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.