61 CommentsFirst Impressions, Shingeki no Kyojin / By Inushinde /

Shingeki no Kyojin Episode 1: He’s Watching You

Titan103

Just getting screenshots of that titan for this post made my skin crawl. It’s not because of its unsettling grin, though that’s certainly creepy as all fuck. It’s the fact that its glowing red skin is evocative of the worst kind of sunburn, and I can’t help but wonder if it was duped into thinking that people have sunburn-healing properties when ingested. Anyway, shit gets fucked, it gets fucked incredibly dramatically to appropriately dramatic music, and it’s rather horrific, so read on.

The entire episode is presided over by the specter of Shit Gonna Get Fucked, to the point that it permeates every line of dialogue and every ominous shot aimed at the pre-break in wall. The protagonist talks about how shit’s going to be fucked, his mother tells him to stop talking about shit getting fucked because she knows if he has his way it’s going to get fucked at some point and doesn’t want him to be in the thick of it, and a friend of the protag is beaten up by neighborhood children for preaching that shit’s going to be fucked if they don’t start leaving the safety of the town. It’s almost too much, but it knows when to stop exhibiting the nervousness and borderline complacency of the townspeople so we can get a handle on the characters, and not just the attitudes that they’ve grown up immersed in.

It’s telling how much the threat of the titans has pervaded every facet of daily life in the town, to the extent that most of the people would much prefer not acknowledging that their lives can be snuffed out at any moment, most laboring under the delusion that everything is just fine. The wall, ultimately, is a fragile barrier separating the last vestiges of humanity from the all-consuming plague that is the titans, and it’s interesting how differently (and often implicitly) the people manifest their knowledge of this fact. Hell, that’d be a great premise by itself if it were played exceptionally well, but since the show promised skyhook battles with giants, that wouldn’t fly by itself here.

Titan101

It’s not ignorance that makes broaching the subject of heading outside the wall and fighting the titans almost taboo, it’s the very real, very human fear of being devoured by beings much powerful than themselves. However, as the first few minutes and the first two paragraphs of this post point out, shit must get fucked very soon, and no amount of hiding behind the walls and whinging fatalistic sentiments will change that, especially when the walls are torn down in the blink of an eye.

Rather than feeling predictable though, that knowledge contributes to a growing sense of unease and anticipation, with the payoff being incredibly satisfying. There are more than a few flourishes of excellent direction and snappy, meaningful transitions that leave this attack visually arresting and disturbing in all the right ways. It’d almost be comical how rubble seems to conveniently find its way onto the poor people skittering away from the titans, but the tension and restraint that’s nurtured up to this point lend to a grave atmosphere that’s difficult to shake, even as it reaches the credits. It has a sort of disaster movie vibe, but uses it to prop up a greater purpose, like setting things up so the following image can happen.

Titan105

It certainly helps that the titans themselves are creepy fuckers, seemingly only driven by the desire to eat the curiously similar, exponentially smaller creatures scattering away from their imposing figures. The only two that we get a good look at, one that looks like a human stripped of all skin, and another that looks like an extremely sunburned man whose skin is stretched to the point that he can’t stop smiling, are unnerving in the best possible way, and even the others that we see lumbering in at a distance are none too pretty. Just as nobody in the story has learned anything about the titans up to this point, the audience is left similarly flummoxed by their actions. It’s tough not to look at the giant in the header image and not immediately want to book a flight to the furthest inhabitable planet.

I can’t say I’m won over by our surrogate Meera Reed, Jojen Reed, and Bran Stark yet, or some of the lapses in animation that freeze bustling streets and crowded markets, but since both of these are likely so the struggles of our main characters will be spectacular later on, I guess I can forgive the first episode of an action series for not having the depth of the Pacific Ocean. I can hope I won’t be bitterly eating these words like so many overcooked coconut shrimp come a few weeks’ time, but I can’t wait to cover this week to week.

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61 Comments

  1. Nazaren
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I quite liked it. Not sure I like OHMA SHOE voicing our MC, but it’s tolerable.

    Dem giants have way too many identical chompers…

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:21 am | Permalink

      At least he’s supposed to be whiny and scrappy instead of an angsting, brooding shit. Step in the right direction.

      • Posted April 12, 2013 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

        yeah at first i lked his attitude, but then i was like…bro, just cool it seriously. No one can do shit, obviously >_>. But it seems a lot of people are criticizing the show a bit and Idk i think it’s fine so far.

