Titans are like monsters and we know how lenient the rating system is with Godzilla. The show may tone down the manga at certain points, but it also increases the violence in others. Case in point, the final battle between the Rogue Titan and the Female Titan. Many parts of that fight were made up or extended to make the fight that much more drastic. It went way over the top in several scenes and you couldn’t root for either one of them. It’s hard to decide which episode was worse, the final one or the first one. Both of them are fighting for last place alongside one of the Hange episodes.

Mixing the excessive violence with the dreary tone of Attack on Titan is definitely a devastating combo for the series. It’s actually day time in just about every episode, which is why I can’t really think of it as a horror series, but they do make sure to show you that the humans are doomed just about every episode. The series is way too dramatic for its own goods and the heroes are constantly talking about how corrupt everyone is. There will also be a background character in just about every episode who panics and gets the crowd going. A lot of characters express how they don’t want to die just before doing so. These things are here to provide us with more emotional or shock value, but it gets old after it happens over and over again.

Because of this, I found that most of my favorite episodes in the series were the ones without any actual fighting. I’d compare it to Fate/Zero as the characters are very interesting and the world building is solid. I think the show could have scored at around a 7 if it had just been about their strategy discussions and then we skipped the actual fights. Of course, there are exceptions. The Hange episodes didn’t typically have any fighting, but they were pretty bad. On the other hand, the first battle between the Rogue and Female Titans was pretty good for the most part. So, I can only say that the majority of the action scenes were what drove it down.

Some episodes seemed to handle the fight scenes better than others. One episode may have someone destroying a Titan and it appears to be very violent while another may take down a Titan without that much blood. It really varied on who was animating the episode or how much emphasis they had to make. I was pretty disappointed with the final fight in the series because they definitely wanted it to have an extreme ending. The animation itself may have hurt it there as well since they make sure that the Female Titan looks very ugly and deranged by the end. Of course, Attack on Titan would not be very popular without the action so it’s certainly a double edged sword.

Eren is a pretty intriguing character. He doesn’t really like to eat as you would expect from the typical main character and he’s actually decently intelligent. He does have a lot of determination and he’s quick to get into a fight, but he’s definitely not your average main character. He’s a good character to an extent, but it can still be a little hard to root for him since he’s forced to bend to the show’s rules. He hesitates before attacking one of the villains and you can make a lot of guesses as to why. Does he simply not want to destroy her? Can he still not believe that she is an enemy? Or is he just afraid that he will lose? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter because he just enters into a rage moment and attacks without mercy. There are many times like this where he just gives into the rage and forgets what is going on. He certainly yells more than most main characters, but the voice actor assures that this is done flawlessly.

He is pretty brave and he’ll definitely put his life on the line to help his friends without hesitation. He wants to save the world and his goals are just. It’s just too bad that he lets the government push him around so much. It’s also hard for him to control the titan form for a while and you would think that it wouldn’t take so much effort with his determination. After some twists that are shown at the end of the season, it really makes you think about it. I don’t think that there is a really good reason for Eren to have that kind of trouble. He overestimates his abilities, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. As a kid, Eren manages to take on two adults, which is impressive.

Eren does face one big decision towards the end of the series where it’s tough to know what to do. To avoid spoilers, I’ll offer up a hypothetical of a similar scenario with the same options. You are the only human who can turn into a titan and then your squad is attacked by a Mega Titan. You are with the world’s strongest human and a group of elites. The strong guy is the leader and he tells you to stand down as you guys will just continue to run away. The Titan is gaining ground and you can choose to turn around and fight (At which point the leader and the elites will enter the fray to back you up) or you can trust in the leader and keep on going. Eren makes one choice and I made the other one. I’ll give you a hint…sometimes the leader’s judgment has been clouded from experience. Either way, I suppose that I can’t…..fine, I do blame Eren for making the wrong choice. It cost a lot of lives and I didn’t think that it was a close decision It was a no brainer for me and that didn’t help Eren’s case. Also, one of the series’ ongoing messages is about how you have to forsake yourself and become a beast to defeat one. Eren is constantly told to let go of his humanity and to truly join the ranks of mindless monsters/evil. He basically starts to listen by the end and most of the other heroes are already corrupt through and through. I certainly wouldn’t call Eren a bad main character, but he definitely could have been a lot better and I could see him going downhill from here. We’ve already seen that he is starting to crack and let’s just say that his hatred for the titans continues to grow as time goes by.

