[Are we cattle?…

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[Are we cattle? No, we are hunters.]
Sind Sie das Essen? Nein, wir sind der Jager.

Unknown are the names of the flowers that have been trampled
Birds have fallen to the earth and long for the wind
Prayers won’t solve anything
Only the will to fight can change the here and now!

O pigs who laugh at the resolve
to walk over corpses to move forward
Livestock complacency?
False prosperity?
Give us the freedom of dying, starving wolves!
The humiliation of being caged is what triggers us to fight back.
We hunters slaughter prey beyond the castle walls.
Consumed with surging bloodlust
as our crimson bows and arrows pierce scarlet holes into the twilight
-“Attack on Titan” production committee
Hajime Isama, Kodansha / ATTACK ON TITAN production comittee

I am a story person.  I have discovered that in Japan, the truly excellent stories tend to be Samurai action dramas or animated series (Anime for the initiated).  Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (not the “let’s be Nazis” FMA original) is perhaps the greatest steampunk story that I have ever read.  

I have started to watch the semi-steampunk series Attack on Titan after I caught the opening credits on YouTube.  The series tells about young men and women in humanity’s last walled kingdom.  The world outside is dominated by powerful cannibal giants who have driven humanity to the edge of extinction.

The story explores a pair of options in a grim reality, a very adult theme:  Faced with no realistic hope of victory, because no one has successfully killed a giant, the survivors must choose to live like cattle in a shrinking group of survivors, waiting until the giants breach the next wall and kill you, or to have a death of your choosing, fighting against hopeless odds against a for no one has ever defeated?

If the story were told with a lighter tone, the choice would be simple.  But folks, this is no children’s story.  Some Anime (more than I prefer) is mature as adolescents are mature: obsessed with sex, emotionally overreacting, shallow, and usually antisocial in values.  This is a story about a plausible community with limited technology and no real hope.  In the opening pilot people are eaten alive in front of pre-teen children, and then things get darker.

It does not wallow in darkness, but the reality of the hopeless position manages the tone like low strings and brass in an orchestra.

I’m only a few episodes in but the series is what good storytelling is, an excellent look at a fascinating hypothetical question that resonates with our common human nature.

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