Attack on Titan is a “binge-worthy” anime, so catch up before it ends

Attack on Titan Season 4: Release Date, Trailer, Episodes, and News | Den  of Geek

If you haven’t watched the anime Attack on Titan, you better start now! The final season of AOT just started (check out Crunchyroll or Funimation) and it is binge-worthy for any weekend watch party. I mean it, you need to watch it NOW!

For those not familiar with the anime, Attack on Titan is based on a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama. It is set in a world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by enormous walls that protect them from gigantic man-eating humanoids referred to as Titans. The story follows Eren Yeager, who vows to exterminate all the Titans after a Titan brings about the destruction of his hometown and the death of his mother. He joins the Scout Regiment to patrol the areas outside the walls to take his fight to the Titans, but instead discovers so much more about himself, the Titans, and the people behind the walls.

The anime is horrific and brilliant. The battles are animated with such precision and realism it puts you right there (Levi vs. Beast Titan… AWESOME!). The characters are memorable and draw you into the story, although many complain that Eren was a whiner in the beginning of the series (including me). However, after the five year time skip between Season 3 and 4, Eren has really come out of his shell and is the leader he intended to be. I’m not going to give SPOILERS here, for obvious reasons, but there is a lot to take in.

The first thing that grabs you about Attack on Titan is the whole mythology. You don’t know whether its science fiction or fantasy, or a bit of both. The idea that a single race, the Eldians, were born as the “Subjects of Ymir” and gave them the power to transform into Titans. It is their spinal fluid that allows other Eldians to be transformed into Titans. Another race, the Marleyans, were once slaves to the Eldians but revolted and took control of them. It was Marley who put the Eldians on Paradis Island (where Seasons 1-3 take place) behind the walls, trapping them there to better control the “Devils” as they call them. It’s confusing to try and explain everything here, safe to say, watching the series explains things so much better. It’s also easy to understand why the two races hate each other and are at the core of the conflict.

Power of Nine Titans in Attack on Titan - OtakusNotes

There are common Titans, i.e. Eldians transformed into Titans through spinal fluid injection, and there are the “Nine Titans.” The Nine are the most powerful Titans whose power can only be passed by (a) being born with the power of one of the Nine or (b) another Titan eats one of the Nine (in human form) and gains its power. The Nine are the Attack Titan, the Beast Titan, the Colossal Titan, the Armored Titan, the Cart Titan, the Jaw Titan, the War Hammer Titan, the Female Titan, and the Founding Titan. Eren Yeager possesses both the Founding and Attack Titan powers, which is why the AOT story centers around him. The Nine are the power behind the Marleyan military forces and what has been driving the story from the very beginning. We’re just getting to see that now in Season 4, but those who read the manga have known this all along. In any case, the Nine and the flawed, vulnerable, and quite human characters behind them make this story so incredible.

Speaking of characters, this entire series is character-driven with such diverse characters that you love to hate and hate to love. Eren, Armin, and Mikasa are the lifelong friends centered on throughout the anime. You see a love interest potential between Eren and Mikasa, but he is so focused on his revenge that he doesn’t see it. Then there’s the others in the Scout Regiment–Hange, Levi, Connie, Sasha, Historia, Jean, Commander Erwin–plus many more that died too soon throughout the series. And of coarse, the other Titan wielders–Annie, Reiner, Bertholdt, Zeke, Pieck, Galliard (and Ymir)–and those in the wings (i.e. Gabi and Falco). They all had such unique personalities, ideology, expressions, and back stories that make you look at each one and think, “I know someone like that” every time. We laugh, cry, scream, and cheer them on at every moment in every episode.

Lastly, there’s the technology used in AOT. It’s steampunk in a weird, modern way. I don’t know a geek out there that doesn’t want their own ODM (Omni-Directional Mobility) gear to fly around on. And in the anime, the flow is so brilliantly animated that you are actually flying through the trees or across city skylines with the scouts (Levi vs. Kenny fight scene… Another AWESOME!). It’s going even more into a relegated steampunk world in Season 4 with airships, “Thundersticks” and the new ODM gear. It’s going to be an exciting season to watch.

This is the final season of Attack on Titan is in full swing, so if I need to remind you again, binge it if you haven’t watched AOT already. Get through the first three seasons, wrap yourself in a Mikasa red scarf, give the scout salute (look it up if you don’t know how to do it) and dive into the final season. It’ll take a long weekend, plenty of beer and pizza, but you can do it. Trust me, it’s better than a weekend D&D session.

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Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

Saturdays are the best day for anime because of My Hero Academia and GGO

dlbu_d0uiaagos5-1Most people would look forward to Saturdays because it meant the weekend, a day off, etc. Me… I look forward to Saturdays because that’s when the new episodes of “My Hero Academia” and “Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online” (GGO) air via Funimation and Crunchyroll, my two favorite anime channels! It’s like having my favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons like when I was a kid. These anime’s have heart, soul, and can be funny as hell. It’s amazing as to how entrenched I get into these shows, especially My Hero Academia.

I’ve been reading comic books since I was a kid. I actually wanted to be a comic book artist/writer when I was growing up. I wasn’t a good enough artist, but I still got to be a writer. Anyway, I’ve been reading teenage superhero stories, like forever, from The Legion of Superheroes to The New Mutants. Teenage superheroes dealing with their emerging powers and fighting super-villains has been a staple of comics for generations, but not like My Hero Academia.

