5 Reasons Why ‘Attack on Titan’ Is So Popular

Click in any websites about this season’s anime, and chance is likely that you’ll come across Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) almost immediately. Every anime fan is talking about it. Every anime fan is watching it. Its immense popularity is almost unprecedented, compared to other anime in recent years. But why is that the case?

*Warning: Contains spoilers*

Synopsis

Attack on TitanThe anime is adapted from the manga series of the same name, written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. Set in an alternate universe, Attack on Titan took place in year 743 when a group of titans, giant creatures that were 3 to 15 meters tall and looked strikingly similar to human beings, appeared out of nowhere and drove humanity almost into extinction. The survived men built three sets of tall, solid walls surrounding their capital to keep the titans out. A hundred and two years of peace followed, until suddenly a 60-meter titan began attacking the outermost wall. When the wall was broken, other titans entered the city to kill and eat civilians living in that area. Ten-year-old Eren Jaeger, who witnessed his own mother being consumed by a titan, vowed revenge against the titans and desired to wipe out their existence on earth. He joined the Training Corps that trained people to become soldiers to fight against the titans, and five years later, his first battle with the titans began…

On a glance, Attack on Titan has a rather simple plot that seems promising to sell. However, it has become such a sensation among anime fans that surprises everyone. In recent years we have popular series like K-On, Bakemonogatari and Puella Magi Madoka Magica, but these series are often criticized for various reasons. Attack on Titan, on the other hand, almost receives universal praise. I think there are five reasons why that’s the case.

5. Shounen/Hot-blooded-ness

Eren saving Armin from being swallowed by a titan

Eren saving Armin from being swallowed by a titan

Attack on Titan has a typical shounen storyline: Eren swearing to avenge his dead mother and his journey against very formidable opponents. He had encountered failure in training, but his strong and determined will of eliminating all titans made him overcome the obstacles and he became a strong soldier. Whenever there was a difficulty, he would remember his dead mother and did anything he could, however reckless his actions might be, to kill the titans. He despised people who only wanted a comfortable lifestyle and thought everyone should fight the titans. He was the typical protagonist you see in any shounen shows: passionate, courageous, acting before thinking.

Aside from Eren’s teenage rage, there are many moments in the anime where the people, citizens and soldiers, freaked out because of the titans. A character would then ask for them to remember those who had fought with their lives to protect them, and urge them to never give up, and then everyone would untie together. It almost sounds cliché that it happens once every couple episodes, but that’s why the positive message of the anime appeals to many. It’s almost like as long as they had faith, then everything would be alright.

4. Character appeal

A popular show demands lovable characters that viewers will talk about, particularly a great female character when the show’s target audience is adolescent males. Attack on Titan has Mikasa Ackerman, the female protagonist who was very loyal to Eren and would literally do anything for him. Her ambiguous relationship with Eren (step-sister/childhood friend/potential girlfriend) makes her a big talking point of the series. She was even willing to kill other soldiers if that meant protecting Eren’s life (as seen in episode 9 and 10). A lot of fan-arts online are about how protective/possessive Mikasa is over Eren, to the point that she is often considered the masculine husband in the relationship while Eren is the weak, needy wife. Gender stereotype, yes, but it successfully sparks discussion.

Fan-art of Armin in a dress. Source: http://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=605557

Fan-art of Armin in a dress

Then we have Armin, Eren’s childhood friend who was the brain of the group. He was soft-spoken and physically weak, lacked confidence and worried a lot. However, when in danger he was the one who could come up with a plan to save everyone else. What made him appealing, however, were not his intellect but his feminine traits and appearance. Due to his femininity fans often joke that he is actually the real female protagonist of the series, and create fan-arts where he wears skirt and ‘successfully seduces’ all the males in his class. Much like Hideyoshi Kinoshita from Baka and Test, or Totsuka Saiga from My Teen Romantic Comedy, Armin is a boy that fans like to think of as a girl. Armin has become an androgynous male among fans. Even though this probably was not the intention of the production company, his character design again successfully sparks discussion among fans.

The other characters do not get as much appearances as Eren, Mikasa and Armin. However, fans will be sure to look forward to Levi, the proclaimed mankind’s strongest soldier. He is a favorite among manga readers, after all, for his coolness and his infamous shortness (160cm). As he was now properly introduced in episode 13, there would be more of him to come.

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Article covers: Anime

Article by: Justin Wu

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Justin Wu
A 22-year-old deeply influenced by British music, Japanese anime/manga, and Italian soccer. An active fanfiction writer and an aspiring writer/scholar.

