Bringing Attack on Titan to life

Stand a chance to win a pair of tickets to the premiere of Attack on Titan 2: End of the World on Sept 16 at GV VivoCity!

Are you itching for more Titan action after catching Japanese blockbuster Attack on Titan Part 1 in the cinema?

AsiaOne speaks with director Higuchi Shinji and leading actors Miura Haruma (Eren) and Mizuhara Kiko (Mikasa) to find out what went behind the scenes of the action sci-fi film, set in a post-apocalyptic world where titanic humanoid beings devour humans and drive the remaining survivors to barricade themselves behind tall walls.

They also share with us the challenges they faced while adapting Isayama Hajime's hugely popular manga series for the big screen.

Q: As an adaptation of an on-going manga series, how did the film crew arrive at a decision on how much to deviate from the original material?

DIRECTOR: I followed my impressions of the original work.

(In a recent interview with Anime News Network, Mr Higuchi also revealed that Mr Isayama had asked the film crew not to turn it into a reproduction of the anime or manga, as he wished for the adaptation to become an unique cinema experience for the audience.)

Q. Which character in Attack on Titan do you relate to the most?

DIRECTOR: Sannagi (A Survey Corps recruit who wields an axe in the film; played by Satoru Matsuo)

KIKO: I like Sasha (played by Nanami Sakuraba). The scenes in which she was eating non-stop were very fun and cute.

But Sasha was also able to strongly fight with bow and arrow during combat. I felt a sense of closeness to this character.

Q. What are the challenges of bringing the titans and characters to life?

(Director Higuchi told Japanese magazine Kinema Junpo: "Once I decided to direct this (film), I wondered how I would accomplish the special effects. I decided to use human actors, miniatures, as well as CG to portray the titans using a hybrid of VFX and digital manipulation.")

HARUMA: In the original manga, Eren is a determined person who does not give up easily.

At the same time, his straightforward character also shows his immaturity. I hope to show these traits in the film.

However, the movie is based on the script, and after reading, I tried to decipher the role on my own. The character of Eren in the movie was eventually formed after discussions with the director and staff.

Personally, I wanted to learn about the development of the characters, and I also had a deep interest in how voice actor Yuki Kaji portrays Eren in the anime.

There were many differences between the movie and anime, but regarding the similarities, I watched them repetitively to get a better idea of those parts.

When I knew which scenes I would be filming for the next day, I would usually watch the scenes in the anime as a reference, so that I could perform better.

KIKO: When I was reading the manga, the character that left the deepest impression was none other than Mikasa. As the heroine, I think she is strong and attractive.

Everything was new to me. It was the first time for me to be wired up, and it was very difficult to film with the green screen, but it was also interesting.

We had to imagine that we were being attacked by the titans and react accordingly, even though there was actually nothing in front of us.

The toughest part was making sure that our facial expressions were timed accurately and synchronised.

Q. Did the cast undergo any special training to zip through the air using the 3D Manoeuvre Gear?

HARUMA: Before the actual filming, there was a lot of training on our own.

It was not so much of training to have a more muscular appearance, but more of building our core muscles to support our stunts in the movie.

Even during the filming, We continued practising the different movements necessary for the movie.

KIKO: When I was offered the role of Mikasa, I immediately realised that I had to train my body because she is one of the strongest member in the Survey Corp.

For two months before the shoot, I went to the gym frequently. I also went for chiropractic sessions in order to make my body more flexible.

I had a personal trainer who helped me train my core muscles. There were times when I trained up to eight hours a day!

Q. We noticed that some main characters in the manga have not made an appearance in Part 1, will we be seeing them in Part 2?

DIRECTOR: They will only appear as "a whole".

KIKO: If you watch Part 2, you will be able to find out yourself. (laughs)

Find out how the story unfolds in Attack on Titan 2: End of the World which opens in cinemas on Sept 24.

While waiting for the film series' conclusion, relive the adventure with AsiaOne's review of Attack on Titan Part 1.

Are you an ardent fan of the series? Be one of the first to catch both parts of Attack on Titan in a movie marathon at GV on Sept 18 and 19.