Attack on Titan, Vol. 22

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.

“Tragic backstory intensifies” would be a good description of this volume, for the most part. Eren continues to have dreams that flash back to his father’s life before he was born, showing us the fate of Grisha’s first wife (she appeared in the story earlier than we think, it turns out!) and what our kingdom really is – an island kingdom, with most of the world very much not dead on the other side of the ocean. We also, as predicted, see Eren and Mikasa in jail for the orders they disobeyed in the previous couple of books, though that doesn’t last, mostly due to how important Eren really is. Oh yes, and much to Mikasa’s horror, we get a time limit on the Titans’ lives – they only live for 13 years after being titan-ized, meaning that we also get another major character death, though this one is offscreen.

Yes, in fine lesbian character tradition, Ymir writes a farewell note to Historia that confirms that a) she wanted to live the rest of her life married to her, but b) she can’t as she’s soon going to be dead. After Eren’s revelations, it’s pretty clear that this is meant to be due to simply living out that 13 year span rather than due to being executed. Reiner, at least, lets her write said farewell letter, though I wish we’d been able to see more of Historia’s reaction. I suppose it was unbecoming of a queen. So no happy ending for Ymir, though at least she doesn’t seem to have been killed off just for being gay. As for Mikasa, I’ve pretty much written off any hope of her character revolving around anything other than Eren, so her stunned disbelief through most of this is unsurprising. Not sure if they’ll find a way to stop Eren and Armin from dying. I could see it going either way.

There’s also more arguing over whether it was the right thing to save Armin or not – I suspect this may have been an argument that Isayama and some of his editors may have had as well. I wish that it had been one of the regulars allowed to take an opposing side, rather than generic military police guy, who is there to remind Hitch that Marlowe likely died terrified and to yell at everyone else, so immediately turns into one of my least favorite characters. I think it would have had more impact if it was a more familiar face on the Erwin side, though. In any case, however, we jump forward a bit and see the Survey Corps confirming what they’d found out from Grisha – that this is an island, and that there is ocean at the end of it. This leads to possibly the only really heartwarming scene in the book, with the members of Levi’s unit cheerfully splashing in the surf (though not in swimsuits – we can’t rewrite reality that much).

I didn’t see an “End of Part Two” at the finale of this volume, but it certainly felt like it. We’ve gotten a lot of our answers, but what comes next? In any case, Titan fans should enjoy this volume, though likely they will get frustrated with it as well. But we should all be used to that.

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