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24 July 2014 @ 12:57 pm
"Toradora!" & "Attack on Titan"  
Two anime that we recently finished watching, both of which we really liked.

Attack on Titan (1st Season)

So just to get this out of the way first, Attack on Titan is definitely gory at times. However it is not all gory all the time the way that some AMVs made it seem like beforehand.

Thematically it reminds me of Evangelion with a little bit of Dragon Ball Z thrown in. (At one point, in the middle a multi-part sequence, the "Last time on Attack on Titan" segment hit 3 minutes.)

For those unfamiliar, the basic idea is that humans were going along more or less peacefully when all of the sudden titans, 50' tall creatures that are humanish looking but seem to lack any kind of intelligence, started appearing out of nowhere and eating people. The last(?) of the humans built a series of giant walls, enclosing an area a couple hundred km in radius. Now the titans have been wandering around outside for a hundred or more years, unable to get in and eat people (their only food source) but not going away or dropping dead.

It is lampshaded a couple episodes in that this whole situation is pretty much throwing the laws of thermodynamics out the window, and probably a couple other scientific principles along with it.

Also, spoilers, but the humans do not continue to live in peaceful non-coexistence with the titans for the entire season. Because that would be boring as hell.

So the one thing that kind of nagged at me for quite awhile is the tendency of almost everyone to either spend long periods of time thinking to themselves or talking to each other during times when it is ENTIRELY INAPPROPRIATE or even TOTALLY IMPOSSIBLE to do so.

Pausing to have a discussion with yourself while in the middle of combat, NOT A GOOD IDEA! Having a conversation with your squadmates in a normal tone of voice while you're all sprinting into combat, NOT REALLY POSSIBLE! Doubly so for doing the same while you're all galloping on horses while fleeing from a stampeding titan that's right behind you. In the anime they have a long conversation about the nature of trust and teamwork. In real life they'd just be shouting "WHAT? I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" back and forth a lot.

But probably the worst example of this involves the "3D Maneuver Gear", a gas-powered harpoon grappling system which the soldiers use to fly through the air by latching on to things. It's already rather ludicrous the way in which they can fire off a grapnel and start swinging/retracting the line, and keep it up for what seems like several minutes without having to fire a new shot. But at one point two characters are speeding through a forest using these things, when they decide they need to have an important discussion, and one of them manages to spin around and fly through the forest BACKWARDS while chatting with the other. For at least a minute, without firing off any more grapnels.

In reality that conversation would have quickly terminated with "mind that tree," "what tree?" *splat*

But again, aside from the tendency for everyone to talk too much (squadmates to each other, individuals to themselves, the narrator to the audience) it is pretty good.


So after watching a couple episodes of Attack on Titan we would usually then watch a couple episodes of Toradora to wind down.

Toradora is a high school romantic comedy/drama. The impression i had ahead of time was that it involved a very short girl with lots of hair who hits people a lot in generally and in particular mistreats a guy who she may or may not be interested in. And... that's really fairly accurate.

The basic setup is that Ryuuji inherited the "look of a thug" from his (possibly?) Yakuza father so everyone thinks he's a juvenile delinquent. In reality he's a fairly normal person... except for being a compulsive neat freak. Taiga on the other hand has pretty much the same reputation as Ryuuji, despite her small stature, but she actually deserves it. She's entirely willing to beat the crap out of anyone at school who annoys her. After a rocky first meeting they discover that each of them is interested in the other's best friend but too afraid to do anything about it and Ryuuji, in a fit of desperation, hatches a plan that they should each help the other get together with the object of their affection.

Obviously nothing goes right and hilarity ensues, and also drama. The first half is actually fairly free of serious drama, and even though they ramp things up in the second half it never gets to the point of people dying in childbirth or anything like that =P

Oh yeah, and the other thing about Taiga is that she's pretty much incompetent at taking care of herself, so as long as Ryuuji the neat freak is hanging around anyway to help her get the guy he feels compelled to clean her apartment, cook her meals, and do any other household chores that need doing on her account.

So it starts out in a very gender role-reversal way and tries to invert or subvert a lot other tropes as well, which is nice. Once the mid-season drama bombs start dropping it gets a bit more "normal", which seems to bother some people, but i think even after that it's still playing games with some tropes.

So TL:DR. First half of the season, comedy with light-hearted romantic angst and lots of trope subversion. Second half of the season, drama, then some comedy, then DRAMA, with less (but not zero) trope subversion.
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Kirinkirinn on July 25th, 2014 05:55 pm (UTC)
Titan: I don't think the show ever explicitly says that everything was peaceful and the Titans appeared from nowhere. Just that nobody now remembers where or how they appeared (at least publicly). I get the feeling there's some actively suppressed history going on here, but I don't think even the manga has resolved those mysteries yet (and skeptically I'm not entirely sure the author even knows).

The show also has a lot of pacing issues (of which the near-zero-time conversating is just one symptom I think) but usually manages to be entertaining despite them.

Toradora: Yeah, I think a lot of high-school romance shows just fall prey to a need to one-up the drama second season somewhat to their detriment - the other example that comes to mind immediately is Honey and Clover. But Toradora particularly a felt like the interpersonal relations and worries and interactions were just spot-on first season and not quite as good later. Not to mention the falling back into a few genre patterns thing. But none of that is to say the second half is *bad*, I just really liked the first half.
DonAithnendonaithnen on August 5th, 2014 01:15 am (UTC)
Well it either states outright or strongly implies that the titans appeared out of nowhere. The world may or may not have been at peace before that, but prior to that presumably any conflict was inter-human rather than getting eaten by titans.

(And yes there may be more to that than has been revealed, but that's how it's been presented to the protagonists/audience so far.)
Kirinkirinn on August 5th, 2014 03:49 pm (UTC)
Yeah, they definitely appeared suddenly at some point in the past and the vast majority of the population doesn't know how or why. They just struck me (this is pure speculation based on only the aired animation) as intentionally engineered organic weapons - given that they specifically attack and devour humans despite having no technical need to eat - which would kind of imply a past war. (I suppose they could also be a tool to combat over-population, but if that were the case it seems like someone really went overboard.) (Or they could have a non-human origin, but aside from their weird normal-conservation-of-energy-defying mechanics there haven't been any hints yet in the series of non-human players in this world...)