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8th May 2013

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Finding Humor in the Darkness (Attack on Titan)

A scary Titan in episode 5 of 'Attack on Titan' becomes super kawaii.

To quote a Tumblr user on the rise of Attack on Titan to the mainstream anime/manga community, how did something so horrifying end up being so hilarious?

As many of you may know, Attack on Titan has become a beloved juggernaut to fans all over the world and some creative folks have responded with great enthusiasm. Social networking feeds became bombarded with wacky pictures and funny video parodies featuring the Titans and the Scouting Legion. One has to wonder if humor truly comes from seeing misery.

Attack on Titan was supposed to be a tragic yet heroic story about a group of kids trying to take on man-eating giants who create fear in the hearts of humanity. There really isn’t much humor in the manga. Yet the anime adaptation sparked a mass reaction starting with its opening theme song, “Guren no Yumiya” by Linked Horizon. Its catchy and epic tune became the go-to-music for hyping up drama in random situationsThe main female lead, Mikasa Ackerman, became a top “moe” female characterThere was also “Potato Girl” Sasha Braus coming to life in hilarious fashion.  And as you can tell from the photo above, Titans are becoming tropes too. Guess the Joker was right - WHY SO SERIOUS?

Darkness parodied by more darkness. Attack on Kyubey starring Akemi Homura.

What makes dark humor so fascinating to many? Why do people joke about tragedies? For starters, it eases stress. Imagine dealing with pain and trauma around you on a daily basis. Laughter is probably the best medicine to make sure you stay sane. Sigmund Freud once said that dark humor is used to protect the ego from the horrors of the outside world.

There is some concern that society has been conditioned to joke at tragedy. For many of us, we deal with so much drama in our lives. Some of that drama may be unnecessary and we sometimes wish for those that caused it to possibly go jump off a cliff. We often have little attachment towards frequent attention-seekers, so why not joke about them instead? Ever notice how so many jokes involve people getting hurt? Perhaps by seeing how the Titan anime portrays the tense drama, fans can’t help but smile and see how ridiculous its themes can be in motion. Well, the Titans do look creepily hilarious and they’re naked too.

You can credit the animators at Production I.G. for taking a few liberties with creating meme-worthy scenes to a certain degree. It’s as if they are telling fans "We know this series is serious drama, but let’s make things a bit ridiculous to brighten your day. Life is absurd, but at least we’re not being threatened by giant naked people, right?" 

Dark humor gives creators and fans the ability to not feel stressed during times of trouble. It also doesn’t hurt that participating in creation or fandom gives you a sense of some control in life.

Attack on Hatsune Miku, Volume 1.

Mark Twain once gave this quote about dark humor:

"Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven." 

With Hajime Isayama being quite a humorist himself, Attack on Titan may go down as one of the wackiest dark comedy/tragedy series in shonen anime/manga history.

Now if you excuse me, I must begin my attack on the cutest Titan of them all, Snuggle.


Tagged: Hajime IsayamaAttack on Titananimemangapsychologymanga psychologyhumorShingeki no Kyojindark humorpsychology of dark humor

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