Attack on Titan, Vol. 18

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

Attack on Titan has never really been a laugh riot to begin with, but you get the sense that the fun is over with this volume. There’s one last effort to have wacky survey corps times here, with Sasha going completely bugfuck over meat, and Eren and Jean having a nostalgic fistfight, but it feels a bit out of place and wrong, and just makes the reader realize that those times are probably gone for good. A feeling that only intensifies as the volume goes on and we reach Wall Maria, where Reiner and Bertholt (OK, mostly Reiner) as well as the Beast Titan await, luring our heroes into a trap that they’re mostly aware of and walking into willingly. I suspect the volume after this will be wall-to-wall action.


Meanwhile, the flashback with Instructor Shadis gives us the longest look yet we’ve had of Eren’s parents, and also discusses the mindset that the Survey Team needs to have to function properly, a mindset that some people (like Shadis himself) struggle and ultimately fail to find. Eren’s father Grisha is found outside the walls, and it’s implied came from even further outside. He’s able to find his calling in life, though, and it’s not the Survey Corps but medicine. As we see Shadis desperately attempting to prove that he’s special, that he’s better than everyone else and failing, we see Grisha fall in love, get married, have a family… and do scientific experiments on his children, of course, though this volume doesn’t get into that.

Nietzsche’s concept of the Übermensch has never really resonated with me, and Attack on Titan plays with the concept without choosing sides. Certainly we have characters throughout the series who seem to succeed with what appears to be a minimum of effort and looking cool while doing it – Mikasa, Levi – but Eren, who’s support to be the most special of them all, is seen constantly struggling and failing. He notes in this volume he’s not special – just the son of a special man. Shadis gives up command of the Survey Corps because he has a crisis of confidence and supposedly”realizes” that he’s not special while someone like Erwin is. But Hange, correctly in my opinions, calls that simple cowardice. Again, the ambiguity is discomfiting but appreciated.

Speaking of people struggling with being special, Armin has found that being the idea guy is not all it’s cracked up to be when time is running short and you can’t explain your ideas very well beyond “it’s a hunch”. Eren, Mikasa and Armin function best as a threesome because each one of them has something the other two lack, and I enjoyed the flashback to their youth as probably my favorite scene in the entire volume. Sadly, as I said, the volume ends with Reiner making his appearance, and even though he’s almost beheaded he isn’t quite, so I’m sure he’ll be back before you know it. Attack on Titan can be a struggle, but always makes you think and question why you’re making choices. That’s a big reason it sells as well as it does.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind