So I was recently talked into watching a newer anime called "Attack on Titan." It being a shounen anime, and me generally avoiding anything but seinen anime, I wasn't particularly interested. After some cajoling from a friend I regularly talk to on Skype, I decided I'd at least give it a fair shot. Hence began my viewing of the first 3 episodes of "Attack on Titan."
Why 3 episodes?
Half-hour cartoons like this don't have as much time to cram in a good "hook" like regular hour-long television. You can fit a good two or three anime episodes into typical live-action television. As well, I discovered long ago that very few anime will actually hook you on the first episode.
As you would expect from the above, episode 1 completely failed to impress me. It was extremely predictable, and I was pretty much my own riff-track the whole way through. ("No titan has broken through in a hundred years!" Boom, I say aloud. Not 2 seconds later...) After seeing this, I was fully expecting a time-skip to a boot camp episode.
A point in this show's favor, it looks as though they'll actually finish resolving this incident surrounding the titans breaking through the wall. It goes and goes... then they time-skip ahead what looks to be a few days. Okay, no big deal. Then the episode ends with another time-skip to boot camp. Oh boy...
Going into this one I knew exactly what I needed to see if the show was going to hook me at this point. "Okay," I thought, "you guys already did episode 2 right. However, you haven't finished resolving the wall-break incident. What needs to happen here is some shots from the resolution of that incident interspersed as flashbacks in between the boring boot camp bullshit. You do that, and you'll have shown that you will follow through on your storytelling."
I had high hopes for this episode, but in the end they decided to do the boring boot camp bullshit along with the important character moments which I really feel should have been saved for the next episode. I almost fell asleep during this episode because it was so fucking boring. I'm not saying you can't have an episode with no action, but don't make it the boring boot camp bullshit. Quiet episodes should have scenes with characters talking, and scenes with characters reflecting. This episode had scenes with characters talking... and scenes with characters doing fuck-all. This is not how you set up a series hook, guys.
Did "Attack on Titan" get me hooked?
No, it did not. "Attack on Titan" completely drops the ball on episode 3 and destroys my confidence in the writers' ability to deliver a story that I'm willing to spend my evenings watching. While I won't discount the possibility that some really interesting stuff happens later on, that's not really going to convince me when the show has already failed to get me invested. The show's main character at this point is clearly Eren, yet by the end of episode 3 I still didn't give one single fuck about this character. The only character who I found remotely interesting was Sasha Blause, and everything I like about her I can already find in a typical episode of Haruhi Suzumiya, so why the hell should I care?
The point is, if you can't make your audience care in 3 episodes, you've done something wrong and doing damage control later isn't going to bring back most of the people you've already lost. I can think of a few different ways this show could potentially shock me within the next couple episodes, and a fan of the show may very well think they're good plot twists; but the shock value will be lost on me, because I simply do not care what happens to these characters. It's to the point where every main character I've been shown so far could die in episode 4 without eliciting anything beyond mild surprise on my part. I'm just not that invested, and that is a critical failure on the show's part.
If you're just looking for a fun romp with dark elements, "Attack on Titan" will deliver. It has plenty of scenes that will make you laugh, or cheer, or cry. If nothing else, "Attack on Titan" will entertain you.
If you're looking for a deep story you can pick apart for hours, though, go ahead and give this one a pass. "Attack on Titan" does not deliver enough material in its first episodes to make a more critical viewer get invested in the characters enough to care what happens later on in the show.
I, for one, will not be watching the rest of this show.