Attack on Titan (Japanese: 進撃の巨人 Hepburn: Shingeki no Kyojin, lit. "The Attacker Titan") is a Japanese manga series both written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. It is set in a fantasy world where humanity lives within territories surrounded by three enormous walls that protect them from gigantic man-eating humanoids referred to as Titans.
The series first began in Kodansha's Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine on September 9, 2009, and it has been collected into 28 tankōbon volumes as of April 2019. Attack on Titan has become a critical and commercial success. As of April 2019, the manga has 90 million tankōbon copies in print worldwide (80 million in Japan and 10 million outside of Japan), making it one of the best-selling manga series. It has won several awards, including the Kodansha Manga Award, Micheluzzi Awards, and Harvey Award.
The anime television adaptation, produced by Wit Studio, has also been well received by critics with the first three seasons being met with critical acclaim with praise for its story, animation, music and voice acting, and has proved to be extremely successful in both Japan and the U.S., thus boosting the series' popularity. Although it also gained fame in neighboring Asian countries, political interpretations of the series caused controversies in China and South Korea.
Eren Yeager lives with his foster sister Mikasa Ackerman and best friend Armin Arlert in the town of Shiganshina adjacent to Wall Maria, outermost of three circular walls protecting humanity from man-eating Titans that are said to have killed all other humans one hundred years prior. When Shiganshina and Wall Maria are breached by the Colossal and Armored Titans, invading Titans force humanity to retreat behind Wall Rose with Eren's mother among the casualties. Following the disappearance of his father Grisha, having only hazy memories and a key to their home's cellar, a vengeful Eren enlists in the military along with Mikasa and Armin, swearing to eradicate every last Titan.
Five years later, the three cadet graduates are positioned in the Trost district adjacent to Wall Rose when the Colossal Titan breaches the city gate. During the subsequent Titan invasion, Eren is eaten but survives after creating and controlling a Titan's body which he uses to seal Trost's breach. Following a military tribunal over his abilities, Eren is assigned to the Survey Corps squad under Captain Levi, Mikasa, Armin, and many of their fellow cadets following suit. Previously unaware of his abilities, Eren suspects his father's basement holds answers as the Scouts attempt an expedition to Shiganshina. But it fails due to a Female Titan attempting to abduct Eren, Armin deducing the Titan as their fellow cadet classmate Annie Leonhart who possesses abilities akin to Eren's. After a violent battle with Eren in Stohess that ends in Eren's victory, Annie encases herself in crystal to avoid capture. The collateral damage from the fight reveals massive titans within the walls.
Following the appearance of the Beast Titan behind Wall Rose, Eren is kidnapped by his fellow cadets Reiner Braun and Bertolt Hoover, who reveal themselves as the Titans who compromised Wall Maria. The two Warriors explain that they and Annie were sent to retrieve the titan-controlling "Coordinate" power that Eren possesses. Eren manifests this power during an encounter with the Titan who killed his mother, allowing him and his friends to escape while the rogue Titan Shifter Ymir remains behind. The Scouts are then targeted by a conspiracy led by Rod Reiss and learn their fellow cadet Krista Lenz is Rod's illegitimate daughter Historia Reiss. After Eren and Historia were captured by Kenny Ackerman, Rod reveals how his family maintained the order the King established in the walls until Grisha stole the Founding Titan during Wall Maria's fall. Grisha is revealed to be a Titan Shifter who passed his power to Eren, turning his son into a Titan to devour him. Rod intended Historia to reclaim the Founding Titan from Eren, but she refuses to continue the status quo and chooses to save Eren instead. After Rod transforms himself into a gigantic mindless Titan in desperation, Historia kills her father in the ensuing battle, declaring herself as the new queen and using her new status to give the military authority over government affairs. The events also gave Levi a vial of Titan serum and Eren the ability to harden his Titan form, which the Survey Corps decide to implement in sealing Wall Maria's breach along with their new Thunder Spear weapons.
