The art of manga

Cian McLochlainn 

'Attack on Titan’ (2009 - present)

'Attack on Titan’ (2009 - present)

t is ironic enough that I should take the side of manga in this debate since it was anime that first introduced me to the world of Japanese animation. Yu-gi-oh!, Pokémon, Digimon, and Beyblade were features of many childhoods around the world, myself included. Watching Attack on Titan, and wishing to read ahead in the long wait for season 3, is what drew me into the dark fantasy written by Hajime Isayama.

It is said that manga goes back to scrolls from the 12th Century in Imperial Japan, but the word ‘manga’ came into mainstream usage in 1798, during the Edo period, where Japan isolated itself from the rest of the world and their native culture flourished. Manga has taken leaps and bounds since then, and is now a part of popular culture in the Western hemisphere.

While it’s easy to sit back and watch an anime series, lovers of animation should give manga comics a try as they offer something different in their daring style and engrossing story-telling. Nowhere is this more evident in the series Shinjeki no Kiojin or Attack on Titan. This post-apocalyptic action series debuted in 2009 and depicts a world where humans are forced to reside behind a system of three circular walls in order to avoid towering man-eating giants called Titans, that have supposedly hunted humanity to near extinction.

While the anime is a more than adequate adaptation of this manga series, the true darkness of the world seen in ‘Attack on Titan’ is far more evident in the manga, as we see how living in this nightmarish setting has damaged the main characters’ respective psyches. This is not to take away from how well the anime adaptation has translated Isayama’s work. However, the philosophical nature of the story; the choice to fight for freedom or continue to be subjugated, is a powerful story arc that cannot be truly replicated.

Isayama’s portrayal of the conflict between ethnicities has not yet been depicted in the anime, but it is doubtful the writers will be able to fully replicate one of the more controversial themes explored in the later arcs of the manga. The pacing of the manga is also far more relaxed compared to the anime and allows readers to fully invest themselves in the story, its characters, and its setting. This is where it wins over the anime, which does its best to do the same, but doesn’t achieve this, at least as of this point. While the latter is worth a watch, it is highly recommended that the former be chosen if one chooses to follow this series.