Attack on Titan, Vol. 5

By Hajime Isayama. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.

(There may be spoilers in this review for people who are only following the anime.)

In general, I tend to do a lot of reviews for this blog. But sometimes, I don’t have as much to say. So I am very grateful to the Manga Bookshelf team, who allow me, with their Bookshelf Briefs column, to do quick reviews of titles I can’t really spend 500+ words talking about. That said, I have my pet series, which will always get full reviews no matter what. Sailor Moon. Excel Saga. Higurashi. And now, after a few briefs, I’ve decided that Attack on Titan is going to join that crowd. Because guys, this is seriously one of the best manga out there. Its popularity is very much on the rise, helped by the release of the anime, but also by its compelling plot and fantastic characterization, which has been helped by greatly improved facial art. The art is still the weak point, but it’s not enough to make this any less gripping.


Things pick up right where last volume left off, as we’re dealing with the fallout from Eren’s Titan reveal. Eren is not quite sure about it himself, and that’s the wrong answer to give to a city that’s very much had enough of its family and friends being eaten by Titans. The military trial that follows is great, showing off the “kill him before he kills us all” folks (who are more than one group, and for different reasons) and contrasting him with the Survey Team group, who think Eren may be the best way to help them gain ground and learn about the other Titans. Levi in particular makes an instant impression (that’s him in the foreground on the cover), being that sort of commanding officer who appears cold and unfeeling but has your best interests at heart.

Eren is thus taken to a new squad, and for a moment we worry that we may not see our other main heroes again. Fear not, though: their training is over and they’re all given the opportunity to join the Survey Team themselves. The speech inspiring this is stark and depressing, deliberately so, and it’s no surprise that the majority of those who’ve been through basic training walk away. We then get a great montage of the decisions the others make to join the team. Mikasa and Armin are givens, and I’m not surprised by Reiner and Bartolt either, as they’re the strong stoic types. But Jean, Connie and Sasha are genuinely worried and scared. Sasha, in fact, is absolutely terrified, having almost been taken out by a Titan in Volume 2, to the point where she begged for her life. We get a horrific image of what it would be like for those three to be assaulted and eaten by Titans. Connie recalls his mom back home would love him to be safe with the military police. And yet, in the end, they stay and join the Team, even if Sasha and Krista are crying. (Annie leaves, though. I’m sure she’ll pop up again, though, if only to beat up more guys.)

(Note that we also have some cast who have been around, but aren’t named yet. Gosh, who is that freckled girl next to Krista, and why is she so grumpy and yet always next to her? On a completely different note, there was a somewhat depressing side story at the start of the volume, where a survey team member tries to take notes regarding the Titans before she is brutally eaten. We later see her notebook is rescued, so it’s not all for naught. This chapter was far more important in retrospect, but I think a lot of people may have been spoiled about something or other, so it’s an odd case where those spoiled go “Oh my God!” more than those who haven’t.)

So yes, we now get a merging of the two casts, as Levi and Eren’s group (which also has Zoe Hange, who is marvelous and tortures Titans FOR SCIENCE and is a great reminder that Sasha is not the only weirdo in this series) merge with Mikasa and Armin’s crowd and go merrily off to train and capture Titans. And again we’re reminded how brutal this series is, as many of the people we’ve only just come to know are cut down by Titans who are simply too fast, too large, too homicidal, and (for a cliffhanger) too clever to go quietly. Armin, in fact, realizes what the rest of us may have not – if Eren can transform into a Titan, maybe the other Titans are actually humans as well? Does that mean that the entire Corps could be full of secret Titan spies?

Leaving aside the truly ludicrous “next time” page spread – the author allows himself to have fun with these – this is another very serious volume of Attack on Titan, and you really shouldn’t get too attached to many of the people in this cast. But man, it’s an amazing read, and I just can’t wait to find out what happens next.

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  1. That scene where Levi beats up Eren just left me shocked. I’m actually interested to see how the anime does this volume.

    Oh, and the freckled girl next to Krista is named (spoiler), Her name was revealed in the earlier volumes. :D Though that ties it into the side-story in the beginning, hmmm….

    • Sean Gaffney says

      Sorry for editing your comment. (spoiler) has had her name revealed in the anime, I believe, but I don’t think the manga did till Chapter 30-something. Unless Kodansha Comics made a translation choice to use it and I missed it.

      And yes, the name is why it ties in. :)

  2. I’m curious whether the official English translation chose a gender for Hanji? Apparently scanlations have been using female pronouns, but it’s indeterminate in the Japanese and the author has actually said that after fans asking him what Hanji’s gender is, he doesn’t want to say. XD

    • Sean Gaffney says

      They made her female, yes. To be fair, her name *is* Zoe…

      • Their name is Hanji Zoe and all the names in Attack on Titan are written in western order, so Zoe is the family name, not personal name.


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