Giants eating people—you know you’re interested. This is recent anime phenomenon Attack on Titan in a nutshell. Created by manga artists Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan is beloved for its rich narrative, compelling characters and, obviously, its premise. Like, is it really surprising that the Attack on Titan bug has taken over America, a country infatuated with apocalyptic doom and hopelessness? We have movies where a futuristic and Utopian America is the result of an annual event in which all criminal activity is legal for a 12-hour period, i.e. The Purge. And one of most the most watched TV show involves a group of people trying to survive in a world overrun by zombies. This isn’t a critique more so than it is an observation: We like contemplating the end.
As I binge watched all 25 episodes of Attack on Titan, currently on Netflix, during the nocturnal hours of a Thursday night, I did not want for poignant epiphanies. Sure, it’s cynical to think that technology—specifically the Internet—will turn America into a country devoid of physical interaction between people and the world they inhabit. But that’s neither here nor there. You came here to read about a dude’s binge-watching experience with one of the most popular anime series to come out in recent history. It’s time to super Ti(tan) me.
For context, here are some basics about the series:
The year is 845.
Eren is the main character; Mikasa and Armin are his friends. The three of them, along with many of the other characters, are teenagers. There are three walled cities where the story unfolds: Wall Maria, Wall Rose, and Wall Sina. The series begins in Wall Maria’s Shiganshina District, and transitions over to Wall Rose’s Trost and Karanese Districts in later episodes. Titans vary between 3 and 15 meters in height, although there are some exceptions. They can regenerate (the only way to kill them is by cutting the back of their necks), are unintelligent, and lack reproductive organs. Oh, and they almost led to the extinction of the human race.
3D Maneuver Gear grants our heroes great mobility when fighting the Titans. The gear allows the user to fight in a 3D space instead of a 2D one. The sophistication of this device only adds to the confusion of the time period the show occurs in. Japan, amirite!?
Let the marathon begin:
12:00 a.m.: The Survey Corps, who are burdened with the responsibility of reclaiming territories from the Titans, return from a dangerous and unsuccessful expedition. Practically every Survey Corps member is covered in blood and/or bandages. An older woman confronts a man who assumes to be one of the Survey Corps leaders and asks about her son, Moses. The leader tells another guy a part of the Survey Corps to “go get it.” Turns out “it” is one of Moses’s arms. Only several minutes in and I’m already wishing I had clicked on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic instead. (My little sister and I share our grandmother’s Netflix account.)
12:20 a.m.: Eren watches his mother get eaten by a Titan. I pause the stream to tell one of my friends (who suggested I watch Attack on Titan) that I just watched "the scene." He replies with the following: “:’( :’( :’( :’( It gets worse :)”
2:15 a.m.: The survival-to-death ratio is so disproportionate that it’s impossible to not empathize with the townspeople’s hopelessness. As I type this, one person just got swallowed by a Titan; another, smacked; and Eren got his leg bitten off. I am simultaneously energetic (courtesy of a Red Bull that has finally kicked in) and miserable. This is what a bad batch of Molly must feel like.
2:22 a.m.: EREN IS DEAD. A TITAN ATE HIM. THIS IS LIKE THAT MOMENT IN DEEP BLUE SEA WHERE SAMUEL L. JACKSON GETS DEVOURED BY A SHARK AFTER GIVING ONE OF THE BEST MOTIVATIONAL SPEECHES IN MOVIE HISTORY. I HOPE EREN’S DEATH IS A PREMONITION ON SOME FINAL DESTINATION SHIT, BUT UNFORTUNATELY IT’S NOT.
3:05 a.m.: A guy just shot himself and I totally empathize with him. I am emotionally empty: a combination of staring at my laptop’s bright screen and constantly rubbing my eyes have made them sore, and my stomach is roaring as if to tell me the Red Bull has turned my insides into an acid pit. Post-apocalyptic narratives are bittersweet in that they always lead one to ask: what would I do? When you’re lying in bed surrounded by darkness and smelling your Red Bull-tainted farts, it’s easy to succumb to such a question and give it some serious thought. I begin to laugh at the thought of an “Attack on Titan and Philosophy” course, the only solace I have had so far throughout this experience.