43 Comments

  1. I still have a few episodes to catch up but wow, I’m really excited for this show to become a huge success as a movie. I hope they widen their cast a little more to not just Asian roles since the manga says mikasa is the last Asian alive. But none the less this is going to be amazing. If this get good enough attention as well as designers and animations you can expect a lot of Titan followers to be behind this movie. I was super excited for pacific run but now I’m ecstatic to see this hit the big screens.

    This was a great manga and the anime kicked it over the edge, I am really hoping this gets the support it needs to have as well as its chance to become big like the marvel movies. This would be an amazing movie and I would sure as heck buy it once it hit DVD!

    -Jessie

    • Justin Wu

      Indeed the manga does not follow up much on Mikasa being the last known Asian living within the walls. I don’t know if the author just forgets about it or if he’s saving that for later, given that now the manga is about revealing more identities of the titans. A movie will be great, although I think another season of anime may be more possible.

      • Yea Levi kinda have an Asian complexion too and his last name was kinda a shocker… so I don’t think Mikasa is truly the last Asian within the wall.

  2. Dominique Kollie

    Great Article! I’ve been waiting for an Attack on Titan Article. This is easily the most enthralling series to come out this year. The last bullet point perfectly sums up why this series has so much appeal

    • Justin Wu

      Indeed no other series generate as much hype as Attack on Titan does so far this year. However, I’m concerned if it can live up to its hype. Right now I can see it being a good anime, but not necessarily a great one.

      • Dominique Kollie

        I think it will live up to the hype. If it goes according to script, I assume it will get less straight-forward, so they’ll leave a little to the imagination. That would keep the existing audience entertained while still staying fresh for new viewers

        • I watched the first season and I don’t think I ever, ever want to see this hyped up bullshit again. It’s nothing I’d take my time or put my effort forward to watch. I like my animes to be unpredictable and not about a bunch of whiny little bitches, crying every second. People are so hyped up about the whole “Oh, people are dying everywhere” trend.

          The music wasn’t memorable, I hate all the characters to be honest and I feel like they’re abusing people’s emotions towards drama and pulling it all together into another anime.

          Personally, I like animes that are unpredictable, that don’t drag on, and have some form of spirit to this. This anime is the driest piece of shit I’ve ever seen in my life. This is the anime. “Oh, my friend is dying. My brother’s dying. My aunt’s uncle’s nephew is dying.” and they complain for 5 minutes, people die, and it happens again, again and again.

          • I agree that this anime incorporates a lot of killing of characters for emotional manipulation. I disagree that it can be called bad because of it. The way it is executed in this anime is more artful and more consistently impacting than in any other source I’ve seen. AoT doesn’t just kill it’s characters blindly, it makes it perfectly clear to the audience that someone is about to die, then, through gut wrenching build-up, still catches the viewer off guard.

            I personally cannot tolerate Game of Thrones for the same reason you can’t tolerate AoT, so I understand where you’re coming from, but even I, who dislikes arbitrary killing, find myself feeling just as shocked and devastated as I was the first time watching every single time I go back and watch one of the tragic scenes.

            Also the music’s totally great. Vogel im Kafig, objectively one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve heard. Not sure how you justify that claim.

          • So basically you’re just mad because people die? Yeah okaaaay. By the way – how was the music not memorable? Big orchestral action lacked theme music – boy you must have shittier taste in music than you do in anime – also, how can you hate the characters? I can understand not being a fan but hate? Grow up kid, just because it’s popular – no need to cry your little baby eyes out.

          • I’m not saying them dying is a bad thing, I’m saying it’s only popular BECAUSE people are dying left and right which is a new clique.

            The characters are bland as fuck, the writing is terrible, the reactions of the characters are very unrealistic, the plot becomes pretty damned predictable.

            There’s nothing interesting about the anime, the concept isn’t new and it’s not even done well. The anime just tries it’s hardest to be as dark as possible and that’s it.

            Even the character’s reactions to some character’s actions would leave me thinking “Wow. That would never fucking happen, ever.” It only seems realistic because the characters that aren’t important continue to die off.

            Also, if you’ve seen other anime openings, a lot are just as appealing as Attack on Titan. Attack on Titan’s opening is nothing special and is nothing memorable. But all YOU have to say, Jack, is “Durrr, you bad. You ugly.” without giving any reason to why the anime is good.

