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Monday, September 23, 2013

An Introduction to Shingeki no Kiyojin - Attack on Titan


If you wish to read this post, you may encounter major spoilers ahead. The objective of this post is to provide general information about Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan, I have no intentions of going into extremely detailed information, but I will try to cover as much as possible of every subject presented here, this post might stay as it is or be updated over time if any information here is proven as wrong or incomplete. This modest article is made by a fan to other fans, so don't come at me with any unreasonable complaints.


Shingeki no Kyojin also known as Attack on Titan is a work of Hajime Isayama, Ryo Suzukaze, Saki Nakagawa and Yasuko Kobayashi (and other authors/artists), it started as a manga published in Japan by Kodansha as a monthly publication in september 2009, the manga was a success, up to now it has sold more than 20 million copies, this commercial success obviously didn't go unnoticed and afterward the series was also published as a Light Novel, Anime, and several games were released.

Manga, Light Novel, Film, Games

The manga series is also licensed in the United States by Kodansha, it got its first volume in march 2010. Also in august 2013 a prequel of the story, drawn by Satoshi Shiki was released under the name of Attack on Titan: Before The Fall, a light novel with the same name was released in 2011, the story here tells what happened before the main story. The anime version was produced by Wit Studio and had its debut on april 2013, the anime is short-lived and will not feature all of Attack on Titan's story, fans should stick to the manga to know how it will proceed. So far a single OVA based on a special chapter called "Ilse's Notebook" was produced, maybe more will be released even after the anime is completed. Attack on Titan also had a few game adaptations, four so far:
  • Attack on Titan for 3DS
  • Attack on Titan: The Wings of Counterattack for Mobile Phone
  • A browser game called Attack on Titan: The Wings of Counterattack - Online
  • The Visual Novel Attack on Titan: Lost In The Cruel World

Story / Plot

The story happens in a point of time when humans were nearly driven to complete extinction/extermination by giants, who are also referred to as titans or kyojin in japanese, the surviving humans locked themselves in a layer of walls that are several times taller than titans to ensure their survival against the titan threat, the walls completely surround an area that works as the main line of protection and living grounds, a gigantic human stronghold. The main protagonists are Eren Jaeger / Eren Yeager, his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and their childhood friend Armin Arlert, they witnessed the moment when the Colossal Titan breached Wall Maria and Eren's Mother was eaten alive by a titan, our story begins here.

The Walls

There are 3 walls confining the surviving humans while also protecting them from titans, they are a century old thick layers of hardened material and have 50 meters height. At their tops, humans have lined up cannons at strategic places and organized patrols who constantly watch over the surroundings. As the area enclosed by the walls is way too large to be patrolled efficiently, each one of the 3 walls has 4 towns, in case of a titan invasion, defense could be easily focused on those towns. The story lately reveals the interior of the walls is filled by dormant titans, up to this moment no detailed information about this fact was provided, but a few people of the elite human society, like Pastor Nick of the Wall Cult and Historia Reiss (Christa Renz) know about this hidden truth. The walls are:
  • Wall Maria - This is the external wall that enclosures all the human kingdom, it served well its purpose for about 100 years of peace, until the day when the Colossal Titan managed to breach this wall by kicking one of its gates, one of its known districts is the Shiganshina District, where Eren lived with Mikasa, Armin and their families.
  • Wall Rose - This is the second wall after Wall Maria, it was also breached 5 years later by the Colossal Titan using the same method, but Eren managed to cover the hole after awakening his titan powers. The current story progress suggests it was breached again, but that fact remains uncertain.
  • Wall Sina - This is the last wall and the heart of the human kingdom, Wall Sina is supposed to be protected by the Military Police serving directly under the king.


