Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Musing Over Manga: Attack on Titan Chapter 57--Underdogs

Attack on Titan Chapter 57 Image 1

Before I get into this post, I want to talk specifically about this panel for a minute. This is why I love this series. This is why I keep following it from month to month, even with the weird pacing, the random plot twists, and the annoying tendency to not tell the readers vital information. This is why. Right here.

The characters in this series are constantly put into horrifying, messed up situations, but they never give up. They pick themselves up and keep fighting anyway. Nothing stops them for long. Fighting and dying for the chance at a better future is more important to them than rolling over and giving up simply for the sake of survival. And even though they're up against impossible odds, that kind of hope is truly inspiring, regardless of the shortcomings of the story it's taking place in. That's why this series has my love, and that's why I'll keep following it to the end. I want to know where that belief takes them, even if that means the characters will have to go through hell and back to accomplish their goal.

(A/N: This post deals with spoilers for the entire manga and contains graphic images. Please do not read unless you are caught up!)

Attack on Titan Chapter 57 Image 2
I love how Erwin just casually pours a glass of water while Hanji flips out
Once again, I'm really sorry for the delay. I was working on this post during the little bit of time I had around polishing my thesis, but then I got hit by jury duty out of nowhere. Real life sucks. But I'd definitely take my current crazy schedule over what the Attack on Titan characters have been putting up with recently. I'm starting to want to call this the All Fan Theories Are True Arc, since Hanji wastes no time confirming what some people have speculated on for a while now: Titan shifter abilites are transferable, and they are gained by eating another shifter. I'm still a bit confused as to how Hanji made the leap from that to "REISS WANTS TO EAT EREN," but that's definitely one way to grab my attention at the start of a chapter.

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Since it was established back in Chapter 51 that the Titans are actually human, this revelation could completely change how the series deals with Titans from here on out. Considering that Hanji found nothing in the napes of the experiment Titans' necks and that we also saw how Eren came very close to completely fusing with his Titan in Chapter 53, it's possible that Ymir's story is a hint about how to "cure" the Titans. Maybe the mindless consumption of humans is just an instinct born out of the desire to find a human with that ability so that they can change back. However, that's assuming that literally any Titan could eat a Shifter and become one themselves though. Would that have happened with the Titan that ate Eren at the beginning of the series, for instance? The Titan from the extra chapter about Ilse implies that Ymir is special, so it's not a guaranteed thing that this applies to all Titans.

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Also, there's still a lot left unexplained about Titan Shifters in general--not even mentioning the "scream"--that it's hard to come to any conclusions. It does clarify one thing--Annie, Reiner, and Bertoldt were trying to keep Eren out of the government's hands. Assuming that their original plan was for all three of them to join the Military Police, was their actual objective to get closer to Reiss and stop whatever plans he had for the "scream?" That said, what does bringing Ymir back to their home accomplish?

It never ends with this series. One question gets answered, and another ten pop up.

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Anyway, now that we've moved into accusations of potential cannibalism (there's a sentence I never thought I'd write), it's laughable to assume that Reiss will let Eren live, especially if he can transfer Eren's power to someone else. And once again Historia becomes the wildcard here, since she knew nothing about the craziness surrounding her bloodline yet she's being treated like she's just as big a threat as the guy with anger issues who can transform into a Titan. Why is that?

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And yet again, there's a magic plot-explaining letter addressing this exact question that will probably not be discussed for another couple months. *bangs head on wall*

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Shelving the theories about Titan Shifters for now, Erwin is tripping death flags left and right. Last time we got his backstory, and this time he's setting himself up to take the fall in order to protect the mission. He even names Hanji as his successor. In a series where almost every action results in someone dying, I'm a little surprised at how blatant the foreshadowing is here that Erwin is planning to sacrifice himself. I'll be more surprised if he doesn't bite the dust at this point.

But while I'm really concerned about Erwin, I do have to admit that I really like the idea of Commander Hanji.

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If you don't think that Hanji is the best character, you are wrong
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Additionally, does anybody want to complain about Hanji "manhandling" this guy like they did about the scene with Levi and Historia last month? Since "it's always wrong no matter what?" No? That's what I thought.

