Just watched the live action interpretation of Attack on Titan. Let’s say it’s a huge disappointment.
Rant and spoilers ahead.
Part of the draw of Attack on Titan manga/anime is the intense drama and non-stop action that keep readers/viewers on the edge of their seats. The plot was very tightly done that you can relate to the characters and felt huge shock when things happen to them. None of those things happen to me in the movie.
Let’s start with the basic setting. The idea is the same, about how humanity is “trapped” inside walls due to concerns of titans attacking. And that’s pretty much it. The movie took the liberty of setting things in “Japan” instead of Germany, thus many characters’ names are changed to be Japanese. Sure, the main ones like Eren, Mikasa, Armin, Jean, and Sasha remain intact. But you are suddenly faced with these Japanese names that you are not familiar with. This is the same trap that most adaptations made by Hollywood fell through, and I cannot believe the Japanese filmmakers fell for it. Didn’t they realise that Attack on Titan has created a huge following of fans? One of the worst things you can do is change the setting and characters’ names. Sure, some of the characters’ behaviours mimic the original ones, but it’s difficult to relate to them again when you know them with a completely different names previously. Besides, if you want to make things Japanese, then how can you explain Eren Jaeger and Armin? This is one thing that filmmakers never seem to consider when they decided to change names. When you do that, a whole slew of inconsistencies start showing up. How hard is it to keep things in Germany? It’s not like the characters have to speak German. The anime manages to translate the manga faithfully, with everybody speaking Japanese, and it’s all fine. Heck, one can look at Nodame Cantabille, where Japanese were playing as foreigners, and it was okay, since the characters were intact.
The time period seems to be changed also. In the series, other than the 3D manoeuvre gear, humanity doesn’t seem to have much technology. People are still riding horses. In the movie, they showed an undetonated missile (???) and a helicopter junk. Oh, and they all ride tanks instead of horses. WTF? They can make tanks, yet they have old canons protecting the wall? See, that’s the problem of changing things around.
Also, the 3D manoeuvre gear is reflected to be a new thing, only designed after the titan breaching the wall. So I don’t know how humanity defeated the titan before then. Nuke maybe? See filmmakers, you have the simplest thing to just follow the source material, but no, you like to change things around and create more inconsistencies.
Okay, let’s focus of the main characters then. I mean they are the MAIN characters right, so the least the filmmakers could’ve done was to make them right. Nope.
The manga and anime of Attack on Titan started the story of Eren, Mikasa, and Armin when they were kids. Let’s start with Eren. The horrific event that befell Eren with the death of his mom led readers to follow his hatred towards the titan and his determination to kill them all. This does not exist in the movie. Eren’s dad, who was quite critical in the series, was not portrayed nor mentioned either. The movie started with all the characters already reached adulthood. Eren was portrayed to be an orphan since young. In the series, Eren already had a determination to do something about the titans. In the movie, he was oblivious to the threat and thought that the titans were no more, and there might be paradise outside of the walls. So… what led to his “determination”? Oh, he thought Mikasa was killed, and that is quite lame as he did not even see Mikasa being killed/eaten by a titan. There was a mere explosions, and Mikasa was gone. So it is hard to relate to Eren being so determined, especially when later Mikasa was shown to be alive. Yup, no scenes on Eren seeing his mom being eaten (which was one of the most powerful scene in the anime/manga). No development nor build up of Eren’s character. Worse, due to time constraint, they eliminated all the training scenes. Part of the emotion related to Eren in the anime/manga is that he was portrayed to be not having a good skill-set, but his total determination to kill all titans allowed him to go through and succeed at all challenges thrown at him. In the movie, there’s none of this. He simply was told to “fly” by a person named Shikishima (I guess that was supposed to be Levi?). SUPER WEAK SAUCE!
Now let’s take a look at Mikasa. OMG! WTF were they thinking? Mikasa’s character is very important to the series, yet they butchered it completely. In the manga, Mikasa and Eren had a really deep and dark background, which led Mikasa to be totally obsessed/thankful/protective of Eren. That backgorund also created a very strong Mikasa form the get go, a girl that can kick three boys’ asses, and the scarf has a very deep meaning. None of these were represented in the movie. Mikasa was portrayed as a typical cheerful girl that might have a crush on Eren at first, and Eren simply gave her the scarf because she sneezed. ULTRA WEAK SAUCE! The movie did not explain how she escaped the titan breach (maybe in the sequel), but after that, she finally became the cold Mikasa we kinda know, but she was falling for the Shikishima guy. WTF? Furthermore, during a scene when she saw Eren half-dead with his leg cut off, she decided to ignore Eren and attack one of the titan. In the series, Mikasa would’ve immediately come to Eren’s rescue.
How about Armin? Well, I know it’s going to be difficult portraying a blond feminine-looking guy, but come on Japan, you have plenty of pretty boys, and a blonde hair shouldn’t be an issue. In the series, Armin is the brain of the team, a strategist. In the movie, they started by portraying Armin to be a tinkerer. Well, this would’ve been okay if they push through it, but no. Armin in the movie pretty much does nothing other than making a vague plan of plugging the wall using mash potatoes. The least they could do is maybe making him part of the designer of the 3D manoeuvre gear, but no. He’s just there to be the liability in the scene of Eren being eaten.
