Could “Attack on the Titans” become a cult, a manga phenomenon?

Ten years after its publication began in France, Attack of the Titans has the honor of an exhibition at the Angoulême comic strip festival. For the occasion, Hajime Isayama, author of the manga phenomenon, traveled to the banks of the Charente.

“This is an event!” enthuses Fausto Fasulo, curator of the exhibition. Mangakas travel little, especially those of this stature. The arrival of Hajime Isayama gives a big echo to the exhibition. »

A millionaire manga

If you are not one of the millions of readers of Attack of the Titans, you probably didn’t know that Hajime Isayama is a huge star. The young author has scored a masterstroke in his first series. Attack of the Titans depicting an imprisoned humanity, battling giant cannibals beyond city walls, in a dark fantasy in medieval Europe. And the manga is a wonder. If the term is sometimes overused, it applies here wonderfully. The 34-volume series, which was completed, sold more than 110 million copies. The anime adaptation was also successful.

However, the influence of Hajime Isayama, major in the world of manga where tributes and references are legion, is still shy in the field of pop culture. There’s actually a meme that goes around on the night of football matches to make fun of passive teams. A wink from Emmanuel Macron on Instagram to praise Pass Culture. Or some quotes in rap songs. Aside from that…

A work outside the codes

however, Attack of the Titans is unanimously considered a major work by those who have read it… “This manga is a phenomenon because it has been commercially and critically successful, explains Mehdi Benrabah, editorial director at Pika Editions. This unity is rare. For many, it was the manga of the decade. »

“The main reason for this success is that the author shakes the codes of manga where, often, creativity is codified, with archetypes of heroes and antagonists. There, you don’t know what to be expected. And this story is presented by a drawing that looks like no one knows. »

Image from Attack on Titan – Hajime ISAYAMA / Kodansha Ltd

Fausto Fasulo also believes Attack of the Titans has everything to attract a wide and demanding audience: “It is a very popular series that is very united in terms of audiences of all ages and genres. There are young teenagers, adults, readers, female readers … It’s both accessible and profound if you dig a little deeper into it. »

Most Attack of the Titans causing severe reactions. “We feel galvanized by the horror of the Titans, the mass destruction… But there are also adult themes, reflections, mysteries, Fausto Fasulo reviews. It’s a series that feels strange, unsettled, uncomfortable, even for seasoned manga readers. And the drawing, quite rough, contributes to the discomfort of the story. These cannibalistic humanoid giants are drawn in a strange way. »

Thank you Gen Z

So how to explain that Attack of the Titans is not yet, as Game Of Thrones, naruto or GTA, break through the boomer wall to ignite pop culture? Recently, the license attack on titan entering certain markets, particularly ready-to-wear. Celio, boomer brand if ever there was one, has created an Attack on Titans collection. And at the beginning of 2023, the brand Don’t Call Me Jennyfer is launching its second collection dedicated to shock manga.

The brand Don't Call Me Jennyfer has created a collection inspired by Attack on Titan
The brand Don’t Call Me Jennyfer has created a collection inspired by Attack on Titan – DCMJ

“Our customers asked us for it,” explains Chloé Ortiz, brand director, simply. We listen to our customers on social networks and this is a recurring request. We often do manga and Gen Z pop culture collections.” And the director wasn’t intimidated by the rather dark aesthetic of the Attack of the Titans : “We’re lucky to have designers who are fans of this manga so it’s a joy for them. And even though there are charters to respect, especially the size of the Titans compared to other characters, we were able to make the colors to balance the image of the manga. For example, we have a very nice green, beige… to get out of red titanium on a black background. The success of this collection is such that Don’t Call Me Jennyfer will have a stand at a “big Parisian manga event” in the coming months.

generation for worship

In addition to manga and anime, Hajime Isayama’s work sells a whole galaxy of things. Is that enough to do? Attack of the Titans a staple of pop culture for the coming decade? In any case, through its interpretative richness, the work deserves it. Hajime Isayama’s arrival in France thus arouses hope, among those who have finished reading the manga, that the author is giving away the keys.

“I don’t really believe in this,” explained Fausto Fasulo. He does not want to comment on the interpretation that will be given to his work. He does not want to defuse what he has aroused in millions of readers, to close his work by giving a single key to the analysis. In Pika, Mehdi Benrabah believes that the mystery around Attack of the Titans is the best chance to become an absolute cult, beyond the fans of the title: “A trapped humanity facing a threat of which it does not know much … Secrets and unspoken at the top of the state … A well-crafted scenario with hints of the end scattered throughout the volumes… This work, we want to read again. There are many underlying messages, references. If the release of the volumes produced emotional debate and conflicting reviews, this is no coincidence. Now that the manga is complete, and the anime soon, there will be exciting descendants. »

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