Based on the Manga series of the same name, Attack On Titan looks to be an epic spectacle deserving of a big screen viewing, but will cinemagoers get a chance to see it in all its glory? I suspect not.
Let’s be honest, the mainstream UK and the US cinema audiences aren’t big on foreign language films. Multiplex cinemas usually shy away from showing them altogether, leaving those craving a little overseas culture left to seek out an arthouse or independent theatre for a fix. Yet, occasionally a big budget movie comes along that could make a real impact in the western box office listings… if only they were English language.
There are movies that breached the barrier and made a mark on the wider audience. Guillermo Del Toro’s twisted horror/drama Pan’s Labyrinth created a buzz despite it’s Spanish dialogue. The Russian language Night Watch was a special effects spectacle that drew in more viewers than many of its peers based on its visual style. And from Japan, Studio Ghibli movies fare moderately well, in particular Howl’s Moving Castle. But it’s often via home release that these films truly blossom, and where – I suspect – most viewers will cast eyes on Attack On Titan for the first time.
It was Katsuhiro Otomo‘s epic vision of a post apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo in 1988’s Akira that really launched Manga into the western mainstream consciousness. A vast yet arguably unfinished masterpiece in animation, the film virtually bypassed the cinema altogether. There were US and UK theatrical releases, but with cinemas opting for the English language dub over the original Japanese and limited runs only. The success of Akira came later with the release of the film on VHS. As the Manga craze took hold there wasn’t a fan of the genre who wouldn’t have a copy of the contemporary classic in their collection, and subsequent re-releases on LaserDisc, DVD and most recently Bluray confirm that there is still a lasting appeal with each successive generation of film fans taking the movie to heart.
It seems likely that Attack on Titan may follow in similar tradition. Like Akira, the origins of this film are rooted firmly in the long running Shingeki no kyojin: Attack on Titan (original title) series of Manga books and from what I’ve read of the series (admittedly, just vol.1 to date) this live action version echoes much of what can be found on those pages both visually and in tone. Director Shinji Higuchi is presenting the story in two parts. The trailer for the first installment is mind-blowing in scale and visually stunning. If you know nothing of the story behind Attack on Titan, the trailer lays it out with aplomb. This is a big budget film akin in scale to any number of this summer’s box-office blockbusters. But will we get to see Attack on Titan in cinemas here in the UK? It seems unlikely at this time, though, good news if you’re in the US! Word is that there will be a limited cinematic run for the movie in North America.
I’ll resign myself to waiting for the Bluray release, hope that if the film is as good as the trailer makes it appear that it finds success via home media release and video on demand. Perhaps I’ll catch a viewing at an indie theatre? Ultimately though, I, and many others who would be interested in a big screen viewing of this film and others like it, are at the mercy of the western world’s reluctance to embrace foreign culture on the big screen.
Attack on Titan is out in cinemas from August the 1st in Japan.
Mankind is under the terror of titans, a beast in which feast on human flesh. Eren Yeager, a young boy determined to make change when he himself could transform into one. He is humanity’s last hope.