There isn't any tension-destroying, mood-killing fanservice.
October 6, 2013 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Kotaku dubbed it one of the shows to watch this season, later said that it was not living up to its potential, and finally proclaimed it "damn good." Its over the top, but really fantastic, soundtrack has spawned a bit of a meme and, of course, it has inspired the requisite minecraft recreation. After all of that, though, and with the anime's first series coming to an end recently, one of the most high comments that can be paid to the series thus far is that it handles gender in a way that is head and shoulders above many other series.
posted by sendai sleep master (38 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not that intrigued by the synopsis but I'll most definitely check it out. I have pretty much skipped watching anime during the two last years so any other recommendations are greatly appreciated.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:02 PM on October 6, 2013


I used to watch a lot of anime but pretty much stopped when even otherwise good shows wouldn't lay off with the fanservice. Attack on Titan was refreshing because I didn't even notice the female characters, which like the last link says doesn't mean they aren't there or aren't vital to the show but that the fact that characters have cartoon boobs is often an integral part of the plot.

My favorite opening credits mashups involve Gordon Ramsay and Animal Crossing. Also my favorite bit of fanart ever involves a character named Armin.
posted by edeezy at 2:05 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have mixed feelings seeing that the the anime in question was Shingeki no Kyojin, since the main female character is characterized by her unfailing devotion and loyalty to the main male character, holds him as a love interest, etc. And this is a common criticism I've seen of portrayals of female anime characters, is that they're always, in some way or another, dependent on the male, or in love with them, and so on. (I forget the word, but there's some term that describes the rationale behind a lot of these decisions. The male, otaku viewer can self-insert them-self into the main character, and if there is or are female character(s) in love with them, this just becomes another sort of pandering or fanservice.)

On the other hand, yes, this show handles female characters better than other shows because, as the article writes, there are no random panty shots or clothes ripping sequences. Hurrah for progress!
posted by SollosQ at 2:07 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do wish it was a little less of a shounen fighting show, where battles are stretched out more than they have to be, but overall, I've enjoyed it. I hadn't expected to, since it's a show grounded in "battles fought with obviously nonsensical tech."

I haven't seen may of the reviews, though, mention the show's intense cynicism. It offers a pretty harsh judgement on people. So many people are such depicted as weak and evil, or stupid and greedy, and even our "heros" aren't remotely emotionally healthy.

I think the way it manages to avoid the "strong female character" trap, is that really, "strong" is only one fragment of their character. Mikasa is strong, and ultra-competent, but it's just as important that she's emotionally closed off, and obsessive, and sometimes bitter.

Sure, Mikasa has Eren for a love interest, which is sort of cliche, but the show certainly doesn't hold that out as the only motivation for women. Zoe, the mad scientist certainly isn't, and God only knows what motivates Annie.

Another random point I think is interesting is that it's less (so far) the story of "Eren," than of "this group of fighters." I'm glad of that, because it's really tough, for me at least, to identify with Eren all that much. I had thought earlier they were going to make him into too much the "shining, always right" type, and they managed to turn that expectation on its head, but it's still much more of an ensemble show than I thought it would be.
posted by tyllwin at 2:13 PM on October 6, 2013


tyllwin: "I haven't seen may of the reviews, though, mention the show's intense cynicism. It offers a pretty harsh judgement on people. So many people are such depicted as weak and evil, or stupid and greedy, and even our "heros" aren't remotely emotionally healthy. "

Honestly that's one of the things I've found most refreshing about it. The hero character keeps getting his manly rage on and then basically flails about while other characters get on with doing actually useful stuff (and dying).
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:15 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also (again, only having watched the anime) that thus far Mikasa has as much of a older sister relationship with Eren as much as she has romantic feelings.

In the second to last episode and in a couple of other points Mikasa's cynicism towards the world she lives in seems to be far more unfailing than her devotion to Eren. She loves him but a large part of that love comes from his place as a partner in her philosophy of the world being a cruel place that has to be overcome.

When Eren flags in this dog eat dog philosophy Mikasa is far more likely to give him shit and a boot in the back then a soothing "my poor man" back-rub.
posted by sendai sleep master at 2:18 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Guren no Yumiya treatment looks good on Berserk (which will have to be updated after they can get footage from the third OVA, because *eclipse*) and Madoka Magica.

I'm glad of that, because it's really tough, for me at least, to identify with Eren all that much.

