Attack on Titan: Hangeki No Noroshi is a three-episode spin-off mini series based on the Attack on Titan live-action adaptations, Attack on Titan and Attack on Titan: End of the World. The spin-off acts similar to an Original Video Animation (OVA), much like that in anime programmes, and follows side stories and supporting characters from the Attack on Titan universe.
The three episodes each contain stories which appear to add more substance and clarity to the live-action films. The first episode centres on Zoe Hanji, a Commander of the Survey Corps, who possesses a rather unusual obsession with Titans and their physiology. This episode poses itself as a backstory and reveals Hanji’s experiments on her secret captives, Sunny and Bean, two Titans, which in turn leads to the creation of the Omni Directional Mobility Gear (ODM Gear).
The episode delves further into Hanji’s character as a brilliant soldier and allows viewers to follow in her growth as she learns from the situations around her. Apart from being similar in style to the live-action films, there is nothing particularly stand out to the episode. Hanji has always been a slightly eccentric, loner of a character with unusual quirks, so it is little surprise that this is highlighted in the episode. I’ll admit that the actress playing Hanji does a superb job at playing her role. In terms of comparing the episode with other versions of Attack on Titan, the only comparison I can make is that this particular episode felt far more realistic and in line with the Attack on Titan anime and manga compared with the plot of the live-action films, and that, is very much a good thing.
Where the first episode felt realistic and more in line with the core Attack on Titan story, the second episode falls short. Following the character of Sasha Blouse a.k.a Potato Girl, this episode provides more of a backstory as to how Sasha ends up joining the Survey Corps. While in the anime and manga, Sasha provides comic relief, her penchant for constant eating is overly exaggerated to the point that its no longer funny and simply feels forced.
The decision to join the Survey Corps is not one in which civilians take lightly and requires some form of motivation and driving force behind it. Sasha’s backstory in this mini-series does not feel quite right as her character is depicted as clueless and rather pathetic, other than when it comes to her prowess with a bow and arrow. While watchable, the narrative of Sasha’s episode felt undeserving of her character and while depicting her journey into the Survey Corps, just didn’t quite feel compelling enough. This is simply another piece of evidence illustrating the point that the live-action take of the Attack on Titan series destroys the characters of which fans of the anime and manga series love.
After sitting through the second episode and learning that the third’s focus was on two members of the Survey Corps who were in love and ended up being killed horribly, it didn’t take long for me to turn off the TV. These two were by far the most unnecessary characters in the live-action film and really had nothing to do with the anime nor the manga series. As such, I didn’t even bother and I don’t feel any worse for it.
While Attack on Titan: Hangeki No Noroshi is an entertaining watch, it is really just one episode that is really worth your time. If you’re a fan of the live-action, then no doubt this mini-series will be of some value to you. However, if not, I would recommend just watching episode one with Hanji. That’s the only story that matters anyway and if you’re wondering whether to watch this on DVD or Blu-Ray? There isn’t much difference as crisp graphics in this mini series is sorely lacking. The DVD will be good enough.