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3 Reasons Why ‘Attack on Titan’ is Actually a Terrible Anime

Source: Wikipedia

Easily the most talked about new anime of 2013, Attack on Titan sky-rocketed out of the gate and into anime fan’s hearts. For several months, every anime forum or general discussion lead to an excited “have you seen Attack on Titan?!” However, somewhere around episode 11, the chatter started to slow almost entirely to a halt.

With 25 episodes released and no discussion as to when or even if a season 2 will happen, Attack on Titan might be one of the biggest let-downs in anime, and here’s a few reasons as to why. [Note: There will be spoilers.]

1. Ridiculously Slow Pacing

You ever watch Dragon Ball Z? Of course you have, what am I asking. Then you remember those episodes of some “epic” (I use that term loosely here) battles that were only 10-minutes long but 5 episodes of screaming and charging? Yeah, those were awful and completely unnecessary to the progression of the story. So I bet you also wouldn’t be mind blown if I said that the ’57th Expedition Beyond the Walls’ could have easily fit into 3 episodes instead of 6, or that ‘Battle of Trost District’ didn’t need to be 9.

Since the manga isn’t finished, it’s understandable that they would stretch the story out as much as they could; however, it wasn’t just watered down, it was doused. It was like ordering a straight whiskey at the bar and getting a glass of tap water in return. If there was any part of the series that made me feel cheated the most, it was the lackadaisical and unsatisfying trot pacing that took so much away.

2. Unanswered Questions

So many story arcs and character developments that end up going nowhere mounted throughout the series, inevitably never to be answered. What the hell was the colossal titan? What happens between Eren and Mikasa? What happens to Annie? What was that fusion crap at the end? Why did Annie put Eren in her mouth instead of killing him? Was she bringing him to the titan in the mountains? And, for that matter, what is that titan in the mountains?

To be honest, the ending wasn’t terrible. Hold on a second. Wait, what? Oh, really? There’s no plans as of yet for a second season? Oh, well, in that case it was awful. I mean, really, really awful. The end was just kind of Annie in a blue crystal, and a narrator casually briefing over how everyone’s still fighting but not really doing anything.

I know what you’re thinking: read the manga. But what if Naruto forced you to read the manga to find your answers? Or Bleach, or Durarara!!, or Cowboy Bebop, or Sailor Moon, or Death Note? Would you read the manga or would you just be so flustered that they made such a clear money-grubbing choice that you’d just stop watching all together? The manga is supposed to be its own identity. Essentially, if you enjoyed the series, you should read the manga or vice versa. The anime or manga is supposed to be a compliment of the other, never stepping on the other’s toes but always enhancing the experience. An obligation doesn’t enhance anything.

3. Fantastic Premise, Awful Execution

Dark, gruesome, and depressing is usually a brilliant recipe for any story, and Attack on Titan was no different. The series started off with a bang, and by episode 8, fizzed out and fell rapidly back down to earth. But it started so well, it must get better. Right?

You held steadfast. You waited and hoped and waited some more, but it never seemed to regain its momentum. Even at the highest point in the second act when the female titan makes her first appearance, it never makes it to that same exciting level as the first 5 episodes. You wait through the build up in story for the intense battle and ultimate reveal, neither of which ever really come. At least not how it started.

Now don’t get me wrong, slow is often the best way to reward the audience. However, AoT never actually rewards anyone in the end. You sat through all the over-embellished dialogue and the languid action to make it to the end feeling disappointed. It wasn’t the ending that was necessarily so disheartening, but the build-up to an ending that never really came.

Ultimately, it wasn’t that it was a bad series; by all means, it was actually a pretty interesting story — leaving all the real Attack on Titan glory for the manga, at least. But between the combination of entirely too slow pacing, lackluster battles, and a lot of unanswered questions, AoT went from potentially one of the best anime series of the last decade to relatively forgettable.