Eren can be so deranged at times, it's almost a parody of the Determinator strain of shonen hero. I kind of like that, even if it impairs identification with him.
posted by sukeban at 2:20 PM on October 6, 2013


Also, in my opinion, the show's best character is Jean. By all accounts he should be a selfish, self-serving prick, a bully, and probably a narcissist.

The fact is that, in spite of himself, he can't help but look around and see that everyone else is already being those things, or they're being bone-headed cliched "heroes" and he figures, "god damn it! Someone has to be a real human around here!"

His arch from the character we were clearly supposed to think was going to be Eren's rival to being a character who could really be the true protagonist of the show has been a joy.
posted by sendai sleep master at 2:20 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


She loves him but a large part of that love comes from his place as a partner in her philosophy of the world being a cruel place that has to be overcome.

Most of it comes from the fact that Eren saved her from being sold into sexual slavery as a child. The source of her strength then and now all comes back to Eren. Sure, there are a lot of strong female characters in other shows who do have a love interest. But I just don't see a lot of characterization to Mikasa outside of her relation to Eren. Actually, I just don't see much characterization of Mikasa at all. But this is a shounen so go figure.
posted by SollosQ at 2:25 PM on October 6, 2013


Interesting worldbuilding, great fight scenes, but the pacing is off and gets worse as the series progresses.

I do love my chibi skinless titan keychain.
posted by betweenthebars at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there is definitely an argument there, SollosQ. The thing I find interesting about Mikasa is that I think there is this ongoing question of whether she is devoted to Eren or whether she is devoted to the kill or be kill code that they both find themselves adopting after the help each other kill the two men in the woods as kids.

To me, the show, is centrally about where characters fall regarding the 'ol Nietzsche "those who fight monsters..." theory.

Eren pinballs back and forth between wanting to embrace humanity and his own weaknesses or becoming a literal monster in order to do the right thing. Mikasa seems to start out firmly in the "become a monster" camp but you get the idea that even she doesn't think that's a great way to do things. Armin, on the other hand, starts the show firmly in the embrace one's humanity camp and we can slowly see him becoming a bit of Machiavellian strategis, albiet for noble reasons.

Over the course of the first 26 episodes our three characters are given enough time a way from each other that they end the show thus far on fairly different places on that spectrum. This places them at interesting angels as far as their collective friendship is concerned.

This is all to say that I can see the show ending with Mikasa and Armin having to decide whether to kill off Eren. Any show that is ostensibly a shounen but gives me the sense that our characters have such divergent life views ends up seeming like something much more enjoyable to me.


I'll stop hogging my own thread but, as a final word, I will say that the last anime I truly enjoyed was Monster, a decidedly non-shounen show. My one beef with Monster was that our main character was pretty much Jesus Christ levels of saintly. No one comes off as a true Hero in Attack on Titan. I find that immensely refreshing as someone that wants to like animes much more frequently than I find myself actually liking animes.
posted by sendai sleep master at 2:41 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


A quick word of warning for new viewers who are spoiler averse: Even google autocomplete has been known to reveal things. It's a monthly manga, so events that haven't happened in the anime yet are year old news to some parts of the internet, especially the wiki.

Seriously amazing soundtrack (this is definitely the best parody opening video), and one of my new favourite series. It's extremely intense, and manages to avoid undermining that intensity with the usual reassurance in the back of your mind that the shining manly good guy will always win because of friendship. I'd second the idea that it's a almost an ensemble show too - just about every person that shows up is interesting and clearly characterised, and some of the "side" characters steal the show at points (Jean, Levi, Sasha).

I find it a bit weird to call Eren Mikasa's love interest though. To me she's incredibly overprotective because he's vitally important to her, but I don't think she thinks she sees him like that, if you see what I'm thinking.
posted by lucidium at 3:04 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched three episodes of Attack on Titan, was unimpressed, and quit. AoT was a summer season show.

The show to watch this season is Kill la Kill. Directed by Imaishi Hiroyuki and writtten by Nakashima Kazuki, both Gainax alums, who worked on the legendary, perennial fan-favorite Gurren Lagann.

The linked preview doesn't do Kill la Kill justice. Only the first episode is out, but it is... jaw-dropping. Doesn't seem to be on YouTube, doubtless because of IP issues. Crunchyroll has it, but so far only for paid subscribers.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:19 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd really recommend trying a couple more episodes of AoT Slithy_Tove, the first few are mostly set up, so it does get going after that.
posted by lucidium at 3:25 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I find it bizarre that Kill la Kill is being recommended in a thread about anime and fanservice.

