NOTE: I plan on revising this review because at times it's more of a ranty analysis than a review, and I'm not happy about that. It will be similar with what is said, but more coherent and far less ranty. SPOILER ALERT
Making a spoiler-free review is simply not possible if I want to write about all my thoughts on Attack on Titan. Besides, I’m sure the majority of the anime community has watched and completed the show so there should be no problem for most to read this review. If you are interested in watching Attack on Titan then I will go ahead and recommend it to you. It is fun, entertaining and different from most anime to come out in recent years and a good “thrill ride” anime to watch.
This review is rather long (it is more of an in depth analysis to be honest) it will begin with a shorter section. To reduce the size of the full review, the full review will mostly be a long analysis of the story and characters; the animation, sound, and enjoyment sections will touched upon in the shorter section with a small summary on the story and character sections that the full review will touch upon in more detail. There might be some minor spoilers for the manga (depending on what you consider to be a spoiler) but for the most part the manga will not impact the review outside enjoyment.
From here on there will be major spoilers for Attack on Titan. You have been warned. First Part Story
There is nothing complex about the plot for Attack on Titan and it is pretty straightforward. The only times it is not straightforward is when the story does not show something until WELL after it has happen, choosing to use the method of info dumping flashbacks instead. The story suffers from extreme pacing issues, going from really fast to being slow whenever it feels like it. Attack on Titan also likes to info dump the audience in order to not show what is going on in the world; for example, the first two episodes just dumped info the audience about what is going outside the chaos so that it could focus solely on the chaos going on in Shiganshina. Another example of info dumping is during the training arc as it is never explained by the characters how 3D Gear works and goes in depth with their training but Attack on Titan does dump info on 3D Gear to the audience instead. Attack on Titan also likes to focus on one event or one battle and make it appear as though it is the most important in the world; because the story likes to do this there is very little time for characters to develop and prevents the audience from connecting with them. Attack on Titan also fails at being a thriller and instead uses shock value to tell the story. There is very little build up or foreshadowing and for the most part things happen unexpectedly, which would be fine if it did not do that at every possible moment to the audience shocked… which apparently people like… somehow…. What Attack on Titan does accomplish is creating a living of fear that the characters live in. However, due to the nature of the Attack on Titan, there are many things that left unexplained and only serve to create questions that not answered (keep in mind this a review for the anime, not the manga, so anything from the manga will NOT affect this review); because of this the story is not complete and has a few plot holes. The plot also likes to execute everything in the most over the top and exaggerated manner to give Attack on Titan an epic feel, and it does work to give it a grand scale and epic feel, but simply feeling epic does not make something epic. Characters
Probably the weakest part of Attack on Titan are the characters as the vast majority of them are undeveloped and serve to kill Titans and/or die; this is thanks to the pacing destroying any time Attack on Titan could had used to develop the characters and instead only a few actual get developed. Eren is far too angry to be allow the audience to connect with him and his anger and desire to join the Recon Corps are unjustified by his mother’s death as he has shown those traits even when his mother was alive; the only thing that the death of Eren’s mom changed in Eren was the desire to kill Titans and just makes him a cliche avenger and makes it harder for the audience to connect with him. Mikasa is Eren’s robotic babysitter and kills Titans like nothing; sure she had some development when she believed Eren was dead but that thrown away when Eren was revealed to be alive and she reverted back to robotic babysitter mode. Armin slowly develops as the series progresses to being a slightly more confident in himself and, while not an extremely intelligent person that show likes to show him off as, is smart and possesses the ability to think, something several characters lack. Jean also develops from a prick character into being a leader type character, which is what makes him and Armin the good characters. Everyone else does not really develop and there is not much to talk about them, thanks to the pacing and focus of Attack on Titan. (Sasha is also the only character I like because of the potato scene… sadly the series focuses very little on her and she does not have much time on screen nor does she develop. I think we can all agree that Attack on Titan needed more Sasha.) Animation
