Original Run: October 4, 2015 - December 20, 2015 Number of Episodes: 12 Genre: Comedy Based on the Series Created By: Hajime Isayama and Saki Nakagawa
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Attack on Titan: Junior High. Reader discretion is advised.***
For centuries, humanity has lived in fear of titans. Death and tragedy are daily occurrences, and the fighting never stops. In such a world, one Eren Yeager (voiced by Yuki Kaji) has dedicated his life to killing all titans.
But that’s a different story. For now, Eren has a more pressing concern: middle school.
As part of class 1-04, Eren, Mikasa, and Armin make many new friends. Along with that, the trio joins the unofficial Survey Club as an attempt to get back at the bully titans.
With plenty of familiar faces and events, expect a much lighter take on a worldwide phenomenon.
To bring everyone up to speed, Attack on Titan: Junior High is a spin-off of the wildly popular Attack on Titan series.
To give the briefest of synopsis, the story of Attack on Titan is set in a world where the last of humanity is under the constant threat of monstrous creatures known as titans. Protagonists Eren Yeager, Mikasa Ackerman, and Armin Arlet are members of the legendary titan-killing group the Survey Corps. As this narrative has progressed, the mysteries surrounding the titans has only led to more questions.
At the time of this post, Attack on Titan is airing its third season, and my review of said season should come out sometime in October 2018. Based on what the series has done so far, I expect high action, tension, and tragedy.
All the traits I just listed don’t describe Attack on Titan: Junior High in the slightest. This show was goofy, light-hearted, and a complete parody of its far darker source material.
Junior High was an interesting direction for this franchise, and no one can take that away from this show. Regardless of that, this series was pretty meh.
I’m just going to come out and say it:
The people who will get the most out of this show are the ones who are already fans of Attack on Titan.
If you are anyone else, expect to miss the novelty that is Junior High because believe me, this series was a novelty.
Ignoring the original for a moment – as well as the massive amount of giant naked titans running around – Junior High was an average school-life comedy. On the merits of that alone, this series would have been forgettable. To put it another way, if the name Attack on Titan wasn’t attached, I doubt even if I would have given this show the time of day.
The draw was the name, and Junior High was not ashamed to play that up.
Don’t fool yourself. This show was dumb. Fortunately, dumb doesn’t necessarily mean bad. At times, this series’ brand of dumb worked wonders.
If you don’t believe me (and you are a fan of Attack on Titan), look up the opening song for Junior High. I’m not going to lie, this was easily my favorite part of this series.
I will admit, usually when I say the best part of an anime is the theme song, that’s not a great sign. When I say it for this series, though, I’m not trying to be negative. All I mean is the opening for Junior High gives an accurate taste of what type of show you are getting into.
Thus, the type of show you are getting is a slice-of-life anime set in a world that looks an awful lot like Attack on Titan.
Given that this series was a slice-of-life anime, and like all slice-of-life anime, Junior High needed to rely on its characters. In this area, this was both a strength and a detriment. I’ll save the latter for later.
Attack on Titan has a large cast of memorable characters. Everyone in this franchise has a distinct personality. None of the cast is above parody, but some would need more work than others. Junior High pulled this off.
There were outstanding comedic versions of some of Attack on Titan’s best characters. One of the simplest to do, and this series nailed her, was Sasha Braus (voiced by Yu Kobayashi).
Starting in season two of Attack on Titan, Sasha has been proving herself to be a lot more than the hungry girl who likes potatoes. In Junior High, she was one-hundred percent the hungry girl who liked potatoes. Sasha was hilarious in this show, but I always thought she was going to be.
Without going into details, some of the more impressive character conversions were Jean Kirschtein, Reiner Braun, and Hange Zoe (voiced by Kisho Taniyama, Yoshimasa Hosoya, and Romi Park). If you are not a fan and don’t know these names, again, welcome to Attack on Titan: Junior High.
Along with having accurate depictions of other side characters, as well as some clever re-creations of iconic Attack on Titan moments, this show nailed two specific people: Eren Yeager and one other I’m not quite ready to reveal yet.
The Eren in Junior High was definitely a comedic version of the Eren seen in Attack on Titan. He was still strong-willed, reactionary, and the first to throw a punch. He had a lot of anger, held grudges, and was ready to fight at a moments notice. Also, both depictions of Eren showed him as someone who looked after his friends and was a natural leader.
The key difference in Junior High was that Eren could fail. Don’t get me wrong, Eren hasn’t always been successful in Attack on Titan. However, if he did fail in Attack on Titan, there were drastic consequences.
