Production IG

Garm Wars photo
Garm Wars

Garm Wars: The Last Druid looks amazing


Pure eye candy
Oct 28
// Hiroko Yamamura
Momoru Oshii screened his latest live-action Production I.G. film, Garm Wars: The Last Druid this week at The Tokyo International Film Fest. The amazing looking film is actually his first English language outing for the vete...
Psycho Pass photo
Can the world stay the same?
Psycho Pass season two is in full swing and as usual, your favorite Editor in Chief is late to the game. So, things kind of pick up right where season one left off, albeit a bit too casually. In fact, the whole episode plays ...

A Letter to Momo photo
A Letter to Momo

A Letter to Momo opens in America this week


Meet up time?
Aug 25
// Hiroko Yamamura
The award winning Production I.G. film A Letter to Momo, is set to hit theaters this week, and with any luck might be hitting your home town. The beautiful looking film has the makings of a classic, and is a tale of a shy ki...

Psycho-Pass photo
Psycho-Pass

New Psycho-Pass movie trailer shows us a lot of nothing


I can't wait til October
Jul 08
// Hiroko Yamamura
I've been waiting patiently for any new information about the upcoming Psycho-Pass film, slated to hit theaters this winter. You can imagine my frustration when the site posted a teaser trailer, that shows us absolutely noth...
HAL photo
Looks pretty
This one seemed have just slipped by me. Studio WIT, which is a subdivision of the mighty Production I.G. has a new animated film coming out, under the unassuming title HAL. The name gives me some serious Space Odyssey flash...

Gargantia photo
Gargantia

Internet Explorer collab lets your browser fly around the Gargantia fleet


A bilingual and open source ad for Internet Explorer
Jun 18
// Jeff Chuang
It's a video game you can play on the browser; it shows off the open source graphics engine Turbulenz. It's called Sky Courier, and this browser game puts you in the seat of apowered glider from Gargantia, in which you have ...

Review: Hal

Apr 29 // Dae Lee
Hal [Blu-ray/DVD Combo]Studio: Production I.G, Wit StudioLicensed by: FUNimationRelease Date: September 2, 2014MSRP: 19.98 The first thing to note is that the art is astounding. Hal is a collection of small, meticulous animations, rendered in exhaustive detail that effectively capture and give life to fleeting, but meaningful, moments. The characters have a natural, hand-painted look to them, and the color palette pops off the screen, full of deep and vibrant colors that create a vividly realized world. The environments have a tangible feeling to them, ornate and full of texture. With such lush visuals, Wit Studio put them to use in service of the story as well. Psychological barriers, doubt, and intimacy are all represented through carefully framed, deliberate shots -- many times without dialogue, as the quiet moments of Hal often speak the loudest. The film opens with Q01, a humanoid robot tasked with consoling and providing therapy to the mentally distraught Kurumi, who has lost all will to live after her boyfriend Hal died tragically in a airplane accident. Awakening in a body that is a perfect replicate of Hal, he is initially met with scorn and rejection from the reclusive Kurumi, who lives in a house overflowing with odd trinkets and handcrafted knickknacks. Looking for clues that could help Kurumi come out of her shell, the narrative sends the two on a journey that teaches them of the simple joys and pains of life, eventually discovering something about themselves and each other that makes a repeated viewing a wholly different and recommended experience. A film about loss is a tough balancing act. Unlike most -- where the death of a character in the beginning of the film is a mere contrivance that gives opportunity for two main protagonists to fall in love and become the dominating focus -- this film never forgets about the deceased, as Hal's role in the past is essential to the current story between our human and robot. The striking contrast between the current Hal, and the Hal that Kurumi once knew, paints a realistic picture of the couple's relationship, full of troubled and complicated moments as well as sweet instances of support and unconditional love. All the subject matter is handled with the proper restraint and maturity that the story needed for it to work, and the result is affecting. Hal is a science fiction story as well as a love story, which seems like an unlikely pairing at first; but the advanced gadgets and technology make sure not to overshadow the grounded events in the story, only revealing itself when necessary. Most items of significance take the shape of things we are familiar with: Rubik's cubes, buttons, giant plastic giraffes. The sci-fi dressing establishes the advanced world they live in, but also reminds the viewer that much of it is still the same world we can relate to and understand. Having a short running time of 60 minutes, the film is devoid of bloat -- but it could leave some viewers wanting more exploration of the themes and characterization. Unfortunately,  it's Kurumi who ends up getting the short stick when it comes to fleshing out the two protagonists by the end of the film upon reflection. While I think that some extra time could have been used to further cement the ideas in Hal and give emotional moments more impact, it's a film that still packs a punch and provides plenty to chew on the more you think about it, even long after you've seen it. Hal is a interesting short film that showcases the talent of Wit Studio, both visually and narratively. It could easily have become a lifeless, shallow vanity project that collapses under its own weight, but Hal managed to overstep that pitfall and executes on making an affecting, bittersweet piece of work that celebrates life. 8.0 – Great. A great example of its genre that everyone should see, regardless of their interest.
Review: Hal photo
"Please, save that child."
Wit Studio is probably best known for their work on the hit anime Attack on Titan, but in stark contrast with high octane action and drama we might associate with Wit, they released a quiet yet ambitious short film OVA, Hal. ...