One of the stronger points of Attack on Titan is the animation. The animation is fantastic during the action sequences. It’s smooth, fluid, and looks amazing but there are times when it isn't quite as good as it could had been. There are hiccups of course that prevents me from giving animation a higher score (like the scene where Hannes as a Recon Corps uniform instead of a Garrison uniform). The animation is still inconsistent at points with some scenes being poorly animated and others looking amazing. Studio Wit used exceptional use of CG animation to make the environment look gorgeous. My main problem is the animation for the characters as Studio Wit decided to use thick black lines to outline the characters to make them stick out. It is an acquired taste and some may not be able to acquire it. Another thing is how the Titans were designed to appear dreadful and creepy in the first two episodes but after that the Titans look rather derpy and look really stupid, which I can not really fault Studio Wit for that but rather Hajime Isayama but it still is part of the Attack on Titan anime. Nonetheless the animation was made to make the action scenes fun to watch. I just wish it was always like that. Sound
The most noticeable music played in Attack on Titan are the openings, especially the first one which quickly hooked many people and it probably one of the best openings I have seen and heard (ofc this is my biased opinion). Probably the strongest point in Attack on Titan is the soundtrack composed by Hiroyuki Sawano. It helps with the dramatic executions the story likes to do and creates and feeling of epicness. The soundtrack never fails to help the audience get excited, which is also a good thing. It’s a great soundtrack overall but the series does like to reuse several tracks… a lot, which may or may not be something that may bother some people; I personally did not have a problem with this. The voice acting is also really good, with special mention to Yuuki Kaji, who does a great job at capturing Eren’s anger, and for someone who is not a fan of Yuuki Kaji such as myself, he did a good performance; if only Eren would show more emotion outside of anger or anything that would NOT involve yelling and screaming then maybe Kaji would had been able to do more. Overall the sound for Attack on Titan is strongest point it has. Enjoyment
Despite all the problems I have with Attack on Titan I still enjoyed it. I will admit that some of my enjoyment for this anime was lost as I have read the manga before the anime so I had already knew everything that was going to happen. Having already knowing what would happen because of the manga I decided to instead find enjoyment in analyzing the anime. I did have a fun time doing that. Overall I enjoyed Attack on Titan even if I did have a hard time liking characters (having only succeeding in liking one and I had already liked that one in the manga). I'd say enjoyment was 7/10 (would had been 8/10 if I didn't know what was going to happening because I read the manga).
From this point on, you can skip the larger second part and go right down to the final verdict as the second part is more a detailed analysis than a review. If you feel like reading the second part you are more than welcome to read it.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Second part Story
In the world of Attack on Titan there are gigantic beings called Titans have devour the majority of humanity; the Titan’s origins are unknown and very little is known about them. They appear to be rather stupid beings that eat humans, and only humans, for the sake of pleasure. A few survivors managed hide inside walls 50 meters high; these walls are tall enough to tower over the Titans, keeping the Titans out and humanity safe. However this safety humanity was given will soon end after 100 years when a colossal 60 meter tall Titan appears out of thin air. The Colossal Titan destroys one of the Shiganshina only to leave as quickly as it appeared. Soon the town become flooded with Titans, bring chaos and death everywhere. The situation becomes worse once an Armored Titan destroys the gate that leads into the inside of Wall Maria, leaving humanity to abandon a third of their land, resources and a proportion of their population.
These first two episodes are rather well for being fast paced, but I wouldn't call them great. AoT gives an introduction to the setting and to the main characters: Eren, Mikasa and Armin. Attack on Titan also gives the premise of the show along with some drama and chaos to keep the audience interested. This sounds good, but it really looks better on paper. However the first two episodes are too fast and it makes it hard to focus on what is happening and Attack on Titan uses the confusion caused by it’s fast pace to just info dump the audience with what is happening off screen. These first two episodes could have easily been 3 or 4 episodes and the first arc would have been much better. Sure it adds excitement, but does not make something good, let along great. It only makes Attack on Titan more entertaining and fun but at the sacrifice of being good and showing us how the world works choosing to just dump info on the audience instead. This is also the only time that all the Titans shown are creepy and don’t look like derpishly drawn giants.
