Attack on Titan

Weak

I really wanted to like this anime.  In concept, it’s basically a zombie-mecha anime.  The background art was fantastic and the mood music by Sawano Hiroyuki was very strong.  I just wish that the potential that existed was properly utilized.  All told, it felt like they could have been great, but just failed in the execution.

PURPOSE:  Weak.   It wasn’t clear what the anime was trying to do.  In the beginning, it appeared to be world-focused – about humanity overcoming an insurmountable threat.  However, it very quickly tried to make it character-focused anime – more about the effect of the world on the characters and their psyche.  Looking back from the end, it wasn’t ever clear exactly what the anime was trying to accomplish.  One serious problem with the overall purpose is that it kept revisiting the same themes, which essentially stagnated the path of the story.  What happened was that progress that was made both in the world and with the characters reverted to an earlier point.  Without a solid and clear path forward, it tended to make the entire anime stagnate.

CHARACTERS:  Decent.  Most of the characters were cardboard cutouts.  Generally if you look at the characters, there was very little in terms of complexity or even growth.  The main characters suffered from “king of the pirates” syndrome, where they often and loudly told us their only driving goal.  That goal didn’t take on any depth or substance throughout – it was an oft-repeated tagline that represented a singular, yet shallow purpose.  In the main group, only Armin had something approaching solid depth of character.  He  was learning, improving, and refining his view of the world.  That said, Levi was a superbly done character.  He had great depth and subtlety to his personality.  The way he was developed mirrored the overall theme of “becoming inhuman to save humanity.”  Yet, he was never a “bad” guy.  There was obvious internal struggle and many very human moments.  Sadly, Levi wasn’t given nearly enough screen time.  Aside from these, the only character that hinted at something interesting was the general, but they didn’t really explore him.

WORLD:  Decent.  Again, here we have hints of some really interesting things going on both inside and outside the walls.  However, there wasn’t enough there to really explore those aspects.  As it was, the world was tiny – most of the anime was done behind the second wall and you had a tiny glimpse behind the third.  There was really nothing done to expand the world beyond the walls.  For the viewer, they too were off limits.

PLOT: Decent.  As it was, it was fairly standard, but done in a fairlycompetent fashion.  There was a solid and logical progression of events that drove both the world and the characters.  However, there were some issues with the plot.  As is fairly common in related genre, they dwell far too long on angst and use it as a substitute for solid plot. Angst usually resolves with a decision that changes the course of the character.  In this case, it was a temporary course change, since they often regressed back into more angst.  When the same plot point comes up again and again, it loses the impact of the characters’ internal struggle, and negates forward progress made.

STORYTELLING:  Bad.  There was a great deal of filler in this anime.  Often, it was a scene completely unnecessary to what was going on or even yet another jaunt in fearful angst.  Compounding this problem was the way scenes were ordered.  There were quite a few scenes that would have been appropriate or even strong if placed at a different point.  As presented, it often rendered those scenes unnecessary or, worse,an obstacle to the progression of the story.  Particularly jarring was “the big reveal,” which was treated as though the viewer should have have seen this coming, even though those pieces of information were not really presented to the viewer.   Most galling is that this anime seems to be fixable through proper cutting and editing.

Sadly, the poor use of storytelling continues with their use of violence.  Normally, violence is a highlight that propels the story forward.  However, the violence in this anime didn’t really do anything.  It really was there for little more than the shock value. You can only see someone getting eaten or stepped on so many times before it loses its impact.  Even more, the fights were shockingly dull.  Mainly, the fights lacked cleverness or uniqueness.  Only the last handful of episodes displayed more varied and interesting combat – the kind that should have been seen throughout the anime.

PACE: Bad.  The pacing and tempo of the anime was wholly crippling. For most of the anime, every time they managed to build solid tension and plot momentum, it very quickly stalled. Worse, it tended to stall for several episodes at a time.  This contributed to the stagnation because they built to an important point, but then delayed the payoff for too long.  The lack of appropriate pacing presented a huge obstacle to character development, the use of violence as a plot device, and prevented the creation of atmosphere.  For the characters, they dwelled too long in places they shouldn’t have, and reverted progress made.  As a consequence, almost all the characters were little more than cardboard cutouts.  Violence itself was a victim of this stalling.  Many solid, violent scenes that progressed the plot were then “punctuated” by long sequences of talking or running.  During these sequences, additional violence was the simplistic “squash the squishy” type, which gets old, fast.  The same complaints mentioned above hamstrung the creation and maintenance of the mood.  Most galling, the anime showed that it was capable of maintaining solid pacing and tension, mostly in the last handful of episodes.

