‘Attack on Titan’ returns with a spark after four-year hiatus

May 31, 2017 — by Ethan Ko and Christopher Lee

Four years after the global phenomenon “Attack on Titan” drew both seasoned and new anime watchers into a world of man-eating monsters and wall-scaling soldiers, the long-awaited second season finally premiered on April 1.

“Attack on Titan,” produced by Wit Studio, aired its first season on MBS, or Mainichi Broadcasting System, a Japanese radio and television network. The show aired in 2013 and is about giant human-like cannibals assaulting humanity’s last line of defense. The anime was adapted from artist Hajime Isayama’s manga, or a comic book by Western definition.

Even as a Japanese animated show, the concepts and themes of “Attack on Titan” were universal, as the story of human-eating giants breaching humanity’s sole line of defense touched upon every human’s fear of hopelessness under a greater power.

The show was met with widespread approval and gained many avid fans. As an anime, “Attack on Titan” was unique in that it grew popular with many Western audiences.

After the success of the first season of “Attack on Titan,” countless fans wondered why the production studios waited four years to produce another season instead of capitalizing on the hype.

The answer lies in the pre-scheduled commitments of Wit Studio, the animators of “Attack on Titan.” studio had been occupied with animating shows such as “Seraph of the End,” a show about vampire-fighting teenagers, and “Kabanari of the Iron Fortress,” frequently described as “Attack on Titan” with trains.

Furthermore, because the anime was an adaptation of an ongoing manga, IG Production Studios was obligated to halt progression until further source material of the manga had been drawn.

This had been a problem the first season had run into as well, as the anime had caught up to the manga and the show was forced to be drawn out to fulfill the 21-episode schedule.

The second season of “Attack on Titan” opens directly where the first season leaves off and only briefly reintroduces the characters before the typical gore and horror that drew in so many viewers resumes.

The shortage of animators for the second season is immediately visible in the show’s slightly uneven pacing and greater use of CGI to animate models such as horses and the titans.

That is not to say CGI work is inherently detrimental to a show, but when used as a result of animation deadlines and filling up entire cuts, CGI can detract from the tension of an individual scene.

What the second season does extremely well is its faithful adaptation to the source material. Fight scenes follow frames almost identically in choreography to panels in the manga.

Furthermore, the characters in the second season mirror their manga personalities, as the same uncertainty or confidence in expression transitions from the medium of manga to the onscreen animation.

Even twists in the plot, whether they be presented in a dramatic tropey way or in an unconventional method in which world-changing reveals are shown through slow casual conversation, follow the same timelines as in the manga.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect about “Attack on Titan” Season 2 is how it adheres to its source material and yet adds its own touch of flavor by setting up tense scenes with details not found in the manga. Frequently, as anime is far more time consuming and built on much higher budgets and tighter deadlines compared to manga, crucial aspects of the plot are cut and character traits are erased.

And yet “Attack on Titan” season 2 has escaped that fate into which so many popular Japanese franchises fall into, and thus shows that Studio Wit and its directing committee have pulled off another successful run.

Many online streaming websites such as Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hulu and Toonami all provide coverage for “Attack on Titan,” which releases new episodes every Saturday.

While the second season of the long-awaited “Attack on Titan” suffers from a shortage of animators and as a result inferior general art compared to the first season, fans of the anime can still expect to be satisfied by world-changing twists and stories of love and betrayal that all come together to make “Attack on Titan” the masterful tale it is.

 

 

 

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