The first two episodes also overuse dramatic execution (like the rest of the series) and use it to their advantage and tried to make the death of Eren’s mom as dramatic and emotional as possible. The fact that she is only see her alive in that one episode lessens the impact and just leaves the audience shocked. She had no development nor did anything to become someone who could care. The only things the audience got from HER was that she was the protagonist’s mother, acted like one (as one would expect her to) and then killed by a Titan; in other words, the audience only cares about her death because she is Eren’s mom. Her entire purpose is to give something to motivate Eren’s anger and to make him have a strong hatred for Titans so he could join the Recon Corps. This might have worked if it weren't for the fact that Eren was practically born to be angry 24/7, as seen in the first episode even before his mom died and in Mikasa’s flashback where he murders two men as a child and feels no remorse. This is doubled with the fact that Eren had already planned to join the Recon Corps as shown in the first episode. The death of Eren's mother really had little to no impact on the series and it would had been same with or without her death. The only thing it added was Eren’s hatred for Titans. This scene could had also been used to make the audience sad for Eren but the fact that there has not been a chance for the audience to connect with Eren removes any chance for that happening; this also removes any chance of the audience connecting with the other characters.
Moving on from the first two episodes, we are now in the arc where we see the three main characters join the military, enter training to be precise. Here we see Eren and his friends train to join the likes of the Recon Corps. We meet some characters but most of those characters only exist to die in fear, and that’s it for them. Casting aside the characters that only exist to die, we have some characters that don’t die: Jean, Sasha, Connie, Annie, Reiner, Bertolt, Ymir, and Krista. Another that happened in this arc is Sasha’s introduction, which was rather pointless and only served as random comic relief. With Attack on Titan trying to be this dark and serious show it works against it. Attack on Titan has this serious military setting ruined when the writers decided to be funny by adding that pointless potato scene. If the writes want to make a dark and serious show and want comic relief, then that comic relief has to have a purpose (such as lightening the mood from a depressing) otherwise it will feel out of place and be unnecessary. However, I will admit that because of this Sasha became the only character I like in Attack on Titan, she is not the best character, that would go to Armin, but she was the only one I liked and the only reason I like her was because of this scene (aka, Sasha wouldn't be likable if this scene did not exist).
The purpose of this arc is mainly to show the main characters in their training years and meet new friends, but most of these friends will die for the sake of dying and to make the show look mature and dark; because killing off characters like nothing automatically makes a show serious, dark and mature! Another problem with the “training arc” is that we don’t see really much training. Humanity has been fighting Titans for over 100 years but it is never shown how anything is done. Sure AoT shows them going around using their 3D Maneuver Gear, but we never see how it is actually used or explained properly. It exists only to help humanity try to kill Titans and serves no other purpose. Yes, I know the transition slides at the middle of the episodes explain it, but it is never shown nor explained in the actual show even though it was the training arc. For anyone who wants to point out the hand to hand combat training scene as part of training, I ask you this: How the hell does hand to hand combat help you kill Titans?
One thing this arc did right was introducing the characters mentioned earlier. There really isn’t any development in this arc but at least they got introduced. Jean the practical asshole and foil to Eren, Sasha the comic relief, Connie the other comic relief, Annie the girl who just glares and is cold and gives off a bitch attitude which apparently makes her badass, Reiner the reliable big brother, Bertolt the quiet guy, and finally Ymir and Krista who are really only important in the manga because Krista is just the cute and small pretty girl and Ymir is more or less her bodyguard (the manga goes into more depth with them but sadly this is the anime I’m here to review). The highlight of this arc was these character interacting with each other, but the only interesting interactions were between Eren and Jean because of their fighting and bickering.
