It’s a big month for Attack on Titan. Between an art exhibit opening in Tokyo, a crossover with Marvel’s Avengers, and at least one of the naked giants finding a proper job, the biggest anime and manga hit of the last decade is even more in the spotlight than usual these days, which makes it only fitting that we’re getting our first in-costume glimpse of the cast of next summer’s live-action Attack on Titan movies.
Leading trio Eren, Mikasa, and Arumin are all present and accounted for. But while they’ll be joined by several new characters specially crafted for the films, one fan favorite apparently isn’t making the transition to live-action.
Thanks to Attack on Titan’s gritty, somber design aesthetic, the characters don’t have the sort of neon hair colors and outlandish outfits that many other anime casts do. Most members of the Survey Corps even have relatively realistic figures, salacious Mikasa fanart notwithstanding.
Nevertheless, live-action Attack on Titan producer Yoshihiro Sato explained that the production team “didn’t concern ourselves at all with whether or not the actors looked like their manga counterparts.” Instead, after several talks with series creator Hajime Isayama, Sato “carried out casting on the basis of whether or not the actors could embody the spirit of Isayama’s originals.”
Still, we don’t think fans will have too much trouble telling who’re supposed to be Eren and Mikasa, played by Haruma Miura and Kiko Mizuhara, respectively.
Armin (Kanata Hongo) is a little harder to recognize without his blond hair, but he’s still got his bowl-cut, and, in this version at least, he’s clearly a guy.
Attack on Titan has a lengthy list of characters, due to its complex plot and high body count. As a result, it doesn’t look like everyone from the manga will be showing up, but there’s going to be at least some screen time for the conflicted Jean (Takahiro Miura).
As with any adaptation, a few tweaks are expected to make the story fit its new format, and also to make things more accessible for viewers who aren’t already long-time fans of the franchise. With most movies running about an hour-and-a-half, the live-action Attack on Titan is going to have to introduce its sizeable cast at a pretty rapid rate. Since everyone wears a nearly identical outfit, there’s a chance of first-time viewers getting confused as to who’s who, which might be why not all of the Survey Corps are making the series’ iconic twin swords their weapon of choice.
▼ To be fair, Satomi Ishihara’s Hans/Hange is the sort of nut-job we’d expect to form an emotional bond with her rocket launcher.
▼ Potato-loving, meat-stealing, always-hungry Sasha (Nanami Sakuraba), looking just a little bit like a certain Hunger Games character
In addition to these six familiar heroes, seven new characters have also been announced. This isn’t a case of the production team riding roughshod over Isayama’s established work, either. Isayama himself was involved with constructing the film’s story alongside director Shinji Higuchi, which is described as a hybrid of existing ideas and new elements.
While the Attack on Titan manga and anime both emphasize that Mikasa is one of the setting’s few Asian equivalents, several of the new characters have decidedly Japanese-sounding names.
▼ Fukushi (Shu Watanabe), “guardian of sorrow”
▼ The motherly Hiana (Ayame Misaki)
▼ “Gentle warrior” Sannagi (Satoru Matsuo), who also bypasses the standard paired blades
▼ Lil (Rina Takeda), dubbed “love of hell” on her poster, but described in press releases as someone who “survives for love.”
▼ Thanks to his jet-black uniform and riding crop, Kubal (Jun Kunimura) would seem sinister enough without his title of “perfect darkness.”
Some of the new roles seem to be inspired by manga characters who won’t be appearing in the films. For example, Pierre Taki’s heavy-hearted commander Souda (less eloquently referred to as “Captain Sad” on his poster), seems like a stand-in for the anime heroes’ mentors Pixis and Erwin.
By this point, though, you’re probably wondering who’s playing Levi, Attack on Titan’s supremely cool giant slayer who steals every single scene he’s in. The answer?
Levi’s spot in the lineup seems to have instead been claimed by newcomer Shikishima, billed as humanity’s strongest warrior and played by Hiroki Hasegawa.
But why would Isayama and Higuchi elect not to bring Attack on Titan’s most popular male character, by far, along on the franchise’s trip to live-action? We’re not sure. Isayama’s manga is nothing if not unpredictable, and maybe he’s got some shocking plot twist coming that he doesn’t want spoiled by the greater pressure to tell a complete story the two-part live-action adaptation is likely to have.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s that no one is cool enough to play Levi in real life.