            I can point out some failures right now. For example, when Erin saves Mikasa as a kid, he kills two adults in a crafty way. Far too crafty for a kid first of all. Second of all, it was easy for him. Third of all, his reaction afterwards was “Durrr, they were monsters in human clothing. Durrr.” Yeah, cause a kid WOULDN’T be in shock after his first killings of humans. He’d be perfectly okay with it and not be left in shock.

            Not to mention the main character is an so full of himself and acts too damned rigid. Far more rigid than a character should care to be. Which, by the way, would make you a weak link.

            Then there’s Mikasa. She turned into one of the best killers of Titans out of NOWHERE? Not years, but weeks of training allowed her to do shit that thousands of years of training apparently couldn’t. Yeah, that’s some real action and some real development of character. There are characters that actually have to learn shit and not pull it out of their ass.

            Now, what do you have to say about yourself? “Oh, you’re terrible?” Good argument. Come back when you grow a brain kid

      • Nellie

        Yeah, same. I have to say, I was a little surprised to hear that there was so much hype. Had to check out what else was around to see if it was just because everything else was not-so-good. However, after reading this, I can understand more of what caused it now.

        For one thing, I cannot stand fan service. It’s stopped me from paying much attention to a lot of anime and manga out there, despite having a huge interest in animation. So I’m glad that it’s not really an issue in this one, and that you pointed that out!

        The manga is so far so good (reading through it slowly, just behind the anime at the moment).Yeah, same. I have to say, I was a little surprised to hear that there was so much hype. Had to check out what else was around to see if it was just because everything else was not-up-to-scratch. However, after reading this, I can understand more of what caused it now.

        For one thing, I cannot stand fan service. It’s stopped me from paying much attention to a lot of anime and manga out there, despite having a huge interest in animation. So I’m glad that it’s not really an issue in this one.

        I hope the show brings more attention to the manga too (reading through it slowly, just behind the anime at the moment). Glad it was picked up as an anime! Good stuff.

        • Nellie

          I have no idea what happened to that reply. =O Must’ve copied and pasted part of what I wrote before near the end of the reply by accident, sorry. x

        • Justin Wu

          I like the manga better, and I also hope more people will pay attention to the manga as well. Personally, a minimal amount of fan service is fine as long as it does not hinder the plot. It’s good for entertainment purpose most of the time, it’s just that many authors nowadays overuse it and makes terrible shows of nothing but fan service. Well, it sells, after all

  3. I have to say this is one for the books, I have seen all sorts of horror but this series looks very, very interesting. One of the most original series to date. Waiting for more…

    • Justin Wu

      It doesn’t have that much graphic horror. The idea of some titans easily crashing your city and eating the people is quite horrifying though, especially when the manga discusses more of what the titans are

  4. I haven’t watched this but I had seen several posts on various tumblrs and did check it out, but it didn’t relate to me. However looking at your writing I may have to go back and give it another chance :)

    • Justin Wu

      Do give it a chance! It’s quite entertaining, though I’ll recommend reading the manga as I think that things are better explained there and the atmosphere is tenser

  5. Camille Brouard

    I wasn’t sure what all the fuss is about, but I’ve had a skim over your article (I’d read it all through but spoilers!) and I am intrigued, I reckon I need to check this anime out! (I’m notoriously bad at keeping up with season releases.)

  6. NO FANSERVICE! THAT’S WHY IT’S A GOOD ANIME!

    • Agreed! Also plenty of strong female characters!

      **Though I have to disagree with the predictability part. I enjoyed the series because I didn’t see most major developments coming. The mythology of the series is very rich and very well developed. There’s also tons of things to speculate on, which makes reading/watching even more enjoyable.

      • Agreed. Though story wise it does seem a bit vague and uninformative at times, I do understand its mainly to keep the anime ongoing, but it does get to that point of frustration as you keep watching/reading. But its a minor complaint, the rest is all praise.

  7. Heads up… Early sneak game preview for Spike Chunsoft’s Attack on Titan being done by Paul Munro and Rebecca Clarke returning to Gameplay Today ( https://www.gameplaytoday.com ) this November…

  8. I agree with your points, this is very well written. However, it’s the other soldiers that I’m finding memorable as characters. Like I choked up about Marco, and Reiner and Jean are two of my favourite characters (something tells me that Jean serves more of a purpose than is being let on).

    Annie and Sasha as well. There’s just the right amount of characters to not have overload. How different is the manga to the anime? are we talking Soul Eater levels or?