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In any case, the Survey Corps has lost the upper hand and most of the element of surprise. Armin's idea from a couple chapters ago about how to turn the public's opinion against the Military Police has been used on them instead, painting the Survey Corps as dangerous criminals. Even if they do manage to foil Reiss' plans and get Eren and Historia back, they'd still be fugitives in the eyes of the rest of the population. The only thing that I can think of right now that would fix their reputation would be to fix Wall Maria, but with Reeves out of the picture, how would they get the supplies for something like that?

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Not to mention that some of the teenagers are having second thoughts. I'm a little disappointed in Sasha and Connie here (they repeat almost word-for-word some of the sillier arguments that went around in the fanbase after the previous chapter update), but Jean's misgivings make a little more sense. Like I talked about a few chapters ago, fighting other humans was not what they signed up for. They joined the military to fight Titans and defend humanity, not to overthrow the government. Armin and Mikasa have already made up their minds, and the rest of them have to make a choice as well. Will they continue to believe in the Survey Corps, or is this where they abandon ship?

It's pretty obvious what their answer will be, but it's a good question to bring up nevertheless.

Attack on Titan Chapter 57 Image 14 Attack on Titan Parody Image by yukittine at Tumblr
They never get his face right

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And finally, the chapter sort-of addresses the cliffhanger from last month. Captain Ackerman is also known as "Kenny the Ripper," a famous serial killer who slits the throats of his victims. Lovely. Levi identifies him as someone he lived with when he was younger, but the impact that Kenny had on him is already clear. Levi brings up Kenny in the same way that Kenny brought up Levi before he killed Reeves in the previous chapter--not really looking for input, just musing out loud. We even get an inner monologue from Levi for the first time in the entire series, mentioning that Kenny affected his mindset and that the MPs are behaving the way that Kenny would, leading into a horrible realization.

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Being a secondary character who is close to Levi for any period of time is like wearing a red shirt in Star Trek

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I was bracing myself for whatever the "Anti-3DMG" was, but I wasn't expecting portable hand cannons. Holy crap, the government gives their military swords to fight Titans, but they take out dissidents with goddamn hand cannons? I'm sorry, I'm not going to be over this surprise for a while. So not only are they suppressing technology, they're developing the medieval version of Iron Man behind everyone's backs. This series, man.

That is how you set up a reveal. You establish the technology suppression so that when you see the thing, you still get the holy shit reaction but it makes sense. Gradually building up to something without giving it away is the way to go. Not by waving plot-relevant letters under the readers noses and then refusing to discuss them.

Attack on Titan Chapter 57 Image 20

But man am I hyped for the next chapter. And it's not just the Levi vs. Kenny cliffhanger (and also the possibility of finally getting some real backstory) either. How is Hanji going to react to their squad getting killed? We saw what Hanji did when Nick died, and he wasn't exactly their favorite person. Kenny might know how to predict Levi's movements, but Hanji isn't nearly as easy to read and can be scary as hell. Kenny's biggest problem might not be Levi.

Meanwhile, I think it's going to fall on the teenagers to rescue Eren and Historia. Or at least, I hope so since they've been pushed off to the side so much for the last couple chapters. We're in the "things completely go to hell" part of the arc now, maybe they'll finally see some action.

I'm not sure if I can wait two more weeks.

Images from


  1. The real question I have is, how can levi take on all 3 of those guys? I think a titan or titan shifter will interrupt the fight or something else. I don't see the battle ending with one of them dead in the next chapter. I expect a twist. solid review as usual.

  2. I've been thinking the same thing. Somebody or something has to interrupt that fight, it's way to one-sided. And I imagine that it might be dragged out for a couple chapters, since it would be really anti-climatic for it to end next month. It's probably safest to expect twists at this point.

    And thanks!

  3. Isayama has never drag a fight for more than one chapter, I heard someone said that Isayama said the next two chapters will be really big, I don't know if he meant some big reveal or something.

  4. That's a good point, I forgot about that. And if that is true, then I'm pretty concerned. The last couple of chapters had plenty of big reveals, I'm not sure how much crazier this series can get.