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A Brief Primer for Attack on Titan

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Attack on Titan just premiered its second season. Wondering what all the fuss is about? Well, we’ve got a quick capper on what the show is all about. 

Anime, like comic books and video games, has often found itself on the absolute fringe of nerd culture. When someone isn’t into anime, it’s almost impossible to get them to give it a try with an open mind—and that’s really too bad, because they’re depriving themselves of some really spectacular stuff, like Attack on Titan.

The series centers around a future society/alternate universe in which the last vestiges of humanity live inside a series of walled-off communities in fear of the titular Titans, giant humanoid creatures that exist with the sole purpose of eating humans alive. Inside the walls of Sina, Rose and Maria, though, an elite force is being trained in hopes of combating the Titans, while beneath the surface, secret experiments hope to supplant them once and for all, allowing humanity to retake their rightful place at the top of the food chain.


The idea of the food chain, and humanity being moved down a link on it, is just one of the unique ideas in Attack on Titan that challenges the way we view ourselves. Another is the horrifying nature of the Titans themselves. The fact that they are such a simple and familiar adversary is undoubtedly what makes them so terrifying and disturbing. Their naked doll-like features (they have no genitals), their gentle and playful smiles, their child-like emotions, the vacant look in their eyes—each element serves as a reminder of our own kind, even as they gruesomely dominate and consume humans.

It’s a troubling duplicity to be sure, and it makes the central conflict of the story as constantly disheartening as it is enthralling.

As viewers, we witness this ongoing battle primarily through the eyes of the three central protagonists, each an orphaned survivor of a devastating Titan attack. Eren appears as the central character, a hot-headed and vengeful boy who seeks to soak himself in Titan blood. Mikasa is his adopted sister, an amazingly effective fighter who only wishes to keep Eren alive, and joins the conflict with this particular purpose in mind. And lastly, Armin, their close friend and fellow survivor, who has a brilliant mind juxtaposed by his gentle heart.

Together these three form the central arc of the series. Furthermore, they serve as a symbolic unit for the conflict, with Eren as the tempestuous heart, Armin as the undeniable mind, and Mikasa as the deadly body.


They are joined by a wide array of intricate and well-realized characters, many of whom are picked off with little regard for their place in the story. Indeed, within the first few episodes alone, the stakes are quickly drawn, measured and then leveled. By episodes 5-10, the conflict has been completely rewritten, and from there it only subverts the viewers expectations even further.

With gorgeous animation, an explosive soundtrack, an original setting, and a plotline that redefines the term “epic”, Attack on Titan is the most original and effective animated series to emerge in maybe a decade.

Attack on Titan’s first series is currently on Netflix in it’s entirety. Whether you love anime or you despise it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

Mike Worby is a human who spends way too much of his free time playing, writing and podcasting about pop culture. Through some miracle he's still able to function in society as if he were a regular person, and if there's hope for him, there's hope for everyone.

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Anime

Anime Ichiban 33: Coming into Maturity

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Anime Ichiban welcomes our anime waifu overlords, old and new. Join Matt and Kyle this episode as they discuss the return of the Goddess of Anime, Haruhi Suzumiya herself, then hop on over to the new virutal sensation that’s finally sweeping English-speaking nations: Hololive Vtubers!

For this episode of Anime Ichiban, the SHITSUMON! topic will have the duo diving into recently released Aggretsuko Season 3 and The Great Pretender and explore how the two shows work with mature themes.

TIMESTAMPS

0:00 – Introductions and what we’ve been up to
23:33 – The Return of Haruhi Suzumiya(‘s light novels)
37:23 – The Debut of Generation 1 of Hololive English Vtubers
53:07 – Minor news roundup: (Shenmue anime announced; Fate/Stay Night Heaven’s Feel Part 3 movie debuts to huge success; KyoAni fire updates)
58:35 – SHITSUMON! How does anime portray mature themes in its storytelling?

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Anime

Anime Ichiban 32: The Art of Following a Formula

Corporate shakeups and Galapagos Syndrome spell omens of a changing global landscape for the anime industry.