Mikasa is the main heroine and she is one of the toughest fighters. From the start we see that Eren is the loud main character who is determined to win while Mikasa is the silent, but deadly assassin. She destroys more titans than just about any other character in the series. Levi is probably the only one who possibly matches her in that regard. The show makes it clear that Levi is still the more skilled fighter, but considering that Mikasa didn’t have any real combat training at the beginning, she did really well. Her rage moment where she attacks a group of titans to avenge Eren is great and she also takes on the Female Titan, a great feat for a human. She’s easily the best character in the show.

Levi is the fan favorite character and you’re reminded why he’s supposed to be an awesome character with just about every line. He is able to fight the Female Titan and hold his own with relative ease and he’s supposed to be the strongest human in existence. His speed is completely superhuman and you can’t doubt his abilities. That being said, I can’t say that he’s a very likable character. He went way over the top when beating down Eren and it was hard to find him likable after that. It may have helped Eren out in the long run, but there were surely other ways that they could have accomplished that. I also don’t think Eren should have lived through such a beating, at least the way that it was animated. Levi is one of the characters who goes downhill from here so brace yourself as season 2 approaches.

Annie’s role will seem to be that of the overshadowed side character for a while. She’s a part of the squad along with a few other guys from the intro montage, but then she disappears for a while. She’s pretty mellow compared to the other recruits and while she acknowledges that the world is corrupt…she doesn’t do anything about it. Really, there’s not much that you can do in such a system so I guess I don’t really blame her. Sasha is a pretty minor figure as well, but she values the importance of a good meal amidst the battles so that’s always a good thing. She’s pretty likable right from the start.
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Hange is easily the worst character in the show and she does a good job of bringing the show down a even further. There is no way that you can call her a hero by any stretch of the imagination so it’s very difficult to see the main characters working alongside her. Do they not comprehend just how awful she is? She delights in the pain of others and she’s just a very warped individual. The situation has likely caused her to become insane, but the heroes shouldn’t give her such free reign. Of course, they’re not really “heroes” themselves, which makes things dicey.

The Female Titan is the final boss of the series and she’s definitely very skilled. Her hand to hand techniques are enough to give The Rogue Titan a good match, but her best advantage is easily her ability to harden a part of herself. She can use this ability to offensively attack someone or to block an attack. That’s why it’s no exaggeration to say that she may be the strongest fighter in the series. A battle between her and the Colossal Titan would certainly be interesting to say the least.

The Colossal Titan is a figure that just about everyone should know from the posters. He’s a pretty iconic titan and fans were probably disappointed when he only got a few minutes of screentime in the series. He’s definitely the kind of villain that you want to see more of. He’s more interesting than the other villains at the moment and he did have a pretty great cliffhanger during one of his appearances. Well, we can be sure that he will appear more in the next season.

Armin is one of the main characters and at times he feels more like the lead than Eren. He’s the calm and collected character who tries to set the mood for the audience. He is always going on about how we need to lose our humanity and become monsters to fight the Titans. Forsaking our morals and doing what’s “necessary” is the only way to win this war according to him. At least he’s not pretending that he’s a hero, but this starts to grate on you very quickly. He’s also not much of a fighter and he cracks one or two times. His big moments didn’t help me gain any respect for him.

Jean starts off as the classic bully and develops into the capable leader. He’s a pretty decent character by the end as he decides to fight for justice. He also doesn’t have any qualms about insulting the squad leaders as he moves up the ranks. He’s sort of like a kid version of Erwin so he hasn’t been fully corrupted yet. He could end up being one of the best characters in the series if he plays his cards right.