  2. SENSEISHUN
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I think I caught my mouth a little open at that last scene. I can’t even say it was overly-dramatic, but damn I hope any apocalyptic shit we ever have to deal with is never 15-60m titans…

  3. Shadow
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    Well knowing how the manga goes, i’m gonna love this series. The main issue, is Kaji Yuki…FFS why does every series i like ends up having him as an important character. I hate his voice, i swear if he doesnt step up, and take the role more seriously i might drop this just because of him. I felt like i was hearing Accel World all over again, and that really sickens me when i’m watching all that awesomeness.

    Also, why is it that all the bad guys in anime/manga make the M. Bison evil smile at some point?

    • Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t been following Mr. Shoe’s-VA much, but just thinking how Eren can be wangsty and then listening to Mr. Shoe’s-VA’s voice… it can be annoying to me I think.

  4. Scamp
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    The unfeelingness and inexplicable nature of the titans is what got to me the most. Like you said, they can’t learn anything about them from the recon corps. Then there was that phenomenal scene where the guy ran towards the titan, the music stopped and it just looked at him with that unthinking grin. It’s fucking unnerving

    • khawlin
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 2:32 am | Permalink

      Good boy Araki, follow the story closely like a good little gimp.

      But remember

      It follows the manga closely or else it gets the hose again.

  5. Erif
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    “It certainly helps that the titans themselves are creepy fuckers”

    Words cannot describe how perfect this statement is.

    • NormalMar
      Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Absolutely. Good lord.

  6. Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    This episode really got to me. I’m shaking here. SHAKING. Something made this creepy as fuck and somewhere, deep in my brain, my instincts told me to run. I’m not sure why this is, but…

    Wow.

    This episode.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      Might have something to do with that guy up there eyeing you as his lunch.

      • Erif
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 12:04 am | Permalink

        Was that it?

    • Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      HA! Told you it was something interesting.

  7. Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    On another note, I wonder if I should watch this weekly or marathon it. What do you guys think is better?

    • jinkaine
      Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      I think the pacing will be very rapid and there’s going to be a lot going on each week, so weekly seems ideal

      • Erif
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

        That being said, it’s kind of hard because even now I don’t want to wait another week for the next episode. I want to see the characters reach their maturity.

    • Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      As a reader of its manga, I think it will depend on how far they are going to adapt it this time around. IIRC, a lot of the earlier chapters are quite fast paced, so weekly seems ideal up to a point.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:07 am | Permalink

      If you wait, it might become a bit much to take in at one time. Probably want to do this weekly.

  8. Mr. Anon
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

    Since there are so many secondary characters in this story, the manga was occasionally hard to follow. There’s been a few times where the author was expecting me to remember minor circumstances from many chapters ago … and with a month between chapters that’s sometimes pretty hard, especially with how the art style doesn’t really make everyone super distinct.

    The anime will likely not have this issue, being weekly and in color.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:08 am | Permalink

      You never know. The character designs are certainly varied enough, but sometimes I have trouble telling characters apart no matter what.

  9. jinkaine
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    You. Have a brownie for that GoT reference you

  10. Gedata
    Posted April 7, 2013 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    That rain of blood at the end, what a great directorial touch. I read the first volume of the manga and that wasn’t present.

    This series will only be 25 episodes based on the number of BDs. The manga is still ongoing, so I hope we don’t get a BS anime only end.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:09 am | Permalink

      I’m sure there’ll be a good point to drop off at. However, if it does do a sequel it’ll probably be awhile so there’ll be more meat to dive into.

  11. luffyluffy
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    The cool thing is, even if the show bombs Guilty Crown style, we’ll still have a fantastic A++ OST from it thanks to the new messiah of anime music Hiroyuki Sawano

  12. Kiseki
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 1:21 am | Permalink

    That titan was 10x more traumatizing than it was in the manga. I was watching it live so the sponsor credits didn’t help. ;_;

    Oh by the way “巨人” is just “kyojin”, there’s no “u” in it.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      Dang, seems I can’t coast on the habit of automatically assuming an extra ‘u’ forever.

  13. hint
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    another manga that i make sure to read every month and well there not much. Its faithful adaptation for now and if it keeps going like this for the next 21 episodes than we an epic and aoty. The manga is too fucking epic to fuck up unless they do it on purpose.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:11 am | Permalink

      From what’s been shown in this first episode, I think they should be fine. This doesn’t have the SAO problem of appealing to the basest denominator imaginable, so I don’t think this’ll be anywhere near as much a red herring as that first episode.

