(Kodansha Comics 2009)
Story & Art by Hajime Isayama
Summary: In an alternate telling of the history of the world, mankind has been pushed back behind walls where for the last 100 years they’ve been protected from monsters known as Titans. One day these Titans appeared again and brought one of those walls crashing down – the result almost sent humanity into extinction. This is the story of the last remnants of mankind.
Review: Now that Naruto has ended, I’m turning my eyes onto Attack on Titan which has become a behemoth of a series in its own right in terms of sheer popularity. Having watched the anime and wishing to see what comes next, I started reading the manga which I found out all the cool stuff comes into play from where the anime leaves off.
If you’re curious what happens next, well, I’m here to get you caught up! And every month from now on after that! The last 5 chapters find our characters in the middle of (and near the end of) a rebellion against the government to bring down the false kind that we found out has been ruling mankind for the last 100 years. Levi, Erwin, Zoey and the other Scouting Legion (or Survey Corp) members have been branded traitors to mankind and are on the run. Well, all except Erwin who has been arrested and is facing public execution.
It seems the history of mankind and by extension the history of the Titans is intertwined, and deeply rooted in the hidden origin of the walls that protect mankind from extinction. The driving force of the story has always been to get the key that lies hidden in the the Erin, the main characters’ basement in his home where the Titans now run amok within’ the walls of the city. With it the secrets to the history of the world will be revealed, but as of late it seems that we may not need this key.
There’s another way to find out this information and it lies hidden within’ Erin himself – though he’s just finding that out himself.
Hajime Isayama has conducted a story on a grand scale, and yet the characters feel so human and real. What as impressed me the most with Attack on Titan it its very real portrayal of the human soul in times where any day could not only be your last, but the last for your species.
Levi’s perseverance to save Erin – who has recently been captured again – even if it means turning away from the crown and harming those he calls comrades has been handled quite well, and Levi has proven himself to be quite the formidable leader for the Scouting Legion if Erwin were to die.
While I have been enjoying all this political intrigue, my biggest issue with the story thus far is the fact that Isayama seems to be having trouble explaining things in a very clear, precise way and so some of the revelations from which we’re learning – the origin of the walls and the Titan’s power – feel forced, a bit confusing and unnatural in the grand scheme of things.
This isn’t to say that in later chapters these revelations won’t become clearer as that does seem to happen a lot in this series, it’s just really when you’re explaining a big thing to the reader you should really try to get it down pat in the first outing because you may not get another chance later.
From where the anime left off we’ve been given a lot of questions to chew over, and we’ve been introduced to a host of new characters. Both mysterious and freshly relatable. Such as other Titans’ who are smart, and can command other Titans at their leisure. There have also been tons of answers as well, some of which haven’t been so great to receive. Such as the identities of the Armored Titan and the Colossal Titan.
Isayama’s action and attention to detail is always spot on though, and you can tell he has given a lot of thought to this world and how everything works. From the 3D maneuvering gear that our characters handle all the way to the strategy’s they employee when in battle or just scouting the land for Titans.
It’s this attention to detail that has won me over the most in this series, and it most definitely is something Isayama continues to excel at. Especially with the introduction of 3D maneuvering gears that are meant to hunt and kill humans, not Titans. It’s a fun time to be a rebel in the army.
The last thing I’ll touch on is Isayama’s art. When I first started reading this manga I noticed his art looked very… amateur even for someone who has professionally made it. This wasn’t a bad thing, but really through me off as usually manga is more clean cut where as his art was totally not.
In the time since then in these last 64 chapters his art has excelled in terms of quality. While still pretty grungy looking even by manga standards, Isayama knows how to create great shots of humans flying around through the air in their maneuvering gears while simultaneously attacking the enemy. He also has a great knack for giving every single character a distinct look to them, and each one where their multiple expressions well. Rarely do we get to see a character smile in this series, but man does Isayama know how to render an emotional face – and scene – well just through the looks he gives his characters.
The wide eye of horror is Isayama’s golden style.
I also find his study of the Titans and their incredibly different looks to be quite fascinating. It’s easy for a creator to make the Titans look just like giant humans and call it good, but Isayama took a step forward and not only made them giant humans, they’re also giant human monsters. As they should be. When you see a human turn into a Titan, or you just see a Titan, they look different, deformed in some way (or in some cases much more badass), inhuman on a physical level. It creates a disconnect that makes them all the more terrifying and I love it.
Attack on Titan is really good right now, even if I’d rather see humans on Titan action rather than humans fighting humans as it has been for the last few months. I find the political intrigue interesting, even if we still require a few more answer in order for it to make total sense. And I am definitely excited to see were the story goes from here.
My biggest concern is simply in the fear of where all the questions are leading to. Like I said earlier, Isayama isn’t the best at revealing answers the first time around. Each answer raises another question to be filled in later. And I’m just a little worried that after all this running around, all these characters dying, perhaps not all of it will be a pill worth swallowing from a story perspective. But we shall see!
Hajime Isayama says he already has an ending in mind – even if he unfortunately changed his original ending in order to appease fans but that’s neither here nor there – and he plans on getting to it before the series reaches 700+ chapters. That in and of itself gives me a lot of hope.
Final Score: 4 Traitorous Scouting Members out of 5
Special Note: Apparently the series will not be returning until February – at least that’s what I read. If I’m wrong then next month will see a review of the next chapter, if not then next month will see me focus solely on some of the canon spin-offs of the series such as Before the Fall and No Regrets.
Derrick is a born and raised otaku with a love for comics, anime, manga and movies. The full list is pretty long, but that’s just the basics. Stories set in space are his bread and butter.
You can find more of his writing at IndieComix.net