Isayama Created Attack On Titan At 19 As A ‘Prototype’

Hajime Isayama’s prototype, also titled “Shingeki no Kyojin” (Attack on Titan), started off as a one-shot loosely outlining the world of the manga and the anime that fans are so intimately acquainted with. In the interview with Brutus, Isayama said that he had intended the story as a one-shot, which had won him his “first-ever prize,” and he had not given it serious thought until he was 22 or 23. Isayama’s editor, Shintaro Kawakubo, had asked him to “consider making that old one-shot into a long-term series,” which kickstarted the process of writing/drawing “Attack on Titan.”

We obviously have Kawakubo to thank for urging Isayama to expand on the one-shot concept into a full-fledged serialized storyline, which went on to morph into a dense, politically charged saga about personal transformation and complex morality. After spending some time filling out the details of such a treacherous, dystopian world where humans live inside walled enclaves to keep out Titans of numerous kinds, Isayama launched the manga series in Kodansha’s monthly magazine “Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine.” The rest is history — the serialized manga received critical and commercial acclaim even before it was picked up by Wit Studio (and consequently, MAPPA) for a live-action adaptation.

It is interesting that Isayama consistently undercuts his own accomplishments throughout his interview with Brutus, while vocalizing his initial fears of disappearing into a “forest” of run-of-the-mill manga artists with stories that champion standard narrative tropes and themes. Although there is nothing run-of-the-mill about “Attack on Titan” — from its unique world-building to its lore-heavy, thought-provoking storyline — Isayama seems to underestimate the impact of his greatest work, which can be traced all the way back to his one-shot. Still, this does grant us a glimpse into the manga-ka’s creative thought-process while the series was conceived.

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