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Manga Info

Mangaka: Hajime Isayama
Genre: Shonen Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: 10+ Volumes (Ongoing)
Publisher: Kodansha
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+ Tackles some complex themes
– The characters seem limited in their characterizations
– The art is not as rich as the script

Public Rating

Our Rating

Score of 3.5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5

Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) Review

Written by: Frank Chavez on 4/24/2013


Originally published in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine beginning in 2009, Shingeki no Kyojin or Attack on Titan combines elements of kaiju or giant monster movies such as Godzilla and medieval fantasy stories such as The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. It follows the adventures of Eren Yeager and his adopted sister Mikasa as they deal with the aftermath of the destruction of their village by hideous giant humanoids called Titans. As he struggles against these monsters, he discovers his own strange powers, investigates the mysteries surrounding the Titans, the giant walls that protect the cities and his own origin.


Shingeki no Kyojin or Attack on Titan is a solid and overall fun read. Author and illustrator Hajime Isayama quickly establishes the main premise of his story. In the far future, humanity has been driven to near extinction by the human-eating Titans. The remnant of humanity huddles behind a series of 50 meter walls that have kept them safe from the Titans for 100 years. However, the century of peace has made humans complacent, leaving them vulnerable to an attack. As the story begins, the Titans emerge from the forest bigger and more ferocious than ever and breach the first wall in a devastating attack. During the attack, Eren and Mikasa' s mother is killed and their father disappears. As they escape the village by the skin of their teeth, Eren in fairly typical shonen manga fashion vows revenge.

Hajime Isayama's script is the strongest part of Shingeki no Kyojin. It is rich with symbolism (even the names are symbolic) and explores a wide variety of themes such as complacency, aggression, and. the use of technology. In general, Hajime explores his themes through contrast. For example, the walls have protected the people so long, that people believe they will always do so. This idea is encountered early when Eren encounters a squadron of guards relieving their boredom by getting drunk. This complacency is contrasted with the Scouting Legion which is introduced earlier in a battle against a Titan. The people's complacency is further contrasted against Eren's eagerness to join the Scouting Legion and investigate the outside world and his willingness to fight some bullies attacking his friend Armin. During the attack Armin is called a “heretic” because he points out the wall won't always protect the town. Haime explores the other themes in more or less the same way, contrasting different characters and elements, throughout the series.

However, as solid as the script is, it does have its weaknesses. One of the biggest weaknesses is the characterization. Most of the characters seem defined by just a few characteristics. Eren is intense and aggresive, Mikasa is annoyingly calm but protective of Eren; Armin is intelligent, studious and a frightened weakling. Real people are more nuanced than that. Someone will probably argue that it's shonen manga and the characters in shonen manga are frequently limited in the range of emotions they display. However, depicting such limited characters quickly becomes monotonous and does a disservice to the target demographic of shonen manga. When young readers reach about 12 or 13, they are generally ready for more complex characters than Dick and Jane. Hajime tackles some complex themes in this series, it would be better served by equally complex characters.

Visually Hajime's art is solid but not spectacular and is the weakest part of the manga, never quite achieving the same depth as the script. Hajime's illustrates the story in a fairly standard shonen style. His art features the handsome young men and pretty girls that readers expect from shonen manga. The only real attempt at giving a character an interesting feature is the design of Eren's eyes. Although drawn the same size and shape as the typical shonen “saucer” eyes, Hajime draws them with tiny pupils that give Eren a wild-eyed, almost crazy appearance perfectly suited to his intense personality. The place where Hajime excels in his depiction of the unique 3-D fighting maneuvers. Three-D fighting maneuvers are accomplished through the use of specialized grappling guns, hooks and cables. They allow warriors to fight at the same level as the Titans, suspended from walls and running along rooftops. This could have easily looked ridiculous, but Hajime manages to make it look elegant, graceful and the most natural form of locomotion imaginable. The design of the Titans is the most disappointing aspect of Hajime's artwork. As the story's monsters they should look terrifying, instead they mostly look like little more than giant, naked humans. Occasionally Hajime depicts a so-called colossal Titan. Those look skinless cadavers, like the “Visible Man” model. Although that seems gross, it's not inherently scary. Even the scenes where Titans are eating people are so silly looking, they don't have the effect that Hajime was trying to achieve.


Shingeki no Kyojin is good but not spectacular. Hajime Isayama's solid script is rich with complex themes but dragged down by limited, monotonous characterizations and serviceable but not brilliant art. Overall it is entertaining and a fine way to pass a lazy Sunday afternoon reading comics.

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