5 Reasons Why ‘Attack on Titan’ Is So Popular
3. Lack of fan service
If you want to sell, you need fan service. That’s why we have series like Infinite Stratos and To-Love-Ru that have basically no content but only fan service. In contrary, there is almost not a scene of fan service so far in Attack of Titan (up to episode 13).
What about pretty female characters? There are different types of beautiful girls: Mikasa and Annie, the cool beauty; Sasha, the clumsy one and nicknamed as ‘Potato Girl’ due to her debut appearance; Krista, the kind ‘goddess’; and Ymir, the one romantically attached to Krista. However, apart from Mikasa the others were not featured prominently in the series so far. There was some yuri tension between Krista and Ymir, but it was not elaborated much. We don’t see any flash of panties or the female characters wearing swimsuits/sexy outfits for no particular reason. This allows the series to really focus on the plot, emphasizing more on the action of fighting titans than teenage romance.
Really, the only fan service you’ll get is the naked bodies of the titans.
This is related to my first point about how the show is a typical shounen series. It makes the show very easy to follow. It’s very straight-forward and you don’t need to think too much about the plot, because it lays out everything for you. In other words, it tells, not shows. Most character’s thoughts were narrated thoroughly that it left almost no rooms for second-guessing what they really were thinking. Apart from Eren’s transformation into a giant titan, there is hardly any twist that is surprising.
Even the good guys and the bad guys are easy to distinguish. In episode five a wealthy merchant refused to let people pass through the gate as he wanted his cargo to go through first. An aristocrat also wanted a top-class general to stay by his side instead of going to the frontline, when a titan was attacking the city. Here, the rich were basically all portrayed as weak and needy, and were indifferent to the lives of the peasants. They were obviously the bad guys who did not give a damn about the lower class.
The good guys were people like Eren, who would fight with their lives. They felt sorry for the lives lost, but at the same time they fought hard so their comrades would not die in vain. Even those who originally were pessimistic about fighting the overwhelmingly powerful titans later were determined to engage in battles as well. All the soldiers were the good guys here, even if some were not as determined in eliminating the titans (Then, of course, anyone who reads the manga will know things will turn much complicated later on).
1. Easily generalized… to anything
The idea of Attack on Titan is about fighting against the monster that tried to ruin your life, when your seemingly content life so far is actually just an illusion of success. The lyrics of the OP echo this kind of passion.
“O pigs who laugh at the resolve to walk over corpses to move forward. Livestock complacency? False prosperity? Give us the freedom of dying starving wolves!”
Here’s a jab at the fake sense of prosperity and stability that humanity lived in. People knew the titans were out there, somewhere, but they chose to ignore the threat until it was too late. Eren saw through this and wanted to make a change. Like a dying, starving wolf, he preferred to live as a free individual rather than as a person trapped in this counterfeit utopia that would fall very soon.
The ‘titans’ and the ‘people’ then become an interesting contrast of the ‘strong’ versus the ‘weak’. These titans could be generalized to anything: the government, the mainstream media, any influential, political, religious group. You name it. The point is that they are so powerful that you can never completely get rid of them in your life. Like the peasants in Attack on Titan, you either succumb to it and accept it as your fate, or try to resist their invasion by all means.
We can substitute ‘titan versus people’ with contrast such as ‘monarchy versus peasants’ or ‘rich versus poor’. There was also a brief mention of the unfairness of the class system in the anime, and the viewers can think of that as a jab at the wealthy in the world, like the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011. People also perceive this relation as a strong political message: some Japanese and Taiwanese think of the titans as the emerging China that poses a threat to Japan’s economy and culture; some Koreans think of the titan versus people’ idea as Japan’s reemerging militarism, as right-wing politicians return to the political stage in Japan’s recent election; some in Hong Kong see the titans as powerful businessmen and the Chinese government who are trying to dominate every aspect of their lives. Whether these claims are valid or not is another matter. The point is that everyone can easily put Attack on Titan’s situation into their own shoes. They can relate to the show in different ways.
Overall, Attack on Titan is a very entertaining anime of much passion and action. However, it lacks the substance to become an anime to be remembered. It tells too much and shows too little. Unlike anime like Shinsekai Yori or PsychoPass, it does not give people much room for thoughts, as everything is too clear-cut, either black or white. Let’s just hope the second-half of the season will get better.
What do you think? Leave a comment.