Exhibit #1 and Exhibit #2 from the first episode of Kill la Kill. (and there are more exhibits I didn't bother to post.)
posted by SollosQ at 3:35 PM on October 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


Okay, sorry to invade thread about Show A with raving about Show B. That was a mistake. There are many ways to defend Kill la Kill, but I wont derail. I'll just show myself out.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:48 PM on October 6, 2013


For anyone else who is more interested in animation from Japan than genre anime, Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil) has caught my eye for its atypical aesthetics and more down to earth, adult premise. I haven't watched any of it yet, but it's waiting in my queue; it seems like something worth checking out, and adult animation is usually overlooked, so I thought a mention here couldn't hurt.
posted by byanyothername at 3:52 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


It is one hundred percent nightmare fuel for the first five episodes.

Its drops to about thirty percent after that.

I love science horror and the only thing that's freaked me out worse than this show's beginning (to the point where I had to spoil it for myself so I knew it wasn't just 25+ episodes of people dying gruesome deaths) was Charles Stross' new short, "Equoid". Suffice it to say, assume that this story contains just about every trigger imaginable.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:06 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Context: this is a violent, gory manga in which an awful lot of panel space is devoted to people getting gruesomely eaten alive by freaky monsters

Huh.
posted by Yakuman at 6:24 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


The show to watch last season? Shirokuma Cafe. The show to watch before that? Nichijou/My Ordinary Life.

Er, wait. By "to watch" I mean "that I watched." Still both good, though.
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:27 PM on October 6, 2013


Also, to add to the list-of-things-that-are-refreshing in this show: When a character cries "Hakka Palle!" and over-the-tops, he/she is in no way given plot armor.
posted by Slackermagee at 6:28 PM on October 6, 2013


Oh hey! Eisenbeis, who wrote those Kotaku articles, is actually in my D&D group. He'll be glad to know that he's that much more Internet Famous now.

I really enjoy Shingeki no Kyojin. The lack of fan service is directly, and primarily responsible for that. I was a huge, blathering weeaboo anime fan back in my 80s/90s youth, and just got incredibly bitter and disenfranchised when I started paying more attention and realized that no, not every series is as good as Lain, not every movie as good as Akira or GitS. When it dawned on me that the vast majority of anime was just as worthless as most of the dross in any other medium, I packed up my bags and moved on. Shingeki no Kyojin has been the first anime I've really enjoyed or put any serious amount of time into in literally about ten years.

Plus my waifu and I watch it together, so that's nice too. As was noted, it's still got trope issues, but at least the problems are waaaaaaaaaay more low key than in other animes. Interestingly, in Korea, the problem is racial/nationalistic, not sexual.
posted by GoingToShopping at 6:53 PM on October 6, 2013


I can't think of any way to express this thought without spoilers, so seriously, skip ahead if you haven't watched the series yet.



******
During the knuckle-biting wait between watching episode 5 and when episode 8 eventually released, I was hoping to hell that Eren just wouldn't come back. Dead for real. Because how effin' amazing would that have been, to set this character up as the main protag, everything revolves around him, he's obviously the hero, and... whoops, nope. And all the other characters are dealing with that loss throughout the rest of the series. It would have been amazing. It would have been a totally different show, but still...
******
posted by rifflesby at 7:05 PM on October 6, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's funny because my boyfriend and I just got really into this over the weekend. I was actually just trawling through the various opening memes and there are some really great ones
posted by KernalM at 8:04 PM on October 6, 2013


Sorry for the second post, but I do actually have ideas as well as a endless supply of related memes (seriously that didn't even scratch the surface of what's out there.

So I'm just getting to the more out their aspects to the show. This is small but it might be my favorite part of the show, but I really enjoyed how there was pretty much an even gender ratio in the soldier's ranks, just because that isn't really common and all the female characters are equally developed and complicated compared to their male counterparts (specifically thinking of Sasha and Annie- is that her name?).

I had a really hard time with Mikasa at first because she seemed a lot like Lady Cloud (note I say this will next to no knowledge of Final Fantasy past Advent Children) in terms of all emotionally cool and the super fighter, but I sort of like what they do with that.

Personally I've always had a really complicated relationship with anime because I have never been super into it despite majoring in East Asian Studies and being conversant in Japanese but EAS is one of those things where people assume that you must be a serious Otaku. That being said there are some really great shows out there. Granted I only skimmed because there's a lot being said and I'm not totally done so worried about spoilers, but I don't think Madoka's come up and that is one of the serious titians in terms of just stellar anime.
posted by KernalM at 8:23 PM on October 6, 2013


head and shoulders above many other series.

