ATTACK ON TITAN is at the moment one of the most popular anime/manga properties. At its height it could even be considered number 1. It’s definitely well deserved, as the back-cover for each volume proudly states it to be “Japan’s equivalent of The Walking Dead.” It features all the necessities of a survival, post-Armageddon world. We have these monsters and this little pocket of humanity. Inside the walls we see that humans can often be the real monsters. It was almost inevitable that it would get a live action film adaption. I say almost because popular franchises Naruto, Bleach, and Dragon Ball don’t have film adaptations. (Japanese film adaptions, so Dragon Ball Evolution doesn’t count.) It’s a little surprising a film would be done now as opposed to when the manga reaches its conclusion. But from a business standpoint, it makes sense to take advantage of the popular name. How does the first Part of the ATTACK ON TITAN feature fare? It has some of the fundamentals right but it ultimately changes too much and character development is on the poor side.
Here’s the official description from FUNimation:
It is 100 Years after Titans destroyed most of the human population. The survivors are now living in peace. That is, until a Titan bigger than anyone has ever seen breaches the wall that protects humans from the rest of the Titan infested world.
It’s hard to expect any adaption to be 100% faithful. Sometimes liberties are taken, and they can be for the better. But not here. The first thing noticed is that Eren’s parents have no role. They’re dead even before the story starts. In the manga the dad has an ongoing role (though he doesn’t appear at all much, his story with the basement is a big propeller of the plot) and the mom, while having a short role in the first volume, is a major part of what triggers Eren to hate the Titans. With the mom already being dead here, there isn’t much to his intense hate for the giants. Eren as a character has very poor development throughout. Haruma Miura isn’t a bad choice to play him, but the script is just so lousy here it’s a slap in the face to the Eren we see in the manga.
Kanata Hongō as Armin does a solid job. The problem is that he is criminally underused. Sure he gets one or two scenes showcasing his intellect, but it just isn’t enough. Not only that, but why isn’t his hair blond like in the manga/anime? That was one of his defining features. Because of this, it’s sometimes hard to tell between Eren and Armin, since they look almost exactly alike in the film. Kiko Mizuhara as Mikasa is pretty good…but the script basically ruins her character’s relationship with Eren. In the manga there’s the powerful flashback detailing why the two have such a close friendship. None of that is displayed here. Plus, for some odd reason there’s a romance between her and Shikishima, causing Eren to be jealous. Not only was this brutal to watch and completely unnecessary, but this leads to another awful scene: Sasha flirting with Eren. I was really liking Sasha in the film, but then we have this really awkward flirtation between her and Eren that really doesn’t belong.
There are a few other characters worth mentioning. Hans (Hanji) was okay, but it looked like Satomi Ishihara was really trying desperately to showcase her persona from the manga, and it just wasn’t happening. Jean was nothing other than a negative grunt. In the manga he had solid development; hopefully we’ll see that in Part 2. Sannagi adds some much needed genuine niceness to the group. Though his constant samurai yelling could become jarring. Plus, what is with the scene where he basically throws a Titan by mustering some inner strength? That was so bad it’s funny. Now, onto the primary reason why this film is being watched: the Titans. The CGI for them looks pretty good for the most part. (As one would expect from director Shinji Higuchi since he was special effects director of the GAMERA Heisei trilogy.) Though the blood looks way too video-game like, resembling a Playstaion 2 game. Still, the Titans are portrayed as they should be: horrifying monsters. The Colossal Titan looks great, and I really like the roaring sound effect given to him. His infamous intro (the destruction of the Wall) was well done for the most part. It feels like it’s missing something, because the anime did it far better. Still, what we got isn’t bad. A main positive is the soundtrack. Each scene with the Titans is made even more epic with choir.
Overall, ATTACK ON TITAN Part 1 adds unnecessary plot points and takes away too many vital parts to the original story to be called good. It’s not terrible however; it’s still a pretty fun watch for the most part. The action is fast-paced and you won’t find yourself getting bored. The Vertical Maneuvering Gear translates well onto the big scene. Sadly, a lot of the stuff that made characters like Eren and Mikasa engaging are erased here. (Eren’s Titan form looks good, but there’s no build-up and just feels thrown into the story.) Hopefully Part 2 can fix these things.