An exhibition based on the mega-hit manga "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Attack on Titan) is now in Tokyo, realistically reproducing the world of the comic, which has sold more than 40 million copies.
The head and hand of life-size Titan monster, whose entire body would be about 60 meters tall, awaits visitors to the exhibition, titled "Shingeki no Kyojin-ten," at Ueno Royal Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo. You are in "Wall Tokyo," where Titans are ravaging the town and attacking human beings. Can you endure the horror?
"Attack on Titan" depicts the battle between human beings living in a world surrounded by walls and the Titans, gigantic humanoid creatures that attack people. Each character in the manga has its own distinctive charms, including the boy protagonist Eren Yeager and his childhood friends Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert. There is also Levi Ackerman, head of the Survey Corps.
The manga is currently running in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine, published by Kodansha Inc. The 15th volume of its comic book series has just been published, and a live-action film starring Haruma Miura is scheduled to be released next summer.
At the start of the exhibition, visitors will immediately feel the horror of the Titan in a space called the "opening theatre" with a 4-D show titled "Ueno, Kanraku no Hi" (The day when Ueno falls). The sounds of the Titans' footsteps, blowing wind and the visual images on the screen - they all pull the audience right into the world of "Attack on Titan," making them wonder if they will be eaten by the monsters.
The exhibition closely reproduces the worldview of the original manga, with special emphasis on the horror and the physical sensations that would actually occur in such a situation.
"I want visitors to physically experience everything described in the original work - from friendship and conflicts to betrayals," said Dentsu Inc. creative director Hirozumi Takakusaki.
Original manga illustrations are also carefully displayed. An original illustration depicting terrified human beings is placed opposite red lighting and an illustration of a scene in which a Titan eats people, expressing the horror of such an attack.
Using a technique called projection lighting, visual images and sounds are added to some illustrations, and comments by author Hajime Isayama are placed next to some of his original illustrations.
A special attraction of the exhibition is a character Isayama has created for the show. The character is said to hold an important key to the story in the future, so it's a must-see for "Attack on Titan" fans.
Those who have read the manga might have wondered: "What if this was reality?"
Visitors to the exhibition will be able to touch and hold items that appear in the manga, such as Eren's tethering system called Vertical Maneuvering Equipment, a potato that a character called Sasha Blouse bit into, and Levi's blade.
You'll also have a chance to look into the "basement," whose details have not been fully revealed in the original manga.
The "360-degree physical theatre," called Ko (roar), makes you fully appreciate the physical feel of the world of "Attack on Titan." By putting on a head-mounted display and headphones, you'll be able to see 360 degrees around you. You'll join the manga's characters as a soldier and participate in an operation to recover the Trost District, in which you will close a hole in the wall with Eren, who has turned into a giant. It'll feel like fighting in a battle while wearing the Vertical Maneuvering Equipment.
Work on the life-size head of the 60-meter-tall Titan started in spring with the production of a miniature model that is one-twentieth the actual size. Its final design was decided in early September.
The Titan is made from resin-coated styrofoam, and all the parts were finished in mid-November, shortly before the opening of the exhibition, at a factory in Saitama Prefecture.
It was too big to be brought into the venue whole, so it was transported in parts. Assembly was carried out on Nov. 19, and the head section, about five meters high, was completed.
Isayama supervised the production of the life-size Titan. Meticulous care was paid to details, keeping it just like the original manga. Visitors are urged to examine every element.
There was initially a plan to make the Titan's eyes gleam, but since the Titan is not a robot, the figure's creators decided it would be strange for his eyes to glow.
The production team also considered having the Titan open his mouth so visitors could go in it. However, Isayama chose the facial expression the completed Titan has, saying, "[The Titan] will arouse more horror if it smiles in a plain face, rather than keeping his mouth open."
The exhibition is open daily until Jan. 25 at the Ueno Royal Museum in Ueno Park, Tokyo.
Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. from Monday to Friday (except Dec. 30-Jan. 2), until 8 p.m. on weekends, national holidays and Dec. 30-Jan. 2.
It's best to purchase tickets in advance, as only a limited number of people will be able to enter the exhibition at once.
The exhibition will travel to Oita from Aug. 1-30 and Osaka from Sept. 11-Oct. 18.
Visit www.kyojinten.jp for details.