Attack on Titan: End of the World
Original Title: 進撃の巨人: エンドオブザワールド
Genres: Action, Thriller, Horror, Tokusatsu
Director: Higuchi Shinji
We start off End of the World with a 10 minute flashback of the events of the first film, reminding the audience of how drastically different the live-action is from its source material. After the montage, we see Eren (Miura Haruma), captured by the Military Police Brigade out of fear because of his ability to become a Titan – something he discovered during the first film’s finale.
“Are you a human? Or Titan?” asks Commander Kubal (Kunimura Jun).
However, a large Armored Titan (not the same one from the source material) comes and interrupts the fun. He rescues Eren from being shot, but only after killing the majority of the people present, sparing only pretty much everyone on the movie poster.
The scenery cuts to a place that looks like it could be out of some sort of commercial for fancy wine. Eren wakes up, and is greeted by a jukebox and Mr. Homoerotica himself: Shikishima (Hasegawa Hiroki). It is here that Shikishima confuses everyone watching with not only his suggestive advances towards Eren, with two champagne glasses in his hands, but also his room’s ability to suddenly change everyone’s clothes and fill the floor with sand.
But most importantly, Shikishima tells Eren the origin of the Titans, and how they were a project gone terribly wrong; humans originally modified to be military weapons by the Americans. He reveals himself to be the Titan who saved Eren, and they have been “chosen” to serve a greater good. Shikishima tries to recruit Eren into his cause of creating a new humanity. But Eren finds it hard to betray his friends. Thus begins Eren and friends’ last stand against the Titans.
Attack on Titan: End of the World does what many other sequels of live-action anime adaptations do: attempt to create an original story that can conclude a plot spanning two or more films, based on a manga that is spread over ten or more volumes. The story has been its own since the first film, but the sequel takes the cake.
The sequel’s story is a lot more focused in terms of its characters. After all, most of them have been killed off in the first film, with a pile more dying in the first ten minutes of this one. We also don’t see any civilians. And, similar to what happens in the real world when a predator’s food supply is taken away from the environment, we don’t see much of the titular Titans.
Instead of focusing on humans running away from Titans in fear of being eaten, much of the action is devoted to one-on-one Titan fights. Big tokusatsu fans can agree that, admittedly, the displays of fisticuffs were pretty impressive. However, the Titan fights were the only thing redeeming about this mess of a film.
But unfortunately, they aren’t enough to prevent the audience from laughing at how all the interesting questions posed about humanity and war were quickly blown apart by the Michael Bay explosions and cliched action movie tropes.
Above all, the fighting wasn’t enough to let the audience forgive the revival of characters who were supposed to be dead. It felt like this exhausted Dragon Ball trope served the purpose of being a convenient solution to any critical situation. Of course, one of those situations, per se, was the reveal of the Colossal Titan’s true identity. He, unsurprisingly, ended up being one of the film’s original characters, and one that did little for the plot for the audience to even care about.
In actuality, it felt like very little happened in this sequel. A big chunk of the film’s already short runtime (a little over 80 minutes) was devoted to flashbacks from the first film, and even more dedicated to spoon feeding the history of the story’s world. When it came time to getting down to business, viewers may already have lost interest.
Then, in the post credits scene, the film attempts to win back the audience’s attention with an ambiguous teaser. But honestly, at that point, viewers were probably too disinterested to even discuss it.
It’s not like manga and anime adaptations don’t work; check out the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy, Gantz (the first one, at least), the 20th Century Boys trilogy, and Nana (again, the first one) for proof.
When deciding which one is better between the first and second films, viewers need to consider whether they prefer watching people get eaten by giant monsters, or people arguing amongst each other.
Watch this film…
…as a study to see what happens if you tamper too much with a beloved story.