Attack on Titan, Vol. 14

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

The cover to this volume features Levi (surly), Hange (insane grin) and Erwin (pensive) at a bar, looking for all the world like they’re about to tear the reader of the book apart, and honestly it wouldn’t surprise me in the least at this point. In the last volume was all about realizing how corrupt the government is from top to bottom and that it was our heroes against the world, this volumes takes it further by showing that our heroes are also not without horribleness. The griminess that the last volume had only increases here, and I find myself missing Titans a bit.

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I’ve been reading the new chapters as they’re released on Crunchyroll, and have been somewhat dreading this review, as this volume seems to feature all the things I like least about the series. I will start with the stuff that was very good. Isayama’s art is still questionable, but the battle sequence between Levi and… well, everyone else in the last two chapters is quite well done, and should be really fun to animate assuming a series ever gets that far. Erwin laying out his plan for a bloodless revolution, as well as his own tragic past, is well-handled, and explains a lot about the lengths he’s decided to go to. Kenny Ackerman is dangerously psychotic and over the top, and brings a fresh terror to the villains’ side. Jean, Connie and Sasha are fantastic for being the remaining moral core of the Survey Corps, even if I worry it’s because they’re meant to be “the softest”.

OK, let’s talk about the torture scenes. I hate them. I hate that our heroes are forced to resort to this, I have VERY MUCH that it actually WORKS. This is the wrong message to send to anyone, particularly young Japanese readers of a shonen magazine, and no, Hange kicking a table in anger at herself does not really help to gloss over the problem. I do not want to see “torture is bad, but it gets results” in any manga, ever. Particularly when it’s our heroes doing it. Case closed.

Secondly, there’s the scene with Levi emotionally and physically abusing Historia till she gives in to their demands, which I think I hate even more than the aforementioned torture. There’s a theme in this volume of “we have to get our hands dirty if we want to win and bring about peace”, and it’s not a message I want Attack on Titan to have. Historia, after the loss of Ymir and the revelation of her true identity, is clearly suffering from shellshock of a sort, and doing this is just mean. And, as others have mentioned, having someone say afterwards “I know he seems harsh, but he’s really sweet underneath” makes things worse, if that’s possible.

I have avoided mentioning the fact in these reviews, mostly as it wasn’t really relevant when it was just the Corps trying to figure out how to defeat 30-foot monsters and not get eaten, but now that we’re into political intrigue and justifying the means, it needs to be said: Isayama has been reported to be a war crimes apologist, and many in Korea have called for readers to boycott the series because of this. And now here we have Levi and Hange committing war crimes for “the greater good”. It makes me dislike them, which is a shame as I loved Hange a lot. It also makes me dislike this volume, and I’m wondering how much rope I’m going to give the series before it hangs itself. You’re on notice, Attack on Titan.

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Comments

  1. Coi Reznor says

    I agree with this. Something about the whole volume is just – off. It’s not that I regret that it exists, as it moves the story arch along, but it just felt empty to me. We should get back to Reiner and Bertolt! I want to want to read because I want to read, not so I can hurry up and get to the titan-people again.


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