News photo
News

Production I.G. to adapt Sugiura's Sarasuberi


Studio to team with Colorful's Keichi Hara
Apr 28
// Tim Sheehy
Last week Production I.G. announced plans to team with Colorful's Keiichi Hara for an upcoming animated feature. The film will be an adaption of the acclaimed 80s' historical manga Sarusuberi from the late Hinako Su...

First Impressions: Haikyu!!

Apr 10 // Karen Mead
First, let's get this out of the way "Haikyu!! puts the Jump in Shonen Jump!" There, now you can say you heard it at Jtor first. The premise of this show is that red-haired Hinata loves volleyball, even though he's a bit short. How much does he love volleyball? Imagine how much you love your favorite thing -- be it chocolate fudge cake, walking your golden retriever, or snuggling under a warm blanket with your significant other on a cold night. Well, no matter how much you love that thing, you only love it maybe half as much as Hinata loves spiking volleyballs. Hinata loves spiking volleyballs so much that it arguably crosses the line into mental illness, but hey; to each his own. In fact, Hinata loves volleyball so much that he doesn't let minor details like "My school doesn't even have a boys volleyball team," get in his way. Eventually, a bunch of friends take pity on him (and it is pity) and join together to form a quasi-team, even though they really can't play, and enter a competition -- only to matched up with the tournament favorites in their first match. Serious-business setter Tobio can't believe his school has to play such a sucky team, but he's in for a surprise from Hinata; his reaction to the spunky spiker oscillates between "I hope you die in a fire" and "WHERE have you been all my life!?" and the classic love/hate rivalry is firmly established without a hitch. Of course, this set-up is filled with common sports anime devices: the underdog hero with a huge heart, the snooty rival, the contrast of playing for the love of the game versus playing for glory, etc. But it's not completely rote; for one thing, I appreciated the fact that the old "Just try hard enough and you can win at everything!" trope was trashed pretty much immediately. Plus, Hinata and Tobio's relationship seems to be advancing much faster than usual -- I was expecting it to take 12 episodes before Tobio would even give Hinata the time of day, but one episode in and their rivalry is already well established. The only problem is that I really don't find volleyball that interesting. The show did give me a more favorable impression of it, but my interest level in the sport was at zero, so knocking the score up by +5 didn't really help much. Plus, with the continuing Yowapeda and now Baby Steps, I'm kind of at my maximum level of sports anime consumption -- and Baby Steps, while not as high quality in many respects, has the advantage because tennis is one of the only sports I'm really familiar with. With everything else about the show being really solid, I think the deciding factor for a lot of viewers is going to be whether or not they like volleyball, or if they'd rather watch an anime that covers a different sport; there's certainly enough to choose from these days. Still, if unlike me, you're actually in the market for another athletic anime to round out your viewing schedule, you won't do much better than Haikyu!! It's one of those rare shows that I feel very comfortable recommending, even though I doubt I'll be watching much further.
Haikyu!! photo
Jump like you mean it
If we were ranking these new shows based on animation quality alone, Haikyu!! would be king of the mountain; out of everything I've seen so far this season, only the first episode Captain Earth has better animation...may...

