In the eight years since it opened, the Lazona shopping center in Kawasaki has become the city’s highest-profile entertainment hub. Conveniently attached to Kawasaki Station, Lazona makes a great place to grab a bite to eat or shop for the latest fashions or electronics.
But like many of the visitors who made the trip to Lazona on April 10, we weren’t there for dining or bargain hunting. We came to see the projection-mapped 60-meter Colossal Titan from hit anime Attack on Titan.
As evident from its continuing diffusion into Japanese pop culture, Attack on Titan is the biggest anime phenomenon in years. While the anime TV series aired its last episode in September, this month saw the release of the newest collective volume of the manga comic the animated version is based on, plus the announcement of two animated theatrical features and new developments in the series’ upcoming live-action adaptation.
Attack on Titan’s popularity seems to be growing faster than ever, so we decided to beat the crowd by arriving at Lazona roughly an hour ahead of the projection mapping show’s scheduled starting time of 7 p.m. As soon as we stepped out of the gates at Kawasaki Station, we spotted a sign directing us to the event, titled Attack on the Real.
As we entered the complex, it dawned on us just how appropriate the choice of venue was. Not only does Lazona’s spacious central plaza offer great visibility for the audience, the way the center is surrounded by skyscrapers evokes the city Attack on Titan’s characters reside in, which is protected by a series of towering Titan defense walls.
The crowd was still fairly thin, so we staked out a spot and settled in. Since we still had almost a full hour to kill, we were thankful for the giant monitor showing clips from the anime, as well as ads for Attack on Titan comics and smartphone apps.
As we waited, more and more fans streamed into the shopping center. The majority took up positions on the ground floor in front of a stage that had been set up for the event, but soon the three floors of balconies ringing the plaza were packed as well.
With the sun now down and the start just minutes away, we took a look around and were reminded of just how broad the Attack on Titan fan base is. Sure, we saw a couple groups of obvious hardcore anime nuts, but also businesspeople dressed in suits who’d come out to see the Titans after putting in a full day at the office, affectionate couples on dates, foreigners either visiting or living in Japan, and even a family of three in which the parents were clearly every bit as psyched as their middle school-age daughter for what they were about to see.
Before the projection mapping got started, though voice actresses Yui Ishikawa and Yu Kobayashi trotted out on stage to greet the audience and thank them for coming. Ishikawa, who voices female lead Mikasa, explained how in order to visualize the size of the Titans, some of which stand 60 meters (197 feet) tall, she imagined what it would be like if she was shrunk down to a miniscule size, then stared up at a normal-sized human.
▼ Ishikawa (left) and Kobayashi (right)
Kobayashi, who plays potato-loving Sasha (and yes, the voice actress did munch on a potato while on stage), took a more unique approach, saying that she rehearsed her lines while pressing herself to the floor of her home as her father, or sometimes mother, towered over her menacingly like a Titan.
And then, at last, it was time for the show to begin. The first visual to appear was of a series of the flares used by Attack on Titan’s Scout Corps when they detect one of their monstrous foes.
This was followed by a series of stills from the manga, and then the first giant made its appearance, in the form of the Armored Titan, seemingly breaking through the screen as it does the city’s outermost wall in the anime’s opening episode.
Next came a series of quick cuts of Attack on Titan’s heroes zipping about in their 3D maneuver gear, set to a driving rock anthem, until suddenly the music came to a halt, and was replaced with a series of thundering, reverberating footsteps. Ominously, a gigantic hand appeared.
The 60-meter-class Colossal Titan had come.
Two-dimensional image or not, we heard more than a few screams of genuine fright as the monster glared down at central Kawasaki. Thankfully, the creature saw fit to spare the assembled humans, and no one was eaten. Still, after the Titan withdrew, the audience wisely streamed towards the exits.
But if there’s one thing Attack on Titan has shown us, it’s that its villains are relentless. The Titans will come again to Lazona on April 11, attacking at 7, 7:30, and 8 p.m., and any able-bodied recruits willing to show up and defend the center (or watch the show) will be welcomed with open arms
Event Site Information
Lazona Kawasaki / ラゾーナ川崎
Kanagawa-ken, Kawasaki-shi, Saiwai-ku, Horikawa-cho 72-1