A fate worse than prison.
Story: Ryo Suzukaze
Art: Satoshi Shiki
Character Designs: Thores Shibamoto
Translation/Adaptation: Stephen Paul
What They Say
A VILIFIED EXILE
After escaping what should have been certain death and defeating a Titan outside the walls, Kuklo and the Survey Corps make it back to the safety of Shiganshina, where the Military Police are waiting to arrest him for the murder of his former master Dario. But there will be no trial and no execution for the Titan’s son. The MPs have a much crueler punishment in mind…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Kuklo finds himself behind bars once again as this volume of Attack on Titan: Before the Fall begins. Stubbornly railing against his fate makes him the target of the guards in the subterranean jail cell. Meanwhile on the surface Sharle pleads with Carlo to save him. She explains all of what went on to Carlo who sympathizes, but doesn’t seem sufficiently remorseful for the role he played in Kuklo’s miserable childhood.
Kuklo meets a fellow prisoner, a theatrical pretty boy named Cardina Baumeister. I almost mistook him for a woman at first. I mean, how the guy manages to keep his hair so perfectly wavy in a hole in the ground is a complete mystery. Kuklo recognizes the name and makes the connection between him and Sharle. This is the man Sharle didn’t want to be married off to. Cardina is likewise the victim of politics, and clues Kuklo in on their fate. The prison they were in was for those that the military police want disappeared. They will be taken beyond the walls and let go into titan territory, and officially marked as deceased.
Cardina figures that their only chance for survival is to attempt to find a legendary town of exiled outlaws called Naraka. So they sit and bide their time until the day when they are tossed out in to the wilderness. Kuklo’s only hope is his dagger whom a mysterious soldier presses in to his hand right before they are sent to die.
What follows is a battle for their lives and Kuklo and Cardina struggle to escape and flee from the approaching titans. Kuklo’s agility and skill comes back in to focus as he attempts to take on the small titans and save Cardina’s life. The plan to escape north is impossible, but a glimmer of light on the wall might be the salvation they were looking for.
The action itself is chaotic. The difference in size of the two fighting bodies makes it impossible to get the whole picture at once. The end result are fragments of action punctuated by speed lines and close ups with nothing to connect one shot to the next. Despite the confusion the whole confrontation does retain an element of tension, mainly because we don’t know if Cardina will live through it or not. This being a Titan series, anyone’s life could be forfeit at any time.
When salvation arrives it is on the metal line of something only being called ‘the device.’ It’s the prototype of the gear the Corps uses in the future, and the man who uses it to save Kuklo is the fist man to take down a titan, Jorge Pikale. He’s not only the hero of the Corps, but Carlo’s father as well. Kuklo is taken in to the titan fighting corps under Jorge’s wing, who recognizes the boy as having what it might take to finally make fighting titans a reality.
This volume of Before the Fall is one quick read, with the action making up the bulk of the story. We do get some very important movement on the path to turning Kuklo into the badass that he’s being set up to be. The introduction of some key characters set him up to escape the fate which has been dogging him. Kuklo still feels like a leaf on the wind, reacting to what is happening more so than taking action for himself, (and that Guts-junior hair cut has to go. Seriously.) Now that he’s no longer a wanted criminal it will be interesting to see how he can improve.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: B +
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: March 31st, 2015