Cover image source: Wikipedia

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Categories: Anime Reviews

Author:Jen

Founder, Editor-in-Chief at Another Castle | Twitter: @ComradeJen

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52 Comments on “3 Reasons Why ‘Attack on Titan’ is Actually a Terrible Anime”

  1. 10/01/2013 at 7:54 PM #

    I agree with #1- but I don’t think it makes it a terrible anime. Pacing has never been a problem for me in Attack on Titan- I know it’s a problem overall, but I’ve been plenty entertained each episode.

    However, I simply don’t understand why people keep expecting an anime series to end conclusively. I never expect that because the manga exists. Now, I don’t like that in American shows because I can’t count on the manga to finish it for me. I mean, like you got at, most anime is just manga adaptions- but one shouldn’t expect, especially if you’re a longtime viewer of anime, a full adaptation.

    You named one of the few, very few anime that cover an entire series- well, except Bleach. I’m thinking AoT probably’ll get another season eventually (like Kuroko no Basuke and Magi now that the manga have gone forward and they didn’t do like Naruto or Bleach and put fillers on-air instead). But Attack on Titan, like other anime I’ve enjoyed immensely have set me on the track to read the manga- which would come regardless.Just as I’ve done with Death Note (which had quite a few differences I was interested in), Gantz (whose filler episodes had me wanting more), Berserk (because, you know, I wanted more), and plenty of other great shows that I needed complimenting.

  2. Jen
    10/01/2013 at 8:17 PM #

    I don’t doubt that AoT will get a second season, it’s just discouraging that they’ve yet to discuss it. I honestly thought AoT was a good anime, it just back peddled half-way through the run. And don’t get me wrong, the manga is next on my read list. Simply put, one should exist without the other. Think of it in terms of any other form of entertainment and it’s simply not good. Would you buy a movie ticket to a movie if someone said you wouldn’t understand it if you hadn’t read the book? They exist separately and compliment each other in that regard. It’s not complimentary if it’s necessary.

    My point was that if they stop the series there, it’s terrible. There were countless plot holes, unnecessary filler, and over-indulging of character info on characters that seemingly just disappeared in the middle. As for the ending, well, it wasn’t very good. It just quickly wrapped the story up and wandered off into the sunset. I grew up on Hitchcock, I’m more than versed on a good open ending, and quite enjoy them. They set it up perfectly for a second season; however, as it stands, it’s overrated.

    Thanks for reading, Shinashi! As always, I enjoyed your input.

  3. KT
    10/01/2013 at 10:11 PM #

    AoT was entertaining, but it did get a little tiring there to wait and wait for answers and not get any resolution at all. It did make me want to read the manga- so it succeeded on that front. :P

    I still want a second season so I can rage at the cliffhanger endings all over again.

  4. 10/01/2013 at 11:41 PM #

    ‘3. Fantastic Premise, Awful Execution’
    Reminds me a lot of how I felt about Sword Art Online. I’ve been hearing a lot about AoT around the Korra fandom, but now I’m a little scared to watch it after reading this. It took me awhile to get over the disappointment that was SAO. It’s like expecting a PS4 for Christmas and getting a PSP instead…

  5. 10/02/2013 at 7:31 AM #

    Is it strange that now I kind of want to check it out? Lol. Berserk is one of my favorite anime’s and let’s face it: that has got to be the all time worst ending ever (manga not withstanding) I completely freaked out after the last ep, but looking back it is still an extremely memorable experience.

  6. 10/02/2013 at 8:19 AM #

    Reblogged this on zonesknight95 and commented:
    Sad ending for the anime

  7. Jen
    10/02/2013 at 9:40 AM #

    KT — Agreed. It definitely made me want to read the manga, and the anime itself was entertaining but just ending up being a let down. I hope they do a second season or even a whole new run like FMA Brotherhood.

    Castles — SAO is a really good comparison. It’s worth a watch, just don’t let the hype machine pump you up too much.

    Joseph — It is worth a watch but from everything I’ve heard, maybe start with the manga. It’s a fantastic premise, it just gets muddled for a lot of (understandable) reasons and ends up falling flat.