The show continues with the main characters and their friends graduating from training and become soldiers. Soon afterwards, Eren and some of his friends are shown at Trost working on the cannons before they get to choose which faction of the military they will join. Suddenly, with any warning or foreshadowing to create a sense of thrill, the Colossal Titan shows up and destroys the gate and Titans invade human territory and the elite of the Recon Corps are out on a expedition leaving inexperienced soldiers to fight the Titans (although the story doesn’t tell the audience until later on when it dumps info on them). Once again Attack on Titan succeeds in shocking the audience. It also marks the beginning of the derpy looking Titans.
Despite people’s claims that Eren grows to care about his comrades as the anime progresses, thus developing as a character, it is shown in this arc (one of the first few episodes) that Eren does indeed care for his comrades even if he is angry 24/7. One of his friends is killed by Titan and what do you know? Eren reacts by going after that Titan to avenge his friend (one does not go out to avenge something or someone did not care about). However Eren fails to do so and has his leg bitten off as his friends die one by one. As all of his friends die around him, Armin becomes paralyzed by fear and is almost swallowed by a Titan, only for Eren to miraculously get up and somehow get inside the mouth of the Titan and pull Armin out. After saving Armin, Eren decides to monologue while still inside the mouth of the Titan and BOOM the Titan shuts his mouth and swallows Eren as his arm flies out, thus this anime succeedes in shocking the audience by showing the audience Eren’s “death.”
This entire scene happened because the plot required it. The plot needed the monologue to show Eren’s interest in the outside world and tell the audience why he is interesting in the outside world; the plot also needed for Eren to “die” so that it could continue and to add more shock value. I would have at least applauded the creator of Attack on Titan for having the balls to kill of the main character, that way Armin could possibly grow as a character and Mikasa could have learned to live life without Eren so that her reasoning for existing would go far beyond “I must protect Eren! Protect!” and also develop (and maybe become the main character instead). Unfortunately Eren did not die so all of Mikasa’s development as a character in the next few episodes is thrown away and becomes pointless (I did say there would be spoilers). Another problem I had with this was the fact that this scene, when I first watched it, made me think that this show has no problem with killing off anyone. Some would say this creates the feeling that no one is safe, but really is saying that no one is important enough to live. The feeling of no one is safe should not be felt because the characters are flat and undeveloped to make the audience connected with the characters enough to care whether they die or not, preventing the audience from experiencing such a feeling and creates a feeling of “I wonder is going to die next?” instead.
Now we have this scene where we have a merchant who exists only to be hated by the audience so that Mikasa can look like this really cool character. The merchant believes his money is worth more than the lives of the common folk and has this unnecessarily large carriage filled with his money. Since the carriage is unnecessarily large because the plot demands it, the carriage is too big to go through the gate leading into the Wall. Now the people can’t get through the gate since it is now blocked and the greedy man refuses to let anyone go before him because his money is more important. He exists only because the plot demands someone to block the gate and because the plot wants the audience to hate him; hell this anime with filled with characters who exist solely to be hated by the audience, which will be touched upon later.
Here comes Mikasa (after killing Titans like nothing like it’s the easiest thing in the world) and decides to do something about it, which is completely out of her character since she only cares about Eren and has yet to learn about his “death”. Mikasa threatens the merchant into giving up on escaping with his money and threatens him to let the people escape, which she ends up in succeeding. Since this man exists only for the audience to hate so that the audience can think, “Mikasa is cool, she just saved all those lives,” in their heads. This entire scene did not advance the plot and does nothing to make the plot go on; but this scene happens because the plot wants the audience to think highly of Mikasa. Suddenly Mikasa decides to have a flashback when there is no reason for the flashback to even happen and feels out of placed and awkward.
In her flashback the audience learns about her parents and how they were killed by her kidnappers. The audience also learns that Eren murdered two of those kidnappers who are probably trained like nothing and tried to justify it by saying they were animals disguised as humans, because that is what kids do? They don’t try to get help in order to rescue a kidnapped girl, instead they try to kill the kidnappers instead and convince the girl to kill the third kidnapper? Does it make sense for a child to do that? Does it also make sense for a girl to fall in love with a boy who killed her kidnappers and convinced her to kill the third one then makes her entire existence devoted to protecting the boy just because he put a scarf on her? Of course not!