Anime photo
Anime

New two part Gargantia OVA coming fall 2014


Huzzah!
Mar 22
// Elliot Gay
[Update: Added official key visual] We've known for some time that a sequel to 2013's Gen Urobuchi/Kazuya Murata original TV anime, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet, was in the works. At this weekend's AnimeJapan event, it w...
Blood-C photo
Blood-C

Blood-C summed up in 60 seconds


Yep, that looks right
Mar 03
// Pedro Cortes
You may remember that I wasn't too hot on Blood-C or its sequel, The Last Dark. It really suffers from a listless plot that doesn't do much with its interesting lead character. However, it does have interesting moments, many...
Anime photo
Anime

Moribito added to Neon Alley's mid-season schedule


To begin streaming on January 17th
Jan 08
// Tim Sheehy
Viz Media's streaming network Neon Alley is half way through their fall season of programming. To mark the occasion they'll be adding some new programming to their schedule, starting with the mid-season debut of 2007's M...
Card Captor Sakura photo
Card Captor Sakura

Card Captor Sakura production material books on the way


I want all of them
Dec 11
// Elliot Gay
Card Captor Sakura is one of my top ten favorite anime series of all time. It's charming, heart warming, exciting, and unique in many ways. I personally think it's Clamp's best work. AnimeStyle will be publishing three separa...

Review: Blood C: The Last Dark

Nov 05 // Pedro Cortes
Blood C: The Last Dark [DVD/BD]Studio: Production I.G.Licensed by: FunimationRelease Date: Oct. 22, 2013MSRP: $34:98 [Amazon | RightStuf] Taking place a short time after the rather drastic conclusion of Blood C, The Last Dark begins with Saya’s arrival in Tokyo. All healed up after being shot in the face by Fumito, she’s ready to exact vengeance on the man who turned her life upside down. Unfortunately, it isn’t that simple, as Fumito has managed to escape behind a pair of powerful organizations called Seventh Heaven and Tower. One controls politics in the mortal realm, while the other manipulates things in the realm of demons. Thanks to an encounter with a demon on the subway, Saya hooks up with a different group called SIRRUT. These young hackers are trying to uncover why Seventh Heaven has convinced the Tokyo government to institute a curfew for those under 21, which happens to connect with Saya’s search for Fumito. Kuroto, the money man behind SIRRUT, has a pretty big grudge against Fumito, so he's willing to help Saya find the traitorous bastard. In the end, there’s death, betrayal, a whole lot of blood and Saya gets her revenge...sort of. See, there’s the thing. Saya does get her revenge in so far as justice is delivered to all appropriate parties. However, there’s little satisfaction for the viewer in any of it. For one, the main recipient of said revenge hasn't been around long enough to make any sort of impact, and the way he's dealt with is underwhelming. Then, there’s Fumito, who explains his actions by saying he fell in love with Saya. Now, there could be a place for a creepy, obsessive love that consumed both the villain, his family and the organizations that he manipulated. That would actually be pretty neat. The thing is, that’s not how it plays out. It comes off as a tragic passion that wasn’t meant to be, one that ends with a confession near death. It’s weak, played out and boring. Done correctly, it could've been a solid ending and Saya’s abrupt exit afterwards would made sense. Instead, it peters out, like a sparkler dipped in cup of water. Besides the problems with the story in general, The Last Dark isn’t a bad flick. It looks fantastic, with Production I.G. delivering on the animation and backgrounds. The acting is solid, with Nana Mizuki depicting a bitter, angry Saya on the war path. The members of SIRRUT are pretty forgettable, but at least they don’t wear at the nerves. Mana’s missing father provides a decent amount of pathos, though a lack of time with her (and the way it neatly wraps up) keeps it from having any lasting impact. I was also surprised to find that there are several CLAMP cameos sprinkled throughout the film. There are several Mokonas, as well as an important character from one of their older works that acts as a deus ex machina. I remember from the show that there were hints to his existence, but I was still surprised to see Saya and Mana visit him. Does this mean that Blood C is set in the Blood world or in the CLAMP world? You know what? Never mind. Thinking about it makes my head hurt. I was also a bit disappointed by the lack of action scenes. Based on the show, I was expecting there to be more demon slicing, but I didn’t get that. I got one lone blood-sucker getting shanked in the opening, one truly creepy…thing that Saya fights in the middle, a very quick dog-ish demon and a huge beast at the end of the flick. This is probably a bigger issue for me considering how abrupt and unsatisfying the conclusion was, so keep that in mind. I was also surprised at the lack of collateral damage. When you look back at the slaughter that was the final episode of the show, this movie is positively tame by comparison. If this is indeed the last note for Blood C, it's not a very good one on which to exit. While pretty and decently entertaining, it does little to make up for the deficiencies of the show the preceded it. There are no revelations about Saya’s past, and few hints to her future. Production I.G. had one last chance to redeem this series and they ultimately failed; it’s a disappointing end to something that had potential.   5.0 – Average. This one’s just “okay”. It has many flaws, and just couldn’t follow through on its intentions or had ones that were simply too narrow to warrant consideration. Some will still enjoy it, but should temper their expectations, or perhaps just opt to pass. Watch more trailers and read more reviews before you decide.
Review photo
Last chance for redemption
One of my largest criticisms in my review of Blood C was that it had no definitive ending. Yes, there was a resolution involving most of the characters in town, but it was clear that the show was a 12-episode precursor to the...

