By Hajime Isayama. Released in Japan by Kodansha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Bessatsu Shonen Magazine. Released in North America by Kodansha Comics.
It’s no secret that the development of Historia’s character has been one of my favorite parts of Attack on Titan, and this volume continues to feature that, as she refuses to be treated like precious china merely because she has the Reiss lineage, saddles up to help defeat a titan who is actually her father, takes credit for it to further Erwin’s plan to stabilize the city, and finally is crowned Queen, though arguably her best moment comes shortly afterwards, where she somewhat falteringly punches Levi as a callback to where he abused her in order to get what he wanted. Of course, he has, and his genuine smile of thanks is rather touching here.
Moreover, we see what the effect of being ruled by someone who did not get controlled by the Firt King is that actual progress is allowed to be made. Underground inventions are allowed to come to light, leftovers from the giant titan battle are used in new and exciting ways, and Historia herself spends most of her time seemingly running an orphanage on a farm outside the city. (See: front cover, which looks like it should be called Little Titan on the Prairie.) This comes after the rest of Kenny Ackerman’s flashback, where he meets a young, starving orphan Levi and teaches him how to fight and get by in the streets. Again, Kenny’s search for something to strive for is relatable, and I like the description of everyone being “drunk on something”, but in the end he’s still a villain.
And then there’s Eren, who spends a lot of time being his usual emo self, then sees what Historia has been doing and literally punches the whine out of himself. This might come back to haunt him, of course, as following this we see him overextending himself to the point of physical exhaustion, as he realizes that right now he is the only one who can do these things. I suspect he sees Historia more as an inspiration than as someone to be romantically interested in, though naturally Mikasa takes offense at anyone female getting remotely close to Eren. I’ve sort of given up on the idea that Mikasa’s feelings for Eren are going to remain familial, as the author has far too much fun with her repressed jealousy, but I don’t enjoy it. There was some genuine amusement late in the volume involving Marlowe, who has transferred to the Survey Corps despite Hitch’s tsundere exhortations, which everyone but he and Eren can see through (Eren being similarly clueless about any romance).
There’s still quite a bit of mystery here, which I suspect will get solved a bit more in 18, when we go back to training to visit our old instructor. In the meantime, this is a nice solid Titan volume, with a good fight, the usual somewhat questionable politics (yay, isn’t military rule great?), the usual questionable art (Isayama is good at terror, not so good at non-terror), but excellent plotting and characterization, and makes you want to keep reading.