  8. 10/02/2013 at 10:47 AM #

    “Think of it in terms of any other form of entertainment and it’s simply not good.”

    I can understand that. For me, though, that’s like saying guacamole on anything other than nachos would be disgusting (and it’s true I tell you!), and therefore guacamole is bad. I do not view anime and manga in that fashion, and it’s even more complimentary if one has to see the other to understand. If they can exist separately, it’s not really complimentary. If AoT wrapped things up, I would no longer look for the manga, and it will no longer be complimentary, yea?

    And I gotta be honest, yours is the only name I recognize on this blog! :D

  9. 10/02/2013 at 4:10 PM #

    I really enjoyed the anime. Yes it slowed down in the middle, and yes it was open ended, but I couldn’t wait for the next episode. I was hooked, start to finish.

  10. Jen
    10/03/2013 at 3:06 PM #

    Shinashi — I hear you, but I’m still let down. Also, thanks!

    Keith — I excitedly tuned in every Saturday through the whole series. In the end, it just amounted to sub-par. I know everyone’s opinion varies greatly, especially in regards to AoT, but there were simply too many flaws to forgive a series that should’ve been so much better.

  11. 12/09/2013 at 2:01 PM #

    @C

    What about all the other people reading this article… Why spoil it for them too?
    Moron.

  12. SignificantNihilism
    12/10/2013 at 8:19 AM #

    I had high hopes for this anime when I first heard about it. Once I started watching it however it became horribly apparent the dialogue and character development was completely atrocious, much like most other contemporary anime. Ahh, how I long for the days of NGE and it’s ilk. They were brutal, intelligent and inspirational. Many sighs were had writing this comment.

  13. Jen
    12/10/2013 at 6:48 PM #

    Agreed. It started so strongly and wound up getting sloppy half way through. Although other anime series have been done while the manga is still in production, maybe AOT just didn’t have enough out to give it a full story.

    Meh. Regardless, it was disappointing.

  14. KM
    12/31/2013 at 11:53 PM #

    Hi
    I too think that AoT is overrated and I wish people would stop recommending the series to me. What puts me off AoT is the over-zealous fandom it has. Similar to CoD fans/haters. AoT is good but not great.

  15. Jen
    01/01/2014 at 12:24 PM #

    Pretty much my thoughts exactly. It was a good series…sometimes, just not anywhere in the epic category it’s usually placed in.

  16. feconicuznga
    01/28/2014 at 12:26 AM #

    Well, to start, I think this review did a poor job in articulating any legitimate issues with the anime that would actually be valid in defending your main point. All three of the issues laid out would be solved if the anime creators just made up most of the story and ended the anime in 25 episodes. Granted, most animes do this but I feel that is based off of Japan’s abysmal show scheduling system and not what should be the norm.

    If the anime were to not continue then I’d say it is a great show but wholly unfinished with, like you say, many plots left open and no ending whatsoever. But would you say another anime is terrible because only 13 episodes came out (with another 13 planned but not approved yet) and so only half of the plot was laid out?

    I kind of see your point with pacing as the story arcs did seem to drag on but I never felt bored but for one episode and didn’t feel like any were filler episodes. This is my personal opinion so of course that is subjective.

    In all, I felt you didn’t have any legitimate reasons why the show is terrible and can’t help but wonder if there are social pressures on you to show disdain for something popular and to go against the grain.

  17. Jen
    01/28/2014 at 10:03 AM #

    So, if I understand you correctly, it seems like your main complaint was the title fitting with the content of the article. In the article, I speak mostly to the hype machine making it out to be the greatest anime of all-time — which it isn’t.

    Mind you, the biggest complaint I really had with the series is the fact that they knew they had a cash machine on their hands and couldn’t just wait another year or two for more story material. So they took advantage of you and everyone else, and it paid off for them. More than likely they’ll come out with a “Brotherhood” style anime that tells more of the story and take more from you.

