Grim truth behind Titans

Kiko Mizuhara (left) and Haruma Miura (centre) continue their fight against human-eating creatures in Attack On  Titan 2: End Of The World.
Kiko Mizuhara (left) and Haruma Miura (centre) continue their fight against human-eating creatures in Attack On Titan 2: End Of The World.PHOTO: ENCORE FILMS

Sequel of manga-based series provides background to events driving the plot

REVIEW / FANTASY

ATTACK ON TITAN 2: END OF THE WORLD (NC16)

87 minutes/Opens tomorrow/ ****

The story: In part one, mankind's last walled stronghold is breached by the mysterious, gigantic Titans who feed on humans. The home of Eren (Haruma Miura) and Armin (Kanata Hongo) is destroyed and their friend Mikasa (Kiko Mizuhara) is gone. Two years later, Eren and Armin join a mission to repair the hole in the wall. They meet the suave Captain Shikishima (Hiroki Hasegawa) and a changed Mikasa. They are able to take down Titans with ease by aiming for the back of the neck. At a critical juncture in a battle with the Titans, Eren is swallowed by one and transformed into a Titan himself. Part two picks up with Eren back in human form, bound and under interrogation. It also delivers some answers to key questions: Can the mission to plug the hole in the wall succeed? Where did the Titans come from? Why is Eren special? Based on the manga of the same name by Hajime Isayama.

Writer-illustrator Hajime Isayama's vision in the epic manga Attack On Titan, which has been going strong since it started in 2009, is a dark and gruesome one. The live adaptation does not flinch in its depiction of this post- apocalyptic world.

What makes the Titans particularly horrifying is the fact that they are grotesquely human-like. Except that they lumber with the gait of the undead, grin maniacally, have no sexual organs and snack on people.

In a harrowing scene in part one, Eren struggles to save Armin from the cavernous mouth of a Titan, with its monstrous teeth and throbbing tongue, and ends up sliding down the gullet to its stomach.

The computer graphics are top-notch, conveying the dreadfulness of the creatures as well as the devastated landscape of this bleak world. Director Shinji Higuchi, a veteran special-effects supervisor who has also helmed films such as The Sinking Of Japan (2006), is clearly comfortable with working on a project of this scale.

Part 1 has been pilloried by fans for deviating from the source material. Nevertheless, it topped the box office in Japan when it opened on Aug 1. In Singapore, it has earned more than $820,000, becoming one of the biggest Japanese-language titles in recent years.

Often, a follow-up movie suffers from a lack of surprise as the direction it is headed is already signposted in the earlier instalment.

Impressively, Titan's Part 2 still has some intriguing cards up its sleeve. The audience learns the grim truth behind the origins of the Titans and see Captain Shikishima turn unexpectedly from smooth saviour to seductive rebel. Even the mission to repair the wall is called into question, and Eren and his friends are forced to make some difficult decisions about whom to trust and what to do.

While it is titled End Of The World, the sinister final scene suggests that this might not be the end of the Attack On Titan films.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2015, with the headline 'Grim truth behind Titans'. Print Edition | Subscribe