10 Times Censorship changed how Attack on Titan played out: Manga vs. Anime Comparison

Attack on Titan Manga vs anime comparison

Attack on Titan is filled with heart-pounding action and gruesome violence and it rarely hesitates to punch you in the emotional gut. While the anime adaptation does its best to capture the brutality of Hajime Isayama’s manga, sometimes, certain scenes just hit differently on paper. Here, we dissect 10 instances where the censorship hammer swung, leaving anime-only viewers with a slightly sanitized version of the horror that unfolded on the pages

Top 10 censored moments in Attack on Titan anime

10. Faye Yeager’s death

Faye Yeager being eaten alive by Dogs in Attack on Titan
Faye Yeager being eaten alive by Dogs (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Faye Yeager was Grisha Yeager’s younger sister, who was eaten alive by the dogs, just for crossing the place reserved for Eldians. Witnessing Faye meet a gruesome end just for being an Eldian in the manga is a whole different level of disturbing. The sheer brutality of the act, combined with her traumatized reaction,  is enough to leave even the most hardened Attack on Titan fan feeling slightly queasy. The anime, opting for a less explicit approach, uses sound effects and horrified screams to convey the emotional impact without showing the full extent of the carnage.

9. Hannah’s panel with Franz’s remains

Hannah trying to revive Franz in Attack on Titan
Hannah trying to revive Franz (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Remember when Hannes valiantly sacrificed himself to buy Eren and Mikasa time, only for poor Franz to become collateral damage? In the manga, Hannah’s desperate attempt to save him is a visceral nightmare. We see his exposed remains with half body being chomped down by the Titans, while Hannah is trying to revive him by compressing his chest. Bone splintering under teeth, and blood spraying in a crimson ballet. The anime, bless its heart, opts for a quicker cut-away, sparing us the full, bone-chilling spectacle.

8. Hannes getting eaten by a titan

Hannes getting eaten by a titan in Attack on Titan
Hannes getting eaten by a titan (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Speaking of Hannes, his own demise in the manga is pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel. Isayama doesn’t hold back on the details: teeth gnashing through muscle, limbs ripped and torn, screams swallowed by Titan gulps. What’s worse is we can literally see the parallels between his and Carla’s death, as they both get eaten by the same titan. The Attack on Titan anime, while still impactful, relies on shadows and off-screen horror to deliver the emotional punch without showing every gruesome inch.

7. Grisha being tortured by Marleyan soldiers

Grisha being tortured by Marleyan soldiers in Attack on Titan
Grisha being tortured by Marleyan soldiers (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Grisha’s backstory dropped like a bombshell, revealing his tortured past in Marley. The manga doesn’t skimp on the brutality. We see Marleyan soldiers inflicting unimaginable pain, both physical and emotional. The manga has a special focus on his chopped up fingers, the anime on the other hand, while retaining the intensity through close-ups and sound effects, chooses to keep the actual torture in the shadows, letting our imagination fill in the blanks.

6.Marco’s face 

Marco's brutally mutilated corpse in Attack on Titan
Marco’s brutally mutilated corpse (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Marco did not have much role in the Attack on Titan anime, however, even after a decade, his death is still haunting. In the manga, it’s a full-on horror show, with grotesque visages. He is seen being split in half, just by one bite of the titan. The anime, toning down the body horror, uses close-ups and lighting to convey the horror without showing every monstrous mutation in its full, teeth-gnashing glory.

5. Kenny Ackerman Shoots Nifa

Kenny Ackerman Shoots Nifa in Attack on Titan
Kenny Ackerman Shoots Nifa (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Kenny Ackerman is the embodiment of trigger-happy pragmatism in Attack on Titan and he doesn’t hesitate to dispatch Nifa in the manga. It’s sudden, brutal, and the spray of blood paints a vivid picture of the carnage. The anime, in its quest for a slightly gentler viewing experience, slows down the scene, uses less explicit imagery, and focuses on Levi’s horrified reaction to soften the blow.

