Anime Review: Attack on Titan: Junior High (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 21.06.2017

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Attack on Titan: Junior High (UK Rating: 12)

Whenever one of these series appears, it has to be asked… Who asked for this?! The major selling point of Attack on Titan is the dark tone and nature. Spinning the franchise off into a gag series seems an odd choice. This parody, Junior High, was actually produced first as a manga by Saki Nakagawa and is one of a few spin-off titles, although the only comedy parody one. The fan-base of Attack on Titan is significant enough to even get this silly spin-off an anime adaptation and guarantee plenty of viewers, but is it deserving of one? Is it actually worth watching? Attack on Titan: Junior High comes courtesy of All the Anime and is out on 26th June.

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In this world, the Titans and the humans live together in seemingly relative peace. Certainly peaceful enough to both attend the same Junior High school, although this obviously means some rather unique architecture. One half of the school is a human-sized campus where the human students live out regular days of Junior School life, while the other half of the campus is super-sized and houses the Titans, apparently also going to classes… It's never really explained. Most of the Survey Corps' fan favourite characters are in attendance, literally, playing first-year students in the same class under the watchful eye of the bald-headed psycho instructor Keith, stepping into the role of homeroom teacher here. There are other older and veteran characters here also taking on faculty roles, including Mr. Hanes as the always drunk janitor. The antagonistic Colossal Titan is no longer a nightmarish destroyer; instead, he is the Principal of Attack Junior High. Eren still holds a grudge against him, but for a slightly more petty reason. This time he didn't eat Eren's mother, rather he stole and ate Eren's favourite lunch, a cheese hamburger steak.

Don't expect any dramatic combat, any visceral Titan slaying or any cool, dynamic 3DMG scenes. The bulk of the show is generic school life comedy. Each of the episodes acts pretty much as standalone stories filled with cliché plots and filled to bursting with trite old tropes. Across the course of the series, age-old plot lines crop up, like campaigning for Student Council President, taking part in a school Cultural Festival, facing off in a dodgeball match, and the like. The first episode even starts with Eren having to run to school to make it on time and bumping into various cast members on the way, including Crista with a mouthful of toast…

Between the cliché moments and the eye-rolling, there are some funny parts and parodies that evoke the odd real laugh here and there. The subtly hinted at relationship between Amir and Crista completely throws away the whole "subtle" thing, for instance. Levi wallops Titans and students, alike, with dual-wielding giant paper fans; Jean gets to romance a Titan; Armin is so weak he can't leave his house without being wrapped up in his futon like an anime Linus Van Pelt…and so on.


 
During one of the audio commentaries with the English voice actors, it's mentioned how this series is a chance to introduce the characters and concepts to younger members of the audience since the original isn't exactly suitable for them. The problem with this is that most of the gags and stories rely on the audience having seen the original, with constant references and parodying of quotes or iconic moments.

This collection contains all 12 episodes, although each is quite short in length - without taking into account opening and ending credits, they only come in at around 15 minutes or so each, making this feel like a very short series, where very little actually happens. On top of the episodes, there are also three commentary tracks from the English voice actors and Director, along with the usual mix of trailers, promo videos and clean opening/closing videos for those who want to hear the theme song butchered without having credits on the screen.

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

A series that relies completely on the cash in licence of Attack on Titan. There are some actual funny moments in Junior High but they are few and far between. Even hardcore fans of the original will find little and less to enjoy here. Well, at least for the creators the character designs are great and it's evident that those designs alone will sell enough merchandise to the Attack on Titan fans to justify this series. Ultimately, the opening to the show becomes a perfect metaphor for the series as a whole. Linked Horizon takes its insanely catchy earworm Guren no Yumiya and absolutely butchers it, making it familiar but not enjoyable at all - much as this series does to its source material.

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