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.

Virtual reality is the new, up-and-coming fantasy world for writers to explore

Image result for star trek holodeckI think the first time we thought of “virtual reality” was in 1987 when Gene Rodenberry brought us Star Trek: The Next Generation with the latest technology… The Holodeck. We saw a virtual world come to life as Commander Riker stepped on the holodeck, moving from a starship to a forest. There were many such adventures on all the Star Trek series to follow, as the holodeck was used to leave the doldrums of work behind and explore places we’ve never been or seen, from Leonardo Da Vinci’s workshop to a 1920’s crime novel.

“Reality is incredibly larger, infinitely more exciting, than the flesh and blood vehicle we travel in here. If you read science fiction, the more you read it the more you realize that you and the universe are part of the same thing. Science knows still practically nothing about the real nature of matter, energy, dimension, or time; and even less about those remarkable things called life and thought. But whatever the meaning and purpose of this universe, you are a legitimate part of it. And since you are part of the all that is, part of its purpose, there is more to you than just this brief speck of existence. You are just a visitor here in this time and this place, a traveler through it.” ― Gene Roddenberry

This technology may be pure science fiction, but it is used quite frequently to transport people to fantasy worlds. Anime does that a great deal of exploration into these alternate realities (Sword Art Online, The Silver Guardian, Recovery of an MMO Junkie, Overlord, etc.) but its got to be more than just straight science fiction. You have to know how to use the technology, whether it be holograms or a virtual computer world.

I think one of the first virtual reality movies—in my lifetime—didn’t use either one. In the 1973 film Westworld,  the rich vacationed in virtual worlds filled with androids. The virtual reality of choice here was a popular one from the 60s/70s… Westerns. The modern Westworld on HBO is more about artificial intelligence than virtual reality. I think we’ll see more about the “escapism” factor of virtual reality when the movie Ready Player One comes out.

Image result for sword art online quotes about virtual realityLike science fiction itself, virtual reality gives writers a broad brush to paint with. You can make almost anything possible in virtual reality, but I think medieval fantasy (a.k.a. Lord of the Rings) are the most popular in the genre. Sword Art Online does it best with their virtual reality game ALO (Alfheim Online). Its a wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy that any fan can slip into easily, whether its the anime or the manga.

Overall, I think this does make it doubly hard for the writer, to ensure that smooth transition from fantasy to science fiction and back again; but, at the same time, it gives you the chance to explore some philosophical questions about reality, fantasy, and the roles games (and their storytellers) play in the world today.

When you have  horrific tragedy like the shooting at Parkland High School in Flordia, it makes one question how fast technology has advanced. Has technology gone so far that kids today are so desensitized to violence, and maybe reality itself, that they feel the need to kill others as a way of getting that kick? Its hard to pinpoint precisely where things like video games, virtual reality, take that step too far; but, I want to leave you with this quote from SAO’s Kirito to make my point.

“I thought that the closer the real and virtual world got, the better the future would be. But the more the boundary between them blurs, the more it starts to trick people.” – Kirito, Sword Art Online

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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 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.