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Anime List

Here is the list of all the anime I’ve seen.  Updated June 12, 2015.

Anime Rating Chart

Please note that Anime “seasons” often follow the British “season” practice where the seasons are generally a separate series.  Splitting the parts of the series up lets me evaluate them on their own basis rather than having to average the ratings.

 

SEEN ALL Total 221
Bakemonogatari Masterpiece
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion Masterpiece
Code Geass: R2 Masterpiece
Eccentric Family Masterpiece
Monogatari Series Second Season Masterpiece
Mushi-shi Masterpiece
Mushishi: the Next Chapter Masterpiece
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun Masterpiece
Paranoia Agent Masterpiece
Psycho Pass Masterpiece
Shirobako Masterpiece
Steins; Gate Masterpiece
Tokyo Godfathers (Movie) Masterpiece
Aldnoah Zero 2 Excellent
Baccano Excellent
Darker than Black Excellent
Death Parade Excellent
Devil is a Part Timer Excellent
Durarara Excellent
Evangelion 1.0 You Are Not Alone (Movie) Excellent
Excel Saga Excellent
Fate/Zero Excellent
Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood Excellent
Giant Robo (OAV) Excellent
Hanamonogatari Excellent
Howl’s Moving Castle (Movie) Excellent
Kill La Kill Excellent
Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions Excellent
Love, Chunibyo, & Other Delusions Ren Excellent
Millenium Actress (Movie) Excellent
Mushishi: Hihamukage (OVA) Excellent
Nekomonogatari (Black) Excellent
Neon Genesis Evangelion Excellent
Pet Girl of Sakurasou Excellent
Selector Spread Wixoss Excellent
Trigun Excellent
The Wind Rises (Movie) Excellent
World God Only Knows Excellent
World God Only Knows Season 2 Excellent
World God Only Knows: Goddeses Arc Excellent
Yozakura Quartet~Hana no Uta~ Excellent
Yozakura Quartet~Tsuki ni Naku~ Excellent
Akira (Movie) Very Good
Aldnoah Zero Very Good
Blue Spring Ride Very Good
Death Note Very Good
Elfen Lied Very Good
FLCL Very Good
Freezing Vibrations Very Good
Future Diary Very Good
Ga-Rei-Zero Very Good
Gurren Lagann Very Good
Haganai Next Very Good
If her Flag Breaks Very Good
Inari, Kon Kon, Koi Iroha Very Good
Kawai Complex Very Good
Kokoro Connect Very Good
Kyousougiga Very Good
Little Witch Academia (Movie) Very Good
A Letter to Momo (Movie) Very Good
Puella Magi Madoka Magica Very Good
Minami-ke : Tadaima Very Good
My Neighbors the Yamadas (Movie) Very Good
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Very Good
Nisemonogatari Very Good
No game No life Very Good
Nobunaga Concerto Very Good
Nyan Koi Very Good
Paprika (Movie) Very Good
Penguindrum Very Good
Porko Rosso (Movie) Very Good
Rage of Bahamut: Genesis Very Good
Romeo x Juliet Very Good
Samurai Champloo Very Good
Selector Infected Wixoss Very Good
Selector Spread Wixoss Very Good
Senyuu Very Good
Senyuu Dai 2 Ki Very Good
Tsukimonogatari Very Good
Unbreakable Machine Doll Very Good
Wagnaria!! Season 2 Very Good
Wolf’s Rain Very Good
Yozakura Quartet ~Hoshi no Umi~ Very Good
Abnormal Psysiology Seminar Good
Azumanga Daioh Good
Baka and Test Good
Baka and Test 2 Good
Beyond the Boundary Good
Blast of Tempest Good
Chaika the coffin Princess Good
Comic Artist and his Assitants Good
Darker than Black: Gemini of the Meteor Good
D-frag Good
Dragon Ball Good
Durarara x2 Shou Good
Freezing Good
Fullmetal Alchemist (first one) Good
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Good
Haganai Good
Hellsing Good
High School DxD Good
Hozuki’s Coolheadedness Good
Hyouka Good
IGPX Good
Inou battle within Everyday life Good
K Good
Kotoura-san Good
Last Exile Good
Maid Sama Good
Mayo Chiki Good
Medaka Box Good
Minami-ke Good
Minami-ke: Okaeri Good
Minami-ke : Okawari Good
Minami-ke: Betsubara (OVA) Good
Mobile Suit Gundam Good
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Good
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny Good
Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Good
Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam Good
