3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Attack On Titan 1 (Paperback)
"On that day, mankind received a grim reminder: we lived in fear of the Titans and were disgraced to live in these cages we called walls."
Young Eren Jaeger and his foster sister Mikasa Ackerman live behind 50 feet tall walls alongside the other remnants of humanity. A little over 100 years ago, mankind finally found itself ousted from the top of the food chain; replacing them were the Titans, enormous man-eating giants who live solely to feast on humans. Those who survived their first onslaught built enormous 50 feet tall walls designed to keep them out, and it's worked so far. That is, until an even bigger Titan shows up and kicks down the wall, allowing his smaller brethren to come through and happily devour the poor townsfolk.
This is a manga that has won awards in Japan, has a fairly big fandom and was already making waves with the scanlations. It speaks to some of mankind's most primal fears, and it's absolutely bloody brilliant.
I love the designs of the Titans, for one thing. The Colossal Titan who shows up right at the beginning and towards the end is freaky as all hell, with no skin and far too many teeth fixed in a permanent grin, and the smaller Titans are just as unsettling, with sunburned skin, blissful expressions and again, permanent grins all the better to eat you with.
I read Junji Ito's The Enigma of Amigara Fault shortly after this manga, and you know, I think I'm more scared of being eaten alive by giants than I am sliding down into a cave hole my exact shape and having my limbs contort within the rock whilst I'm still alive and unable to turn around and get out.
The sense of panic is really well done in this manga, as is the sense of complete hopelessness. During a military parade to welcome home the remnants of the last Scouting platoon, it's clear to see that their numbers have severely dwindled and the majority of them are heavily injured. The mother of one of the soldiers runs up to the commanding officer, and after learning her son has died in battle against the Titans, tearfully asks if his death helped humanity in any way. The commanding officer stammers a bit, and then bursts into tears himself as he has to admit that nothing the platoon did helped humanity in the least.
When Eren and Mikasa's family friend Hannes, a member of the Stationary Guard jumps in to help the kids after they witness their house being crushed by a stray boulder, and a Titan lumbering into view, Hannes draws his sword and runs up to face it. The Titan leering down at him is enough for Hannes to put his sword away, turn tail and run away with Eren and Mikasa in tow.
Okay, fine, so it was a bit silly to run up to these Titans (who can regenerate any part of their bodies, but die immediately if you cut into the nape of their neck) as if you could just hack at their ankles, but the man has a 3D Manoeuvre Gear strapped to his thighs, which fires out cables you can use to fling yourself in any direction. For Hannes to just completely forget his training and give up is a great touch. Believe me, I'd probably have done the same.
I'm also really invested into the little plot threads this manga has left hanging. The first volume has this great cliffhanger, and there's also the matter of Eren's dad disappearing, how the Colossal Titan is able to just appear out of nowhere outside the wall and then disappear, and what the hell Eren's father was doing when he was injecting him. I know there was some kind of plague in the city a few years ago, but it could always be a red herring. Hm. (If I'm conflating the events of volume 2 with volume 1, I'm sorry. I read them one after the other.) I also really like how much thought has been put into the manga - the walls, the 3D Manoeuvre Gear, how humanity has studied the Titans over the years, et cetera.
The story does skip around a bit, though. Rather than letting the dust settle on the Colossal Titan's attack and what it did to this fraught population, we're thrown five years into the future, with Eren graduating from the military as one of its top ten candidates. It was rather jarring at first, but I got used to the story skipping around as I read more of the manga.
The artwork takes on a more realistic look (for manga, anyway), and it works really well in capturing expressions and fluid movement. It can be jerky at times, but I found it worked superbly.