By Andrew Osmond.
Editor note: This piece was originally published prior the film’s theatrical screenings in February 2018.
This month, the Titans are exploding into British cinemas and home formats, with the release of Season two of Attack on Titan, which was simulcast last spring. Next Wednesday, 21st February, there’ll be a one-day release of the feature film edition, Attack on Titan: The Roar of Awakening, at selected cinemas.
To be clear, this is a movie compilation of last year’s TV season – what some fans call a recap movie – though it does have a short new scene at the very end. For more info about the film, see below.
The film will be followed on the next Monday – 26th February – by the release of the full 12-part second TV season on Blu-ray and DVD, plus a Collectors Blu-ray/DVD set exclusively from Zavvi. Like Game of Thrones, it’s impossible to say much without spoilers, but the season hits the ground charging. New Titans are looming up inside the great walls; there are new kinds of Titans; some wonderful characters coming to the fore; some absolutely huge smackdown fights; and twists, twists and more twists.
But let’s focus on the film, which only opened in Japan a few days ago. Like most recap films, it’s primarily aimed at people who’ve seen all the TV series already. It’s watchable if you’ve just seen the first TV season – that is, up to part 25 – but you may find the film indigestible in that case. An adventure that’s well paced over twelve episodes will inevitably feel bumpier squeezed into two hours, or less than half the running time, sacrificing background detail and character moments.
The Roar of Awakening is really made for fans who’ve seen it all already, and want to watch the highlights in a cheering audience who love Eren, Mikasa, Armin and the rest. In that way, Awakening delivers. And it does have a post-credit sequence that goes on for a couple of minutes, showing several favourite characters behaving, well, in character away from the battlefield.
As for other specifics about what’s in the film and what’s not, we should put a light SPOILER warning…
Unsurprisingly, all the big battles are retained, though there are snips to the action here and there. So the Beast Titan, the huge battle at the castle, the Titan-versus-Titan smack-downs, the “everyone fighting” finale – they’re all there.
The “old” heroes – Eren, Mikasa and Armin – fare much better in the film than do the new key characters; the girls Krista (who fans know has a secret name) and Ymir. In the TV version, the girl’s backstories were a big part of the drama, revealed piece by piece. In the film, these backstories are practically all gone. For example, the whole flashback with Krista and Ymir on a snow-blown mountain, which did much to define their relationship, is reduced to a glimpse in the film. However, Ymir still gets to kick serious Titan butt, and Krista still shines at the end.
Also, for fans who love girls who love potatoes, we have to break it to you. Sasha’s moment of glory in episode two, which is arguably one of the best bits in the whole season, is cut out too. It’s a crying shame, but it isn’t pivotal to the main plot.
There are a couple of annoying cases where a set-up is kept in the film, but the payoff (or the best payoff) is cut out. Two cases, only moments apart in the film, involve a soldier’s dying wish for a drink during the castle battle; and Ymir’s, ahem, interest in being bandaged up by Krista.
We hope that helps you know what to expect! If you’ve not heard already, Attack on Titan’s third TV season is scheduled to start broadcasting in Japan, and hopefully simulcasting too, this coming July.
Andrew Osmond is the author of 100 Animated Feature Films.
[Editor note, August 2019 – Anime Limited will be releasing the Attack on Titan: Roar of Awakening on Blu-ray/DVD in the UK in September 2019.]