The pursuit of excellence is a fine and noble endeavor. Wanting to be the very best at something is a fundamental quality we should all have. Perhaps if we did, the world might have even been a different place. It is a nice sentiment but that’s all it is. A philosophical mental exercise and not reality.
Not everyone has the zeal, perseverance and desire to aim for their perspective profession’s zenith. Artists are by no means an exception. And even if someone was this motivated and determined, that in itself would not guarantee the birth of something amazing. Thankfully, as luck would have it, we sometimes come across a perfect creative storm that manages to engulf all the necessary ingredients that would be required for something truly great to be made. But still there is no way to guarantee success. The pursuit of perfection is a noble endeavor, but still perfection remains a goal that exists to motivate and inspire not to be actually attained.
Anime are seen by most as Japanese variations of Sunday morning cartoons. They do not garner much artistic favour by the non-otaku of the world. Nonetheless, they are still art. Beautiful, meaningful, thought-provoking art. Not all of course, some are simple products, marketing ploys or just plain bad. However, there are others that are worthy of being viewed as tremendous artistic and creative accomplishments. Among those are some that would be justified in being considered close to perfect. Still, perfection is unattainable, but that is OK. Being perfect is not the point. Trying is the point.
To put all of that into perspective and to explain how all this philosophical urge came about, I’ll talk about the only anime that is currently airing that deserves such mental gymnastics. And that is Attack on Titan.
This anime has always been special. Arguably what first captivated us where the intense visuals and the sheer horror of Isayama Hajime’s manga. Its anime adaptation further broadened its impact and in turn its fan-base. The absolute brutality of the grotesque anthropomorphic titans, the hopelessness experienced by Eren, Mikasa, Armin and the rest of humanity as well as the brave and courageous scouts made Attack on Titan a classic by the end of season 1. A worldwide phenomenon and bestseller. For many, it served as the gateway drug into anime. For others, it’s what reignited their long forgotten interest for the medium. It is safe to say that the impact Attack on Titan has made is unquestionable.
That is not to say that it is without critique. I wouldn’t be the first or the last to write about how AoT has drawn inspiration from this or that, or how at times it seemed that it had lost its fizz and regressed into a simple blood-fest but that would be meaningless. Perhaps the most important reason why it would be meaningless is that Attack on Titan has a point to make. It isn’t just a survival anime or a horror anime nor does it exist to satisfy our urges to experience carnage, suffering, courage and the exhilaration of victory. Attack on Titan makes you feel that there is a point in all of this. Like there is a meaning to its story. Perhaps, several meanings even.
Is it perfect? Well, if you go by some review websites it certainly is up there. According to most, it might even be worth comparing in greatness to Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood. I am sure that everyone and their mother have an opinion about that but all I have to say is this. Isn’t this great? Isn’t it marvelous? Aren’t you happy about the fact that we can even have this argument in the first place? Attack on Titan is not over yet, there’s actually a lot left before catching up to the manga and even more before reaching its conclusion but still, isn’t this great? Attack on Titan didn’t fizzle out, it didn’t spiral out of control, it matured into a great anime. Perhaps even a perfect anime?
If I were to weigh in on this argument I would write about how brilliant this latest season has been. The story has unraveled into something profoundly more elevated than a simple hack ‘n’ slash fight for survival. The characters have matured and weathered like real people and not like figments of the imagination. The world has grown much, much larger and awe-inspiring. Perhaps the only nag I would have would be some elements of the animation we have seen this season. Has Mappa done a better job? Yes. Has the animation been more fluid, more advanced? Yes, it has. But still. The CGI in some scenes, such as the attack on Marley, were not good for me. Mappa’s use of CGI is better than the previous seasons and they certainly made better use of the opportunities 3D can offer. But still. This is the final season of Attack on Titan. There is no reason to cut corners when animating Eren in titan form. It feels clunky, and it could never match up to the drawn action scenes of past seasons. Well, that’s my take on it at least. Nonetheless, this is me simply arguing about a detail, a big one that I’m sure many of you have been bothered by as well, but a detail nonetheless. Attack on Titan is a great anime, one of the best even. But is it perfect? No. And that is OK. There is no reason to nag.
Perfection has always been unattainable. Still, artists have never been discouraged by it. On the contrary, they have done the exact opposite and have ached to attain it. Philosophical mumbo jumbo aside. The pursuit of perfection is what has given birth to great ideas and emblematic works of art. Anime should not be any different. Anime is not any different. Anime can be as memorable, beautiful, terrifying and meaningful as any other form of art. As long as the creators strive for perfection and we the fans appreciate and desire their struggle. So let’s appreciate Attack on Titan for what it is, a future classic that boldly aimed for perfection.