Blood C photo
Blood C

Blood C receives animation award


Well, the animation WAS pretty good
Oct 22
// Pedro Cortes
While it isn't a perfect show, Blood C is an alright horror show that looks and sounds solid. It seems that other publications agreed, as the 12 episode program was awarded the 2013 Reaper Award for Best Animation. Presented ...
Ghost in the Shell ARISE photo
Ghost in the Shell ARISE

Ghost in the Shell ARISE border 2: Ghost Whispers trailer


Explosions, gun play, and lots of CG
Oct 18
// Elliot Gay
While not without problems, I enjoyed the first entry of Ghost in the Shell ARISE.  I've always been a big GitS fan, and though ARISE made some odd changes (voice actors, character designs), on the whole it felt like a ...
Psycho-Pass photo
Psycho-Pass

Psycho-Pass will continue!


Maybe Shinya's hair will get messy?
Sep 09
// Hiroko Yamamura
One of my highlights of this past year was definitely the gritty sci-fi series, Psycho-Pass. The Production I.G. hit brought a lot of Western sensibility as well as some lovely gory moments to the mysterious show. While thin...
Psycho-Pass 0 photo
Psycho-Pass 0

Listen closely to Psycho-Pass 0


Sounds like fun!
Aug 05
// Hiroko Yamamura
I never really got into audio books. I tried to use them when cramming in college, but would always find myself skipping tracks to something more interesting. If there is any sure fire way to get to sleep, try playing an aud...
Kick-Heart photo
Kick-Heart

Kick-Heart gets an award kicked its way


Definitely not a kick-back
Jul 30
// Josh Tolentino
Who says good things don't get recognized in today's society, eh? A definite Good Thing, Kick-Heart, the Kickstarter-funded pro-wrestling anime affair from Masaaki Yuasa and Production I.G., has just gotten the nod from New ...

Friday Night Fights: Grace vs Momo

Jul 19 // Salvador GRodiles
Friday Night Fights photo
Squirrel Battle!
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! The crowd was roaring last week, and kicks were flying all over the place! Chun-Li and Chie were both decimating the J-tor Arena as their foots clashed gloriously. As the tide of victory was goin...

TRIGGER Kickstarter photo
Studio TRIGGER knocks their KS goal out of the park.
In less than six hours, TRIGGER reached the goal of $150,000 on their Little Witch Academia 2 Kickstarter project. While this certainly doesn't break any KS records, it is nonetheless a huge victory for fans of animation and ...

Yamato 2199 Dub photo
Yamato 2199 Dub

AX '13: Yamato 2199 getting English dub


We Star Blazers now
Jul 07
// Josh Tolentino
Hey, remember Star Blazers, the English incarnation of Space Battleship Yamato? Well, it's back! Sort of. Production I.G. and its partners are apparently opting to take advantage of Star Blazers' greater recognition in the w...

