Ideally, the topic of anime would be on the minds of many people in the United States market, and to a wide degree it is. However, when it comes to the idols of the horror subgenre, one of the scarcest fields of contemporary indie entertainment comes from animation. Though American audiences will be blessed by appearances of films like Henry Selick’s CORALINE or series such as “Courage The Cowardly Dog”. These exercises in horror are extremely unique and expand on a genre that has been left in the hands of shock filmmakers and factory-line dollar store cash-ins. However, this hasn’t been the case in film and series from over seas, which, sadly enough, is lacking a lot of exposure in the States, especially considering how much money is put into international releases of major films.
Every so often, a gem will work its way out of the far away shores and work its way to America, whether by word of mouth or by a large release for fans. This however brings me to a very recent development in the world of Japanese anime, which can be considered the most widely appealing animation style in the world. Tetsuro Araki is a widely acclaimed veteran of the anime world, sporting such major series under his belt such as “Death Note” and “High School Of The Dead”. His latest venture seems to follow the current world-wide craze of post apocalyptic material (considering 2012 was the second widely-accepted prediction about the end of the world, we are post-apocalyptic), that comes in chimes with games like Bioshock Infinite and the slew of Hollywood films dealing with similar material (OBLIVION, AFTER EARTH, WORLD WAR Z, PACIFIC RIM, ELYSIUM, etc.) being released this year.
This series is however titled “Attack On Titan”, a 25-episode series in which the world of humans live caged by enormous walls to ward off the Titans, which are in this universe, giant humanoids who eat humans. Unlike a lot of hooror-based anime that mix in an overtone of childishness and comedy, this series is bleak and starkly direct from its onset, and by the end of the first episode, the work screams at you to keep watching.
This series was released in Japan on April 7, 2013 and is continually running weekly. With the recent release of the second episode, it can be said now, with a degree of certainty, that Tetsuro Araki’s next masterpiece has hit the airwaves. Though ,there is a catch to this production. Unlike some horror-based anime (such as WHEN THE SEAGULLS CRY and BLOOD: THE LAST VAMPIRE) which are primarily independently financed and created, but released through large companies, Attack on Titan is a fully-funded work from Madhouse, one of the largest production companies in Japan (and personally, one of the best). However, Yasuko Kobayashi (writer of CLAYMORE and YU-GI-OH! THE MOVIE) sets about refining the characters, setting, mood and sense of panic so well, that one forgets that they are watching an animation.
A tragic perspective many in the professional film and television markets hold is that animation is not for adults, nor is it nearly as effective as live-action to relate to an audience. This cannot be further from the truth. Some animated works have the power to scare us, make us weep, make us laugh than animation, for whatever reason. Many anime such as WICKED CITY and VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST have become cult classics in America due to their unrelenting status as bonafide horror films. And with this work just now reaching America’s shores, it is hard to tell if this work will impact us in ways that works such as SPIRITED AWAY, AKIRA and “Naruto” have effected a large audience, or be left in obscurity such as horror gems GANTZ and WHEN THEY CRY. Only time and discovering each new episode will tell.