Shingeki no Kyojin a.k.a. Attack on Titan is based on a dark fantasy Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. Set in a world where giant humanoid creatures called Titans suddenly appear and nearly wipe out humanity.
The surviving humans live within cites confined by large walls that protect them from the Titans who now populate the outside world. The story focuses on Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and their childhood friend Armin Arlert who live in the Shiganshina district. After Titans invade their town the trio join the military in order to fight the creatures that destroyed their home.
And there is the very simplified summarization of what you should get from Attack on Titan. The production of the live action adaptation started in 2011 and in 2014 it was revealed that it would be a two part release with the first arriving in summer of 2015.
That makes the movie look pretty badass right? Well, let’s just say that there more to this than the trailer leads you to believe.
Before I continue I have a small public service announcement. From this point on there are some spoilers. So stop reading if you don’t want to have things ruined. Otherwise, carry on.
Fans of the anime/manga are probably going to be extremely nitpicky while watching this movie. And depending on how devoted you are to the source material, what was changed may not be for the betterment or enhanced enjoyment of the film.
Many aspects of the story are changed to make the movie more appealing to the average Joe who may not be as hardcore into the series or even know it at all. The most obvious change one will notice is that all the characters are Japanese. I know that sounds stupid. But in the manga/anime Mikasa was the last Asian person residing within the walls. In the movie, well everyone is Asian except some of them have German sounding names.
Moving on, the motivation for Eren to join the military is changed from wanting revenge for the death of his mother to wanting revenge (and perhaps to make up) for letting Mikasa become a Timbit for a Titan. This in turn also affects how his relationship with her is portrayed when it’s revealed that she survived the attack on their home town.
The Special Operations Squad Leader is not Levi, but a new mysterious character named Shikishima. Apparently Levi was a bit too on the Caucasian side for the filmmakers and they opted for a Japanese character instead. Given that the environment that Attack on Titan takes place in was changed from Germany to Japan that is an understandable modification. Whether that bothers you or not will depend on your attachment to Levi and his role in the grand scheme of the series.
Those are only a few of the changes and if what has been short listed here grinds your gears you’re probably going to driven insane if you know the series like the back of your hand.
Of course it’s not like everything has been thrown out the window. The action scenes and Titan effects are spot on. Nothing is held back when the Titans attack and much like the anime, you do see humans getting snacked on in rather gory fashion. There are the obvious bad green screen effects that creep in as the military fights back but they’re not so hideously bad that they take one out of the viewing experience. One does have to concede that this probably won’t be on par with a big budget, special effects extravaganza and accept there will be a few lesser moments of glory shown on screen.
Moving on, there are some characters that are translated to real life rather accurately. The ones that are closest are Sasha Braus (a.k.a. Potato Girl) and Zoe Hange. Mikasa Ackerman is very much the skilled Titan killing machine, but it’s hard to tell whether the rest of her character will be fleshed out due to the screenplay changes mentioned above. The answer to that will probably have to wait until the second movie comes out in September.
Fans of AKB48 will notice Takahashi Minami has a very small role in this movie and if you don’t pay attention to the beginning of the film you’ll miss her before she gets turned into wall paste by a Titan. But since I’m a nice guy, I have found a video that has all her scenes in one convenient package.
In the end how much enjoyment you get out of this movie is going to vary based on your knowledge of the source material. Like I said, if you are an encyclopedia of all that is Attack on Titan this is going to make you mental. Even if you know only a little bit, it might drive you crazy but be passable enough to sit through just because.
You may be better off going in with an open mind and your fan blinders off. In that respect you may find this to be a decent popcorn flick to kill a couple of hours before you find something better to watch.