With the upcoming live-action Attack on Titan having found its lead actor and filming location, fans assumed they were going to have to wait until the film’s scheduled release in 2015 to see humanity’s desperate struggle against the monstrous Titans come to the big screen. Right on the heels of those announcements, though, comes another surprise from the franchise known for its twists and shocks.

Two animated compilation movies are coming, and the first will be in theatres before the end of the year.

It’s becoming more and more common for popular television anime to be reformatted into multiple theatrical features, as has been done for both mecha romance Macross F and dark magical girl tale Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

For new fans, this lets them catch up on and enjoy the narrative without having to invest the time to watch dozens of TV episodes that aren’t on the air anymore. At the same time, the anime industry is well aware of which side its bread is buttered on, so the most successful transitions from TV to film also make sure to provide something special for loyal viewers who already watched the whole thing on television.

The most common route is to add new scenes or animation sequences that take advantage of the larger budget of the theatrical version, but in more dramatic cases, directors have made bold changes that present motivations in a completely different light, or even play with audience expectations stemming from which characters survived or died during the story’s events.

It’s unsure how far the animated Attack on Titan compilations will stray from the TV script, if at all. The first movie recaps the events of TV episodes 1-13 and is subtitled The Crimson Arrows, also the title of the opening theme song used for those episodes, which has sold more 230,000 CDs to date.

The second film covers episodes 14-25 and similarly shares its subtitle with their opener, The Wings of Freedom.

The first feature is scheduled to hit theatres in winter of 2014, with the second coming sometime next year. Now, if we could just get a tentative schedule for the next Attack on Titan TV season, we’d be happy campers.

Sources: Jin, Natalie