  9. I missed the VERY tiny spoiler sign, now I know Eren’s becoming a titan. Thank you…

  10. well written friends i agree almost all of your point except for the Predictability. you see SnK main appeal for me besides the action and the drama is the mystery and how is this anime/manga(just for the information i do know the difference beetween anime and manga i give / sign because i watch the anime and read the manga.just a little trivia lol ok move on) is so unpredictable for example

    *WARNING HEAVY SPOILER*

    when eren getting eaten by titan(yes he DO survive but still) is totally unpredictable atleast for me because to kill the show main character? not even in my wild imagination or the fact that he is survive and can transform into a titan?,or when annie,bertolt and reiner is also a part of titan shifter and on the side of the bad guys is totally unpredictable(and the fact that it was reiner and bertolt the ones that destroy wall maria and the cause of the dead of eren’s mother),the fact that the giant wall that protecting humanity from titan is also made from a titan, and many more so when you say this show is “predictable” is realy funny and make me wondering are we watching/reading the same show? and there is still many mystery unsolved like the origin of the titan,or the key that eren’s dad give to him,can titan feel emotion or pain?,why is titan slaughtering humanity but not animal? animal and human is a living creature but why is titan only targetting human only?the true identity of ape titan,krista lenz origin(the depth),and many more(too many to list them all)

    *SPOILER ENDS HERE*

    and the mystery itself is one of the main appeal for me because i always like mystery genre,it play with my imagination or make me assume what will happen next? and SnK have it all. oops sorry for the long writing and my bad english lol and once again i say well written friends!

    • Justin Wu

      Thanks for the long comment! The first thing I’m gonna say is that this article was written for the anime only, hence I was focusing solely on what the anime presents us (which did not get to the part of Annie at the time I wrote this article – if I remember correctly, I published this when episode 11 or 12 was out).

      What I meant by ‘predictability’ is that it tells, but it doesn’t really show. As in the examples I used in the article, we can clearly see who the bad guys are (those rich, fat bastards living inside the walls) and what each character is thinking, word-to-word, hence viewers do not get to second-guess what their real thoughts are.

      To clarify again, I did mention that things turned out differently in the manga later on, and that Eren’s transformation into a titan is a surprising twist. I personally enjoy reading the manga version much more than watching the anime,and I am surprised many times by how the manga developed. Yet, again, this article was about the first half of the anime only.

  11. Hi, I have to say, the thing that draws me in is the mystery of the titans, its got a very science fiction/fantasy mix, its hard to figure out where its going. But when I watch other anime, at some point, the heroes will win because they feel so emotional, they get angry, ect. this breaks the immersion or reality of the story for me. but in attack on titan, there is no easy way out.

    I would say that its not predictable at all, every plan the characters lay out goes wrong in unexpected ways. It always feels like the characters are surviving on the skin of their teeth. Character that you had grown attached to die without ceremony, it creates a sense that any character could die, or that the people we see get killed that we don’t know are just like the people who we do know that get killed. The gore is not gratuitous, its impactful. And its impactful because the series has established a feeling of authenticity for the world and its inhabitants.

    The thing that is so appealing about this anime is that it doesn’t treat its audience like idiots and it doesn’t treat its characters like ideological pawns. The titans are a fearsome, unknowable, unstoppable force. you can understand why characters like eren would risk their life to try to kill them, but you also understand those that would rather stay within wall sina(the innermost wall) and stay far away from titans. And can you blame them? not when you see the massive casualty’s that those that fight against the titans face. but you also see how important it is to fight in the first place.

    But I’m saying all this after having watched all of season 1,and read most of the manga. I understand that you have only watched up to episode five?

    • Justin Wu

      To reiterate my point from my previous comment:

      “What I meant by ‘predictability’ is that it tells, but it doesn’t really show. As in the examples I used in the article, we can clearly see who the bad guys are (those rich, fat bastards living inside the walls) and what each character is thinking, word-to-word, hence viewers do not get to second-guess what their real thoughts are.”

      In other words, it tells and does not show. That’s my main problem with the first half of the series (around the time this article is published), which I think gets better in the 2nd-half of the show. To some extent I do think the show is treating the audience like idiots by how straight-forward everything is, though again it gets better by the 2nd-half.

      Aaaand save for the first 2 episodes, I did read the whole manga before I watch the rest of the series, so I wasn’t sure why you assumed I’ve only watched up to episode 5. I do like the manga version more for showing more of the characters’ inner struggle, instead of the anime where it’s crystal clear what everyone is thinking.