3:15 a.m.: A TITAN. JUST PUNCHED. ANOTHER. TITAN. AND THEN PROCEEDED TO STOMP HIM OUT. IT’S SUCH A WORLDSTAR MOMENT THAT I AM SURPRISED NO INTERNET WEIRDO HAS SYNCHRONIZED THE SCENE WITH A GROUP OF PEOPLE SCREAMING, “WORLDSTAR!” Seriously though, this is a glorious moment, and a compelling plot twist, too.
4:09 a.m.: Finally there seems to be some inkling of hope showing itself amidst all of this misfortune. A Survey Corps member named Levi effortlessly kills three Titans, which means he’s essentially the Daryl Dixon of Attack on Titan. But, more importantly, Eren has the ability to transform into a Titan. So, as you may have guessed: Eren was the Titan pulling off flawless victories against other Titans.
5:22 a.m.: To prove Eren isn’t some undercover Titan who desires to destroy the human race, he is given the mission of placing a boulder in front of a hole in which other Titans are entering from. At first the operation is failing horribly. Eren attacks Mikasa and soldiers are getting killed. By now I am frustrated, hearing unsettling sounds outside of my window, and thinking about what excuse I am going to give my professor for being absent (read: sleeping in and probably having nightmares of my professor as a Titan about to eat me.) “Eren, all of these people are sacrificing themselves for you. Get it together,” I whisper to my laptop screen. I would like to think he heard me, because he ultimately places the boulder in front of the hole. I smile deliriously: this absence will not be in vain.
6:52 a.m.: Nothing too interesting happens after Eren plugs up the hole. Turns out Titans don’t eat humans for sustenance. They do it for no particular reason, basically eating as many people as possible and then throwing them up. This immediately reminds me of my adolescence, and how whenever I would go to a buffet I would eat until I threw up. In this manner I strangely empathize with the Titans which then, in my delirium, leads to me asking myself if, on some philosophical level, I am a Titan. I laugh so hard at the thought that I quickly cover my mouth because my roommates are asleep. The Red Bull has basically worn off and, as a result, my left eyelid is twitching uncontrollably. At the very least, I have something of an absent worthy excuse now.
7:42 a.m.: There is a Female Titan. I would type this in all caps but that would be disingenuous, because I now hate myself. Both of my eyelids are twitching, I have a headache and my bathroom breaks have been unpleasant. (Have you ever peed after drinking a Red Bull? No? Good. Consider yourself lucky.) But I need to know who this Female Titan is, and why she’s chasing Eren and his comrades through a forest. I see a black dot on my laptop screen and press my thumb against it thinking it’s a bug. It’s not a bug. If I don’t sleep I might die or hallucinate seeing Titans. Consider this my obituary.
9:45 a.m.: Eren transforms into a Titan to fight the Female Titan, but easily gets his ass kicked. The sun is shining through my window and I can hear birds chirping. My body aches and and my eyes are so sensitive now that I have my laptop screen on the lowest brightness possible while still being able to watch the show. My girlfriend sends me a text saying “Good morning” and I’m tempted to respond with one vampire Emoji. Instead I send “Good morning” with a happy face Emoji, the face looking back at me as if to say, “You must really hate yourself right now.” I do.
12:00 p.m.: So, I now know who the Female Titan is, but I won’t spoil that for you. But, most importantly, I am done. D-O-N-E. I can finally sleep! Upon seeing that I’ve finished Attack on Titan, Netflix suggests that I watch Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. A newfound energy comes over me, and I press play on Brotherhood. After all, I’ve got some time to kill before my class at two.
Written by Elijah Watson (@EliW92)