Story/Art: Hajime Isayama
Translation/Adaptation: Sheldon Drzka
What They Say
The Colossal Titan has breached humanity’s first line of defense, Wall Maria. Mikasa, the 104th Training Corps’ ace and Eren’s best friend, may be the only one capable of defeating them, but beneath her calm exterior lurks a dark past. When all looks lost, a new Titan appears and begins to slaughter its fellow Titans. Could this new monster be a blessing in disguise, or is the truth something much more sinister?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The surprise, shocking ending of volume one of Attack on Titan means that we have to switch protagonists for volume two, so we refocus on to Armin and Mikase.
Mikase is a cold, calculating killing machine when geared up for battle. She has no problem making it clear to a group of greedy merchants holding up the evactuation that she has no qualms getting rid of them if it means many more will live. We find out that her acceptance of life and death stems from her status as an orphan, and see the circumstances that lead her to becoming one. What surprises me about Mikase’s flashback is Eren’s behavior in it. He had no problem brutally killing the men who killed Mikase’s parents, and with almost no hesitation. While Eren is a large part of why Mikase fights, even after discovering what befell him she doesn’t break down but continues fighting on.
Armin remains in a state of shock for most of the volume, barely holding it together and feeling almost completely useless. His strength was in his tactical abilities, he’s not a fighter like Mikase or Eren. It’s only when Mikase decides to take back the supply post where some trainees are trapped by titans that Armin begins to pull it together and think.
The reactions of the combatants spans the full range of expectations. Some go into shock, others decide to outright end it all. Some, like Mikase, decide to go into full on revenge mode. Of course, because no other fighter is as great as Mikase, they tend to fall quickly. Mikase is impossibly good at killing Titans in her gas powered harness, which doesn’t look like an easy thing to fight in. Even though she can protect herself, she can’t protect everyone, and even when things are going well there are still trainees being eaten at regular intervals.
Even with the Mikase’s skills and Armin’s strategy, all the kids would have been lunch if not for the appearance of a titan who starts to attack the other titans and ignores the human fighters. At this point most readers will probably guess at the true nature of the rogue titan, and they would be correct. What it all means though will have to wait until volume three.
Attack on Titan follows up a weak first volume with a far stronger second. The state of the world that these kids live in is further explained, while the story itself goes to a desperate and dark place. Mikase’s past is elaborated on, and she then takes center stage to fight back against impossible odds. This appears to be one of those comics where you shouldn’t get too attached to any secondary character. The change in tone and focus from idealistic shounen romp to straight up survival horror does this manga a huge favor, it’s far more interesting now and Mikase is an interesting strong character. The action doesn’t always hold it’s horrific edge, sometimes plunging over a cliff into camp similar to what went on in volume one. Another surprise (if you skipped the interview in volume 1) cliffhanger ending points towards a very interesting volume 3.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: C
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: September 11th, 2012