‘Attack on Titan’ Reference in ‘Puss in Boots: The Last Wish’, Explained

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When the outlaw Puss in Boots donned his hat and boots for another feat, the result was a brilliant display of vibrant, comic-like animation enveloping a thrilling adventure. Featuring diverting characters and witty writing, the movie was “cloaked” in familiar action sequences that strongly resonated with some anime fans who took it to social media to point out the similarities. According to them, the masterful combat scenes characteristic of Attack on Titan are referenced in the movie, and if we may add, it was done in an absolutely brilliant way.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish strongly references Attack on Titan during the opening fight between Puss and the Sleeping Giant of Del Mar. The Last Wish blends multiple styles of animation to pay homage to old, traditional anime movies and series. Soon after the opening scene, where Puss in Boots pays homage to the people’s “favorite, fearless hero” – himself, of course – the Sleeping Giant of Del Mar awoke and headed towards the town. The fearless hero he is, Puss in Boots, was hurled into the air as the giant began sprinting in a very Armored Titan-like way. Similarly to the jaegers, Puss propelled himself from rooftop to rooftop and swung around the giant, running and jumping around his head to dodge attacks and ultimately bring the “titan” down.

When it comes to art, one of the wondrous things is the event in which one artist inspires another. It enriches the ever-growing library of stories available to us in various forms of media, and this film does it almost perfectly. Here is why we think so!

The action in Puss in Boots: how does the new animation fit the picture?

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Remembering that Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a sequel, one naturally wonders about the ties it shares with its predecessor. What we learn about Puss in Boots through the four Shrek movies is that he is, or was, a bounty hunter. An outlaw that befriended an ogre in a rather bizarre turn of events and became a loyal companion and a friend to Shrek, Donkey, and those close to them.

With each movie in the Shrek franchise, the characters’ popularity grew, and thus it was not surprising when a standalone Puss in Boots movie was announced. The film was released in 2011, with Antonio Banderas reprising his role as the voice of our favorite fearless hero, and Salma Hayek borrowing her voice for the first time to Kitty Soft Paws, as she made her first appearance in the “Shrek universe.” 

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Puss has never been one to turn down a challenge or run away from adventures, so both films follow the action pattern and feature combat sequences, but The Last Wish simply does it better! With the spectacular piece produced by Sony Pictures in 2018 – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse – the animation style that was used up to that point started to seem dull in comparison, especially when it comes to the action genre in the blockbuster animation archive.

With the changed animation and the vivid, playful coloring, it is difficult not to be engrossed in the movie. Therefore, DreamWorks definitely did a fantastic job stepping up their game in terms of animation.

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We can surely see what the production designer meant when he shared the thought: “what if this movie looked like it was a fairy tale painting?” The notion was conveyed by the film’s director, Joel Crawford, in his interview with Empire for their February 2023 issue. Not only are the characters referencing different iconic fairy tales, but the plot about a wishing star definitely fits the frame. Moreover, Crawford also later stated that the opening fight between Puss and the Sleeping Giant was animated by the team using more hand-drawn techniques, which prevents the animation from always being “super smooth.”

In a different interview, Crawford told Variety how the movie takes inspiration from anime, more accurately, Akira (1988). This made the production team switch animation styles, as hand-drawn action scenes in Akira were one of the main inspirations. As a result, the movie manages to blend different frame rates and 2D and 3D animation when adhering to a process called step animation, for which the key is visual contrast.

According to Crawford, introducing such novelties to CG animation made it easier to welcome distinctive, unique styles while giving the spotlight to the artists by allowing their personal touch to bring back the charm of hand-drawn animation we see in older anime movies and series.

Finally, we could view this as a brilliant introduction to the action-filled adventure that follows, as a question arises: what would be a better way to kick things off than a heroic fight that takes upon one of the most iconic animated action series of the twenty-first century (and most likely of all time)?

How does Puss in Boots: The Last Wish allude to Attack on Titan?

While elaborating on their choice of animation for the action sequence that revolves around the giant, Crawford also added that this entire combat sequence has “no big plot point.” Instead, by introducing the giant, they were “telling the audience to keep up with Puss and his everyday Heroism.”

Pondering over this thought, it is a perfect opportunity to pay homage to the beloved anime that set new animation and combat sequence standards. Indeed, simply stating that battling a giant that is wreaking havoc in a town is hardly worthy of being considered an Attack on Titan reference, but with the newly introduced animation style, the production team took this fight sequence down a path rather similar to the one forged by Wit Studio back in 2013!

Puss was ready to face the danger as the giant reached Del Mar. By having one of the musicians use the strings of his cello to hurl him straight towards the giant, Puss pointed his blade at the now sprinting “titan,” whose form here incredibly resembles that of the Armored Titan. Not to mention the sheer fact that the giant takes full charge amidst his attack on a human town, kidnapping people and destroying their homes on the go. Sounds vaguely familiar, does it not?

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This aerial battle of David and Goliath instantly brings a jaeger using their Omni-Directional Mobility Gear to mind. This notion may have been fleeting initially, but Puss then starts propelling himself from one rooftop to the next, with the perspective paying homage to the masterful animation in Attack on Titan. Additionally, the architecture and the setting seem to follow the images seen in Attack on Titan, and the resemblance simply becomes uncanny.

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With the fight at full throttle, the pace speeds up, and the giant’s long-range attacks are in full swing. The large bell he uses as a weapon is being swung towards Puss, who dodges the attacks, but they significantly damage the houses, which reflects back on the Titans demolishing towns and cities with their powerful attack while they’re trying to fight off the jaegers.

Dodging the attacks, Puss grabs hold of the rope the giant holds in order to attack with the bell that is tied to its end and rushes straight at him. Now jumping and running around the “titan’s” head, which almost instantly reminds one of the aerial maneuvers used by jaegers to close the distance between themselves and the titans’ napes, Puss manages to beat the giant by having him tangled in the very rope he has been swinging around, with the bell finally bringing the titan down!

Many Attack on Titan fans have immediately taken to YouTube and social media to share clips of the sequence, comparing it to the anime. In addition to the film being an exceedingly entertaining adventure, such a tribute to one of the most recognisable and beloved action series seems to have really made an incredibly positive impact.

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