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Sunday, October 5, 2014

Manga Review: Attack on Titan GN 13

Attack On Titan volume 13
Author: Hajime Isayama
Kodansha Comics
192 pages
At great cost to the Garrison and the Survey Corps, Commander Erwin has managed to recover Eren from the Titans who tried to carry him off. But during the battle, Eren manifested yet another power he doesn't understand. As Eren and Krista find new enemies, the Survey Corps faces threats from both inside and outside the walls. And what will happen to Ymir, now that she has decided to make herself the Titans' prize?
Spoiler alert: Contains some spoilers for earlier volumes of the manga as well as plot points in volume 13.
As the thirteenth volume of Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin opens, Erwin and Levi's groups are recovering from the battle of the human Titans. Ymir is still with Bertolt and Reiner, Historia is back with the Corps, and Eren is struggling to understand a new aspect to his own Titan abilities. It seems like a slower volume at first, but there's a lot going on as Hajime Isayama turns the series towards more political-based drama as well as delving into the past of Historia.
Right now, Attack On Titan seems to be garnering some complaints about the story moving at a slow pace, that there's a lack of action and why the hell haven't they gotten to Eren's basement yet? The last point is pretty silly – um, titans? Getting there? The fact that certain areas are still unsecure? But I don't think this volume is slow at all. In fact, it introduces a lot of new elements into the series that will probably end up being major factors in the SnK 'verse.

Besides, we just spent several volumes chasing titans and watching them fight and rip each other to shreds. A lot of people died defending humanity and Eren and Historia - most of the military police that were sent to back up Eren were killed, and many were injured and maimed. If anyone deserves a breather from the chaos, it's Eren, even if he doesn't feel he deserves one.

I'm glad that Isayama took the time to explore Historia's past, since it looks like her history will be important. We don't get a lot of "back story" moments for most of the cast, so obviously Historia getting a focus means hers is crucial. I really feel for her and I want to see more of her. Her relationship with Ymir is one of the most interesting in the entire series, so I hope it is not neglected when the Corps meet up with the rogue titan group.
This new subplot involving the church and the military police is interesting, although roughly hewn together at first glance. Well, of course the inner workings of the monarchy-based government is corrupt! Of course those in power want to control the human titans for their own means! Of course there's no real separation of church and state! It's a lot of old tropes in one but in the world of Attack on Titan, it gets a little new life breathed into it.
The art is a little wonky in this book – a lot of elongated torsos, weird aspect ratios, and awkward POV shots – but at this point, it's not really a surprise. Isayama has gotten better at keeping to form and cleaning up his work, but he hasn't gotten great at it, which may be holding him back. Luckily, this volume lacks the titan action where these flaws particularly stand out, so he gets a pass this time.
I have theories about where this series is going, basically about how the world of the walls is about to be broken wide open and how maybe humanity isn't as small as we think it is, but I'll save that for another post. Regardless, I'm looking forward to seeing how Levi's corps take on both the church and the government now that they're effectively going rogue.