Time to seal the walls.
Story/Art: Hajime Isayama
Translation/Adaptation: Ko Ransom
What They Say
The Survey Corps has overthrown the Royal Government and swept away the tyranny of the king. The next step: Move to retake Wall Maria, with the help of a newly-discovered metallic ore and Eren’s miraculous Titan hardening powers. But as humanity pulls together, its enemies also unite beyond the Walls … now that the Beast Titan has joined Reiner and Bertolt, what havoc will they wreak?
Kodansha USA released this volume as a single and as a special edition which came in a box with a DVD of a direct-to-disc animation of part one of Levi’s side story, “Attack on Titan: No Regrets.” It also had a dust cover by artist Cameron Stewart as an additional extra. Chris’s review the disc can be found here. This is just a review of the manga volume itself. Although for 20 bucks the special edition is well worth the price.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Eren and the Survey Corps track down their former instructor Shadis, looking for answers to long-standing questions. The fact that Eren only remembers that the old man might know something after all this time is sloppy, but what’s done is done. It turns out Shadis doesn’t actually know much, but the little he does explains quite a lot about Eren’s father.
The biggest reveal is that Grisha Yaeger likely was a human-titan living outside the walls, and was possibly attempting to take refuge inside the walls. That gives him a much more interesting motivation for everything he did and explains where he had his knowledge from. It shows why Shadis appears to be so unhinged. I do love how Hange cuts him off during his tale of woe. Spare us your pity party.
There are plenty of scenes of the group just goofing off in their last calm moments in this volume. Sasha loses her mind over the chance to eat meat, as do half the barracks. Eren and Jean get in a knock-down fist fight which Levi eventually puts a stop to, long after the point where the two boys were hoping someone would intervene. It’s weird, it’s silly, and ultimately a bit pointless, but it’s also a chance for the trio of friends to reflect on what they’ve accomplished and what they’re about to do.
I might be imagining things, but I do think that Isayama’s art has gotten better. Just a little. There are far less confusing panels and strange pacing issues in recent volumes. Of course, you’d hope any manga artist would improve over time.
The rest of the volume focuses on the beginnings of the operation to take back Wall Maria. We’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time, but we still don’t know what’s up with the titan forces. What could their motivation possibly be? It’s very clear to see that all of the characters we’ve been following are being set up to take the lead. Erwin basically comes off as suicidal, putting his curiosity above his sense of leadership or livelihood. Levi shuts him down at every step but eventually relents to let Erwin go on what’s going to end up being his final mission. Levi can’t stop the man from wanting to throw his life away.
Armin is put in charge of a group once they arrive on the scene. He’s the only one who realizes right away that spies from the outside were lying in wait. While Eren works to seal the hole in the wall, Armin and his crew track down the traitors. Reiner is discovered first, and perhaps far too late to do anything about it.
A line of titans arrives, and the Corps is trapped in the city. It’s time to fight and be killed trying.
To the basement! Well, first it’s a long build up of actually deciding that now was the right moment to start the expedition. The Survey Corps wasn’t the only group patiently planning, the enemies beyond the walls were waiting for them. The most intriguing moment of this volume is the idea that Eren’s father might have been one of those human titans beyond the walls. What truth are they hiding the human city population from? We have plenty of action before we can get that long awaited answer, and it’s not going to be a pretty fight.
Content Grade: B
Art Grade: C +
Packaging Grade: B (Special Edition A)
Text/Translation Grade: A
Age Rating: 13+
Released By: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: April 5th, 2016