Halloween Week: Why Attack on Titan is Terrifying


In all seriousness, I haven’t celebrated Halloween in years. There are many reasons for why that is, but they’re irrelevant. What matters right now is that I’m writing a Halloween-themed piece. Seriously, don’t make me whip out my black cat!

Anyway, my initial reaction to this theme was hesitation. Sure, I’m game for a Halloween-related article, but my choices are limited…at least with what I know of, anyway. I’d have plenty to write about with Western animation, I’m much more familiar with that, but anime? Um, Kiki’s Delivery Service counts, right? It’s about a witch, so…nah, that’s not Halloween-y enough. Hmm…

Gurren no Yumiya - Attack on Titan


Close your eyes for minute. I want you to picture a world where people are down on their fate, and all around gigantic beasts called Titans run amuck. They go around eating every human in sight, always without warning and never without mercy. As an inhabitant of this world, you live in a fortified city that’s surrounded by these creatures. For the time being, you live life comfortably. But in the blink of an eye, everything can change…

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Attack on Titan, a world that, in my opinion, is one of the scariest in anime, for many reasons.

Firstly, the premise. I know I already described this world to you, but think it over again: you’re in a world where gigantic, humanoid monsters are going around and eating people. This raises several questions, like, “Where did these monsters come from?” “Why are they eating people?” “How do you stop them?” And since none of these questions have direct answers, it makes the situation kind of terrifying; after all, the less we know about something, the more disturbed we are by it. Fear of the unknown.

Secondly, the reality of this world. In one of his bi-weekly editorials, The Nostalgia Critic discussed how the terrifying truth of The Walking Dead wasn’t that zombies lived in that world, but that zombies have lived in that world for so long that its citizens have, essentially, gotten used to it. It made having to deal with said reality that much more frightening, as it was an evil that couldn’t disappear. Instead, the only option was to accept that zombies existed, that you were always in danger of being attacked by one and that you had to persevere to stay alive. It was a living nightmare, in other words.

In my opinion, Attack on Titan is no different: it’s a world where humans have to accept Titans existing alongside them, and they have to persevere in spite of it. But where as the show The Nostalgia Critic is referring to is a case of not being infected by a zombie, in this case it’s a matter of not being eaten by a Titan. Since immediate death is more frightening than being infected, it edges out slightly on the fear scale. You can outrun it, play chicken, or even try fighting back. But once a Titan has you in its mouth, you’re already dead.

(Via FUNimation.)

Thirdly, leading from my last point, the Titans. Ranging in sizes and shapes, those humanoid creatures are nightmares. It doesn’t matter if they’re abnormal, sentient or regular, the fact that they look like giant people is a problem on its own. But add their strictly human diets, and you have the scariest enemy ever. And it regenerates too! In fact, save for the napes of their necks, Titans are virtually invincible.

And finally, the amalgamation of the aforementioned points make for a living Hell on Earth. Would you want to live in a city that’s only walled to keep out giant, humanoid-like creatures that feast on humans for fun? That waking fear that you might not live to see your best friend, family or community tomorrow morning? That pounding concern for your own life, one that’ll never leave for a second, simply because some giant might devour you without warning? Is that what you want? Because if it is, then you’re braver than me.

Happy Halloween. And remember, the only creature in life scarier than the one you understand is the one you don’t understand…


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