Welcome to another installment of Manga in Minutes! Unlike last week, I stumbled across several nifty news items and links, so without further ado...
- In the lead up to Free Comic Book Day this past weekend, NPR took a look at the offerings and gave Shigeru Mizuki’s Showa: A History of Japan and “Recommended” rating.
- Speaking of Shigeru Mizuki, Rolling Stone compiled a list of their Top 50 Non-Superhero Graphic Novels, and Mizuki’s Onwards to Our Noble Deaths made the list, as did Urusawa’s Pluto and Otomo’s Akira!
- Over in Japan, it was announced that Rurouni Kenshin creator Nobuhiro Watsuki would be releasing a one shot tale focusing on Shishio, Kenshin's most memorable villain, in July.
- Late last month, Teleport City ran a fantastic article looking at the history of Takao Sato's long running Golgo 13 franchise. He touches upon the origins of the manga, live action adaptions and more.
- In case you didn't know, the upcoming Tom Cruise sci-fi action movie, Edge of Tomorrow is an adaption of the Japanese novel, All You Need is Kill. As part of the lead up to the movie's release, Haikasoru is holding an essay contest to give away copies of the rebranded original novel, and their new graphic novel adaption of the novel!
- And, of course, The New York Times Best Sellers List for the week of April 26th, which sees Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 inching ever closer to it's 50th week on the list!
Onto this week's review of Attack of Titan, Vol. 12!
Attack on Titans, Vol. 12by Hajime IsayamaKodansha Comics, 192pgRating: Teen (16+)
It all hits the fan in this non-stop roller coaster of a volume! After the battle in the last volume, Eren and Ymir find themselves captive and en route to parts unknown by the Collossal and Armored Titan. What ensues is 192 pages of a high speed chase through Titan territory, with one of the biggest and most important revelations to date!
After the insanity of last volumes MMA style Titan fight, I didn’t think this could get any crazier, but sure enough Isayama continues to find new notches in the intensity dial and throws out one of the most packed and intense volumes to date. The chase forms the basis for most of the action, which in turns serves to expand upon the motivations of the Colossal and Armored Titan with some oh so tantalizing hints at the much larger picture, which we’ve only been seeing bits of throughout the series. The conflict between them and the Corps, along with many of arguments and discussions, hell even brief bits of dialogue scattered throughout, do a lot to hammer home the individual vs. collective idea that’s been one of the major themes of the series to date. There are some wonderful moments scattered throughout giving several of the main characters and the supporting characters moments to shine. Armin stepping up and using his mind instead of his blade to get into the Titan’s heads was a wonderful moment.
Perhaps one of the most interesting developments, aside from the major reveal at the end, comes with Ymir. Up until now she’s been a fairly enigmatic figure and a lot still isn’t revealed about her. Still, she’s hugely important here as her loyalty and motivations are shown to be fairly fluid. It results in a lot of tense moments and some really creative action scenes. In fact I wish some of the action scenes with her and the Armored Titan had been given a little more time to play out as it was the first time we’ve ever seen a pair of Titan’s working in tandem that way. She also demonstrates an incredible amount of control over her Titan form, doing a few things we haven’t seen anyone do until now. I know the series is really Eren’s story, but I’m hoping we get some more solo time with her in the upcoming volumes as she’s become a rather intriguing figure.
With so much action, Isayama’s packed the book visually and the pages are absolutely exploding with mad dashes on horseback, huge jagged voice bubbles, tense faces, speed lines, sound effects bleeding into other panels and more. In the past he’s generally handled action scenes pretty well, despite the odd anatomical anomalies that pop up every now and then, but this is just something else entirely. When the volume opens up the panel layout is fairly traditional and grid like, it’s all squares and rectangles, but as the action picks up the panels become more angular, losing their block-iness and becoming far more angular, tilting this way or that way, emphasizing the direction and intensity of the action they’re struggling to contain.
I’ve been enjoying Attack on Titan for a while now, but this is the first volume I’ve read that’s left me breathless after reading it. It’s got that same, edge of your seat, quality that great action movies have. Add to that the fact that Isayama has no problem killing off the cast, yet another huge revelation, and you’ve got a recipe for one of the most intense volumes of the series yet.
Attack on Titan, Vol. 12 is available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copy provided by the publisher.