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Attack on Titanorism

April 9, 2013
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titanAttack on Titan. It’s all about giant titan things that go around eating peeps because that’s what they do. When you look at it there really isn’t much going on there, right? Ultracannibalism and that’s it.

Nah, man, check this out. Attack on Titan is some real right-wing reactionary anti-terrorism shit.

You have your little idyllic country town. No one’s allowed to venture out of the city without the government’s permission, and even then people question the need to ever leave the confines of said city. Everyone knows that outside the confines of their peaceful world exists legions of monsters ready to tear them limb from limb and drink their squishy parts like fleshy Go-Gurt. But even the so-called defenders of the city are lax in their duties. The dudes drink on the job, stumbling about the city as if no threat actually exists.

Then that wall comes tumbling down when a particularly powerful and humongous monster decides to smash into the wall, allowing a torrent of smaller titans to spill into the city and indulge in the all you can eat buffet within. The citizens are unprepared, incapable of fighting back, and even the men tasked with defending the city run away in fright.

The people were willfully unprepared for an obvious threat. The government turned a blind eye to said threat, preferring that tactic where a problem isn’t a problem if it isn’t visible. Isn’t that pretty much how some people view the current state of terrorism? The government seemed to turn a blind eye to these threats, then “out of the blue” the US gets attacked by terrorists on 9/11.

That’s what I’m seeing in Attack on Titan. It’s a pretty obvious analog to how some people perceive the events leading up to the current War of Terrorism. There was an apparent threat, but those in power chose to do nothing about it. Instead, the powers that be tried to hide away the problem and milk a false peace for all its worth.

What makes this comparison all the more nasty is how the Titans are presented. They’re human. Giant humans, yes, but their appearance is all too mundane. They’re monstrous due to their inhuman expressions, lack of clothing (and, apparently visible reproductive organs), and exposed musculature. They’re human yet not– much like how the more extreme views view Islam in recent years. They try to paint a picture of their very nature being blasphemous and evil, much like how the Titans in this anime are intentionally grotesque while still being distinctly human in form. “You just think they’re like us, but you’re wrong!” Yeah.

I have no idea if this is the intent of Attack on Titan, but yeah, this was the first thing that came to mind as I was watching it. It’s something of a reactionary, xenophobic response to modern terrorism. It’s a bit like Godzilla in that way if my reading here is right– just replace nukes with suicide bombers– the modern existential threat put in kaiju form.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2013 8:46 PM

    I can see the analogy you’re drawing, but I think that (if there is something deeper behind the writing) it’s either a lot more generic in terms of threat perception and less about the American experience with terrorism, or it draws from past and current Japanese geopolitical worries. And I don’t think it’s some nefarious, exclusively right-wing and xenophobic sentiment. Sometimes there are bad guys out there, and sometimes people would rather look the other way than take appropriate action. There’s plenty of fiction that draws on authorities ignoring a threat or a change in the world, with only the plucky protagonists ringing the alarm bells and/or fighting back. Plenty of history of that too, though there are equal measures of alarmists and warmongers throughout history that cried wolf based on no real evidence or their own petty interests.

    As a fiction example, there’s the protagonists in Harry Potter fighting against their hierarchy that’s trying to deny that Voldemort is coming back. [Full disclosure: The entirety of my experience with HP was from watching one movie that my friends took me to. But it was the one dealing with this.] Which seemed like an obvious draw from the author’s British experience with Churchill screaming about the Nazis while Chamberlain and others thought they had secured peace.

    Perhaps a historical instance that the author might be drawing from could be the Meiji Restoration. A backwards, inward-looking shogunate that wouldn’t get with the times and realize that the Europeans and Americans were carving up Asia and Japan would be next if they didn’t learn to employ modern weapons and government. It took a dedicated group of revolutionaries to fight for that, which is a heroic role to put one’s protagonists in in fiction. And maybe in more modern times, Japan (and certainly the right-wingers, so there could be some xenophobia mixed with the real concerns) definitely is wary of China becoming a bigger threat in the future. A fair amount of people and politicians, again, especially on the right, have felt that recent governments haven’t been aggressive enough in preparing to confront China and/or confronting them in non-military ways. Terrorism doesn’t seem to rate as high in the security outlook for Japan as it does for the U.S. So I’d argue that, the show is either drawing on the general idea of unpreparedness to give power and a good cause to the protagonists, or if it’s drawing on anything political, it’s from a different set of historical and security concerns specific to Japan’s experience.

  2. April 10, 2013 12:13 AM

    >(and, apparently visible reproductive organs)
    It’s been stated in the comics that they don’t have reproductive organs, so how they reproduce is a mystery.

  3. Stef permalink
    April 10, 2013 9:47 AM

    As ExecutiveOtaku points out, it might be hasty to compare the first episode of a Japanese cartoon to 9/11…

    Though it would be interesting to see what the message will be. I don’t expect anything deep from a sorta-kaiju anime, if something at all. Consider my expectations low.

    • Ghastper permalink
      May 24, 2013 7:46 AM

      My expectations also started pretty low, after episode 7, they’re pretty effin high now!

  4. Titus johnson permalink
    January 26, 2014 2:28 AM

    its very right-wing, think about it, they have human trafficking when theres giant zombies keeping people under siege. and ofcourse the kids have combat abilities equivalent to elite military commandos. i mean in japan kids were trained to be fighters in the 1930’s its like they want to bring those days back, those days the nazis asked the japanese to be more “moderate” in their war conduct in china and korea. the main hero is a hot headed delusional warmonger who wants kill every one of them zombies. and ofcourse people need heroes, super soldiers who are worth so much more than everyone else, im hoping the zombies win at every turn. i hoped the main kid actually died but naa hes just OP (over powered). The last oriental thing, like wtf they are the most common kind of human why is there only 1 left n why is everyone else white. ud think blacks could run behind the walls the quickest. Some typical pro japanese race thing goin on there, the constant emotional BS, oh my parents were killed so i must be more important than everyone else shit. everyone called a coward for not throwing their lives away, its for uptight try-hards, to relate to and be moved by. i got no sympathy for any of em, these humans deserve to loose, they allow people to get rich when under siege, instead of blaming them for being greedy, seize their wealth and use it for military equipment. that being said its entertaining when theres nothing else. I refuse to use the word titan, warhammer titans actually look good and are bigger. titans in greek mythology were clever, titans in Dune were fearsome, these overgrown zombies are a joke, this show never stops my laughter,with its right-wing shit i love it.

  5. HentaiAryan permalink
    May 29, 2014 3:32 AM

    >Humans = Europe
    >Titans = Islamization of Europe, devoured humans become dhimmi
    >Mikasa = the Japanese, comrades-in-arms of the Whites

    Seething yet, daddy-o?

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