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diary of our days at breakwater

Corporate shakeups and Galapagos Syndrome spell omens of a changing global landscape for the anime industry and that the crew digs into along with how a series can effectively perform within its genre conventions.

TIMESTAMPS

0:00 – Introductions
12:28 – Legacy piracy site KissAnime shuts down
28:45 – AT&T reportedly looking to sell Crunchyroll
43:27 – Galapagos Syndrome: Is anime in danger of losing its global identity?
58:41 – News Reel
1:02:20 – SHITSUMON! How do shows perform effectively and still entertain in genres whose formulae are already well known and expected?

TRACKS

Intro – “Cagayake! GIRLS” by Houkago Tea Time (K-ON! opening theme)
Outro – “Tsuri no sekai e” by Umino High School Breakwater Club (Our Diary at the Breakwater ending theme)

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Anime

‘One Piece: Stampede’ is an All-Star Behemoth Buckling Under Predictability

Does One Piece: Stampede sail all the way to Laugh Tale, or remain anchored in an East Blue of mediocrity?

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As the fourteenth film in Eiichiro Oda’s One Piece saga, One Piece: Stampede was released in 2019 to critical and financial success. As a big-budget commemoration of the anime’s 20th anniversary, Stampede has lots to live up to, from successfully stamping a momentous two decades, to satiating the hype of a passionate global fanbase. Does it sail all the way to Laugh Tale, or remain anchored in an East Blue of mediocrity?

It’s party time at the Pirate Fest!

The Pirate Fest, a grand gathering of the sea’s most infamous individuals, is underway! At the festival, the Straw Hats compete with their Worst Generation rivals to retrieve a treasure of Gol D. Roger. But behind the scenes, festival organiser Buena Festa and legendary pirate Douglas Bullet are scheming something sinister.

Cutting to the chase, One Piece: Stampede soon kicks into an all-out battle against said Douglas Bullet, with Luffy working with friend and foe alike to fell his opponent.

Much like Dragon Ball Super: Broly, also animated by Toei Animation, each frame of One Piece: Stampede is a treasure to behold. Fluid animation and colors spell eye-candy magic, and the odd bit of 3D animation isn’t (too) visually jarring.

One Piece: Stampede nails its mission statement of lightning-paced popcorn entertainment to a tee. Goofy shonen films don’t have to transcend ‘awesome action and silly superpowers’. Rather than shooting for the moon and coming up short, Stampede settles for smashing the sky. With white-knuckle fights and satisfying character moments conveyed with a zippy pace, One Piece: Stampede assuredly brings what fans want. And whilst not as developed or memorable as other film baddies (One Piece: Strong World’s Shiki or One Piece: Z’s titular Z), Douglas Bullet is terrifyingly tough enough to tick the boxes.

Playing It Safe

Whilst the ‘playing it safe’ ethos of One Piece: Stampede succeeds on the surface, the imaginative innovation of One Piece: Baron Omatsuri and the Secret Island is missing, and the excess of characters prevents the possibility of channeling the simplicity of One Piece: Dead End Adventure. Stampede works as anniversary celebratory bombast but isn’t the series’ smartest, and with the core of the film occurring in a single spot and under dull skies, location fatigue rears its head.

For some, the draw of One Piece: Stampede is its constant character cameos. From the instantly recognizable to the deep cuts, it’s a fun gimmick for fans, although the absence of big names like Kuzan and Jinbei are noticeable. Some cameos fall on the side of groan inducing-ly forced, shoehorning a requisite Zoro fight, or overtly shouting to audiences “Remember them?!” Having no effect on the story, these cameos are clunky and break narrative immersion.

Far from the worst of One Piece’s wildly varied films, Stampede is what it needs to be. It lacks the creative spirit of One Piece’s heights and is dampened by its inconsistent cameo execution, but it’s a fine anniversary celebration for one of manga and anime’s, if not the world’s, best works of fiction. For the uninitiated, it’ll be like an avant-garde acid trip, but for those clued-into Luffy’s antics, it’s a barrage of ballistic glee!

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