Suspense.. suspense where? While still mindlessly entertaining, Shingeki no Kyojin‘s premiere hasn’t yet demonstrated itself to be worthy of its hype.
The main lead Eren acts like he has a perpetual rod up his butt, pulling Higurashi faces every 30 seconds and having speedlines needlessly exaggerate everything. It just screams predictable (among everything else that screams in this episode..), and while the excellent animation values and excellent choreography keep everything entertaining still, it’s nevertheless a trite premise powered by forever-angsty storytelling. One other lost detail here is that while much of the beginning setup showed how the guards were lazy and that their sluggish efforts were obviously going to be punished for, we don’t see any of the town’s (fruitless) defenses even come into action. It’s merely a scene of the giants demolishing the town and everybody running away with Higurashi faces, while the show continues to blare out orchestral music. What was the point of those scenes then?
Other characters like Mikasa and Armin don’t stand out too much either, but they’re not hampered by anything as terrible as Erin is; still look forward to the development among this trio. Eren just plays the typical son of a famous scientist, and while a stock role, I’ll be interested in how he develops along with any themes or worldbuilding in the series. God knows how deep this series needs to be. Please don’t be just another action flick.
On the animation, I’m not sure how I feel about the bolded outlines on all the character designs, which offers a a weird comicky look that may or may not complement the narrative’s direction. We’ll have to see in future episodes whether it works or not. However, I’m definitely not a fan of the perpetually animated “speedlines” in addition to all those Higurashi faces.. On a plus, the architecture looks astounding whilst generic, and the animation is especially fluid. Overall, the visuals are quite excellent, but it’s often way too filtered with regards to certain cliches (e.g. the dilapidated flashback look coming from oldie slide reels). The CGI integrates flawlessly here, and it’s one of the few anime that actually does it justice without looking like a p.o.s. The Hollywood-esque soundtrack makes for excellent orchestral music that really adds to the atmosphere, but compounded to all the other exaggerations in the narrative, it does feel a bit over the top.
Overall, it’s only a setup for the story and while I can dismiss several of my complaints because of this, it’s still an averagely scripted setup to begin with. Definitely a show to look forward to however—whether it be a mindless action flick or not.