Titans, giants or kyojin are humanoid creatures, they look like deformed humans, their appearance may vary greatly, their proportions are often outside of humans standards. The majority of titans will have masculine looks, only a really low number of them have feminine appearance. They don't have any sexual organs and their method of reproduction is still unknown, they are attracted by large numbers of humans and are compelled to chase and devour them, it's already proven they don't do it for nourishment, they don't have a fully functional stomach, titans devour humans for the mere sake of killing them, they don't interact with or seem to care about any other life forms. Titans also lack intelligence, although it was recently discovered they do acquire abilities and learn by trying things out. A number of titans was captured and put under experiments by members of the Scouting Legion, the results of those tests made it obvious that titans don't need to eat at all, but they become less active with the lack of sunlight, as if their source of energy is the sun, their bodies are also extremely light for their sizes and they do have distinct behavior patterns. Another curious aspect about titans is that their physical injuries heal at tremendous speeds, their only weak point seems to be a point located at the nape of the back of their necks. Humans learned about that and developed ways of fighting back, the Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear / 3D Maneuver Gear was an invention that made it possible. Making use of piston-shot grapple hooks, gas powered propulsors, handgrips and blades, humans gained mobility enough to aim for titans's well known weak spot. It is however, unfit for prolonged engagements, fighters are easy prey to titans once their gas suply is over, their mobility advantage is lost. When it comes to size, typical titans are categorized in 3-6 meter class, 7 meter class, 8-14 meter class, and 15 meter class. Some titans are not so ordinary, they have different behavior, higher intelligence, higher stamina or unusual intelligence, those are the Deviant type, when met on the field, they will ignore nearby humans and try to act in a way to cause more damage to the human party. But there are also some very unusual titans:
  • Ape Titan - This titan is probably the most unusual, its whole body is covered in fur, it's not humanoid, but instead it looks more like an ape, it is 17 meters tall or even taller, it is also very intelligent and capable of speaking human language and manipulate other titans. It doesn't appear to depend on sunlight like other titans and it doesn't have interest on devouring humans, this titan seems to have been in contact with humanity in a distant past but stayed distant for a long period of time, it shows a lot of interest in Mike's Three Dimensional Maneuver Gear and even carried it back with it under the pretense of studying it, that suggests there are other intelligent titans..
  • Wall Titans - They were revealed inside Wall Sina when the Female Type titan tried to climb it, they are alive, but unable to move because the situation they are in prevent them from receiving any sunlight, they also seem very similar to the Colossal Titan.
  • Titan Shifters - Titan Shifters are humans capable of transforming into titans, completely or partially, they mantain their human intelligence and can specialize in several different skills, like hardening their skin, focused regeneration, producing a hardened protective substance and so on, after transformation, the human is kept inside the weak spot all titans have, as if they were piloting the titan body. It is confirmed that the transformation consumes a high amount of stamina. The titan body resembles the human form. Up to this moment the series presented the following Titan Shifters: Colossal Titan (Bertholdt Fubar), Armored Titan (Reiner Braun), Female Titan (Annie Leonhardt), Dancing Titan (Ymir), Rogue Titan (Eren Yeager).

Main Characters

Eren Yeager

Eren is the main protagonist of Shingeki no Kyojin / Attack on Titan. He is very close to Mikasa and Armin, the three of them joined the Scouting Legion together. He holds a grudge against all titans after seeing his town destroyed by them. He is usually impulsive and easily goes on a rampage. Eren was devoured by a titan trying to save Armin and this is how the concept of titan shifting came to get known, it took him a few tries and failures to get into a controllable state as a titan shifter, he even attacked Mikasa once while trying to block the breached Wall Rose with a boulder. There is currently an unknown group/faction based somewhere outside the walls trying to kidnap him, who they are and their reasons are still unknown.

Mikasa Ackerman

Mikasa was saved by Eren when a few bandits killed her parents and kidnapped her, she received a red scarf from Eren after this event happened and has been holding it dear ever since. It is mentioned her mother was the last pure asian alive. After her parents's death, she was then adopted as Eren's sister and they have been together ever since. She was the best trainee during her times at the 104th Trainee Squad, and is without a doubt one of the strongest human soldier in terms of speed, skill and battle proficiency. She cares deeply for Eren and tries to follow and protect him.

Armin Arlert

Armin is not impulsive or physically fit as Eren and Mikasa, but he is the brain power of the group, in return, he has superior intelligence and talent as a strategist and field tactician. As a child Armin was often bullied and was constantly saved by Eren and Mikasa (well, it's more like Mikasa saved them both). He often acts as a mediator during difficult situations, or comes up with a brilliant solution, or even plays mind tricks with the enemy, like when he angered Bertholdt and Reiner to make them lower their guard, allowing Mikasa to get Eren back from their hands.

There are many other characters and so much more to say about Attack on Titan, but I think this is a good introduction about the main series aspects, I hope you found it useful.