My Neighbor Totoro (Movie) Good
My little Monster Good
Oreshura Good
Pandora Hearts Good
Perfect Blue (Movie) Good
Princess Mononoke (Movie) Good
Ruroni Kenshin Good
Sekirei Good
Spirited Away (Movie) Good
Strike the Blood Good
Testament of Sister New Devil Good
Tokyo Ravens Good
Tonari no Seki-kun Good
Wagnaria!! Good
Witchblade Good
Witch Craft Works Good
Wolf Girl and Black Prince Good
World Conquest Zvezda Plot Good
Yuyu Hakusho Good
Zoids Good
Zoids Genesis Good
Zoids/Zero Good
Angel Beats Decent
Black Bullet Decent
Blue Exorcist Decent
Broken Blade (Movie Series) Decent
Castle in the Sky (Movie) Decent
Familiar of Zero Decent
Girls und Panzer Decent
A Good Librarian Like a Good Shepherd Decent
Heroic Age Decent
Hetalia: Axis Powers Decent
Hetalia: World Series Decent
Horizon in the Midle of Nowhere Decent
Horizon in the Midle of Nowhere II Decent
Infinite Stratos Decent
Jormungand Decent
Jormungand: Perfect Order Decent
Kiki’s Delivery Service (Movie) Decent
Knights of Sidonia Decent
Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (Movie) Decent
Magical Warfare Decent
Magimogi Rurumo Decent
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (Movie) Decent
Noragami Decent
Oreimo Decent
Ozma Decent
Rave Master Decent
Slayers Decent
Slayers Evolution-R Decent
Slayers Next Decent
Slayers Revolution Decent
Slayers Try Decent
Tenchi Muyo: War on Geminar (OAV) Decent
Toradora Decent
Vandread Decent
xxxHolic Decent
Zatch Bell Decent
.hack/sign Not Really Good
Black Lagoon Not Really Good
Black Lagoon: The Second Barrage Not Really Good
Bodacious Space Pirates Not Really Good
Campione Not Really Good
Claymore Not Really Good
Deadman Wonderland Not Really Good
Denki-gai Not Really Good
Dragon Ball Z Not Really Good
High school of the Dead Not Really Good
Muv-luv Not Really Good
Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ Not Really Good
Ponyo (Movie) Not Really Good
Problem children Not Really Good
STRAIN Not Really Good
Sword Art Online Not Really Good
Tokyo Ghoul Not Really Good
Attack on Titan Weak
Blade & Soul Weak
Chaos; Head Weak
Dragon Ball GT Weak
Fate/Stay Night (Original) Weak
Guilty Crown Weak
Inuyasha Weak
Is this a Zombie Weak
Maoyu Weak
Mobile Suit Gundam 00 Weak
Queen’s Blade Weak
So I can’t play H Weak
Storia Della Arcana Famiglia Weak
Welcome to the NHK Weak
Samurai Harem Weak
Aesthetica of a Rogue Hero Poor
Engaged to the Unidentified Poor
Mobile Fighter G-Gundam Poor
Naruto Poor
Princess Resurrection Poor
Pumpkin Scissors Poor
Aria the Scarlet Ammo Bad
I couldn’t become a Hero Bad
My Mental choices Bad
Psycho Pass 2 Bad
Terror in Resonance Bad
ABANDONED
Bleach @ ep. 301 Poor
Bobobo-bobobo @ ep 35 Not Really Good
Kyo Kara Maoh! @ ep 6 Bad
Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya @ ep. 10 Bad
Momokyun Sword @ ep. 1 Bad
Naruto Shippuden @ ep. 350 Weak
One Piece @ ep. 150 Weak
Watamote @ ep 4 Bad
WANT TO SEE
Barakamon
Blood Blockade Battlefront
Chaika – The Coffin Princess Avenging Battle
Chaos Dragon
Expelled from Paradise (Movie)
Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Gangsta
Garo: Honoo no Kokuin
God Eater
Gunslinger Stratos
Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon
Jitsu wa Watashi wa
Kizumonogatari (Movie)
Maria the Virgin Witch
Monster Musume
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO
Nisekoi
Parasyte – the maxim-
Plastic Memories
Psycho Pass (Movie)
Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers
Sankarea: Undying Love
Selector Spread Wixoss
Seraph of the End
Serial Experiments Lain
Seven Deadly Sins
Testament of Sister New Devil BURST
Trinity Seven
Uru in Blue (Movie)
Wakako-zake
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
Yona of the Dawn
Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Anime Rating Guide

This is a graph of the ratings I have given to the Anime I’ve seen.  Below the chart, I have included short descriptions of the ratings.  Below the ratings are the main elements that are included within the overall rating.