During the four-year period after the Battle of Shiganshina, Marley engaging a combined offense as conventional anti-Titan weapons are developed, Zeke secretly has his emissary Yelena arrive to Paradis with an envoy from the Hizuru nation who Mikasa's mother is descended from. Zeke proposed passing his Titan power to Historia to help Eren deter foreign invasion until Hizuru modernizes Paradis, the arrangement requiring Historia to sire children to availability of the Founding Titan's power. Eren disapproves of this arrangement and decides to lead an unauthorized infiltration into Marley to extract Zeke. The Warriors fear the military obsolescence may lead to their people's genocide as they work with the influential Willy Tybur, whose family possess the War Hammer Titan, to gain global support for a resumed offensive on Paradis. Tybur holds a rally in the Eldian ghetto of Liberio with foreign dignitaries in attendance, revealing how the Eldian Empire fell was caused by its 145th King and that Eren's actions threaten world peace. Eren confronts Reiner before assassinating Tybur as he openly declares war on Paradis. With the aid of the Survey Corps in the ensuing battle, Eren defeats the War Hammer Titan, steals its power, and extracts Zeke. But on route to Paradis, Eren's friend Sasha Blouse is killed by Gabi Braun, Warrior candidate and Reiner's cousin who stowed away along with her friend Falco Grice.
Eren is detained for insubordination and his friends express doubt in his loyalties to them and Paradis over Zeke, citing Eren killing innocents and being indirectly responsible for Sasha's death. It is revealed that Historia is pregnant, preventing the Corps from immediately passing the Beast Titan to her and forcing them to place Zeke under Levi's watch. Suspected of arranging Historia's pregnancy to prolong Zeke's life, Yelena and her followers are arrested. The military's leaders distrust Eren and plan to relinquish his power following the discovery of his secret correspondence with Zeke and Yelena, prompting nationalist rebels loyal to Eren to assassinate the commander-in-chief. Eren escapes his cell and seeks out Zeke alongside his Yeagerist supporters. Meanwhile, the Warriors infiltrate Paradis in advance of a multinational counterattack against the island. Zeke tries to escape from Levi but is defeated and captured, remaining his past as a Warrior trainee under the mentorship of Tom Xaver, an Eldian scientist and the previous holder of the Beast Titan. Levi transports him to somewhere, during which a Thunder Spear blast unexpectedly leaving both of them mortally wounded. But Zeke is saved by a mysterious titan and found by Floch and the Yeagerists, while Hange escapes with Levi's motionless body by jumping into a river. It also revealed that wine imported from Marley to Paradis contains Zeke's spinal fluid, turning those drank the tainted wine into Titans that act on Zeke's command. Realizing they are at the mercy of Zeke and the Yeagerists, Pixis orders his troops to stand down.
At the same time, Gabi and Falco escape their holding area and unknowingly reached Sasha's home. There, they meet a girl, Kaya, whom Sasha had saved from a Titan four years ago; the girl was then adopted by Sasha's family. They go to a restaurant run by Nicolo, a Marylean soldier who was captured a year after the Shiganshina battle. Nicolo became a chef and made food which was enjoyed by Sasha and the others. Nicolo realizes Gabi ended Sasha's life, and he furiously attacks her with a wine bottle. However, Falco jumps in the way and saves Gabi, with him taking the full force of the bottle. Falco falls unconscious, while Gabi is taken to the Braus family, where they are informed of her role in Sasha's death. Sasha's father forgives Gabi, stating that Sasha was raised as a hunter, and that the world was one big forest full of wild animals, meaning that Sasha knew the consequences of war. As Kaya is restrained from attacking Gabi in anger, Nicolo informs Hange to wash Falco's mouth, because the wine bottle that injured him contained Zeke's spinal fluid.
