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Attack on Titan: The Anime Guide

Cover to Attack on Titan: The Anime GuideAttack on Titan: The Anime Guide
Planning and Text by Ryosuke Sakuma and Munehiko Inagaki, Attack on Titan created by Hajime Isayama, Translation by Ko Ransom
Kodansha Comics, 176 pp.
Rating: Teens (16+)

The wait between seasons of Attack on Titan can be rather a killer at times, but with the third season right around the corner, now seems like an opportune time to take a look at Attack on Titan: The Anime Guide! With a focus on the first season of the anime series, guide book is full of character designs, background artwork, story boards, interviews with the Japanese cast and staff of the hit anime series—including an interview with the creator of Attack on Titan, Hajime Isayama, and the director of the anime adaption, Tetsuro Araki—and more!

Attack on Titan: The Anime Guide is a very image heavy book. About half of the volume is given over to full color character artwork, with even minor characters getting a full page to show off their designs. While the character artwork is pretty it doesn’t really seem to be offering anything new or revelatory, just nice clear images of everyone from multiple angles. Perhaps the most frustrating section is the comparison of scenes from the manga, the storyboards, and the finished anime. At first glance this seems like it should be the best part of the book, but the visuals from all three formats are shrunken down and crammed onto a single page. While it is interesting to look at and read about, larger images and a less busy page layout would have really helped things, some discussion about the differences and changes made would have nice as well. Admittedly, some of the creative changes are discussed in the various interviews, they don’t necessarily focus on the sequences highlighted in these single page comparisons.

A page from the Attack on Titan: The Anime Guide

One of the Manga-to-Storyboard-to-Animation pages.

Other visual highlights include a multi-page feature on the various Attack on Titan merchandise that’s been produced for Japan. It’s a fun section that also illustrates just how much of an impact the series had in Japan, and might leave some fans deeply envious of all the neat little bits of pop-cultural ephemera the franchise has produced. Who wouldn’t like an Attack on Titan branded portable footstool?

The interview section is probably the most the interesting portion of the book, even if they feel a bit light at times. They run the gamut from quick, breezy discussions with voice actors to more detailed interviews with some of the animation staff. The real highlight, and probably the centerpiece of the entire book, is the lengthy and in depth interview with Hajime Isayama and Tetsuo Araki. The discussion between the two digs into some interesting territory, including the creative approach both take in crafting their stories, the adaption process, and aspects of the manga Isayama is unhappy with.

At first glance, Attack on Titan: The Anime Guide might be thought of as nothing more than a collection of pretty pictures, but upon closer inspection there are also some engaging interviews and other fun features. While it is an interesting read, it’s not quite as in depth as it could be, and those looking to really dig into the minutia of the franchise may be a little disappointed. It’s a fun and interesting addition to the Attack on Titan library in the U.S., but one that stops just short of being an absolute must buy.

Attack on Titan: The Anime Guide is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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