Tag Archives: Dumas

Attack on Titan: Analogy to World War II

Okay, I just had to get this off my chest…

The Japanese manga and anime series Attack on Titan made absolutely zero sense to me until I realized it is an unmistakable analogy to World War II.

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All over the internet, I kept seeing disturbing images of a giant human with no skin. I’m not particularly squeamish about violence in the media — most horror movies drive me into a fit of hysterical laughter. Plus, I’m generally fascinated by the macabre.  But certain things just get to me. Like the part in the brilliant Pan’s Labyrinth when Captain Vidal’s face is mutilated and he sews it back together (though I adore the Pale Man). Or in Boardwalk Empire (one of my favorite shows) when Richard Harrow (one of my favorite characters) scalps another character without hesitation.  And this giant skinless human is no different — sending shivers down my spine!

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Image from Attack on Titan
Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

I soon discovered that this giant skinless human is from a series called Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人, Shingeki no Kyoujin). When I first became interested in Japan around middle school, I used to watch a lot of anime. But I tend towards live-action series or movies nowadays (a wonderful tool for practicing my language skills). I do find the occasional anime series like the amazing Gankutsuou (巌窟王): The Count of Monte Cristo (which is actually the most faithful adaptation of Dumas’s masterwork) and the gripping Monster (モンスター) (scheduled to be adapted into live-action for HBO by Guillermo del Toro). In other words, I’m usually extremely picky about my anime. But, after being utterly confused by the Attack on Titan Wikipedia summary, I decided to give the series a try out of pure morbid curiosity.

So, I’ve been working my way through the episodes on Hulu. It might be a bit melodramatic at times and the so-called “Vertical Maneuvering Equipment” that allows the characters to leap around is pretty implausible. But it has a relatively well-constructed plot line and decent character development. The main characters Eren and Mikasa have particularly tragic yet compelling backstories. But I couldn’t help a strange feeling of déjà vu

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A page from Barefoot Gen by Keiji Nakazawa
Disclaimer: I do not own this image!!

And then it hit me! I realized that certain elements of Attack on Titan bear a striking resemblance to the renowned manga Barefoot Gen (はだしのゲン, Hadashi no Gen), about the bombing of Hiroshima and its survivors.

For instance: In Attack on Titan, Eren and Mikasa attempt to free Eren’s mother from underneath their collapsed house. But Eren’s mother begs them to save themselves. Eren and Mikasa, with the help of a city guard names Hannes, flee from danger as Eren’s mother is killed and eaten by a titan. This directly parallels Barefoot Gen. After the atom bomb drops on Hiroshima, Gen and his mother Kimie discover Gen’s father Daikichi and Gen’s siblings trapped underneath their collapsed house. Gen and Kimie attempt to free the rest of the family before they are consumed by the fire that has broken out all across the city. But Daikichi begs them to save themselves. Gen and Kimie are forced to flee from danger.

This parallel leads me to believe that the humanoid titans may have been inspired by the victims of the atom bombs. In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many victim’s skin melted off or hung from their bodies in tatters. These victims must have been in excruciating pain and are depicted moving very slowly and blindly, almost like zombies. Although the titans are not meant to be sympathized with (at least not yet) as one would sympathize with the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, their movements are very similar. In this context, the one skinless titan makes so much more sense to me. I really won’t be surprised if the series reveals that the titans are resulted from a human scientific experiment gone wrong and that we are indeed meant to sympathize with them.

Attack on Titan‘s analogy to World War II does not stop with the atom bombs. The series often explores themes related to militarism, group mentality, and self-sacrfice — topics often associated with Japan during World War II as well as World War II across the board.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Perhaps I’ll post more correlations between Attack on Titan and Barefoot Gen as I continue watching!

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Copyright 2013 by G. E. Gallas


Reader Appreciation Award!

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Wow, I can’t believe I was just nominated for another award — that’s the 3rd one in a very short span of time! I guess my dedication is starting to pay off. :) Feels especially good after receiving a number of various rejections over the past few weeks.

I would like to thank The Geek Transition for nominating me and for these kind words: “She just released a graphic novel called The Poet and The Flea, and I think it’s pretty cool. You can tell she put a lot of work into it. Congrats on the premiere, G.E.!” Thank you very very very much!!

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Rules

1. Link back to the person who nominated you.
2. Attach the icon to your site.
3. Answer the questions.
4. Nominate some other bloggers whom you feel deserve this award!

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Questions

Your favorite color?

As covered in my post “A Bit More About Me“: Since childhood, I’ve always favored blue. But nowadays everyone would accuse me of being passionate about the color black.

Your favorite animal?

Difficult question! I’m torn between llamas/alpacas, red pandas, and Shiba Inu (if a breed counts as an animal).

Your favorite non-alcoholic drink?

Tea! Especially Earl Grey, Darjeeling, and Chai.

Your favorite number?

I’m not particularly fond of numbers. Though I prefer odd to even — it’s a question of aesthetic!

Your favorite day of the week?

Don’t really have a favorite day. My least favorite day is Wednesday.

Your favorite flower?

I have developed a fascination with the history of tulips after reading The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas.

What is your passion?

As you can hopefully tell by my blog, writing and illustrating. Also, Japanese language and culture.

Do you watch television?

I am a junkie for high-quality dramatic series like Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men, including a million BBC shows like The Hour, Whitechapel, and House of Cards. I just fall in love with the brilliant writing, the multidimensional characters, and the amazing actors. I also love really cheesy Japanese dramas — right now, my favorite is Guilty: Akuma to Keiyaku Shita Onna (Guilty: The Woman who Made a Deal with the Devil).

Who is your favorite author?

Another difficult question! Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces is practically my bible (I mentioned I’m a Jewish atheist, right?). I’m also quite fond of Robert Graves’s I, Claudius, Alexandre Dumas’s The Count of Monte Cristo, Yukio Mishima’s Spring Snow (Haru no Yuki), E. L. Doctorow’s Ragtime, etcetera, etcetera. My bookshelf looks frighteningly like a Penguin Classics library!

Do you like 80′s movies?

Not particularly. The closest I get are the BBC series Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1979) and Smiley’s People (1982) starring Alec Guinness. And yes, I also love the 2011 version of  Tinker Tailor.

What social issues bother you?

Oh, don’t even get me started — we’ll be here forever! Just know that I watch The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and MSNBC (Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O’Donnell, and all of them) religiously.

How do you like your eggs?

Usually, I like them scrambled. But I also like them poached, especially for an Eggs Benedict!

When did you discover blogging?

I truthfully can’t remember exactly. I remember first using a computer when I was 4 years old. And I started using deviantART sometime in middle school, if that counts.

Why do you like to blog?

I don’t always like blogging, but I’ve discovered how incredibly wonderful bloggers are on WordPress. Unlike other social media sites, bloggers here seem to have a bit more etiquette. I enjoy sharing my work and receiving positive feedback from other talented bloggers!

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Nomination

G. Martinez Cabrera

It’s been a true pleasure collaborating (Elias & The City of Catswith Gabe thus far, and I look forward to our future projects!

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For more updates, don’t forget to follow me on tumblr and/or twitter.

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Copyright 2012 by G. E. Gallas


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