Relative Authenticity

attack on titanBy Micah Davis

Micah Davis is a nineteen year-old sophomore majoring in philosophy at the University of Alabama. He is also a Religious Studies minor.

Attack on Titan is a current production anime that began airing in 2013 in Japan based on a manga created in 2009. There is a new live action movie adaptation which is set to release in 2015. If you YouTube “Attack on Titan live action movie,” you will find a couple of different versions of the advertisement for the movie (which is actually a Subaru commercial, but features the titans), but the overwhelming number of videos are reaction videos of fans airing their opinions on the authenticity of the movie. This makes me wonder, “To what are they comparing these things to determine whether they are authentic?”

Authenticity is a widely used word usually chosen to express the originality, validity, and/or accuracy of almost anything imaginable. Generally, people believe this word to be a qualifier in and of itself. However, it seems to be more of a game of comparisons than a factual observation.

Relative authenticity is extremely common in pop culture. The “authenticity” of a band’s new album is subject to opinion (which CD was the band’s “authentic” sound?). The authenticity of a movie based on a book is judged based on how the story, characters, and ending relate to the book. The newly announced live action adaptation of the anime Attack on Titan comes to mind when thinking about relative authenticity.

After all, Attack on Titan was a manga series four years before it was an anime series, yet many of the videos I watched referenced the anime and not necessarily the manga. Is keeping with the anime more authentic than keeping with the manga? Not to mention, the story is (with much generalization) about a kid trying to kill giants. So, is the manga the ultimate decider of authenticity? What if you decided to test why the manga is authentic by checking the story of Jack and the Beanstalk? How would Jack and the Beanstalk compare in authenticity to Polyphemus and Odysseus in The Odyssey? Is the story of David and Goliath the most relevant source for authentic giant killer stories?

What determines authenticity when authenticity seems to be an endless number of comparisons? Does something have to bear the name of something else and the two be compared only to each other? How does that work with Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend and the closest movie adaptation named The Last Man on Earth? The question of authenticity seems to be an endless one.

Picture credit: yuni282 on Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, cropped by post author.