Masterpiece:  This anime is an exemplar.  All the elements in this anime are very strong or above.  At least two elements must be masterpiece.  For an element to be a masterpiece, it has to be excellent, but have done something really special, unique, or interesting.  I would personally introduce this anime to someone by watching it with them.

Excellent: This anime is highly notable. Generally, this anime has extremely strong elements.  There’s an 85% chance I’d re-watch this anime while showing it to someone.

Very Good: This anime is a strong pick.  The elements are better than average. This category also contains anime that average out – some really strong elements that are able to mitigate some weaker ones.  There’s about a 65% chance I’d personally introduce this anime.

Good: This anime is worth watching.  Overall, the elements are competently done.  Generally, this anime is not particularly strong, but doesn’t contain any glaring weaknesses.  While I might recommend it to someone, I’m not exactly likely to watch it with them.

Decent: This anime doesn’t stand out.  While it could be worth a watch for some mild entertainment, it can generally be described as “bland.”  It won’t really stand out for good or ill.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but wouldn’t caution against it either.

Not Really Good: This anime was underwhelming. Generally, there will be some problems with the elements that detract from an otherwise competently executed anime.  I might give a caution for someone wanting to watch the anime.

Weak: This anime was disappointing.  There’s usually wasted potential. Aside from the potential, there are usually elements that significantly detract from what could be a competent anime.  I would not recommend these anime.

Poor: This anime was notable for its failings.  Glaring weaknesses are present in this anime.  The weaknesses substantially get in the way of a pleasurable viewing experience.  I would warn people away from this.

Bad: This anime was painful to watch.  These anime have weaknesses that could be described as gaping holes.  The weaknesses were so severe, I often wondered why I was wasting time watching it.  So painful, even Statler and Waldorf wouldn’t have fun criticizing it.

ELEMENTS:

Purpose:  The overall path the story takes to reach its resolution.  This is the “bird’s eye view” of the path from beginning to end.  A strong purpose ensures that the path is always making progress towards the end goal.  A weak purpose takes unnecessary detours – it makes the path go places that don’t really help the viewer reach the goal.

Does the anime have a clear goal? What is the overall goal of the anime?   Where does this anime end up?  How many detours from the goal does the anime take?  Do those detours make the viewer lose sight of the goal?

Characters: The actors in the story.  Good characters have breadth and depth in the form of “rules” that guide their actions, much the same way as real people do.  For example, good characters have unique or complex motives, goals, ideas, ways of thinking, ways of interacting with the world, etc.

How well developed are the main characters and supporting characters?  Do they have complex goals, motives, reasons, etc. for acting?  Do they have complex flaws? Are the characters closer to a real person or can they be described as a cardboard cutout?

World/Setting: This is where the story takes place.  The world itself can be a “character” in the sense that it has its own set of rules and can strongly affect the story.  A “bigger” world has more moving parts in the form of events, characters, factions, history, etc.  These parts turn the story even without the characters’ intervention.

How interesting and unique is the world in the anime?  How much attention to detail went into the creation of the world?   Is the world internally consistent?  What kinds of things are happening in the background, apart from our characters? Is the world bigger than the characters or are the characters most of the world?

Plot:  Important changes or events in that happen in the story.  Generally, it’s like a snapshot of a particular situation that changes the course of the story.  These snapshots act like stepping stones towards the resolution.

What kinds of challenges, difficulties, or situations are presented to the characters? How do these situations drive the characters closer to the purpose (or end point) of the anime?

Storytelling: A broad category that relates to the presentation of information to the viewer.  Artistic elements, writing, tone, mood, and perspective are all parts of storytelling, among others. In broad terms, storytelling is how the various plot points are connected together and guided to the resolution.

How is the information (plot, character development, setting, etc.) presented to the viewer?  How many stories are being told?  Does the anime shift perspectives?  Is the viewer told things that are going on or shown what’s going on?  How is the anime’s timeline constructed?  Is it chronological, story/concept-focused, etc?  Do these devices help the viewer or get in the way?

Pace/Tempo: An important part of storytelling – so important, it gets its own category.  This relates to the anime’s ability to manage the spacing of the plot points and the speed of the storytelling.  This involves how long the anime lingers on and develops plot points.  The pace can control things like mood, dramatic tension, and sense of time.  Pace is a little odd in the sense that a stronger pace is less noticeable.  In other words, the better the pacing the more invisible it becomes.  In a sense, it’s like a good office manager – if it’s doing its job properly, you don’t realize how important it is.  It’s only when it goes wrong that you notice it.

How quickly is the information presented to the viewer?  Does the speed of presentation allow for an appropriate amount of depth?  Does the speed change?