Monday, April 13, 2015

"Attack on Titan: No Regrets" OVA Review

Mild spoilers for anime and manga follow.

After having aired its first half back in December, the latest Attack on Titan OVA premiered just last Thursday to complete the two part origin story of Captain Levi, showing us all the heartache he went through before coming to fully trust Commander Erwin Smith.

I've already taken a look at the manga, which you can check out here. In short, it was really awesome and you should check it out if you're either curious about Levi's backstory or just want to read an epic origin story for an epic character.

Obviously, there had to be an anime adaptation for this, and I was very pleased that there was. The result? While not a by-the-books adaptation, as there were many variations, I would say it was just as good but for different reasons.

The basic story is the same as the manga: Levi, Farlan, and Isabel get an opportunity to live on the surface after living underground and being involved in crime, but have to work alongside the Survey Corps...while plotting to kill Erwin Smith. The anime takes a different route, though, adding in another subplot about Levi and the gang being hired to find something and in return getting citizenship on the surface.

We also really don't learn how it is that Farlan and Levi become masters of the 3D Maneuver Gear, but I also really don't care since we can just assume that he learned from all his time running away from the Military Police.

The two parts are rather distinct, with the pacing varying in both. I could have reviewed part one when it came out but decided to wait so I could review the whole story, and thus here we are.

Part One, surprisingly, focuses a lot on how Isabel came into the fold and why she is so involved with them, spinning a tale of the three caring for a small bird before releasing it back to the surface while also teaching Isabel how to use the 3DMG. The manga gives way more attention to Erwin and other Survey Corps members, but the flashback to Isabel's life was effective and helped give more character to the three. Plus, I'm not complaining, Isabel is one of my favorite Attack on Titan characters just in general, so seeing her backstory was awesome, too.

Part Two, I worried, wouldn't show enough as it would have to cover all the ground that was lost in the manga, but instead just sacrificed a few scenes that either foreshadowed to events that would happen in the main story as well as characters we would see more prominently, like Hanji, or other Survey Corps members. In the end, that much wasn't missed, especially not for what we got.

The scene where the trio are under the moon talking was not in the original story, I believe, but was very effective at furthering their character and even showing a lighter side to Levi, one that is more accepting of others rather than the cold personality we're used it. It also helped give more time with Farlan and Isabel where they can just sit around and talk, rather than having them constantly doing something.

The only really boring additions were some scenes with Erwin but even then those were pretty short and seeing what went into the development of the formation we would see later on in the main series was cool. The tension between Erwin and Levi was also pulled off well, as were the little hints and quick remarks Erwin would throw around to show he wasn't as aloof as everyone would think.

The only change I wasn't particularly fond of was Levi only taking down the one Titan the end rather than five. I mean, he does rip it to shreds and it is impressive, but I feel that five Titans is more impressive than just one (maybe) Aberrant Titan. Also, that Titan was not one of the normal Titans, I feel like it was one similar to Eren/ Annie just given how ferocious its eyes were. Perhaps it was really just an Aberrant who knows.

Still, that scene (you know, that scene) was extremely powerful. There was no sound--not even the sound of rain--and the imagery was horrifying, even for Attack on Titan. It was Episode 1 level of horror. This was pulled off better than the manga, in my opinion, as it captured the sheer shock of the moment for Levi. It added weight, and you could see everything just come crashing down on him before the switch flipped and he went berserk.

The one thing that anime will almost always have over manga is music and the fact that we can see things play out the way they are supposed to. Sure, in the Attack on Titan manga things move extremely quickly from panel to panel, but in the anime it's both more fluid and much quicker, giving action scenes like these more emphasis. Plus, given that this was one of only two action sequences the entire second half, it really stood out.

This OVA series doesn't end on the powerful note that the manga does, with Erwin's monologue coming off as much more profound and character-based than this one, but for what the special was going for--and what it left out--it did feel right in my mind and I was accepting of it. There wasn't that click that the manga had to Levi trusting Erwin, but I suppose it's hoping we're going to believe that over time their bond thickens to what it is during the 57th Expedition.

As for the animation and the music, well, it looks exactly like regular Attack on Titan does and it sounds the exact same. There's a new song added at the end but it's nothing special, it just fits the usual gloomy mood of AOT. The animation is still crisp during the fight scenes and when our characters are just walking around and its overall just a joy to see play out.

Guys, in the end, this OVA is really, really good. If you're a fan of Attack on Titan, then you need to watch this. If it anyway. It's tragic, it can be funny, and it's new Attack on Titan and it's probably one of the newest things we're going to get until Season 2 comes out in 2016. It's everything that people love about the show, with more character and a deeper understanding of Captain Levi. Who doesn't want that?

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @seanovan13 to stay up to date on when I post. Thanks for reading!

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