    Before you condemn me and commend them, how much money have you spent on AoT merch in the last year? If not you, people who head to anime conventions? How many of the manga did you buy and read to fill the story holes? Imagine how their main market in Japan responded. It’s a money train and they’re riding it the whole way through. They put those holes in on purpose because you’ll buy it.

    What I’m trying to convey is the fact that you were given an unfinished product that was over-hyped. What these types of series do to anime in the long run is detrimental, not helpful. But it’s a business, just like anything else.

  18. tyrone powers
    02/04/2014 at 10:38 PM #

    I laughed through this whole article because it amused me how much i agree with everything. almost no questions were answered, and the reveal of the female titan meant nothing to me because that character was never properly developed. this show’s left me deeply unsastisfied, and that’s typical of most animes i find. they opt for style over substance; i’ve yet to watch an anime with a coherent ending that i didnt need to google. i’m frustrated that i wasted hours watching this show and getting invested for absolutely no pay off. eff anime

  19. Miranda
    02/14/2014 at 5:02 PM #

    You see, with anime and manga, it’s a lot like with books and movies. The books go farther than the movie and while there are some unanswered questions to the movie viewers, the questions are already known to the book readers. Sometimes you HAVE to read the book to understand the movie and sometimes movies can get away with it fairly well. If you’re tired of all the unanswered questions, read the manga, get a feel for the series, and then don’t watch it if it still bothers you.

  20. Miranda
    02/14/2014 at 5:06 PM #

    And don’t use your second point on me, I read it and I respect your opinion, but I have to disagree. An anime should want you to read the manga and if the unanswered questions interest you enough, then the manga is your place to go. If you get frustrated every time something new comes up, how can you really enjoy the series?

  21. Jen
    02/14/2014 at 5:35 PM #

    @Miranda —

    Great bring up, however, counterpoint:

    While I understand what you’re trying to convey, the fact is you’re talking about books versus movies which is different than books versus series. The reason companies opt for series instead of movies, generally, has a lot to do with the amount of information needed to divulge. Mind you, it isn’t like turning To Kill a Mockingbird (1 book) into a movie (1 movie), it’s an ongoing series of manga (12 as of April) being turned into an anime series(25 episodes). The bottom line was that there initially wasn’t yet enough story at the time of production to warrant a full series.

    As for picking up the manga, I just don’t find it necessary to continue on with a series I wasn’t enthralled with to begin with. As I stated before, they’re there to compliment each other and I just don’t feel like that was accomplished. If you watched a movie you didn’t really care for, would you run out and read the book? Probably not.

    In the end, I’ll most likely revisit the idea of picking up the manga once the series is finished — well, as long as it isn’t the length of Naruto.

    Thanks!

  22. 02/15/2014 at 2:14 PM #

    Intresting you said this, I too thought AoT was a bad bad anime. Other than these problems, the plot-armor was insane in an anime meant to make you think ‘anyone’ could die.

  23. Jen
    02/15/2014 at 2:16 PM #

    Agreed. But that sort of stuff pops-up in every anime. I think most people, myself included, have just learned to accept the ridiculous.

  24. 02/15/2014 at 2:17 PM #

    You dont expect goku to die (though he does) but you expect eren to stay dead (he didnt)

  25. Jen
    02/15/2014 at 2:19 PM #

    I remember talking about that last year with a friend as we were keeping up with the show. He felt Eren was dead and gone, and I remember saying that it would make for a better, unexpected overall story but that they more than likely would bring him back. I think that was also about the point where I started losing interest.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. ATTACK ON TITAN Dub Review: Does the English Cast Live Up to Japanese? | Another Castle - 06/11/2014

    […] As our previous article about it discussed, the show has absolutely glacial pacing, resolves nothing and is just generally not well executed. Yet, everyone I knew went positively nuts over it. People would breathlessly tell me how they had binge-watched the show in days on Hulu, Crunchyroll or Netflix and for the life of me, I just couldn’t imagine why. […]

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