Final Impressions: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Jul 07 // Elliot Gay
While the final episode of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet wasn't as explosively crowd pleasing as episode 12, it still delivered plenty of action. Chamber's battle against Striker, despite primarily using CG to render the combatants, was filled with dynamic choreography and mid-air posing. Animator Yoshimichi Kameda got to put his skills on display again, with some fantastic effects, posing, and layout work. Specifically, I found the point at which Striker was pulling Chamber through the sky via cable to have a really unique sense of spacing and speed. There was some off-model art and animation present, but much like the rest of the series, it was kept to a minimum. This was a good looking finale. The real focus of the episode however was on Ledo and his journey coming full circle. At the start of Gargantia, we were introduced to a military man who thought through things logically rather than emotionally. He was just a cog in the machine, ready and willing to carry out orders without needing an explanation. Ledo's life on the Gargantia, episode by episode, caused him to slowly make strides toward understand Amy and her people. By the time he decides to accompany Pinion to kill the whale squids, he's doing the wrong thing, but for what he believes are the right reasons. Ledo is no longer killing the creatures out of loyalty to his higher ups. He's doing the dirty deed because he wants to protect the Gargantia, Amy, and all of the people he's come to know over his time on Earth.  The straw that breaks the camel's back of course is the realization that the whale squids are just another evolutionary path for humanity. The entire conflict that Ledo had built his very existence upon, that had taken his brother from him, was just another chapter in the long history of humanity and war. While this isn't enough to crush his loyalty completely, it does cause him to finally take a step back and rethink everything he thought he knew. Of course, the reappearance of commander Kugel, in a Heart of Darkness-like twist, complicates things further. Despite his internal struggle, when faced with his old commanding officer, Ledo ends up blindly following orders. Or at least that was what Striker had assumed would happen. At the end of the day though, Gargantia's entire narrative focus has always been on Ledo and whether or not he'd be able to make the right decision. After witnessing a group of innocent people get murdered by the system he was born and raised in, he realizes that, commanding officer or not, Kugel's way of thinking is unnecessary in this new world. Ledo finally understandss that there's no reason to force that life on the people of Earth; they don't need it, nor do they want it. This comes full circle when he stands against Striker in a bid to save Pinion's people and protect the Gargantia, even if it means his own death. Amy of course factors into this as the singular person who reached out to Ledo when he was nothing more than a foreign presence. She showed him unnecessary kindness, and a desire to sincerely help him find a way when there was arguably no benefit to doing so (in her case). Ledo breaking into tears is a clear reflection of regret as much as it's his sadness overflowing; he regrets not being able to be with Amy. Earlier in the episode he claims that he doesn't belong on Earth, with the people of Gargantia, but by the end, he essentially admits that even he doesn't really believe that. Does it matter that Ledo didn't deal the decisive final blow? Not really. It was never about Ledo sticking it to the man. It was about him coming to grips with himself, his new life, and what he wanted to do. As for Chamber, much in the way that Striker embodied the will of her master, Chamber also grew with his pilot. He recognizes that his presence is no longer required, and does the logical thing to the very end.  Gargantia's story doesn't doing anything special or unique, but it makes up for that through its consistency and the clearness of its main arc. I would have loved to spend more time with the supporting cast; what we did get was interesting and a lot of fun. I also would have been perfectly satisfied with a more slice of life approach as well. As a 13 episode series however, I feel like Gargantia accomplished what it set out to do, even if it perhaps stretched itself a little too thin. Murata has proven himself to be a talented new director, and I personally can't wait to see what he tackles next.  Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is the kind of show that I feel comfortable recommending to people who don't watch anime all that much. It's brief, it's to the point, and goddamn does it look great.
FI: Gargantia photo
It's like Water World, except not really.
Full Metal Alchemist: Sacred Star of Milos was a much better film than anybody ever expected it to be. Kazuya Murata's first animated feature, Milos was a beautiful looking feature that felt like a substantial side story in t...

Genshiken trailer photo
Genshiken trailer

It's almost time to see our Genshiken pals again!


This summer best not disappoint!
Jun 26
// Hiroko Yamamura
All members of The Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture please stand up! It seems like the wait has been forever, but Genshiken: Second Season is almost upon us! The always amazing Production I.G. are running the s...
GITS Arise preview photo
GITS Arise preview

The first 8 minutes of Ghost in the Shell Arise rise up


Or should I say 'arise'?
Jun 14
// Josh Tolentino
Hankering for another dose of Ghost in the Shell and schlocky Microsoft Surface promos aren't enough to do the job? Bandai and Production IG have just the thing for you! How about eight full minutes of Ghost in the Shell Ari...

