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If you’re a fan of anime, chances are that you watched Attack on Titan when it was released. The response to the first season was huge, and fans have been waiting 4 years to get a second season. It’s finally arrived, which you can find simulcasting every Saturday morning at Crunchyroll, so there’s no better time to go back over the first season to prepare for more wild action.

The series finds humanity on the brink of extinction. Titans, huge creatures that resemble humans, suddenly appeared one day and began slaughtering the human race. These creatures range in size from 5 to 15 metres, look like humans but have no genitalia, and eat people. Virtually unstoppable and able to regenerate body parts, humans created a 50 metre wall to protect them from the Titans, and have lived peacefully behind it for 100 years.

The city is split into 3 rings, with the innermost ring housing the government and the richest civilians, and it’s all protected by various forms of police and soldiers who carry omni-directional mobility gear. This equipment basically shoots two tethers out on each side to propel its user in any direction, and it’s used to battle any Titans who may breach the walls. Of course, in 100 years, that’s never happened. Cue the ominous music because we all know where things go from there.

Living peacefully in the city are Eren Jaeger (Yuki Kaji), Eren’s friend Mikasa Ackermann (Yui Ishikawa), who lives with Eren, and their friend Armin Arlert (Marina Inoue). As they go about their day, the Scout Regiment, a group of soldiers who venture outside the walls, return home. Eren rushes to see them, but they’ve been badly defeated by the Titans. Suddenly, a Colossal Titan appears. Standing 60 metres tall and able to look over the protective wall, the beast kicks in the gates to the city, allowing smaller Titans to rush inside. In the chaos, Eren’s mother is killed and he’s forced to leave her behind as their city is overrun with Titans, killing hundreds. Eren vows to destroy every Titan in the world, and makes it his mission to join the Scout Regiment to do it.

From here, the series follows Eren, Mikasa, Armin, and a large cast of characters as Eren works his way towards his goal of reclaiming his city and destroying all the Titans in the world. Be warned now, there are SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven’t watched the first season. If you haven’t though, it’s time to sit down and enjoy. Not only does the series stream on Crunchyroll, but you can find it on Netflix as well.

After the initial attack of the Titans, the series jumps ahead a few years to follow Eren as he enrolls in the cadets and tries to prove his usefulness. Since he’s the main protagonist, it’s going to take a lot more than that though. He’s not particularly great in battle, but his drive is what allows him a place in the army. Mikasa follows Eren wherever he will go, as her feelings for him and what he did for her in the past make her want to protect him at all costs. The most skilled of the 3 friends, Mikasa is granted any place in the army she wants. Armin doesn’t quite have the battle capabilities, but his talent at battle planning gives him a place in the army as well.

Attack on Titan Season 1 Trailer

The arc of the series focuses on attempts to reclaim the city the Titans have overrun, as Eren holds a key to the basement of his house which will reveal much about the Titans. That’s not the only secret that Eren has though, as we quickly learn that he can actually become a Titan himself. He wasn’t really aware of this himself, and it seems to have a lot to do with the basement of his home, but viewers never get the chance to see that. It’s a bit of a sticking point of season 1, and hopefully that will be cleared up in season 2.

Eren isn’t the only one who can turn into a Titan though, and the final third of the season focuses on the attempts to find out who the other Titan is, as everybody is convinced that it’s someone who is inside the army. That leads to some outstanding battles, massive destruction, and a strange moment at the very end of the series that will leave fans wondering what comes next.

Released 4 years ago, fans have been waiting impatiently for the second season to arrive, and now that it has, it comes with some disappointment. Season 1 was 25 episodes, but season 2 will only be 12. That may be a bit of an advantage though, as season 1 could have used some trimming here and there. There were a lot of characters to follow though, but many of them wind up being rather secondary to Eren, Mikasa, and Armin.

There’s no lack of fighting in season 1 though, and certainly some of the shows popularity came from the rather graphic nature of these battles. Titans do two things really. They destroy stuff, and eat people. And when they eat people, there’s very little that isn’t shown. They bite them in half, or tear them apart, sending blood flying across the screen. It’s a lot more violent than most anime is now, so it made the series stand out.

There’s also no lack of originality here. The parts looking at Eren and his friends joining the army can fit into a mold you’ll find in many shows, but the Titans are something you’ve never seen before. Massive cannibal human-like creatures, along with some people who can turn into them, as well as the Colossal Titan who is largely skinless, is unlike anything I’ve come across. There’s no fan service to really talk about, there’s no magic fairy girls, and there’s no comedy to be found. This is a violent, serious, dramatic show, and that’s something that seems more rare in anime now.

It’s also a show that managed to grab the attention of North American audiences. So much so, that this level of fandom is kind of being blamed for the shorter season 2, as there seems to have been a rush to produce it, along with a lack of budget to bring in the animators to pull of a longer season. With 4 years between seasons though, that is a bit hard to believe. Again, the shorter season 2 will hopefully streamline some of the moments that dragged a little in season 1.

It’s the unanswered questions that fans are really waiting for though. The fact that the basement of Eren’s house was never shown is a big plot point that fans want revealed. There was also the final shot of the series, showing a Titan actually inside the wall of the city. What the hell is that thing doing there? How did it wind up there, and who is responsible? This question is tackled immediately in season 2 apparently, but it’s that basement we all want to see.

There’s also the Colossal Titan who appeared. If you’ve watched the series, you’ll know how it looks when Eren turns into a Titan. Personally, I think that’s the same as how the Colossal Titan appears, leading me to believe that there’s another person out there who can become a Titan. Whether this is a character we know already, or it’s someone who will be introduced in season 2, or maybe I’m completely wrong entirely, we’ll have to wait and see.

With season 2 being simulcast at Crunchyroll on Saturday mornings, we all get to live like kids again a little bit. Grab your bowl of cereal, sit down on the couch, and enjoy some outstanding Saturday morning cartoons all over again. Check out the season 2 trailer below, which looks absolutely insane, and be sure that you’ve watched the amazing Attack on Titan season 1 as well.

Attack on Titan Season 2 Trailer