Eren makes his way to the restaurant and meets with Gabi, Mikasa and Armin. He explains that he knows of the Ackerman clan and how they can manifest Titan powers even though they cannot transform. He states that the Ackermans need a host, or a subject to protect. He states that that Ackermans can experience severe headaches, a sign that their 'real self' is resisting their genetic need to protect their host, something Mikasa has experienced before. Eren states that the real Mikasa disappeared the day he saved her from human traffickers. He derisively calls Mikasa a slave, stating that he always hated her. Enraged, Armin attacks Eren, only to be stopped and slammed onto the table by a surprised Mikasa, proving Eren's point. Eren effortlessly beats up Armin, and then orders him, Mikasa, and Gabi to be taken to Shiganshina and imprisoned. Armin says Eren is the real slave, following Zeke seemingly without question. Jean and Connie had also been imprisoned on the orders of Floch, who has left Survey Corps soldier and is now loyal to the Yeagerists. Floch reveals that he knew of the tainted wine all along. However, when Eren enters Gabi's cell to ask her to help make contact with Marley, he is suddenly ambushed and held at gunpoint by Pieck, the Cart Titan. Eren calls her bluff, however, and in their subsequent conversation, Pieck claims to switch sides, and that she will help him find the other Warriors who have infiltrated Paradis. However, she leads Eren into a trap, and he is attacked by Porco Galliard, the Jaw Titan. As Eren transforms and fights off the attack, Marleyan airships arrive with parachute regiments, and he realizes that Reiner is leading the attack. While Eren fights Porco, Yelena and the Yeagerists manage to make contact with him. Eren ignores her and keeps fighting. Reiner joins the battle and starts to gain the upper hand, with Eren being shot by an anti-Titan weapon. However, Eren is saved by Zeke, who transforms into the Beast Titan.
Hajime Isayama created a 65-page one-shot version of Attack on Titan in 2006. Originally, he also offered his work to the Weekly Shōnen Jump department at Shueisha, where he was advised to modify his style and story to be more suitable for Jump. He declined and instead decided to take it to the Weekly Shōnen Magazine department at Kodansha. Before serialization began in 2009, he had already thought of ideas for twists, although they are fleshed out as the series progresses. The author initially based the scenery in the manga on that of his hometown of Hita, Ōita, which is surrounded by mountains.
While working at an internet cafe, Isayama encountered a customer who grabbed him by the collar. It was this incident that showed him "the fear of meeting a person I can't communicate with," which is the feeling that he conveys through the Titans. When designing the appearances of the Titans, he uses several models such as martial artist Yushin Okami for Eren Yeager's Titan form as well as Brock Lesnar for the Armored Titan. George Wada, the anime's producer, stated that the "Wall of Fear" was influenced by the isolated and enclosed nature of Japanese culture. He also said that the inner feelings of every individual is one of the series' main influences. Isayama later would confirm that Attack on Titan was inspired in part by Muv-Luv Alternative, the second visual novel in the Muv-Luv visual novel series.
Isayama estimated his basic monthly timeline as one week to storyboard and three weeks to actually draw the chapter. The story is planned out in advance, even marking down in which collected volumes a specific "truth" will be revealed. In September 2013, he stated that he was aiming to end the series in 20 collected volumes. Originally, Isayama planned to give the series a tragic conclusion similar to that of the film adaptation of Stephen King's The Mist, where every character dies. However, positive response to the manga and anime has caused the author to contemplate changing the ending due to the impact it could have on fans.
In November 2018, the Japanese documentary program Jōnetsu Tairiku aired an episode about Isayama's struggles to complete the manga, in which he confirmed that Attack on Titan has entered its final story arc.
The series has gained a strong popularity not only in Japan, but also throughout the world. For instance, coverage of the anime appeared on the front page of the Hong Kong free newspaper am730 on May 27, 2013, concerning its popularity within Hong Kong as well as in Mainland China and Taiwan. The series also attracted criticism: the South Korean Electronic Times magazine accused Attack on Titan of having a militaristic message that serves Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe's political leanings, while the series also resonated with Hong Kong youths who saw the invading Titans as a metaphor for Mainland China. Hong Kong media commentator Wong Yeung-tat praised Isayama's style and the versatility of Attack on Titan's setting, which opens itself to readers' various interpretations. In 2013, after media linked to a 2010 blog post by Isayama indicating that the design of the character Dot Pixis was based on the Imperial Japanese General Akiyama Yoshifuru, an Internet flame war about the general's war record (e.g. allowing the Port Arthur massacre to occur) ensued on his blog and included death threats to the author. As many of the threats written in Japanese had grammatical errors, it is believed that they were written by non-native speakers of Japanese.
TagsBased on a NovelActionFantasyDramaSuperpowersMature ThemesViolenceWarMysteryRomance
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