  14. Pusswookie
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    Thus far in my short anime watching history I have never watched a popular show that was actively bombing as it aired and,
    I sincerely hope that this isn’t my first.

    • sqa
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:23 am | Permalink

      For all the problems (really, 100 years and you know jack & skippy about the Titans? 12 year-olds making sound philosophical arguments? Spider-man fighting, regardless of how cool it looks?), this is nothing like a Guilty Crown. Something was just off with that series from the first step, though it got really noticeable after ep 2.

      It’s when things happen without a reason, that you know you’re in for a train wreck. Here, it’s just dramatic effect for the timing of the events. If Yuuki Kaji just suddenly pulled out a sword, became the Hulk and ripped a Titan in two, THEN we’d have a train wreck coming.

      • Pusswookie
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 11:26 am | Permalink

        I appreciate the consolation. To be honest, I found that them knowing next to nothing about the Titans really contributed to the overall unnerving atmosphere of the first episode and about the philosophical arguments: he wasn’t really making any, he was just being a kid and not seeing anything but his goal.
        Everyone says that they hate his voice though, but I think that has something to do with the bitter taste his other roles left them with, thankfully none of which I have seen.
        So yeah, I’m aware that it’s good, I just want it to stay that way. I don’t want to become a jaded anime fan via a trial by fire [having hype thrown back in your face].

      • Pusswookie
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

        On the other hand, what you described actually sounds pretty great.

      • khawlin
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:47 am | Permalink

        “really, 100 years and you know jack & skippy about the Titans?”

        *begin really predictable manga spoiler

        Because…CONSPIRACY!

        spoiler end*

  15. Pusswookie
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    The roles are changed though. The surrogate Meera seems to be playing Jojen’s role.
    Also, are you saying that at some point in the future Eren’s going to start body snatching trees commandeering Conifers?

    • Erif
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

      Well that’s a spoiler I didn’t expect. I thought he was just gonna fly!

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:11 am | Permalink

      I may be saying it, I may not be saying it, I may not not be not saying it.

      • Pusswookie
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:43 am | Permalink

        He’s saying it.

  16. Taka
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    I was impressed with the shows balls. Not many shows will show in graphic detail and with abruptness the death of one of the character’s emotional catalysts. I kept expecting them to cut away, we’d hear a crunch while staring at the protags horrified face but it’s clear the anime wants the viewers to be just as horrified and does so by being very graphic, explicit, and abrupt. It’s funny you mentioned Martin at the end of the post because watching that one scene made me remember another author with similarly large cojones.

    • Pusswookie
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:38 am | Permalink

      Agreed. I really appreciate when an author has the balls to kill off characters in such a visceral way. That seems like a superficial thing but it really affects the story, as knowing when, where, and how a character should die [for maximum impact] is an important aspect of writing.
      This is a trait that I immediately attribute to writers like Martin and Butcher Gen [title is pretty self evident].
      Conversely, when I say maximum impact, I don’t mean Jun Maeda’s idea of killing off little girls in seasonal weather, though I did fall prey to that at least once or twice.

      • Erif
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink

        And hey, you can even apply that to Quentin Tarantino to an extent, although some of his films have more comical leanings.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:13 am | Permalink

      Nothing has more impact than actually showing the death; not necessarily in gruesome detail, but it has more weight that way.

  17. Friend_Guy
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:10 am | Permalink

    Jesus that smile.. I feel sorry for these people having ot go through that kind of ordeal which is their apocalypse a life of being eaten and threatened to be eaten by giants like little human finger sandwich. That scene where the guy looked up at the giant and his resolve started to fade [and in his mind he said “Fuck this shit!” it made me shiver a little bit. I can’t wait to see the next up. Though again.. it is scary if you try to put yourself in those people shoes.. I would probably dig a hole and hide in it for a long time.. a very long time.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:14 am | Permalink

      I would’ve been hightailing it way before Biggie even shattered the wall, so these characters already have more bravery than me.

      • Pusswookie
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:48 am | Permalink

        I guess that they just stayed out of morbid curiosity? Fuck that, once I saw a giant flayed hand on the wall, that’d been all that I needed to know. Anyone who’s properly genre-savvy should know to get the hell out of the range of the heat-seeking debris, lest they be tragically glomped by an over-zealous rock.
        Btw, from my perspective, it’s only April 9th, so for a sheer second, I was like, “Jesus Christ, he posted this comment from the future.
        Also, your italics don’t work in the comments.

