Attack on Titan, Vol. 20

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

(Note: this review contains large spoilers for the whole volume)

In the last volume we finally got back to a lot of Titan fighting after several volumes of political intrigue. That doesn’t let up here, as this book is about humanity’s desperate fight to stop the titans. It’s also about death – at the start of the series, a lot of characters we briefly knew well died, and Levi’s squad was killed off several volumes later. Now the reaper has come calling again, and it’s uncertain who’s actually going to survive by the end of it. Is Armin really dead? Well, we thought Hange was dead last time, but here she is, looking battered but alive. This series has always had an underlying question of “how depressing is the ending going to be?”. Will the author and editors really kill off most of the likable main cast for good? Will the Titans win?

Speaking of Armin, a lot of this volume focuses on him, particularly on his loss of courage in the face of disaster. This is actually done quite well, showing that the horrible slaughter of war does not automatically make anyone a badass, particularly if your soldier skills are mostly confined to tactics, as with Armin. Seeing him falter gives us extra frustration and sadness, and helps to make the end of the volume, where he snaps out of it, comes up with a plan, and seemingly sacrifices his life for the others’ sake, even more impressive. Speaking of impressive, I must admit I’ve never really warmed to Jean before now, a character who has always been very confrontational and obnoxious. But he’s fantastic here, taking over when Armin falters and thinking of good short-term plans that will help them escape, while admitting that long-term tactics is not something he is designed for. Great job.

Armin is, of course, not the only casualty here, as Erwin takes all the rookies who are watching the Beast Titan and company destroy everything on a suicidal charge in order to give Levi time to make a sneak attack. As one recruit points out (and oh what irony that he seems to be literally the only recruit to survive after this debacle), Erwin is asking them to go out and die, and Erwin responds bluntly that yes, he is. And they do just that. Naturally the reader focuses on Marlowe, whose shift from reluctant MP soldier to raw recruit has gotten quite a bit of focus, and he even got some rare Titan ship tease with fellow MP Hitch. Now he thinks of Hitch, who did not join the Survey Corps and is thus likely asleep, right before his head is blown apart. War is hell. And in war, the good die. A lot.

And that may also include Erwin, whose frustration that they’re almost but not quite able to get to Eren’s father’s house is palpable. He’s leaving everything to Levi and Hange, but like Armin, his fate is not quite confirmed at the end of this book. Will they both end up like Marlowe, Petra and Marco? Or will this be like Sasha or Hange, where we’re sure they’re about to die but they somehow escape? In any case, a good solid volume, and I can’t even complain about the mediocre art too much this time.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.

Speak Your Mind