That wasn’t a thing here.
In Junior High, Eren was able to be more aggressive, a.k.a., more careless, without running the risk of everything burning down.
After Eren, the second character Junior High got right was the one character that really needed to be done right. For what this show was, I’m happy to say she was done right. I am of course talking about Mikasa Ackerman.
Chibi-fied Mikasa was adorable. That notwithstanding, Mikasa never lost her badass side. She was always the most capable person on screen, and she wasn’t someone you crossed. What Junior High exploited was Mikasa’s protectiveness over Eren, and it was simply funny.
And that right there best sums up Junior High when it got something right. It was simply funny. Conversely, when this show got something wrong, that statement would change to, it simply wasn’t.
To reiterate, this show was meh.
Yes, there were funny bits, but there were also plenty – as in, a lot – of jokes that fell flat. Like I said, this show did play up the fact it was attached to Attack on Titan, sometimes annoyingly so.
Plus, being the light-hearted comedy that it was, Junior High did have to change a few things to avoid being insensitive.
For example, one of the things that fueled Eren’s hatred of titans was the death of someone important to him. Since Junior High was all jokey-jokey and no death existed, that important person was alive and well. In the place of such a story-defining moment, Junior High Erin hated titans because they once ate his lunch.
I’m not going to lie, that didn’t sit well with me.
That aside, there were two major problems with Junior High.
The first was the characters this series didn’t get right.
For example, it was a little cheap for Junior High to make Connie Springer (voiced by Hiro Shimono) a total moron. I get why the show did this, but this version of Connie didn’t feel right. Granted, he isn’t the brightest character in Attack on Titan. Except he isn’t a buffoon either.
To be fair, with this show being what it was, someone had to be the idiot, and I guess Connie was the most appropriate choice.
Be that as it may, the same can’t be said for Junior High’s cheap, no-effort version of Levi (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya). This show simply made him a prick. That wasn’t changing anything. Levi is a prick in Attack on Titan. However, he is also one of the strongest and coolest characters in the entire series.
Therefore, in the original show, Levi’s prick-ishness has been more than made up for with his awesomeness. There was no chance for that epic side of him to come out in Junior High.
Finally, the greatest disappointment had to be Armin Arlet. This was disappointing because this show almost got him right. Armin, in Attack on Titan, is a brilliant strategist and a crucial member of Eren’s core team, and Junior High did acknowledge that.
What Armin is not is a wimp.
In this show, Armin was very sickly. That was fine. If this series had left it there, Armin would have been a success. Too bad there were moments when Junior High singled out Armin as a coward.
Before I get ahead of myself, there was one episode where the cast had a test of courage. Here everyone, including Armin (but minus Mikasa) got scared. This was a funny episode.
What was annoying was the Armin of Junior High also got freaked out by bugs and other tiny things.
Really? Why bring Armin to that level? He has never been like that in Attack on Titan. The things Armin did in season one, and especially in season two, have proven he is a force to be reckoned with.
And that leads me to the second and biggest problem with Attack on Titan: Junior High.
This series came out before Attack on Titan season two, and it showed. I have a prediction. Junior High is only going to get worse the longer this franchise continues. I believe this because the core story has been a volatile one.
There were times in Junior High when I would see a character and say to myself, “Oh my god, it’s great to see you again.” I said as much because these particular characters are dead in Attack on Titan. And yes, these characters died in tragic ways. Some were killed in battle, some sacrificed themselves, and some were straight-up murdered.
To go along with that, other characters have done terrible things in Attack on Titan. Perhaps some of these actions have justifications, and we will see redemption later on. That may be all well and good, but when Junior High came out, those justifications didn’t exist.
Part of me thinks Junior High wasn’t a good idea. This show made light of a story that is not over yet. In the long run, this series could become so far removed from Attack on Titan to the point of insulting.
Only time will tell, I suppose.
If this series was not based on a far more successful show, there would be no point. As a stand-alone product, it was a waste of time.
However, that was not the case.
As a parody, this series got some things right. It also got some things wrong. There was both excellent and inadequate characterization of iconic characters. Some aspects were great spoofs, and others were way off the mark. This show was made for fans. Too bad it is the fans who are going to be the most critical of discrepancies.
With that in mind, though, if you are a fan, why wouldn’t you give this a shot? Don’t expect much, and remember, this is not the actual story. Take it for what it is.
For that reason, I do recommend Attack on Titan Junior High.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Attack on Titan: Junior High? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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