After the gates are closed Mikasa decides to find Eren and eventually learns about his “death” from Armin. She decides to lead the stranded soldiers to the supply HQ but runs out of fuel because she was venting out her despair on the Titans and Armin and Connie go after her, leaving Jean in charge. Under Jean’s leadership many die and he questions his leadership skills and the audience gets some insight on Jean’s character; he eventually is able to get some of the soldier to HQ at the cost of sacrificing many lives. Meanwhile Mikasa begins to reflect on her actions and Eren’s “death” and decides to never give up and to continue to live despite her reason for living, Eren, being gone so that she can remember him. It wasn’t the best character development I’ve seen but at least it was something and from here Mikasa begins to develop as a character (until she discovers Eren is really alive and reverts back to robotic babysitter mode). As a Titan gets closer to Mikasa, a Rogue Titan (Titan Eren, I did say there would be spoilers) appears and kills the other Titan. At least the show does foreshadow that the Rogue Titan is Eren.
Eventually Armin and Connie find Mikasa and witness the Rogue Titan killing several other Titans knowing their weak spot, the nape of the neck. After having suicidal thoughts because he feels like he would just be a burden but being stopped by Mikasa, Armin, being one of the few characters that possesses the ability to think in the show, comes up with a plan to lure the Rogue Titan by having Mikasa and Connie kill all the Titans near the Rogue Titan so it could focus on the ones at HQ. Having the ability to think and come with plans is what probably makes Armin one of the few good characters in the show, the only problem is that the show likes to show Armin as this really intelligent teenager, but he is only comparatively intelligent as everyone just panics. He still is smart though.
Armin’s plan ends up succeeding and the three arrive at HQ where they meet up with Jean the rest. Once again Armin is the only one who is able to think of a plan and comes up with a way to kill the Titans in the supply room, which almost works as planned until Sasha and Connie mess up killing their targets and are saved by Mikasa and Annie. Jean and Marco have a talk while getting fuel and here the audience sees a bond between them as Marco explains to Jean why he would be a good leader.
After everyone gets their fuel and heads for the inner wall, Mikasa, Armin, and a few other witness Eren emerge (along with a new arm and leg) from the Rogue Titan’s body after it fights several Titans. They decide to keep it a secret but are quickly discovered by some members of the Garrison; these soldiers exist to be one-dimensional assholes who live in fear so that the audience can hate them in an attempt to create a intense atmosphere. They accuse Eren of being a spy and act in a panic and confused manner wishing to kill Eren because they are afraid. Cannons fire but Eren partially turns into a Titan to block the attack. Armin then tries to convince the scared soldiers to not firing at Eren and instead use his power to kill Titans, which they do not agree to but Commander Pixis stops them from firing more rounds and decides to use Eren to block the hole in the wall, which Eren agrees to.
Pixis is able to get soldiers to go back and help Eren block the hole in the wall after an over exaggerated and over dramatized speech. Eren and a few select elite soldiers and Mikasa go to the boulder but Eren tries to attack Mikasa once he transforms into a Titan and knocks himself out which is only really explained as being the stereotypical “shounen hero has a dark power that he can not control, at least not yet (Naruto, Bleach, Ao no Exorcist, and a few others do this because it’s something shounens do and a grim reminder that Attack on Titan is a shounen). Eventually Armin goes over to where Eren is and gives him a friendship speech (a grim reminder that this a shounen) about going outside the walls and Eren regains control over the Titan body. Having regained control Eren picks up the boulder and blocks the hole in the wall at the cost of many lives. The returning Recon Corps show up and manage to save Eren who is now out of Titan form. The aftermath of the battle is shown and Jean finds Marco’s corpse and Eren is locked in prison. This takes about 3 episodes to happen and is probably one of the series’s slower paced episodes.