First off, their powers are unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Sure, there are some mainstays like super strength, fire and ice creation, etc., but there are some unique ones too that this shows makes out to be quite powerful. I mean, shooting tape out of your elbows, causing people to become immobile when you taste their blood (gross) are pretty out there. But the characters are rich, so much so that you want to know more about them. The stories are so intense and gripping, it’s hard to turn away from them.

42159On the opposite spectrum is GGO. Sword Art Online was the first modern anime I fell in love with, especially the GGO section in SAO2. The new GGO has so much more spunk than the original. The little “pink devil” known as Llenn is a munchkin with an attitude. In real life, she is a tall teenager, wanting to be shorter like the other girls her age. She gets her wish in the virtual world of GGO. There she meets another female player, Pito, who she finds out has a death wish she’s trying to fulfill.

GGO is so much fun. Yes, because it’s an anime about a VR world full of guns, shooting, explosions, and bloody mayhem, it can be rather violent… But in a good way. It does it with such fun and irreverence to death and dying. Plus, the action scenes are pretty incredible sometimes, almost like watching The Matrix fight scenes. I mean, one of the first action sequences was Llenn popping out of a suitcase and taking down five opponents in seconds. That was awesome.

And just like My Hero Academia, it has great characters and very distinct storylines that make the anime flow perfectly. That’s what makes anime so much more than a cartoon. Yes, a lot of the characters in anime are kids, but to me, they remind me of me in so many ways:  Vulnerable, a little dense sometimes, wanting to do what’s right. It’s what makes them so much fun to watch.

My Hero Academia is a place where heroes exist and GGO is a world where anything goes. As a writer, it gives me plenty of inspiration for what I do. That what draws me in and makes them so much fun to watch! Tune it Saturday! It’s a blast!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a book/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a book/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.



Anime is “the most expressive” form of art with no boundaries on imagination

73b11efb2c17bf4483481cc5183d01d9I have been a fan of anime before it was known as anime. In the 60’s and 70’s, it was just a Japanese cartoon dubbed in English to American kids. Shows like Speed Racer, Gigantor, Marine Boy, and Star Blazers were an absolute joy to watch, after school and on Saturday mornings.

In the 80’s, anime became more frequent with Mobile Suit Gundam, Captain Harlock, Sailor Moon, Voltron, and more. Then came the great Hayao Miyazaki and movies like Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and the Academy award winning film Spirited Away. There so many more that I didn’t list here. That’s because anime has become a global phenomenon.

There are so many different types of anime, from story and style to genre and sub-type. There are terms like Ecchi, Harem, Shounen, Mecha, Shoujo, etc. There are so many different anime out there, there isn’t enough time to watch it all. A lot of them seem formulaic in their writing, but they do have their own quirky characteristics.

I am currently binging on Crunchyroll, an anime app and website that plays dozens of anime, old and new. There is such a wide variety available, I can’t watch it all. My favorite genre is magical fantasy, and they don’t stick to just one type. There are dozens of different combinations, from your basic fantasy (Full Metal Alchemmist) to Angels vs. Devils (High School DxD) and supernatural (Tokyo Ghoul) to fantasy/sci-fi (Infinite Stratos).

CGYXBY5UQAEbrcUThese anime is so different and so expressive that it comes up with new ways of approaching fantasy. The Irregular at Magic High School is a great example. The story takes place in an alternate history where magic exists and is polished through modern technology. However, the ability to use magic is determined by genetics, limiting the amount of magicians in existence. Due to the limited amount of magicians, they are treated as commodity and are forced to enter magic related schools and professions. It follows Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba, siblings who enroll into First High magic high school.

The thing I love about this anime is how they combined technology as a way to better use magic. Instead of using chants and spells, magic users cast spells with their Casting Assistant Device (CAD). The CAD is infused with the user’s Psions (a substance-less thought particle) that activates the device and constructs the magic ritual. The spells are programmed into the CADs that allow them to use their magic more efficiently. It’s an incredible concept that, to me, brings the fantasy/magic genre to a new level.

A lot of the fantasy genre revolves around magic schools, training young men (but mostly women) in the arcane arts. There is a strong obsession in these anime with school girl uniforms and how they “fill” them out. I’ve been told its called a “fan shot” by name. Quite peculiar but fun to watch.

Another one of my favorites is Is it Wrong to try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon. This anime is like Dungeons and Dragons but better. The story takes place in the fictional city of Orario, whose main feature place is the Dungeon which contains an assortment of monsters from goblins to dragons. The people of Orario join groups called Familia, who serve a range of functions from dungeon crawling to crafting items. The story follows the exploits of Bell Cranel, a 14-year-old solo adventurer under the goddess Hestia. He is a “Level 1 Noob” who is trying to do good by his Familia and impress Ais Wallenstein, a powerful swordswoman who once saved his life, and with whom he fell in love.

Watching this anime is like playing D&D on Saturday night. This anime goes as far as the dungeon crawlers leveling up, with their statistics tattooed on their backs. Their deity updates the stats through magic. They can buy armor and magic items, just like in the game. You can’t help but laugh out loud through each episode.

For a writer, freedom to express your stories is vital to creativity. Anime has such a broad range of genres that it has inspired my own writing for more than 40 years. I watched it as a child because it was entertaining and imaginative. I watch it now because it inspires me to broaden my imagination. You should too!

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51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Chapter 3 of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.