Japanese Culture: Shingeki no Kyojin

SHINGEKI NO KYOJIN – The revelation of the past few years

This time we will talk about Shingeki no Kyoujin (進撃の巨人), translated in English as Attack on Titans, the revelation of this past few years.
It’s an action horror shōnen manga series already recognised as a cult among anime and manga fans. For those who don’t know it, it is enough to know that in just a short period of time it was able to climb up all charts, Japanese ones and worldwide too. It became one of the most viewed anime around the world, and its original manga ranks second in numbers of sold copies, second only to One Piece.

To give you some numbers, we talk about around 2 million copies per volume (Japanese sales), while One Piece sales are around 3 million copies.
This results are even more incredible if we consider that One Piece has many years of releases already (the first volume was released back in August 1997). On the contrary, the first volume of Shingeki no Kyojin was release only in September 2009. This numbers are enough to make your head spin, and contributed to let this manga gain the prestigious Kodansha Manga Award in the shōnen category in 2011, to say the least.

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The original manga is published by one of the largest publishing companies in Japan, the Kodansha Publishing. It counts 21 volumes up to today. It was created by Hajime Isayama and the story, and it takes place in an alternative Midldle Age era. The plot revolves around the character of Eren Jaegar. He lives in a world that many centuries before had been on the verge of destruction. The few humans that survived now live in a urban complex built inside three concentric walls, 50 meters each. The only protection between mankind and the outside world overrun by mysterious creatures are the titans.

This titans resemble human beings but they can be from 3 to 15 meters tall, apparently thoughtless and with the sole objective of devouring human flesh. However, an unexpected event will bring this period of peace to an end. A titan so tall that he could even surpass the walls, appears from nowhere opening a hole in the most external wall. This allowed other titans to break into the city and leading to the massacre of many human lives.
Eren, after regaining his senses because of the loss of his mother by the hands of a titan, swears to eliminate every single titan in the world, and he will not be alone in this fight against the unknown.

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Anime adaptation and international recognition

This series gained its worldwide success thanks to its anime adaptation, produced by Wit Studio in collaboration with the famous Production I.G, that was release in 2013.
The difference with the original panels of Isayama in terms of visual impact is astonishing: with an incredible attention to even the smallest detail, and animated by an extremely realistic animation, all the characters take their actions on a background equally elaborated and realistic. The producers of the animated series filled the holes in terms of style left by the mangaka. He also followed the whole production, giving advice on which was the best way to give shape to his ideas.

The original soundtrack skillfully created follows the whole narration. It never fall silent, it never leaves open spots. Instead, it contributes to underline every instant of the story and envelopes the viewer in an action anime full of twists and turns.
Action, horror elements, political intrigues, religious fanaticism and the fight for survival create the background. Here well delineated characters take their action, in a crescendo of action and suspense, showing us both the strength and fragility of human beings.

Nothing has been left to chance. Even characters that apparently look not so important will be proven to have a fundamental role to play.
The horror element is skillfully balanced, it doesn’t exceed into pure violence, searching for the smallest gory detail. All this makes the animated version even more enjoyable and appropriate even for people who don’t really like this genre.

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This series is open to many interpretations, someone even wanted to read into it a sort of political propaganda. However, the author himself gave us some keys to understanding the genesis of the story.

For examples, the 3 walls in which mankind survives, can be seen as both a protection and a suffocating prison. This is the exact same feeling that the Isayama experienced living in his hometown in Ōita prefecture surrounded by mountains. And it is clearly visible here a parallelism with Japanese society, generally known to be isolationist and enclosed.

Furthermore, the titans represent the fear of the unknown, an unknown that you can’t even communicate with.
At times the story makes you experience a feeling of overwhelming anguish and fear. The same feeling that is so common in our modern society where nothing is what it seems, but all the characters never stop fighting in their quest for truth and freedom.

Fukai yami wo ore wo nukedashita. Hayate mitai ni nigedashita.
We broke out of the thick darkness. We escaped from what seemed like a hurricane.
Ikita shikabane mitai datta oretachi wa, kabe no soto e.
We, who look like living corpses, are going outside the walls.
Mata aou ze, chizu ni nai basho de.
Let’s meet again, in the unmapped place.

The grate escape by Cinema staff – Second ending

What’s next?

The plot hides a secret that is still unknown but you might want to know that the original manga has now entered the final arch so, important truths might be unveiled very soon.
In a moment that some would call of stagnation for the Japanese animation, Shingeki no Kyojin was able to impose its originality, and Isayama created a distinctive style of his own. And this originality was rewarded with the great success in terms of fans that it had and that are still increasing.

Moreover, another good news for all affectionate fans that were kept waiting since 2013: after many denial ad postponements, 3 ova, and a lot of patience of the fans, it was finally announced that the first episode of the second season of the anime will be aired on April 1st (April’s fool? Doesn’t seem to be the case). The wait is over.

Fonti: Atpressgoogle