Attack on Titan is a shounen manga that has been adapted into an anime series for the first three seasons by Wit Studio and the fourth and final season by MAPPA. Despite being a shounen anime targeting young boys aged 9–18 years old, it contains numerous graphic scenes of violence and gore, leading many anime fans to wonder if it’s appropriate for the target demographic. Therefore, would it be okay for a 12-year-old to watch Attack on Titan?
Yes, it is technically okay for a 12-year-old to watch Attack on Titan, but it is recommended that they watch it under adult supervision. Although the anime contains a lot of mature themes such as cannibalism, suicide, and mass genocide, it also contains a lot of life lessons that can be used to educate a 12-year-old about some of the harsh realities of life.
In this article, I will discuss what Attack on Titan is about and make a case for why a 12-year-old can watch the anime despite the reservations many people might have about such a decision.
Attack on Titan is a manga written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama and adapted into an anime that has been airing since 2013. One of the most popular anime series of all time, Attack on Titan is set in a dystopian world where humans have been forced to live behind walls due to the existential threat of Titans, massive creatures that resemble humans and predate on humans only. Known as the last sanctuary for humanity, the walled districts are protected by three towering concentric walls, with the innermost district being the safest and inhabited by the wealthiest people, and the outermost district being the least secure of the three and inhabited by the poorer citizens.
At the brink of extinction, humanity divided the military into three regiments: the Scout Regiment (also known as the Survey Corps), which is responsible for exploring titan territory and serves as the expeditionary force of the military; the Garrison Regiment, which patrols and maintains the walls and acts as the first line of defense against any breach of the walls by the titans; and the Military Police Regiment, which maintains law and order within the walls and protects the King, making it the most prestigious regiment among the three. The Cadet Corps, an affiliate branch of the military, serves as the training corps for recruits who, upon graduation, join either of the three aforementioned regiments.
The story follows Eren Yeager, a young boy who lives in the Shiganshina district, the outermost district encircled by the first wall. After the first wall is breached by titans, Eren’s mother is trapped in the debris of their destroyed house and eaten by a titan. Rescued by a soldier in the Garrison regiment, Eren swears to seek revenge for his mother’s death by destroying all the titans and enlists to join the military together with Armin Arlert and Mikasa Ackerman, two of his closest childhood friends.
Upon graduating, they all join the Survey Corps, but five years later, the second wall is breached and titans gain access to the central district. While protecting the citizens within the walls, Eren discovers that he can shift into a conscious Titan and uses his newfound ability to defend the breached walls. With this new revelation, the Survey Corps takes custody of Eren and draws up a plan to reclaim the first wall that was breached. However, Eren’s newfound ability draws attention to the possibility of other people possessing the power to shift into titans, and as the story progresses, secrets are revealed and betrayals are uncovered within the ranks of the military, which have far-reaching consequences that threaten the existence of the last remnants of humanity.
The world of manga is divided into five distinguishing demographics: Kodomo, Shounen, Shoujo, Seinen, and Josei. Not to be confused with genres, these five demographics are used in the publishing world to refer to a target audience for which a manga is written. Shounen is the most popular demographic, and Attack on Titan is one of the best-selling mangas within that demographic. As such, Attack on Titan has been watched by many 12-year-olds regardless of the themes that seem to be targeting a much more mature audience.
Hajime Isayama‘s story is one of the most complex stories ever written for a manga. The dynamics of corrupt political systems, racism, and social tensions between the wealthy and the poor are all highlighted in a fascinating manner. As children grow up, they learn that the world isn’t what they thought it was, and unless they are educated at a young age about the harsh reality of the world, many grow up to suffer or inflict suffering on others.
With adult supervision, 12-year-olds can watch Attack on Titan and ask questions that adults can answer in-depth, using such opportunities to teach them. A great example of a teaching opportunity is using Eren’s obsession to get revenge as a lesson on why revenge is a double-edged blade that benefits no one and only adds to the misery the world already has plenty of.
People are not as binary as children imagine them to be, and the idea that every person is either good or bad is flawed. The world is a gray place with very few absolutes, and depending on perspective, anyone can be viewed as both good and bad. In the beginning, titans are introduced as dumb creatures that prey on humanity and have no will of their own. Therefore, every titan that is killed is a cause for celebration.
When we learn that titans were once human beings who were transformed into terrifying creatures against their will, every titan kill becomes a painful moment for humanity, who now realizes that they have been fighting against other humans all along. As Isayama perfectly articulated, “When Titans were the greatest threat, Titans were the enemy. When countries were the greatest threat, countries were the enemy. For as long as people hold firm to different beliefs, there will always be an enemy.”
Ultimately, after all is said and done, Attack on Titan is one of the most entertaining and engrossing anime ever produced, and denying anyone the opportunity to watch this masterpiece should be considered illegal. Once the anime is over and enough time has passed, Attack on Titan will become a classic that every new anime fan must watch. With the amount of information that 12-year-olds are exposed to in this day and age, it wouldn’t be farfetched to say that many of them are capable of watching Attack on Titan and understanding the more mature themes in the story while still enjoying the entertainment value it delivers.