So, I recently started re-watching Attack on Titan with my girlfriend Alex. She’s never really gotten into anime but she loves animation and great stories, so I figured I was bound to find something she would enjoy. After long internal deliberation, I decided that Attack on Titan or Shingeki no Kyojin, for the purists, was the most suitable.
I chose Attack on Titan not only for the fact that it doesn’t rely on some of the zany tropes other animes tend to use, something I assume most first-time watchers would feel a little confused about, but rather because it has a compelling story and that it crosses-genres. This crossing of genres is something I’ve been noticing more and more in today’s media; and I have to say, I think it is genius. Take Game of Thrones for example. That book/show is a political novel in the guise of fantasy. I’m a huge fantasy buff, and though I like the philosophies of politics, I find it mostly a dry topic, but when George R.R. Martin built a political novel with a shiny coat of fantasy, I got hooked. Alex and I burned through the novels and we marathon the seasons whenever they finish. We love it.
Attack on Titan is a lot like Game of Thrones. It has its steampunk, kaiju, and fantasy elements, but I would argue that it is also a political story. As the show progresses, the questions about who lives and who dies in the battles against the gruesome and creepily animated monsters becomes overshadowed by the questions about why the titans exist and why each character seems to hold so many secrets. The political intrigue rises as we see how the different squads interact with one another and how the leaders of this last bastion of humanity conducts themselves. However, without the backdrop of the very physical and fantastical threat of the titans, the politics of this show would just be another bourgeoisies versus aristocrats story; and vise versa, without the political landscape, the story would just be a fantasy-based kaiju story.
Now, neither of those two things are bad on their own, in fact, they can be quite tasty. Kaiju stories could be considered, I don’t know, like chocolate, and political stories could be like peanut butter…I think you know where I’m going with this, but just to finish my thought…Chocolate and peanut butter on their own are delicious in their own right, but put together, well, now you got something special. It’s not that unlikely of a pairing or anything, but to my understanding no one has really mixed these elements together like Hajime Isayama, the creator of Attack on Titan. He had two great components in each hand and he just put them together, and it has been fantastic.
I don’t think just anyone could do what Isayama has done, but Attack on Titan isn’t the only example of mixing chocolate and peanut butter in media. Some of the best fictions these days cross-genres seamlessly. Game of Thrones is one, but take some of the more recent Marvel movies even, like Captain America: Winter Soldier and Antman. Winter Soldier is an espionage movie in the guise of a superhero flick and Antman is a heist movie in the guise of a superhero flick. There’s various opinions about both these movies, but I think their some of the best movies Marvel has made to date. Mainly, I think this is because they hit that sweet Reese’s Phenomenon. Any old jackass can dip a bit of chocolate into peanut butter, but somehow Reese’s has the magical mixture that blends the flavours just right.
Not ever bit of fiction has to have the Reese’s Phenomenon to be good, but I have been enjoying when a creator crosses-genres well. I’m excited to see who will do it next and in the meantime, I have an anime to re-watch with my super sexy girlfriend.
P.S. Alex, did I squeeze that in subtly enough?
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