By Hikaru Suruga and Gun Snark (Nitroplus). Released in Japan as “Shingeki no Kyojin Gaiden – Kuinaki Sentaku” by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Aria. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.
Given what the fandom is like, both in the West and in Japan, a spinoff of Attack on Titan featuring Levi is possibly the most obvious moneymaker in the history of time itself. He’s the most popular character by a factor of two over everyone else, and his backstory has not been covered by the main manga itself (though that may be changing soon). Based on a visual novel that was released with one of the DVDs, this manga tells the story of how Levi came to join the survey corps, what his motivations may have been, and his complicated relationship with Erwin Smith, the other lead character shown here.
Not that those are the only two characters. Levi is shown to be living in the underground slums as we open this volume, surviving with the help of some purloined vertical maneuvering gear and two other friends. The friends are a lot of fun. Isabel is young, full of spunk and energy, and a tomboy that Levi probably sees as a younger sister type. Furlan is more sensible, and seems to be the one with the plan the three of them come up with – Levi is a bit too pinpoint obsessed to really be far-thinking. The three of them make a very good team, both before and after they join the survey team. That said, the narrative is telegraphing Isabel and Furlan’s deaths by the end of the next volume, so I will be VERY surprised if they both make it past Volume 2.
The other half of the narrative is Erwin and his political machinations, which is something that we already get plenty of in the main story, but it’s always nice to see. The Survey Corps is constantly in danger of being dissolved, so he has to resort to scurrilous means of getting what he wants (including blackmail and threats). His recruitment of Levi and his friends is important – he needs people not only talented enough to kill titans, but driven enough to kill them. Levi certainly qualifies – the final battle with the titan at the end of this book is riveting, and shows off how talented Levi and his friends are in comparison to everyone else.
You could argue that Levi is a little too perfect and awesome, and you’d be right – but given this is a title dedicated to showing him off, and it runs in the shoujo magazine Aria, what did you expect? (Yes, No Regrets is a shoujo title. Shelve it next to Kitchen Princess.) There’s not only a lot of fast, thrilling action but scenes such as Levi getting dressed up in his ‘cleaning clothes’, which serves no point except to have the reader go ‘kyaa!’. You just roll with it, and you’ll find it’s a lot of fun. For those looking for other cast members, you won’t find many – Hange is here, but she only appears a couple of times and has no lines. But that’s OK, as Levi and Erwin can carry this on their own.
For Attack on Titan fans, particularly those who like Levi, this is a must-buy. For anyone else, it’s worth a shot – the Titans themselves only pop up towards the end, and most of the volume is devoted to setting up the odd mentor relationship between Erwin and Levi. It should end with Volume 2, so I’m expecting a lot of bad things to happen next time.