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Attack on Titan, vol. 4, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
The army is losing a lot of its soldiers (nothing new there) when Armin asks the magic question "Why do you want to go outside the wall to explore the hell out there?" The answer, "I was born into this world," causes Eren to recover and Toothy picks up the boulder and uses it to plug up the hole in the gate, preventing further wild giants from getting into the town. However, Eren runs out of energy and sheds Toothy's husk to become human again, as the nearby giants already in the town approach the trio to devour them. They're saved by Levi, who asks what all this is about.
(Toothy plugs the hole in the gate the wild giants have been coming in through.)
There's a flashback, to when all the new recruits had to undergo severe training at the hands of the sadist trainer Keith Shadis. The current members of the 104th Corp at this point include Annie Leonhart, Reiner Braun, Bertolt Hoover, Jean Kirstein, Marco Bott, Connie Springer and Sasha Blouse.
(Sasha is caught eating food in the ranks. While Shadis tries to intimidate her with a stare, she just thinks that he's hungry and gives him half.)
I'm going to break my tradition and describe these characters a bit more here.
Annie is a dead-eyed looking woman who received martial arts training from her father. She's a master-class giant fighter, and gets befriended by Eren, who asks her to teach him some of her techniques.
Reiner is a blond-haired muscular guy who discusses strategy and history with Bertolt and Eren.
Bertolt is a quiet-mannered dark-haired guy supposedly able to master new attacks quickly.
Jean is a hot-head desperate to be the alpha-wolf of the group.
Marco is an optimist who hopes to get into the military police.
Connie is a small-statured kid with short-cropped hair, who succeeds in incurring Shadis' wrath by getting the salute wrong.
Sasha is a food thief discovered eating during training, and attempts to bribe Shadis with half of a stolen sweet potato (it doesn't work).
(Not everyone does well in harness training.)
The training continues, including harness practice, hand-to-hand, and group tactics against mock giants. Just about everyone is doing what they're supposed to, except that Eren simply can't stay upright in the harness rig. This comes close to getting him disqualified (which would suit Mikasa just fine) until Shadis realizes that the rig is set up wrong and orders it to be tightened up. Eren passes this test, and Shadis implies with his thoughts that he had been acquainted with Eren's parents. The days pass, and the recruits finish up part of their training, and then spend time talking.
(Jean finds half of Marcos.)
It looks like Jean and Marco are becoming friends, when we suddenly return to the present and everyone is in the middle of doing clean-up from the last big battle. Jean finds Marco's half-eaten corpse and runs around threatening everyone, trying to find someone that had last seen Marco alive. He fails at this. Elsewhere, Sasha happens upon a pile of steaming human corpses, and is told that the giants don't have digestive organs, so they throw up the skeletons after a little while. The remains are burned, and Jean vows to join the Survey group after all. There's a bit of jumbled memories (that get explored in the next volume) and Eren wakes up chained to a bed in a jail cell, where he is interrogated by Levi and Erwin Smith regarding the key they'd found around his neck.
Summary: There's an important clue regarding Marco's death, which doesn't surface until later. The interactions in this volume between the newbies listed above become much more relevant afterward. Carnage.