Sunday, June 22, 2014

Shingeki no Kyoujin OVA 1: Ilse's Notebook

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This is my first time blogging about Shingeki no Kyoujin ("Attack on Titan") although I have seen the first season of the anime when it aired last year. The series has had phenomenal success and I personally enjoyed watching the story of Eren Jaeger and his friends unfold as they train to become soldiers who fight the devouring titans.

Ilse's Notebook is set in an earlier time before the main characters of the series joined the military. It follows the adventures of the Elite Survey Corps as they embark on a mission outside the walls. Captain Hanji Zoe (voiced by Paku Romi) of the Research Squad wants to take advantage of being outside the walls to capture a titan for research purposes. Commander Erwin Smith, however, is against the idea as he does not want to lose any more men, which would surely happen if they try to take a titan alive. Nevertheless, hard-headed Hanji does what she wants, forcing Erwin to send a resentful Captain Levi's Special Ops squadron as her back-up. While hunting a titan down, Hanji discovers the body of a comrade and the notebook that will change the way she views titans.

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This was a nice special that adds a new layer to the character of Hanji. She was portrayed in the anime as this crazy scientist who is bonkers about titans. She doesn't seem to regard them as dangerous at all and give them names and cries when the titans she captured are slain. Why does she act this way? And has she always been like this? The OVA gives us the answer.

Aside from Hanji, other members of the elite corps also make an appearance. These characters have since become beloved by fans. Those who mourned the decimation of the Special Ops Squadron will be happy with this offering since this happened way before that fatal mission portrayed in the first series. Eld, Olou, Petra and Gunther are all present along with Levi, their taciturn captain.

A character we've never seen before is Ilse Langnar, who is the titular Ilse. She's a member of the survey corps who died while on duty. Before she died, she made detailed notes about her encounter with an aberrant which spoke and seemed to recognize her as Ymir. Her account of this hair-raising encounter provides the second half of this 40-minute OVA.

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The art is again topnotch, which is only to be expected from Production I.G. The animation is crisp and almost flawless. The art design is beautiful. The titan is deformed enough to add to its creepiness factor.

The voice work is excellent. Paku Romi does a good job with the nutty Hanji, portraying both her silly and serious sides with perfect balance. Kamiya Hiroshi has very few lines as Captain Levi but oozes cool much like his character does. Ilse Langnar's seiyuu, Kokuryu Sachi, was great at showing the fear and panic that her character felt at being alone in the presence of a titan.

All in all, this was such a great idea to make into an OVA. I loved it because it featured my favorite squad in the entire Survey Corps. I was very sad when they, with the exception of Levi, met their demise in the series. So to see the characters again in action is a balm for the wound.

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