I see what you did there.
posted by maryr at 9:08 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


That said, I didn't get in to the show, at least partially because I really hate Eren.

(The show to watch this summer was absolutely Uchōten Kazoku aka The Eccentric Family. Gorgeous, well plotted, fun, great music, everything. Fewer balls than you'd expect in a series about tanuki too.)
posted by maryr at 9:12 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I should probably finish Madoka. I've got about 5 episodes left. Great stuff, fantastic take on Sailor Moon etc., but it gets stomach-churningly heavy.

Other shows I've been watching on Crunchyroll lately and have been enjoying a lot are:
Hunter x Hunter (basic lighthearted shounen fightin' show)
Yuyushiki (funny highschool girls, in a similar vein to Azumanga Daioh)
Akagi (which I guess is an older show that CR got the rights to? Pretty great for intense gambling action, though I imagine it would be baffling if you're not familiar with the rules of Mahjong)
Phi-Brain (another shounen-type show, except instead of fighting with fists they fight with puzzles. Like, sudoku. Deadly sudoku. They play it totally straight, and it's hilarious.)
Humanity Has Declined (Very hard to explain or even describe. The fact that the episodes are apparently in reverse chronological order doesn't help. It's funny, though. Very cute.)
posted by rifflesby at 9:17 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


...uh, yeah, you should finish Madoka.
posted by maryr at 9:20 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


And Humanity Has Declined had a Metafilter thread, although the bread that wants you to eat it isn't really the most representative bit of the series. The episode where they're trapped in a manga series though....
posted by maryr at 9:21 PM on October 6, 2013


Oh, we're showing videos, now? I see you and raise you...THIS!!!
posted by GoingToShopping at 10:28 PM on October 6, 2013


Slithy_Tove: "I watched three episodes of Attack on Titan, was unimpressed, and quit. AoT was a summer season show.

The show to watch this season is Kill la Kill
"

I'm pretty sure the show to watch this season is GitS: Arise. The rest is just filler to bide time between OVA releases.
posted by pwnguin at 12:43 AM on October 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I should probably finish Madoka. I've got about 5 episodes left. Great stuff, fantastic take on Sailor Moon etc., but it gets stomach-churningly heavy.

I'd like to say it gets lighter, but no, it doesn't. That isn't bad, it's one of my favorite anime ever, and the story just keeps getting better, but even with how bleak it becomes, it is very much worth finishing.

I do like me some AoT, (or SnK), but my favorite two anime of the season were Gensiken Nadaime and Gatchaman Crowds. A lot of the reason for those, besides being good, were that they each had a main character who is a cross dresser, and it was never treated badly like you'd expect. Very refreshing.

The show to watch this season is Kill la Kill"

I think a lot of the criticisms the show is getting are from people who aren't aware of previous shows by the makers before they formed Trigger. I think that is enough to give it time to see if it's just fan service or will turn it on it's head. The art style alone is awesome in my eyes.

I don't know if the show will be good, but Coppelion is gorgeous scenery porn, and was delayed due to being about a reactor causing a large part of Japan to go abandoned. It will be interesting to see which, if any, of the ones this season reach the fervor of Titan.
posted by usagizero at 1:30 AM on October 7, 2013


...Actually, after the AoT anime, you should pick up the AoT manga. As I understand it (I'm only halfway through the anime) there's a big revelation at the end of the anime that is just slightly different in the manga, and the plot picks up from there and goes some strange places.
posted by sukeban at 2:09 AM on October 7, 2013


Finished Madoka, and phwooo, you guys were right. I hadn't gotten to the bit where it was explained why. It really is like Sailor Moon written by Grant Morrison.
posted by rifflesby at 3:51 AM on October 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and if you haven't already you really must listen to the voice actors for Eren, Mikasa and Connie singing the opening.
posted by lucidium at 4:30 AM on October 7, 2013


Mature anime for mature anime experts like myself.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:04 AM on October 7, 2013


Marathoned this after this thread pushed me over the fence. As far as plot, themes, setting, and tone go, it seems to triangulate the midpoint between Berserk's Night of the Eclipse and Claymore's finale.

But really, I just wanted to express my surprise that nobody has yet done a mashup using the already epically mashed up Makka No Chikai. Seems like the right kind of absurd juxtaposition. So I guess I'll have to earmark Shingeki no Old Spice as my favorite, and oddly fitting.
posted by pwnguin at 12:59 AM on October 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


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