Anime Blu-ray Review: Attack on Titan The Complete First Season

Attack on Titan The Complete First Season is a four-disc Blu-ray containing 25 episodes. The bonus features are spread throughout the set. This set includes both the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Attack on Titan The Complete First Season
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: January 24, 2017

The series is set in an alternative middle-ages world that has been attacked by giant humanoid creatures called Titans. The remains of civilization are protected by three concentric walls that are about 50 meters tall. After building these walls, humanity has remained safe for 100 years and has basically become complacent. While there are people who want to go outside of the walls and explore the outside world, many are discouraged from doing so.

The main character of the series is Eren Yeager. He is one who wants to explore the outside world, but his parents and his adopted sister Mikasa are very much against this idea. His father is a doctor, and during the first episode, he leaves to treat patients located elsewhere.

After he leaves, the unthinkable happens. Unusual Titans break through the wall: one is 60 meters tall, while the other has a hardened shell. The city is plunged into chaos, and Eren discovers that his mother is trapped in the rubble of their house. Eren tries to save his mother, but she insists that he run to safety and to leave her behind. A guard named Hannes grabs both Eren and Mikasa and carries them off in safety as Eren’s mother is eaten by one of the Titans.

Eren, Mikasa, and their friend Armin enlist in the military, and they graduate from training five years later. Eren vows that he’ll kill every Titan, but something happens to him early on that reveals a secret that he was unaware of. Much of the series focuses on the ramifications of this discovered secret, as well as the politics taking place in the higher levels of the military and the government.

By the time I finished watching the first episode, the tone of the storytelling changed from establishing the series to an intense viewing experience once the Titans broke through the wall. I liked how the first episode ultimately is told in a circle: the major plot point of the Titans is shown at the beginning, and then the rest of the episode establishes what’s going on and returns to what was shown at the beginning of the episode. Admittedly, the story does kind of slow down after the first episode, but it becomes interesting again once Mikasa’s backstory appears. After that point, Attack on Titan has an engaging story that leaves the viewer wanting to see more.

As the series progresses, there’s also some fantastic character story arcs. Obviously, Eren’s character arc is the main one that’s focused on. However, Jean also goes through major changes in his character, especially after he experiences a certain event. Even characters like Mikasa, Armin, and Levi, who don’t get as major of character arcs, are still engaging characters that the viewer comes to care for by the end of these 25 episodes.

I thought the animation for Attack on Titan looked incredible. While this series utilizes both 2D animation and computer graphics, the 2D animation was designed and drawn in such a way that it blends in more convincingly with the computer graphics than many other anime series that I have seen that have tried to combine the two styles. Also, the backgrounds are lush and really complement the rest of the animation. But there are times, especially in the first half, where some animation cheats take place (primarily using still images instead of animating some of the action).

The Blu-ray video for this set has 1080p High Definition 16:9 HD Native, and the audio includes DolbyTrueHD: English 5.1 and Dolby TrueHD: Japanese 2.0. I thought the video quality was good on this release, and I have no complaints about the audio quality.

There are several bonus features scattered throughout the set. There are commentaries included for Episodes 3, 13, 14, and 25. Disc two includes a feature labeled, “The Making of Attack on Titan,” and this nearly 52-and-a-half minute feature focuses solely on the production of the English dub. When I saw this labeled as a “making of” feature, I assumed it would include at least some of the series’ creation in Japan. However, that really wasn’t present in this feature, and it probably would have been better to have labeled this as, “The Making of the English Dub of Attack on Titan.”

Disc four has a roughly 16-minute feature labeled as “Attack on Titan at Anime Expo.” This is from Anime Expo 2013, when producer George Wada was a guest. The feature incorporates footage of an interview with George Wada, clips from Wada’s panel, interviews with fans, and scenes from the show. It’s basically what I expect from this kind of bonus feature.

Both discs two and four have all nine episodes of “Chibi Theater: Fly, Cadets, Fly” spread out between them. These are comedic shorts animated in a chibi style, and they focus on the main characters while they were in the academy. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy these shorts. Perhaps they just didn’t appeal to my personal sense of humor.

There are also eyecatch galleries included among the bonus features. These are the informational pieces that appeared at the commercial break for each episode. These galleries are done in a slideshow style, and the text of these slides are translated off on the side. These eyecatches provide important information and details about the world of the series, and they tend to go by faster than you can read them when you’re watching the episodes. I think this was a nice bonus feature to include, especially since the slideshow is designed in such a way that the slide doesn’t change until the viewer clicks on an arrow, so it provides the viewer as much time as needed in order to read everything.

Textless versions of both opening themes and ending themes are included among the bonus features. Two different trailers for the English dub version of the series are included, as well as menus to choose trailers of other FUNimation Entertainment releases to watch.

Attack on Titan The Complete First Season is a great addition to the anime home video library of a fan of Attack on Titan. All 25 episodes of the first season are included in one set, and there’s a decent amount of bonus material included.

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