Attack on Titan Part 1 of The Live Action Review & Characters – The World is Cruel


  • Episodes : 1 movie of 2
  • Genre : Action, Horror, Drama, Suspense, Thriller
  • Airing Date : August 2015
  • Producers : Toho

Attack on Titan Part 1 Preview / Plot (No Spoilers)

Based on the manga by Isayama Hajime, the 2015 action movie is told in two parts. Part 1 just came out on August 1st while part 2 will be released next month. Upon its premiere, I had the chance to catch the movie. It loosely retells the story of a world run over by the titans, and humanity manages to survive by creating a walled-in society, which keeps them safe for about one hundred years until a bigger titan comes around and ruins things up for everyone.

The main trio is still Eren, Mikasa, and Armin (due to the nature of the live action cast being Japanese and the anime and manga having almost no Asians left, the live action movie intentionally omits any last names to make Asian actors not convince the audience they are playing European characters. It is also why Levi is cut from the movie.). Eren is very ambitious to see the world beyond the wall. While tempting to scale it, the titans suddenly attack and humanity must retreat into a center layer. Two years later, Eren and Armin join the army and use their training to fight the titans.

Who does Attack on Titan Part 1 cater to?

Naturally, fans of the series likely want to watch it out of curiosity. But if any of you reading have no familiarity with Attack on Titan, there is no official pre-requisite on having any but it does help. It re-tells the story from the beginning, certain significant factors are changed, and introduces a new character.

What's so appealing about this piece of work.

The idea of adapting something such as one of Japan’s current selling series and how it applies as a live action movie is rather curious. Granted it is marketed as a dark action series but a lot of the themes deal with human nature and relations, which is why it works as a live action on a foundational sense. The movie also casts some big name stars from the Japanese entertainment world such as Miura Haruma (from the live action Gokusen, Bloody Monday) as Eren and Hongo Kanata (from the live action Prince of Tennis and Gantz) as Armin.

Attack on Titan (Live-Action Movie) - Official Full Trailer

Attack on Titan Part 1 Main Characters List

Eren

Actor :Miura Haruma

In the live action version, he is a teenage orphan who tends to lose jobs a lot due to fighting for his beliefs in wanting to see the world beyond the wall. Just like the original version, he is a capable soldier, but nowhere near the shape and capabilities of Mikasa. After the initial attack, he joins the army and wants to fight the titans. If Eren can be described as a certain part of the trio between him, Armin and Mikasa, he is probably the heart.

Armin

Actor :Hongo Kanata

If Eren is the heart then Armin is the brains. Unlike the anime and manga versions where is blonde, Armin keeps his hair at his natural dark color. Once again, he is the strategist of the team and demonstrates a great deal of knowledge of the world before it was walled-in, but how he learned from his grandfather is entirely omitted from the movie.

Mikasa

Actor :Mizuhara Kiko

Eren and Armin’s childhood friend, her character also suffers some signify changes from the original source material. As opposed to being an adopted sister of Eren, she is more of a childhood love interest and does not exhibit the same maternal protective nature she has for Eren and Armin. At first, she is just a sweet girl who shows some romantic interest in Eren, but after the titan attack, they get lost and separate from the commotion and Eren believes she is dead. Two years later, they manage to reunite and Mikasa is a changed woman. But if Eren is the heart and Armin is the brains, then Mikasa is the brawn.

Shikishima

Actor :Hasegawa Hiroki

Shikishima is the movie’s original character. He is an elite soldier who trained Mikasa during the 2-year interim between the first attack and when Eren and Armin becomes soldiers. He demonstrates excellent skills on the three-dimensional maneuver gear and does his best to support Eren and his team when they fight with him. He also exhibits a romantic interest towards Mikasa.


Contains Spoilers

Attack on Titan Part 1 Review

The movie is 90 minutes long, so a lot is changed and/or cut out and it ultimately hurts the movie. For example, Eren and the rest of the cast are already teenagers and not children at the beginning of the movie. Eren’s parents are already dead long before the first titan attack and it negatively affects a lot of important factors such as Eren’s father’s secret basement, and ultimately, Eren’s motivations on why he wants to fight the titans. Mikasa’s family origin is omitted, and Armin also has no family in the movie either. As for Mikasa, as opposed to having a maternal sense of protection towards Eren (and Armin), she is more like a little sister, is much more innocent than her original counterpart, and lacks the charisma she has in the anime, which will probably piss off fans of the character.

