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There’s no denying that the Attack on Titan manga and anime have become runaway hits, but reactions to the franchise’s recently released live-action movie have been far less enthusiastic. Some detractors have complained that the changes made to the series’ well-known characters and events don’t work, and more than a few purists are upset that any alternations were made at all.

We’ve seen the film’s director and special modeling director testily respond to harsh criticism, but what does series creator Hajime Isayama have to say about all this? Not only did he recently comment on the debate, he’s even offered a simple way to check if the live-action Attack on Titan is for you before you drop your hard-earned cash on a ticket for it.

Isayama has shown himself to be much calmer in the face of negative feedback than some of the film’s direct staff, beginning his statement with “I have heard many different opinions about the movie, but if I could, I’d like to tell all of the fans my own thoughts.”

By far the most common complaint about the live-action Attack on Titan has been that it feels so different in tone from the original work that took the Japanese comic and animation world by storm. However, Isayama reminds audiences that during the planning stages for the movie and it’s soon-to-be-released sequel, he had several meetings with the director, scriptwriter, and producer, at which they discussed how to create a live-action version of Attack on Titan. Not only was Isayama receptive to changes, he himself insisted on certain diversions from the original work.

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But as one might expect from someone who developed such a unique series, Isayama understands that no single piece of art is going to please everyone. “Regarding the impressions and opinions of those who expected a lot from the movie, I accept that while some are satisfied with it, others are angry, and I want to understand their feelings to the greatest extent that I can,” he continued.

The manga artist’s mention of “expectations” is especially pertinent. Even among moviegoers who’ve come away with a positive opinion of the live-action Attack on Titan, the film seems to succeed in different ways for them than the original work did. In other words, the live-action film is very much its own beast, and while Isayama is confident in its particular merits, those hoping for a similar experience to the anime are sure to be disappointed.

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Unfortunately, much of the live-action version’s marketing has relied on producing positive vibes by referencing events and imagery from the anime. Perhaps in response to the negative reaction to the film, distributer Toho took the unusual step of uploading an extended trailer to YouTube on August 6, five days after the movie’s theatrical premier.

Toho says the trailer could not be shown on TV, although it’s unclear if the reason is its two-and-a-half-minute length or intense visuals. Regardless, its somber tone is a stark departure from the more action-oriented previews that Toho has shown on television and before other films. Isayama says that if you’re on the fence about going to see the live-action Attack on Titan, it’s this spoiler-free trailer that you should base your decision on.

This trailer does a much better job of establishing upfront that this isn’t the same Attack on Titan as the animated and comic version. Sure, main character Eren still vows to “Exterminate the Titans,” but rather than a hot-blooded hero, here he sounds like someone who’s been ground down, physically and emotionally, and is making an idle threat with his last ounce of strength. As a matter of fact, we don’t see the young man doing much of anything heroic, as he spends a large chunk of the video whimpering and getting pushed around by new character Shikishima.

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And while Isayama’s recommended trailer does indeed feature plenty of combat, it’s clear that exciting scenes of man vs. Titan combat take a back seat to what the movie really wants to focus on visually: how horrifically disturbing (and gross) having your town invaded by semi-intelligent, entirely naked giants would be.

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▼ Baby Titans are still huge, and still terrifying.

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“If there is anyone out there who is undecided about watching the film, please watch this preview,” requests Isayama. “And afterwards, if you feel intrigued, please head to the theater. That’s all. It’s a selfish request, but I hope that you can enjoy Attack on Titan.”

Source: Cinema Today/Yahoo! Japan News via Jin
Images: YouTube/Toho Movie Channel