Review: Blood-C

May 21 // Pedro Cortes
Blood C: Complete Series (Blu-ray/DVD Combo)Studio: Production IGLicensed by FunimationRelease Date: Jan 22, 2012MSRP: $65.98 For detailed descriptions , you can check out the Annotated Anime from the time, as well as my Final Impressions. In short, Blood C is about a high school girl named Saya, who hunts down and kills blood thirsty demons called Aged Ones in her small town. Besides the demon slaying, Saya has to maintain an otherwise normal life. However, things start to not add up, including some Aged Ones that seem to recognize her…and people in the town don't exactly act normal…and people that should be dead reappear. Hmm, conspiracy is a foot!  Rewatching Blood C did little to change my over all opinion of the show. There are still some serious pacing issues and the final surprise seems to come from nowhere. Yeah, it was a great punch in the gut, but it would've been better if the seeds for betrayal sprouted earlier. That said, when Blood C is at it's best, it's a bloody good time. Gory fights with an attractive girl slicing and dicing demons? That's all I really ask from in this world. Oh, and that last episode still makes as big as an impact as it did the first time I saw it. Due to the fact that this release is uncensored, it's worse than before. The squeamish might not enjoy certain parts of this show. While the violence of the last episode still makes an impact, the poor ending also still irritates. To find out what Saya does after she discovers what's going on, you're going to need to watch the Blood C movie.   While Blood C doesn't quite satisfy with its story, it does well enough in a few places. I found the show to look fantastic. The city looks beautiful as Saya walks between her home and school, with tons of bright colors and vibrant life. On top of that, I still feel that CLAMP's character design fits this world and, to a certain extent, adds a certain dissonance with the blood and gore. The music is also suitably gentle while Saya does her day job and tense while she fights the Aged Ones. Of the many problems that exist in Blood C, technical issues are not one of them.  In terms of acting, Blood C isn't a particularly great series for any actor. Nana Mizuki, Saya's seiyuu, has to do most of the heavy lifting and she does a serviceable job. However, the rest of the cast is pretty weak. The only exception is during the final two episodes, where some of the actors get a chance to switch things up. On the dub side of things, the acting is on par, if not better than the original. Fans of either format will be pleased. There are also two commentaries with members of the English cast and crew, one for episode six and the other for episode 12. It's fun to hear their banter during some rather serious moments, though I'd recommend waiting until you've finished the show before listening. Overall, I'd say that Blood C is a good show that gets shackled by pacing issues. While the particular things that get introduced during the slow bits of the show pay off in the end, it makes the whole show drag and feel way too long. However, those with patience will find some good in all of this. Not only that, but the music and animation are well done and make good use of high def set ups. Fans of CLAMP, horror and things of a general messed up nature would likely enjoy Blood C, though be aware that a movie is needed to finish the whole story. Score: 6.5 - Okay. (6’s are flawed, but still enjoyable. These titles may not have attempted to do anything special or interesting, but they are nonetheless enjoyable. These typically make great rental fodder or bargain grab.)
Blood-C Review photo
More claret than your local winery
When I watched Blood C in Summer of 2011, I thought it was a show that had a lot of promise. It started out with the distinct feeling that something wasn't right in an idyllic town that was being pressed upon by nightmarish b...

GitS: ARISE trailer photo
GitS: ARISE trailer

Ghost in the Shell: ARISE gets a dramatic trailer


This is a much better look at the new GitS.
May 11
// Elliot Gay
Despite some odd design choices, I'm actually really looking forward to the upcoming Ghost in the Shell: ARISE OVAs. I've been a huge fan of the franchise since I was a kid, and I was thrilled to here we'd be getting mo...
Friday Night Fights photo
A showdown within a showdown.
*ding, ding, ding* It's Over! Love Machine tried to absorb Diaboromon with all of his might, but he couldn't keep up with his multiplication ability. That said, Diaboromon finishes Love Machine off with a barrage of...