The movie also cuts out the training Eren goes through and after the first attack, Eren is in the army and it skips out a lot of important factors such as how using the three dimensional maneuver gear. However, the internal conflicts within the army are still present, but feel superficial. For a 90-minute movie, it does fit a lot and moves at a fast pace, but so much is unfortunately sacrificed and the true spirit of the main trio is entirely lost.

The special effects, most specifically pertaining to the Colossal Titan, are really not that impressive. Just by looking at the trailers, viewers can instantly see that. As for the rest of the titans, they are much more impressive and their facial expressions make them appropriately creepy looking. As opposed to the more orange lighting in the anime to give the titans a skin tone that is more human like, the movie uses the more traditional Japanese horror lighting of blue and gray to portray the rest of the titans like the ghosts people would see such as Kayoko from Juon and Sadako from The Ring.

Part of the movie was filmed on Hashima Island, or Battleship Island (which recently became a world heritage site and was also featured in Skyfall), off the coast of Nagasaki, so its ruins and closed-in environment is a great representation of portraying the world of the original source material. The setting does a great job of building suspense of when the signal corps soldiers are trying to hide from or search for the titans, in some scenes, you never know when they can pop up.

There will be plenty of blood and there are some pretty disturbing violent scenes, but nowhere near the levels of Ichi the Killer. Either way, a good number of the violence is not for the squeamish. The aerial fight scenes were much better than I anticipated, but I wish they were more emphasized. When Eren gets into a fight with a fellow soldier, he demonstrates very excellent hand-to-hand combat skills but I would have enjoyed it if the movie did the scene where he learns Mixed Martial Arts techniques from Annie. Mikasa once again shows she's one of the best fighters, but the circumstances of what leads her to develop her skills are different from the anime and manga.

The music I have very mixed feelings on. The initial attack does have some of the orchestrated Germanic choral tracks, which is a good tribute to the original anime theme song, but a majority of the background music is generic heavy guitar chords. The ending theme, Anti-Hero performed in English by Sekai no Owari just simply repeats I'm gonna be the anti-hero over and over to the point that I was asking myself if this song had any other lyrics at some points.

1. The initial attack

Just like how things change with a sudden titan attack in the anime, the same goes for the live action but with some changes. It lacks the same emotional impact as the anime since Eren’s parents are already dead long before. The audience gets to see how the titans are portrayed beyond the colossal titan and people are getting eaten. To replace the emotional impact of Eren losing his mother, Eren is under the impression that Mikasa was eaten but later proven to be alive two years later.

2. Mid-credits preview

Since it has already confirmed from the beginning that there was going to be a part two, the ending credits has a mid-credits preview of what will happen. Some scenes taken from the anime is Eren’s trials and the capture of the female titan. Also included is the controversial kiss scene with Mikasa that has seemed to have divided fans of the series with both Japanese and non-Japanese audiences.

3. Eren becomes a Titan

The climax of this movie takes from the original series of one of its biggest plot twists, than Eren is a titan. The circumstances of what leads him to become a titan are entirely the same, but the comeback from getting eaten by the titan is rather instant to make for a more dramatic ending. The way Eren fights as a titan by exhibiting technical martial arts abilities such as using a leg kick to set up the finishing blow is one of the few instances taken from the manga.


The movie is by no means impressive and even some Japanese critics are bashing it. Granted things do change when adapting from anime and manga to live action, but the changes made in this version are significant to the point it completely changes and hurts the original narrative. Its unimpressive special effects should be the least of your worries. I do give the movie credit for admitting why it had to make some of its changes, especially the omission of Levi, one of the most popular characters. I mean can anyone look back at that old Genghis Khan movie and be convinced that John Wayne is Genghis Khan? With a name like Eren, it can be adapted as a Japanese name, and it is also used as a Japanese name written as 江蓮 in kanji. While with Levi’s name, the “v” sound does not exist in the Japanese phonetic system, which was another justification on why he was not included.

In the end, it's not that great of a live action adaptation compared to what else is out there (such as Nodame Cantabile and Rurouni Kenshin), but it's an undisputed fact it's still a better movie than Dragon Ball Evolution or Kite.

Justin

Writer

Author: Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty

Hello, I am originally from the states and have lived in Japan since 2009. Though I watched Robotech and Voltron as a child, I officially became an anime fan in 1994 through Dragon Ball Z during a trip to the Philippines. In addition to anime, I also love tokusatsu, video games, music, and martial arts. よろしくお願いします

Previous Articles

Top 5 Anime by Justin "ParaParaJMo" Moriarty


Recommended Post

Attack on Titan Part 2: End of the World – Review "I Am Human"