Then the trial episode which could be summed up as one-dimensional assholes (who govern the government) who exist to be hated by the audience so they can cheer for Eren as they try to get Eren executed but Levi beats Eren up and somehow that convinces the judge to let Eren join the Recon Corps to see if he a threat or an ally to humanity. This was just to make the audience view the Military Police and government of the world as “bad guys” (the people who want to stay inside the walls) and view the Recon Corps as the “good guys” (the people who want to go outside the walls). The next episode goes into Eren doing stuff with the Recon Corps, discovers he can only transform into a Titan if he is motivated to do something and bites his hand (not shown until the Female Titan arc), and the audience is introduced to some Recon Corps soldiers who are only memorable because of their quirks in the show’s attempt to try and make the audience like these characters but they don’t really do much to make a connection between the audience and them, except for Petra because people actually cared about her… although the only thing she did was be female. Seriously, the majority soldiers in the Recon Corps have quirks and their personalities are practically governed by those quirks because the creator thought it would make these characters interesting but instead it makes these character one-note characters and rather boring. Also they show off Hange’s Titan fetish and captured Titans who are killed. The following episode is just pretty much about trying to find who killed the captured Titans (Armin notices that Annie used Marco’s 3D Gear but doesn’t say anything, but the audience doesn’t find this out until the last few episodes of the anime, great foreshadowing), the graduates choose which faction of the military they join, and the Recon Corps gets ready for another expedition.
Female Titan shows up during the expedition, screws everything up, then Commander Erwin orders the center of the formation to go into the woods (these woods were never mentioned until the plot demanded there be trees to go into) while the rest of the Recon Corps stops Titans from entering the woods. Female Titan still gets into the woods, kills a lot of people, get captured, escapes which takes about 4 or 5 episodes and, even though it’s action packed (Female Titan killing everyone) it’s extremely slow paced (although the slow pacing began around the earlier episodes, picking up on certain parts, but for the most part the slow pacing has stayed up until the end of the 20th episode). Episode 21 decides to kick up the pacing again and go really fast like it did in the first 2 episodes. The Female Titan kills Levi’s squad, Eren turns into a Titan to avenge them, fights the Female Titan and realizes it uses human hand to hand combat, loses the fight, and gets captured by the Female Titan, Levi and Mikasa (mostly Levi) rescues Eren, the Recon Corps heads back to the walls, so the mission was practically a failure and Erwin and Eren are ordered to go to the capital to decide Eren’s fate; all of this which happens in only two episodes, so the pacing really picked up during these 2 episodes (the pacing is one of Attack on Titan’s main problems because it is never at an okay speed, it is also too fast or too slow).
The audience then sees Annie’s life a member of the Military Police, the story shows off the Military Police as assholes like it did the other time at court as well as corrupt and lazy (because Attack on Titan wants to make audience view the people who stay inside the walls are bad). Later she meets Armin and agrees to help him get Eren to escape the capital but Armin reveals he suspects Annie is the Female Titan and they to capture to her (flashback in the next episode info dumps the plan they came up with) and Annie turns into a Titan. Eren tries to transform but can’t and spends the entire episode trying to transform but does so at the end of the episode and starts to fight Titan Annie (great job writers). After fighting Annie loses but manages to do damage to the wall before losing; she also traps herself in some weird crystal thing so she can not be in interrogated and the anime ends with part of the wall falling off to reveal a Titan inside. This also rather fast paced and it does not end properly, but it wasn’t meant to end properly since they were going for season 2 so it can be overlooked if a second season does come out. Character
Due to the pacing issues that anime has, the vast majority of characters do not develop and most of the characters just act out their parts and never go beyond that.
First off, Eren, the angry main character. As stated earlier in the review, the death of his mom does not really justify Eren’s anger and desire to join the Recon Corps as it is shown when he was a kid he was always angry (angry enough to kill two men, literally, and not feeling bad about it, showing no guilt or remorse) and already had a desire to join the Recon Corps. He does not grow to care about his comrades as the series progresses as it shown early on that he already cares for them. In other words, he does little to develop as a character as the series progresses. His anger also prevents the general audience to not be able to connect to Eren at all because most people, while they do get angry, are not angry almost all of the time so the general audience can not sympathize with Eren. His is also the cliche avenger type character and that is probably the only thing the death of his mother changed about him. His entire existence is to kill Titans to avenge her. Also, just because Eren is different from most anime protagonist to come out in different does not make him a good character since he is rather poorly written.