Attack on Titan piano photo
Attack on Titan piano

Check out this cool piano cover of Attack on Titan's OP


This is really, really awesome.
Apr 15
// Elliot Gay
It's not secret that I'm in love with Attack on Titan's opening theme, Guren no Yumiya (Linked Horizon). After discovering group leader Revo through Bravely Default's amazing soundtrack, I've been devouring anything the man ...

First Impressions: Attack on Titan

Apr 13 // Elliot Gay
Mankind has been pushed to the brink of annihilation by giant humanoid creatures referred to as Titans. Nobody knows where these beasts came from or why they're here. Their existence is shrouded in mystery, and as humanity's numbers continue to dwindle, the truth seems to grow more and more distant. For hundreds of years, mankind has lived behind towering walls built to protect them from the threat of the Titans. It's been a century since the walls were last breached, and the citizens have grown complacent. The city guard drinks while they're on duty, and few people seem concerned with trying to venture out into the world. Young Eren isn't content with the way things are going. He wants to become part of the Survey Corps; the soldiers who explore the outside world in an effort to defeat the Titans once and for all. His sister, Mikasa, thinks he's crazy for wanting to leave behind the safety of the walls just to get himself killed. Even Eren's best friend, a weak boy named Armin, knows that even though it's just a matter of time before humanity is annihilated, it's too dangerous to leave the city. Sadly, it looks like mankind's final days are closer than anybody could have expected; an enormous Titan appears and makes a hole in the wall. With smaller monsters pouring into the city unchecked, the citizens are thrown in a state of panic. A series of explosions send debris flying into homes across the area, and Eren rushes home, fearing the worst. He finds his mother trapped under the wreckage of their house, her legs crushed underneath the wood. Mikasa and Eren try to pull their mother free but to no avail; a Titan notices them. Hannes, one of the city guard, arrives to save the day, but is so overcome by his fear of the monsters that he turns back and grabs both of the children. Eren's mother, in her last moments, begs Hannes to save her children. He complies, leaving her to a grisly fate. Mikasa and Eren watch from afar as their mother is crushed and eaten by a Titan. Adapted from Hajime Isayama's manga of the same name, Attack on Titan comes out of the gate and hits hard. The opening scene, a sequence in which the Survey Corps prepare to engage a Titan in combat, is exciting and stylish. The seemingly harmless beast slowly walks toward them, leading one to believe that there's no way the heroes won't come out on top. The camera swings from soldier to soldier as they demonstrate their acrobatic moves, rain constantly falling across the screen. CG animation is used to better allow the camera to move through space. The whole lasts about a minute, but stands as an exciting promise of things to come. Wit Studio, with support from Production I.G, has already set the bar extremely high.  The rest of Attack on Titan's opening episode serves as a set up, introducing us to humanity's last stronghold, and the people who live there. Characters are drawn with dark, thick lines that do an admirable job of adapting the original manga's look, while cleaning up some of the messier artwork from Isayama's early chapters. With Death Note's Tetsuro Araki on directorial duty, a lot of care is taken to make sure even scenes of dialogue are shot with energy and gusto. The reaction shots are plentiful here, but feel appropriate given the subject matter. The cinematography and visual aesthetic reminded me a lot of Toho's Showa-era special effects films. The Titans have a fantastic sense of scale and the art design is dripping with atmosphere. A lot of the background art is beautiful; the gorgeous hillsides of the first half of the episode contrast nicely to the inner city of the second half. Hiroyuki Sawano (Gundam Unicorn) is on music duty, and rather than populate the first episode with bombastic themes, he plays with more ominous tunes that create a sense of dread. His work on Gundam Unicorn has been spectacular so far, and if this first episode is any indication, we're in for a treat.  I came into Attack on Titan with cautious optimism. Wit Studio is a fairly unproven force, and Production I.G has been hit or miss as of late. There's still plenty of time for it to collapse on itself, but in the very least, Attack on Titan's first episode shows tremendous promise. If Wit Studio can manage its budget properly, we could be looking at the best action series of the season. [You can catch Attack on Titan over at Crunchyroll]
FI: Attack on Titan photo
A bloody good time.
Attack on Titan has the best opening theme of the season.  There, I said it. Linked Horizon's Guren no Yumiya is a quick moving, almost mesmerizing theme that sets the pace for the rest of the first episode. The visuals ...


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