  18. Posted April 8, 2013 at 3:48 am | Permalink

    This show is absolutely horrifying.

    Leaving aside the general creepiness and gross appearance of the Titans, it is the humans inescapable fate that gets to me.

    In most post-apocalyptic fiction, humans somehow screw themselves over, but that isn’t really the case here. They just somehow found themselves on the bottom of the food chain and up until now, THERE WAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING THEY COULD DO ABOUT IT.

    It is really frightening and depressing.

    • Erif
      Posted April 8, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

      You know, you begin up an interesting point I hadn’t really thought about. Then I think back to the appearance of the giant titan that broke the wall; it looks like it came from the sky, like it was struck down from lightning, or something along those lines. Maybe this is some sort of divine retribution for mankind?

      It’s an interesting thought.

      • Pusswookie
        Posted April 8, 2013 at 11:34 am | Permalink

        Well, after watching it belt steam for a few minutes, I can’t but wonder if it’s a man [or other humanoid lifeform] made automaton of some sort.

      • Inushinde
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:15 am | Permalink

        That’s one hell of an organic automaton.

  19. Posted April 8, 2013 at 5:17 am | Permalink

    DAT SMUG SMILE!

    Production aside because you have to be blind not to see how fantastic it looks! I haven’t read the manga, but I hear it is AMAZING! So we will see how things go for the anime version, also damn the titans are freaky looking O_o

    I suspect we will have SOME filler right? I think it would be impossible to go page by page from the manga version >.>

  20. Alex Voda
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I don’t think they grin. I think they lack lips.

  21. Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I wanted to get creeped out by the titans and cheer when they were going to be defeated. What I got was some melodrama, so I cheered for the titans attacking. Huh.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      Still the first episode, bro. Establishing them as reasonably beaten would kill any future suspense.

  22. Stef
    Posted April 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    Was the dude going to fight the titan, then running away horror or humor? The tone was all over the place, I couldn’t tell.

    Also, opening flash forwards are pointless. They even did it twice for some reason.

    • Inushinde
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:20 am | Permalink

      Really? I thought the tone was firmly grave, with only a few concessions toward levity to keep it from feeling too grimdark.

      And the first was to show that shit was going to get fucked up, and it did so with some damn good direction. Hardly necessary, but nothing to complain about, and it did lend a sense of anticipation that wouldn’t be had if the characters were only whinging about the town’s illusory safety.

      • Stef
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        Maybe it’s just me.

        I thought the dream sequence was sufficient to create anticipation and tension. Plus, we’re here to see goddamn titans fuck thing up! No need to tell us they will!

  23. Posted April 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    From the end of an awesome adaptation to the beginning of an awesome adaptation. My god is it not awesome enough.

    The first thing that’s obvious as a its manga reader is how clean looking it is. I thought that the griminess and the messy lines in the manga adds to the grim atmosphere of the manga. I am beyond pleased that they substitute it with goddamn grim animation and great sound work…

    Also even as its reader, my spine just won’t stop tingling with all kinds of emotion, especially from the explosion at the wall and onwards: foreboding feel -> (explosion) confusion -> horror, quickly replaced by dread -> sadness then THE FEELS!!! -> slight hope -> utter despair.

  24. carmelly
    Posted April 11, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Really solid first episode – probably one of the best I’ve seen in a good long while. Like people have mentioned – I quite liked the pacing and the atmosphere of it all, but gotta say, the gorgeous OP and the haunting soundtrack are what got me. They really went for it with the production values, and I hope the quality doesn’t drop over the course of the show.

  25. Sarif Fice
    Posted April 14, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

    I could no longer take the show seriously when I realized the boy, and his mother had the same personality as Lemongrab.

  26. R1CK_D0M
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    You know when I first saw this show I thought it was a pretty good job, but now a week has gone by and I can’t help but think this would have been better as a series of hour long high-budget movies, like break blade was.

    They’d even have a longer release schedule to fit the manga.

  27. Canary Paint
    Posted April 15, 2013 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

    Oh sweet god… The Meera-Jojen-Bran analogy got a serious laugh out of me. So accurate but Bran was never as hysterically screamy as that kid… The rest is spot on.

    I am intrigued by this one and will keep watching, but I have to admit my initial reaction to the giants was “Great… More zombie media… They’re just really big now.”

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