Erwin is Levi’s mentor so you can probably tell that he’s not going to be one of the most friendly members. He talks about strategy a lot and he’s totally willing to break a few dozen eggs in in order to make his omelet. The ends totally justify the means for him. He is dealing with a corrupt government so it’s tricky for him either way, but I couldn’t call him a hero either. It should be noted that things will likely go downhill for him in season 2 so this is really his best season.

So, time for some final comparisons to Sword Art Online. They both have a lot of similar aspects and both of them had disappointing finishes, but there can be only one winner.

Best Main Character-Sword Art Online
Best Soundtrack- Attack on Titan
Best Opening- Sword Art Online
Best Fight- Sword Art Online
Best Animation-Sword Art Online
Best Plot-Sword Art Online
Best First Half- Sword Art Online
Best Climax-Attack on Titan
Better show-Sword Art Online

I suppose that this answers the question. From the two shows that completely shattered social media and our minds as a result, Sword Art Online wins. It had an amazing beginning and I could see why it will always be remembered as a legendary anime. Attack on Titan was certainly revoloutionary in its own right and since it was Japan’s answer to the Walking Dead, you can see why it had such a large audience over in the states. The problem is that it appeals to a completely different crowd than me. I reeeeeeeally do not like the Walking Dead (I don’t like Zombies at all) and I don’t care for the concept of Titans as the main villains. It’s why I didn’t care for the concept of Attack on Titan in the first place and why all of its great features could not save the franchise.
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Overall, Attack on Titan is the kind of show that you really want to like, but are unable too. The negatives manage to outweigh the positives and you’re left wishing that it could have won the battle. A video game has the potential to be pretty honest with a “Spiderman” sort of gameplay as you try to slay the titans. The franchise still has potential, but most of it has squandered and there probably isn’t a whole lot of hope left for it. The only piece of the franchise that I liked a lot was the Junior High spinoff. The Levi prequel was surprisingly good for the most part as well. If you don’t mind a whole lot of violence, then I actually would recommend this title since that is mostly what deters me from it. The other aspects are mostly pretty solid. That being said, for a similar experience of top notch quality, check out the first arc of Sword Art Online.

Overall 4/10

Attack on Titan No Regrets Review

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Attack on Titan is still mega popular and that won’t be changing anytime soon. The anime was a big hit and now we have 4 different manga series with many more likely on the way. This one finished pretty abruptly with two volumes, but it goes to show that some prequels do know when it’s time to quit. I think they made the right move keeping this to two volumes because they can blast through the plot a lot quicker without having any pacing problems.

The plot involves Levi and his two friends: Isabel and Farlan. They are from the underground area where thugs run rampant and it’s very chaotic. They are used to just trying to survive and they are experienced. One day, the Survey Corps arrives and they force Levi and his partners into joining them. The “heroes” plan on destroying the leader of the squad, Captain Erwin. For now they shall play along and once Erwin has served his purpose….then they will destroy him!

Well, Levi is a whole lot better in this manga than the main series. I really disliked him there due to how far he will go to protect his ideals. It’s fine to save the world, but you have to prevent yourself from becoming a villain in the process. There are complex scenarios where becoming the villain is used so that the others can be saved,(Yugioh GX) but the circumstances were completely different and it was done in a much more acceptable manner. Back on topic, the Levi in this series is more like your typical action hero. (Ignoring the fact that his whole mission is to destroy one of the “good” guys) Levi is skilled and he doesn’t fear any of the other humans. He’s not really friendly with other humans, but he means well. Levi is just always thinking about the mission so he has no time for sentiments. His two friends keep him in check as well. I may never get around to liking Levi as a character due to the main series, but I can definitely say that I like his portrayal in this series. The author certainly did a good job.

Isabel is one of Levi’s friends and she’s pretty cool. She’s very enthusiastic about the whole thing and she loves bragging about how tough Levi is. Her skills are pretty fierce as well. She may not be quite as intense as Mikasa, but she still outranks plenty of the Survey Members that we’ve seen in the franchise. I would easily put her in the top 10 characters in the franchise and I would expect her to be playable in an Attack on Titan fighting game. (Someday)

Farlan is Levi’s other pal and he’s not incredibly interesting. It helps that his design is pretty similar to Erwin’s so it can be very easy to mix them up. Luckily, the plot usually doesn’t have them together so this isn’t a real problem. Farlan is usually the guy who gets Levi to back off from his quest on beating everyone up. Farlan’s a tough guy to read because you’re never sure of his true intentions. He doesn’t enjoy combat quite as much as Isabel or Levi yet he’s really into the mission of taking out Erwin…except when he’s not. I couldn’t really get a read on the guy. He’s definitely not a bad character so I guess he’s just average for me.

