A shortened edit of the anime series, with mostly action against the titans and lessened development
Based on the popular ongoing manga series, Attack on Titan: Crimson Bow & Arrow is basically a compilation of the first 13 episodes of the TV anime series adaptation. It's a quick flip-through to the key action scenes and leaves out most of the buildup, exposition and character development. I had never seen (or even read) the series but I find it highly entertaining.
The story starts from the beginning of the manga/anime, and not some where in the middle or post-original series like most anime feature films I've seen thus far. Therefore, there's no need to worry about getting confused with what's happening and who's who if you're a non-fan like me. However, due to the trimming for a quickened pace, it may feel like a lot of characters are being thrown into the story and just say or do something as though we're supposed to know who he/she is. And when anyone of them dies, it's not as emotionally impactful as it must have been in the series.
The premise is set in a post-apocalyptic era where giant humanoid creatures called "Titans" have been eating every human they could get their hands on while destroying everything that's in their way. There are different types of Titans, most of them are around 2 to 5-level buildings tall and look like a lot like innocent human beings, which is quite funny and scary at the same time. It's like being in the shoes of animals of the lower food chain. The Titans that look more unique than these ordinary Titans, like the iconic Colossal Titan that looks like a skinless human body, are way bigger, smarter and have special abilities. Thick and tall concrete walls have been built over the course of 100 years where the survivors have been living peacefully in and three different military divisions are in place to attack, guard and protect. The young ones have never seen a Titan before in their life, until one day when a Colossal Titan appears and kicks a hole into the wall for the ordinary Titans to walk right through it and hunt for humans.
The backstory of the protagonists Eren Yeager (Yuki Kaji), Mikasa Ackerman (Yui Ishikawa) and Armin Arlert (Marina Inoue) are pretty cliched to say the least. Eren is the main guy who's ordinary but courageous and influential, pledging to avenge his mother against all Titans. Mikasa is Eren's foster sister who's calm and quiet, physically stronger than most men and is protective of Eren. She'll most likely be Eren's love interest, eventually. I admire how they managed to make her such an attractive character without designing her to appear sexy with big pair of breasts like most animes. Lastly, Armin is the typical intelligent boy who always doubting himself and gets bullied by others.
They join the Survey Corps, the military division dedicated to initial offence against the Titans. The coolest thing about Attack on Titan is how the humans fight the creatures with their equipment, which is the main reason why the action sequences are so awesome. They are armed with swords and a system called the 3-D Maneuvering Gear which allows them to grapple walls, trees, etc., and swing around in the air like Spider-Man while the boosters increase their speed until the gas runs out. The problem is that the film apparently skips the chapters where the characters are in military training and we're left to assume the ranking of the soldiers, their differently designated positions and the methods of how they're supposed to kill the Titans. They're aiming to slash the back of the Titans' necks? Oh okay, that must be their weakness spot, but why? Guess we'd just have to read/watch the manga/anime series.
It may sound rather similar to ;Ultraman or Pacific Rim (2013), although the latter was released 4 years after the manga, but it is very interesting in its own unique ways. It's definitely grittier than the other monster titles -- there's no giant superhero or high-tech robot to save the day, and more than a couple of Titans would appear at the same time. It makes the struggles of the human race more engagingly challenging and thrilling, which is nothing but fun to watch. It could have, however, been way better if the film didn't have to chop away so much of story and character development.
The film ends abruptly as one would expect without actually hinting on what's the military's next move. A lot of questions are left unanswered, some I'm not sure if it's lost in the shortening of the source material. But it's level of entertainment and compelling elements have made me eager to see the followup and the live action adaptation, and maybe even the anime series. From 13 episodes to a 2-hour movie, that's a lot of stuff chopped off isn't it?
What I would've named the film: "Attack on Titan Kai" (perhaps only older anime fans would get this)
Malaysia censorship: I watched it at a press screening and nothing seemed to be cut at all. Actually, the animation is far less graphic than I was expecting... disappointingly.
Second opinion: My girlfriend, who read a bit of the manga, said that this film makes her feel like watching the anime series.
Verdict: All action, not much development. Fast-paced and fun to watch for both fans and first-timers alike.
Rating: 3 / 5
Country / Language: Japan / Japanese
Japanese Title: 進撃の巨人」前編～紅蓮の弓矢～ (Shingeki no Kyojin Zenpen ~Guren no Yumiya~)
Based on: "Attack on Titan" anime and manga series by Hajime Isayama
Genre: Dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic action, anime
Running Time: 109 minutes
Director: Tetsuro Araki
Screenplay: (no info)
Voice Cast: Yuki Kaji, Yui Ishikawa, Marina Inoue
Malaysia Release Date: 2 July 2015 (GSC cinemas only)
Local Distributor: GSC Movies
Production: (no info)
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