If you've been on the internet lately, chances are you've heard of "Squid Game," the dystopian drama about debtors who compete in rounds of children's games for an increasingly large sum of money. The runaway South Korean hit is on track to be Netflix's biggest show, possibly surpassing such well-known names as "Bridgerton" and "The Witcher."

So, what's behind "Squid Game"'s breakout success?

I have a theory.

The 'Attack On Titan' Connection

While binging "Squid Game" this weekend, I was reminded of yet another runaway Asian hit, Japan's "Attack On Titan." If you were consuming media in 2013, there was no way to escape hearing about the dark fantasy anime about humanity's fight for survival against man-eating titans. After becoming a surprise hit, the anime went on for four seasons, with the second part of season four set to air in January 2022. Even people who weren't anime fans were talking about it.

Though both shows feature dystopian and desperate worlds, their concepts and themes differ so much that you may not find a super strong connection at first glance. However, I have a theory that the same reasons that propelled "Attack On Titan" to fame are the same ones currently at work in making "Squid Game" stand above the rest.

Here are the reasons why Squid Game has captured your attention.

Squid Game Stills
(Photo : Netflix )

What's Behind the Breakout Success of 'Squid Game?'

While "Squid Game"'s availability on a global platform boots its international visibility, there are other factors that have pushed this particular K-drama to become the most watched show on Netflix's rich content platform.

1. The designs are cool and distinctive

When looking at screenshots from "Squid Game," it's immediately obvious what show they're from. Everything from the bright pink suits worn by the masked guards to the green tracksuits worn by the players can be easily identified - even the childlike set design is distinctive.

Squid Game players and guards
(Photo : Via Netflix)

"Attack On Titan" also has the same strength. Despite depicting a post-apocalyptic civilization, the world has unique technology that humanity uses to kill the titans, such as the waist-mounted Vertical Maneuvering Gear that uses gas to propel soldiers at quick speeds. This technology and the uniforms that the military wear are iconic and have a degree of cool to them that keeps the world compelling.

Both "Squid Game" and "Attack On Titan" benefit from these slick designs that also feel native to the worlds each franchise has built.

Squid Game Stills
(Photo : Netflix )

2. The characters are easy to cosplay

Another element that both shows have in common is that their characters are insanely easy to cosplay. Cosplay is the act of dressing up as a character from TV, films, or books, and is often associated with the anime and manga communities. Cosplay brings fans together and allows fans to express their love for a particular character or franchise.

Because the characters from "Squid Game" and "Attack On Titan" wear uniforms, it's easy for a fan of the show to either recreate or find the costume online, and become part of the show's world. They could even add their own flair to the uniforms, and further personalize the experience by creating an original character.

By having easy to reproduce costumes, "Squid Game" and "Attack On Titan"'s creators have inadvertently established a system that helps effortlessly build a sense of community and solidarity among the show's fan base. Mark my words, come Halloween, you're going to see a lot of pink-suited masked folks or people wearing green, numbered tracksuits roaming your neighborhood.

squid games movie stills
(Photo : Netflix )

3. The story is simple to transmit via word of mouth

According to the Verge, Parrot Analytics' "demand index" has already named "Squid Game" "a word of mouth global sensation," "with 79 times as much audience interest as the average title." This means that "Squid Game" has gained traction primarily through people talking about it.

However, one aspect that helps "Squid Game" become that word-of-mouth sensation is its simple-to-understand premise that can be easily summarized. Think about it. We all know shows that are so complex that it takes forever to explain the concept behind it - think "Lost" or "The OA." With so many characters and storylines, we run the risk of sounding crazy every time we bring the show up to our friends.

"Squid Game" doesn't suffer from this setback. If I was to summarize "Squid Game" quickly, I would say that "Squid Game" is a show about a group of debtors who sign up for a life-or-death tournament where they must compete in children's games to win a huge sum of money. Simple. Easy to picture. And most of all, intriguing.

"Attack On Titan" functions the same way. "Attack On Titan" is a show about a world where the last of humanity lives behind three massive walls and must fight for survival against man-eating titans. Once again, simple. Easy to picture. And, intriguing.

"Squid Game"'s popularity, and by extension "Attack On Titan"'s, makes sense since most people are more likely to be swayed to do something if someone they know personally recommends it. And, if people can easily picture the show's concept, then the show is that much easier to transmit from person to person. Similarly, people who hear about the show's concept can more easily decide whether to give it a shot.

So, what do you think? Do "Squid Game" and "Attack On Titan" really share traits that have shot each show to extreme popularity? Comment below and let us know!