Mikasa, Eren’s adopted sister, can be described as the over glorified robotic babysitter. Through the series her role is protect Eren and kill Titans like the easiest thing in the world and nothing else. The only time the series ever goes into depth with Mikasa is during the Battle of Trost arc, mainly because her flashback and she believed Eren was dead. Her flashback did not really develop Mikasa as a character but rather was just exposition on her past. While she believed Eren was dead she did develop, not the best development ever but better than none. From giving up on life because she only lived to protect and then deciding to live on and continuing fighting… however any possible further development outside this was ruined when she discovered Eren is alive and goes back to robotic babysitter mode. There really is nothing more to say about Mikasa since from that point on all she does is protect Eren and kill Titans.
Armin, Eren’s best friend, is probably one of the few characters to develop in the series and the anime ends around the time when Armin’s development just starts to get noticeable (since the manga goes beyond the anime the reader gets to see Armin’s development more). Armin is also among the few good characters. Armin the pussy character with no confidence in himself up until he believes Eren is dead. After going through some suicidal thoughts he eventually decides to take the initiative and comes up with plans and takes an active role in those plans. He just the among the few characters that can think, and while he is smart, he is not the extremely intelligent person the show portrays him to be. As the series progresses the audience can notice that his self-confidence does increase slowly as he comes up with more and more plans, becomes more active, and towards the end of the anime Armin shows no problem screwing with people’s minds as he did with Annie.
Jean, along with Armin, are the only characters to actually develop, one of the few from the 104th Trainees Squad who possess the ability to think, and among the few good characters in Attack on Titan (in fact Jean and Armin are probably the only good characters). He starts off a prick and asshole who wishes to join the Military Police to live a safe live inside the walls. However, during the Battle of Trost arc, he experiences what it is like to be a leader and feels pain from watching the deaths of those under his command. Marco also notes that Jean understands weakness and is able to judge situations; because of this Marco believes Jean has what it takes to be a leader and is able to make Jean more confident in his leadership skills. After the battle Jean discovers Marco’s corpse which helped push Jean into joining the Recon Corps. He also serves as a rival and foil to Eren.
The rest of the 104th Trainees Squad can be summed up in a few sentences. Connie who just offers comic relief. Sasha, the most likable character because of the potato scene, who offers comic relief. Annie who pretty much exists to be the Female Titan. Reiner, Bertolt, Krista, and Ymri who don’t do much to progress the anime other than kill Titans (their importance in the manga will not impact this review as it is a review for the anime). Marco, who dies before he can develop as a character but does impact Jean and help with Jean’s development.
From the Recon Corps there is Levi, the “badass” of the series, really doesn't do much other than glare, clean, order people to do stuff, and kill Titans like nothing. Erwin just commands the Recon Corps. Hange has a Titan fetish and likes experiments. Levi’s squad had quirks about them but they die before they could do anything as characters, the only one worth mention is Petra because people did manage to like her in the short screen time she got. It does sound harsh that is all I have to say about them, but that is all the show gave me for them.
There are also the one dimensional assholes who exist to be hated by the audience and don’t offer much to the series. Examples are the people at court, the Military Police, the soldiers that wanted to kill Eren in the Battle of Trost arc (the ones with the canon), and the merchant who pretty only existed to be an asshole to make Mikasa look good. FINAL VERDICT
Attack on Titan is overall a fun anime to watch but it has gotten over-hyped and overrated. The animation and soundtrack are great with just a few hiccups preventing them from getting a higher score. The story suffers from pacing issues which impacts the characters negatively as the majority of them are unable to develop. I would recommend to show to most anime fans despite all it's problems. It's entertaining and shocking, but lacks in the foreshadowing department and instead uses info dumping. I did like it when it was airing and I had fun watching it, I just don't think it deserves the praise it gets.