Review: Attack on Titan: Before the Fall Vol. 5

Kodansha (2013)

Chapters 14-17

Story by Ryou Suzukaze

Art by Satoshi Shiki

Summary: Taking place 57 years before the beginning of the original series by Hajime Isayama, we see a fledgling new Scouting Legion learning the reigns for the first time in a time where even less was known about the Titans than we know now. We’re also introduced to a young boy who is known as the son of a Titan, and his journey as he discovers exactly who or what he is.

[SPOILER WARNING!!]

Review: Before the Fall continues its tropey-as-hell but fun shonen epic in volume 5 as we get more exposition about the device and its origin as well as see Kuklo and Cardina get set up in the most industrialized town within the walls of Humanity’s final stand.

Most of this volume is centered on meeting both new and old characters within the Industrial City, home to a gigantic factory near the size of the walls that protect humanity where the blades and weapons humanity uses to fight the Titans are made. This means all the 3D Maneuvering Gear seen in the original series is made at this giant factory.

While Before the Fall isn’t an intelligent story, while it does tell the story in a very predictable way what I do like about it is that it tells a story of a time before humans knew Titans were literally just overgrown humans trapped in these mysterious cannibalistic shells. So while I know where all these mysteries eventually go, I do enjoy seeing the characters in Before the Fall having know idea what they’re doing against Titans which ultimately raises the stakes on who in this world lives, dies and becomes possible relevant in Attack on Titan?

Because other than serving as an obvious origin story for the 3D Maneuvering Gear we haven’t heard from any of these characters in the main story and I am hoping that as the story draws on we’ll see how some of them eventually influenced events within the main series.

Chapter 17There is a lot of talking this volume more than action but I didn’t mind that. While I’m not huge on pages and pages of exposition it is something that is just a part of manga as a whole so I would rather have these moments that help establish this world and its history in between big arcs rather than just chapters and chapters and chapters of the same fight that isn’t going anywhere.

Within the Industrial City Kuklo is reunited with Sharle who I enjoy as a character and in this same volume she decides to learn the workings of an engineer to help improve the device, the prototype to the 3D Maneuvering Gear. I think this is great and I’m glad they decided to take her character in that direction.

We also meet both the inventor of the Device in a flashback, as well as another great engineer who makes weapons for the Military out of Iron Bamboo. The creator is named Angel who died years before the events of this book as well as the name of the engineer who makes weapons for the Military is named Xenophon Harkimo. He’s kind of your stereotypical boozer, lazy, yet intelligent and wise old mentor figure but I like him nonetheless. He offers a lot to this book with his knowledge and history.

The Iron Bamboo is also a really cool flora idea from this world. Bamboo that takes in so much iron nutrients from the Earth that it becomes essentially living, growing iron from the ground. We get a whole discussion about it and it’s pretty cool. Not sure how scientifically accurate but for a fictional world they make it believable enough.

Finally Jorge discusses in detail the first ever plan to capture a Titan put on by the Survey Corps 15 years prior to the events of this book. While the capture is successful their attempts to kill the Titan are not as it continues to regenerate its limbs. This is at a time before humanity knew the nape of the neck was a Titan’s weakness. Something this series seems to be gearing up to “reveal” to our characters and this world for the first time.

While we know it, they don’t, which makes it exciting.

The book finishes out with Kuklo learning the man-given name to the Titan that killed his true parents, for his insatiable hunger the Titan which is still roaming free has been given the name by the Survey Corps “Mammon,” the embodiment of greed.

It’s easy to tell where some of this is leading to but I’m still enjoying Before the Fall much more than I am the main series currently. So vol. 6 I hope will be a fun ride once I can read it.

Final Score: 3 Named Titans out of 5

DERRICK-imageDerrick 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

@KazekunForever

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