Attack on Titan, Vol. 4Created by Hajime IsayamaKodansha Comics, 192 ppRating: Teen (16 + )
The fourth volume of Hajime Isayama's Attack on Titan picks up right where volume three left off. The city is under attack, the Titan's have broken through the gate and the only thing that stands in their way is Eren and the remnants of the army! After that wraps up it's time for an extended flashback before dealing with the fall out from the shocking events of the Titans attack.
The cliffhanger from the previous volume is swiftly resolved and Hajime Isayama wastes little time in tossing us into an extended flashback about Eren, Mikasa and Armin's days in training. It's a nice slow break after the nearly wall to wall action of the first three volumes and gives us a chance to find out a bit more about their world, the military and more. Isayama also uses this to greatly inflate the cast, adding several new characters to the story, including the pretty awesome and innocent Sasha Braus, aka. Potato Girl. Introducing new characters was absolutely the right move, because as it stands now Eren, Mikasa and Armin feel like pretty standard one note personalities. Eren's the heart of the group, Mikasa's the muscle, Armin's the brains, and that's about it. Some of the more intriguing portions of this volume are the ones that give us a glimpse into how things are set up in the world of Attack on Titan. The boot camp scenes give us a chance to see people from different parts of the massive walled territory humanity is stuck in. Isayama also drops hints at greater social issues which continue to face humanity, some of which seem like they're ultimately holding humanity back and injuring their chances for survival.
The artwork jumps around rather heavily in this volume and, unfortunately, the large amount of scenes focusing on characters simply interacting with each other highlights Hajime Isayama's weak points. In addition there continues to be some issues with telling some of the characters apart from one another. In addition, there are all types of weird anatomical mistakes scattered throughout. This is something that's Isayama's been able to turn to an advantage when it comes to the Titans, but when it comes to normal people sitting around, oddly small arms, limbs at awkward angles, and more all stand out and can be a bit off putting at times. Despite this I still enjoy the sketchy, thatch heavy style of Isayama. There's a roughness to it that I just find appealing.
The volume was a nice way to catch out breath and to delve a little deeper into some of the characters and world of Attack on Titan. I hope that the characters introduced in this volume stick around for a while, and don't simply act as cannon fodder and meat shields for the main trio. All in all, another interesting and enjoyable volume of what seems to be the surprise manga hit of the year.
Attack on Titan, Vol. 4 is available from Kodansha Comics.