How about the other characters? Souda is Hannes, I guess. Unlike in the series, he did not have much involvement as he did not even know Eren survived the breach until he met him when Eren signed up with the scout unit. Sasha is there, eating potatoes and having a crush on Armin. I have no clue about the rest. There’s a farmer/strong guy that carry an axe(?) to attack the titans. I guess he’s supposed to be Reiner? There were the lovers that are supposed to be Frans and Hannah. Then there’s Shikishima, which I guess is supposed to be Levi or Erwin. I do have to give the movie credit as they at least keep Hanji’s character to be accurate (really passionate about the titans). Then there’s this single mother…. It’s all messy. The point of adaptation is for fans to see the characters they love on the big screen, not characters that sort of similar with completely different names.
Okay, let’s start walking through the movie. The movie started with presumably Armin’s mom complaining that Eren was fired from his job. Armin then went looking for Eren, met girly Mikasa on the way. Eren was standing on top of an undetonated missile, saying that he does not feel satisfied being trapped inside the walls, and thinking that the titans are no more and there is a paradise outside the wall. They then sneaked the frontline to get to the outermost wall (the soldiers seem to be wearing Japanese WW2 military uniforms). They were caught, but Souda/Hannes let them be. Then the armoured titan showed up, and the wall was breached. Souda led the soldiers guarding the wall to attack the titans using canons. Armin got separated, claiming he had to check on his house. Eren and Mikasa were evacuating to a building when they saw a mother and her baby being trampled over. Eren decided to save the mom while Mikasa saved the baby, but the sea of the crowd separated them. Mikasa got left outside with the baby. Eren wanting to get back to her, but there were a loud boom, and all he saw were dust and the city being destroyed. Meanwhile the titan feast upon the people that got “trapped” inside the building.
Fast forward 2 years, Eren and Armin (magically alive) joined the troops. It’s led by somebody that seem to wear WW2 era military uniforms. Hanji was the leader, and told them their new invention the 3D manoeuvre gear. Blah blah blah, Eren met Souda again, and Eren got into a fight with Jean. To cover the hole in the wall, the plan is to detonate the wall on top of the holel to cover it, but they need more explosives, which is available somewhere on the breached region. (WTF? They clearly saw the armoured titan that is much taller than the wall, so why do they think just covering the hole and creating a short wall will be okay?).
The military load up their AMV (??) with the young troops. The went out at night.. They stopped, and the single mom heard a baby. She and Eren looked for the survivor, but found out that the baby was actually a titan. The noise invited more titans, and the troop did not know what to do. (WTF? They did not learn how to use the gears yet?). Suddenly appear the Levi-guy and Mikasa, slaying the titans. Apparently they have been keeping the explosives safe. (WTF? How did they survive out there? Only two of them?). Shikishima saw Eren, told him to fly. Eren heard Mikasa playing piano, and Shikishima showed up showing that Mikasa is his. Eren was shocked, and screamed. Then the single mom tried to seduce Eren by letting Eren touch her boob. (WTF?) Suddenly a titan appears and ate her.
Bla bla bla, the troop is in battle with an army of titans. So far, we have not seen Eren use the gear yet (nor anybody other than Shikishima and Mikasa). That’s how lame this movie is. People are being eaten left and right. Eren met Jean at the top of a building. Eren put his determination to fly, and use the 3D gear to battle the titans. Shikishima was instructing him as if this was Eren’s first time using the gear. Eren managed to get one titan, but another titan bite his leg off. Shikishima doesn’t seem to care, only saying some people are unlucky. Mikasa saw Eren dying, but decided to continue her battle. (WTFFFF!!!???) Blah blah blah, Armin got caught near Eren. Eren saw Armin being eaten, decided to save Armin while being eaten himself. Armin got Eren’s arm, showed it to Mikasa, and Mikasa coldly responded by slaying more titans until her gear ran out of gas. Cornered, she faced the titan that ate Eren. The titan suddenly felt ill, and titan Eren popped out from inside. Titan Eren started beating up the other titans, and people magically know it’s Eren.
After titan Eren beat all the other titans, he grabbed Mikasa, but then his time was up and the titan body started decomposing. Souda magically knows that there’s Eren inside. Mikasa cut Eren out, and the movie ends.
Yes, WTF alright. I understand that making a series into a compact movie is difficult, but it’s no excuse to take so many liberties form the source material. Some characters and scenes can be cut, but the more you detract from the source material, the more inconsistencies you are creating as you are trying to come up with something new in a short time against the source material that has been building for years. It’s as if the filmmakers did not even read the manga nor watch the anime, just like the people from Hollywood. Sure, this is not Dragonball Evolution bad, but considering this is made by Japan itself, I had high expectations. The least they could do is keeping the characters intact, but no.
To add result to the injury, a pop/hip-hop tune is playing during the end credit scene. The anime was known for the rock metal theme song, Guren no Yumiya. The lame hip-hop tune seems to indicate the filmmakers spitting on the fans saying “Ha! Fooled you!”
If this was Hollywood, I would be upset, but at the same time accept the butchery. Considering this is Japan itself, it’s highly disappointing. With so many live-action manga/anime adaptations being done, filmmakers should know already that staying true to the source material is what fans want to see.
The first movie ended just after Eren transformed into titan for the first time. I don’t know how much more butchery they can do for the sequel as they would need to compress even more stuff into one movie.
Attack on Titan is one of the best manga/anime I have ever read/watch. Attack on Titan live action movie is one of the most disappointing movie I have ever watched. I guess watching Tom Cruise Action Hero 5 might be a better option.