  12. i just started watching and i love this show.
    Just wondering why everybody is scared of Mikasa…

  13. Katharine

    Great article! For me another selling point of SNK (and any good sci fi story/anime) is the world building. SNK does a great job of reiterating that (titans aside) this is not the world that we the viewers know. I’m thinking specifically of episode six where we learn of Mikasa’s past. Right off the bat we learn that Asians are rare and thus a profitable commodity in the sex/slave trade, but the implications of the SNK world go deeper than that. As you rightly point out, much of Eren’s drive stems from his mother’s death and normally we’d view this as the sole catalyst for his rage: murder of loved one = the desire/ability to murder in turn. Yet we learn in The Battle of Trost Part 2 that this isn’t the case. Eren, entirely on his own, plans and executes the brutal murder of two adults when he’s only nine years old, years before he loses his mother. We know Eren isn’t a sociopath and we’ve seen that he comes from a loving home… so his ability to kill at such a young age must stem, at least in part, from his environment. It makes the viewer wonder exactly what kind of world they’re living in that creates children like Eren.

  14. Jemarc Axinto

    In regards to twist, while there was a lot of things that could be easily predicted *SPOILERS?* such as the identity of the female titan, or the existence of the other classes of titans. Yes you could predict something MORE happening, but the actual occurrences are still surprising enough to keep it fresh. That and the game of “Who will die this time?” always keeps me going.

  15. I want to know who the colossal Titan is, and the armored one. It’s nice how I just picked it for the cover, yet later Eren turned into a Titan. Which added a new explosive enthusiasm for the series. Just you feeling when he first turns, and you know nothing of the series. I mean you never see it coming, it’s such a big surprise and gift of what the series has brought to the table. Unlike others I don’t want there to be a new movie for it, I would really just like a continuation of the first season. If they go to 3D model in it might backfire. I want nothing more, nothing less, they really raised the bar and I don’t want it to go any higher.

    • Keep it 2D at least I would hate to see the series go to shit. I’m not saying like 3D in the movie theater I’m talking video game 3D. That call of duty kind of stuff

  16. I know it will be awhile but I can’t wait for season 2. And to just repeat No 3D, I just saw some examples of how terrible the characters would look in the show if it was 3D

  17. Jordan

    Since this show has started airing on Toonami (hurray!) I think it would be cool if this article could be reworked and reintroduced to the main page somehow. The more people who give it a shot the better. I’m thinking of buying it when it comes out in Australia in June…. that or Psychopass.hmmm
    Also I can’t wait for seasonn 2!

  18. I watched the first two episodes and so far i think it sucks. Eren is the most unlikeable, annoying protagonist ever. All he does is scream and whine and cry.

    And how do the soldiers have all this sophisticated technology that allows them to zip through the forest on cables, but the only weapons they have to fight the Titans with are a couple of old Civil War-style cannons??

    • Justin Wu

      Valid point on the technology part. Based on the manga development so far, the people in power have hidden secrets about the titans, so we’ll just have to keep reading to see if that will be explained in the future on the technology part.

  19. Dumb ass article. Attack on Titan has become insanely popular. You failed to mention the emotional and tough decisions it brings out of people. Also, the show is RARELY predictable when considering those you believe may survive half the time do not.

    • Justin Wu

      How many times do I need to reiterate that this article is written based on the first-half of the series?

  20. The only problem I have with this article is that attack on titan doesn’t take place in an alternate universe. It takes place on earth 2000 years from now. This is proven by two things, the presence of the “sawney bean” legend and the fact that mikasa is identified as oriental.

  21. After a few episodes,I still can’t seem to get into Attack on Titan. I know it’s great and all, but I still can’t seem to care and I don’t know why. It’s not like Bleach or Naruto. And also not like Sword Art Online; man, the memories! Ahem! Anyway, I guess Attack on Titan is just isn’t my type of stew.

  22. I want to say this is the greatest show ive ever watched. Its intense and is a solid story line. Tho there’s lots of crying in it i love this cant wait for season two

  23. My favorite characters are between mikasa and Armin!
    I love the plots of this show. The fact that this builds inspiration an promotes character. I just love it. I dont care much at all for the titans but rather the characters storylines. Armins intelligent and becomes a devoted loyal friend. It just makes me feel better to do just that. Then there mikasa. Touching character I might add. Never giving up. Then theres Eren. Easily losses control but is ready for anything and inspires his friends. I love it.

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