4. Grisha’s body after being devoured by Eren 

Grisha's body after being devoured by Eren in Attack on Titan
Grisha’s body after being devoured by Eren Yeager (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Grisha’s demise, orchestrated by his own son no less, is a gut-wrenching moment in the Attack on Titan manga. We see Eren desperately tearing into his father, leaving a trail of exposed ribs and spilled organs. The anime, understandably hesitant to show patricide in all its gory glory, uses darkness, shadows, and titan steam to obscure the grisly details, letting Eren’s anguished screams tell the story.

3. Levi torturing Zeke to near death

Levi torturing Zeke to near death in Attack on Titan
Levi torturing Zeke to near death (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Zeke Yeager, the epitome of mangled messiness. Not saying that he didn’t deserve it, but Zeke’s panel after being captured by Levi was one of the most goriest snippets from Attack on Titan manga. After Levi’s surgical precision reduces him to a near-death husk in the manga, we’re treated to a close-up of his shredded flesh, exposed organs, and face barely clinging to life. The Attack on Titan anime, ever the merciful soul, shrouds him in smoke and strategic angles, leaving viewers to piece together the carnage through Levi’s disgusted expressions.

2. Carla Yeager’s (Eren’s mother) death

Carla Yeager’s (Eren’s mother) death in Attack on Titan
Carla Yeager’s (Eren’s mother) death (Image via Kodansha and Wit Studio)

Let’s face it, Carla’s death is a tearjerker regardless of format. But in the manga, Isayama doesn’t shy away from the raw emotion and violence. We see Titan’s teeth sinking into flesh, Eren Yeager’s desperate screams, and Carla’s face contorted in pain. The anime, while retaining the emotional impact through close-ups of Eren’s face and gut-wrenching sound effects, chooses not to explicitly show the act itself.

Did you know?: The titan who ate Carla Yeager was actually Grisha Yeager’s first wife and Eren’s stepmother. She was turned into a titan by Marleyan soldiers for conspiring against the Marleyan government and sent towards Paradis island to cause chaos. For more such facts, subscribe to the Spielanime Newsletter and get the latest updates of anime and manga.

1. Ymir being devoured by her daughters

Ymir being devoured by her daughters in Attack on Titan
Ymir being devoured by her daughters (Image via Kodansha and MAPPA Studio)

Ymir’s tragic backstory is further amplified by the way her daughters devour her in the manga. The disturbing imagery of her transformation, flesh splitting off her ribcage and body parts contorting, leaves a lasting impression.  The Attack on Titan manga captures both the horrors on the faces of her daughter, Rose, Maria, and Sina along with the gruesome details of her corpse.

However in later episodes, when the anime Studio was changed from Wit to MAPPA, most of us were expecting it to keep the violent essence of Manga. The anime opts for a less grotesque portrayal and uses quick cuts, dark shadows, and obscured angles to convey the essence of the scene without dwelling on the gory details.

Is censorship necessary?

Censorship in Attack on Titan, like in any artistic medium, is a double-edged sword. While it may shield viewers from the most disturbing visuals, it can also lessen the overall impact of the story’s brutal realities. The manga, in its unfiltered rawness, forces us to confront the true cost of war, the fragility of life, and the depths of human suffering. The anime, with its toned-down approach, maintains the emotional core of the story while making it more palatable for a wider audience.

Conclusion

Ultimately, whether you prefer the unfiltered brutality of the manga or the slightly sanitized intensity of the anime is a matter of personal preference. Both formats, however, excel in showcasing Isayama’s masterful storytelling with a message that sometimes the monster is not a Giant Titan, but instead a fellow human living among us. 

So, the next time you find yourself marveling at the stunning animation or sobbing over a heartbreaking plot twist in Attack on Titan, take a moment to appreciate the choices made by both the manga and anime creators. And perhaps, ask yourself: how much darkness are we willing to face in the pursuit of artistic truth?

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