Anime Reporter joins the hunt for the first five volumes of Hajime Isayama’s explosive manga, Attack on Titan.
The series takes place one hundred years after titans appeared, putting humanity on the endangered species list. Titans are giant, human-like creatures in appearance, with little ability for thought and only one drive: killing humans. Wild animals have no reason to fear these creatures, which range in size from around four to 15 metres tall and all of which are mindlessly violent to humans.
Luckily, by the time we join the action in volume 1, what remains of humanity has long since barricaded itself behind three vast walls, each one hundred and fifty metres in height. Eren Yeager, a youth living just inside the outermost of these three walls, is eager to go out and explore the world. Most people have given up on ever going out and are happy just to be safe behind the thick, impregnable wall. Until they very suddenly aren’t.
One day, with no explanation, there arrived the colossal titan, which stood well over fifty metres and made short work of blasting a large enough hole to accommodate its less gargantuan titan friends through the wall, to all the humans they might want to eat. It’s worth noting that while titans certainly do swallow humans, (or parts of them), they don’t actually need to eat, or sleep and don’t seem to naturally die, so all of their human-hunting is very much an exercise in eradication for eradication’s sake, it seems.
After these titans wreak all sorts of havoc over Eren’s hometown, the story skips forward about five years to when Eren, as well as his childhood friends Mikasa and Armin are living inside the second wall and are just about to finish up their training to join the armed forces. Ever since his home was destroyed, Eren has been motivated by a single goal, to wipe out every last titan and make the world safe again. Mikasa seems only interested in keeping Eren safe from himself while Armin just wants to make himself useful. Needless to say, the five year time-skip might feel like a lot so early on in the season, but the time is filled in neatly through flashback chapters, with most of Volume 3 showing how the three friends progressed in military training in the first place. These stories detail a lot of the characters’ progression since the attack on their homes and also gives readers a chance to learn about the innovations allowing humans to take down their behemoth adversaries.
As the story moves on, it seems the titans weren’t quite done in claiming some of humanity’s territory for their own and Eren finally gets his chance to take some giant sonsofbitches down. It’s hard to go into any more detail for now, without giving away quite a few major plot points, which are, I must say, entirely worth coming across on your own. While the story seems to start off focusing on Eren, the narrative spends time dwelling on many of new recruits and it really is a story of humanity’s survival, rather than the tale of just one boy. The first five volumes come complete with all the tension, adrenaline, action and suspense you could possibly hope for and more.
Attack on Titan Volumes 1-5 are available now and are more than worth picking up. If you think The Walking Dead doesn’t have quite the punch it needs, if you find something satisfyingly creepy about empty eyes and mouths that smile just a little too wide, or if you’re looking for the next manga to make you swear with frustration, relief or surprise, then… Correct! Attack on Titan is what you’re looking for.
There really is so much more to say about where this great story turns to and how it keeps us guessing, but you’ll have to wait for our next AoT review for us to gush spoiler-free about the events of these volumes. Until then!
87% – “Too good to miss” – Attack on Titan is proof that we haven’t seen it all yet and while humans barricading themselves against hordes of mindless flesh-eaters isn’t something that sounds new in a world saturated with zombie series, I promise you, you haven’t seen a story quite like this one before!