Erwin is the big Survey Corps member and he’s mentioned a lot. He’s barely a big enough character to be mentioned despite the fact that he’s always in the summary. He is the guy who makes the series possible as he forced Levi and the gang to join up. He’s definitely not likable though and he believes that the end justifies the means. He did something to one of the higher ups to cause him to change a vote and it likely wasn’t a heroic deed. Forcing Levi and the group to join his cause also took some measures that no self respecting hero would likely commit too. At the end we’re supposed to admire his passion to make the world a better place, but I really can’t get on board with the plan. Humanity is so corrupt in the manga that they’re not much better than the Titans. (Of course, that would bring up the Titan debate on whether they can actually think or not. The Abnormals are the wild card. I definitely am not rooting for the Titans in this case, but the humans make it hard for me to root for them. I guess I’ll just root for nature)

The art for the manga is pretty solid. I would definitely make the case that it looks better than the original series. Everything is clear and even the fight scenes aren’t hard to follow. The Titan rampage scenes also aren’t as unnecessarily violent and it feels (Ironically enough since this is a Shojo series) more like a classic Shonen Jump battle.

One reason why this spinoff is a lot better than the main series is because the violence isn’t quite as over the top. Now, I mentioned that it was good that the series is so short and this is the main reason. As it stands, the first volume was much better than the second one. (The series would have gotten a 6/10 if it had just been a one shot) In the first volume, Levi still takes out a Titan and it’s still a violent act, but it’s not as detailed as it could be. The artist doesn’t place emphasis on the slash and it’s more of a normal effect that you would see from Bleach. It wasn’t over the top at all and I can definitely live with that.

The second volume gets a little more dicey as it veers back into main series land. Cheap shots to the weak parts and a lot of humans getting taken down for the count are included this time. Levi taking out a bunch of titans is cool of course and it’s handled pretty well for the most part. I just don’t like when they go all Legend of Zelda on us and aim for the eyes. No, just defeat the villain! Making the heroes essentially beg for their lives before going up against the Titan may make the whole thing emotional, but it can also be a little over the top. (Of course, emotion is another thing that has to be carefully used. The classic example is Frieza blowing up Planet Vegeta. It was emotional and well done. Itachi taking out the Uchiha Clan? A little more towards the gritty to be gritty with plot hax side. Especially after the 30th plot twist.) Just die with a quick panel and let the Titan move on. Still, the violence is definitely a big step down from the main series and that’s a good thing.

What isn’t cool in the second volume is that the horses get involved. I can’t wait until they bring in the cars so that the animals can be safe. Supposedly, Titans only eat humans so they would be safe otherwise. Luckily, the horse part isn’t necessarily graphic since they’re in the background, but it’s still enough to put down the book and sigh. Of course, one thing that is almost as bad is the fact that Hange actually got a few lines! I’m glad that Levi gave her the cold shoulder and then she’s written out. Please, we don’t need her drama right now.

Overall, This was a pretty good prequel for Attack on Titan. I have to say that Levi proved to be a better main character than Eren and his friends could hold their own. This mini series is only two volumes so it didn’t have time to add in a lot of characters and plots, but that’s all right. This is just a nice stand alone story. I do think that the second volume wasn’t quite as good as the first one and started to show signs of the main series, but luckily it quickly ended before things could escalate. The ending is rather sudden, but it works. You sympathize with Levi and the humans one more time until you read the main series. I recommend checking this out if you like Attack on Titan and you should otherwise like it if you’re in the mood for a story about reaching out for your goals. (And being aware that this is related to Attack on Titan so it can be a little intense) Get ready for the ultimate battle against Titans!

Overall 5/10