Monday, June 3, 2013

Attack on Titan: When fragile safety leaves you complacent

Attack on Titan, also called Shingeki no Kyojin, is one of the best series that has come out of the Spring Season. I had my doubts at first that I would be able to deal with the gore but its not entirely as bad as I had thought it might be. In fact I think CLAMP's manga X is much more graphic. There are quite a few interesting themes in this series and the story is excellent. One theme I found particularly interesting is the danger of complacency.

Attack on Titan follows the story of Eren Jaeger and his two friends Mikasa Akerman and Armin Arlart who dream of seeing the world outside the walls in which humanity has been confined for the past 100 years. This is a world where humanity has been preyed upon by a mysterious race of giants who suddenly appeared. They seem to have no intelligence and only are interested in consuming humans. The surviving people live within 3 concentric walls. Since they have been safe for 100 years they seem to think that they always will be  and except for the survey corps who venture forth from the wall trying to gain some kind of information on the enemy people have become complacent. The soldiers stationed in the town sit around drinking and just pretty much repair the wall. Eren though asks why aren't they doing anything that it's as if they were just cattle being kept. I have to say I agree with Eren. Here they were inside the walls instead of proactively looking for a way to fight back and defend themselves it's as though they had given up and just said oh here we have a wall to protect ourselves we can relax. I have to say even Constantinople fell after centeries of being protected by walls in our history. You have the same 3 concentric rings but the rings in Constantinople were closer and had archers to take out the enemy. The walls of Constantinople stood for centuries until cannons were invented. The thing is that someone will always figure out how to get around defenses so you need to be proactive. This is something I learned in my Network Security class. But apparently these humans did not even consider that. They said ok we have a wall now we're safe and tried to go on with their lives pretending that everything was alright. It's ironic that when Eren and his friends are discussing how the walls won't hold the enemy out forever is when the walls are breached.

In a way I think that it's in human nature to try to ignore dangers that are looming. The Titans themselves are a terrifying force which seems almost unstoppable. In a way it's as if when facing them there is no hope. Even the strongest warriors can find themselves in the belly of a Titan. This is a frightening prospect and thus they go into denial. In real life we can see the same thing. People tend to ignore warning signs until it's too late. Sure we don't have man eating giants waiting to chow down on us but we do have dangers looming around us in say the form of natural disasters, terrorist, war, and even financial instability. Safety is a very fragile ethereal thing but living in peaceful times feeling safe can make people forget this. That is when they become careless and forget what needs to be done to ensure everyone's safety.  Peace and security can disappear in an instance and is something we must actively seek to protect or else we an loose it forever. Attack on Titan does a really good job of showing this.

There are a lot of unanswered questions in the series still for instance where the Titan's came from and why are they so bent on consuming humans. Also what is in the basement in Eren's home? I look forward to finding out. This is a cruel world where you can see clearly how it's consume or be consumed. Where death is ever present. This series is pretty dark so it's not for everyone--we're talking a story where the majority of people get ripped to shreds--but if you can get past the gruesomeness it is a good story about people who have suffered a great loss and move forward trying to survive as the fight for the lives of others even if they are not trusted.