Saturday, April 16, 2016

Attack on Titan, vol. 5 review

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Attack on Titan, vol. 5, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
The volume starts out with Ilse Langnar, a former member of the Survey Corp. She keeps a journal of her expeditions, in which she recounted her encounter with a giant that talks. The giant mistakes her for "Lady Ymir", and bows to her. When it becomes clear it's mistaken, it eats her in a rage. Levi and Zoe Hange discover the journal 1 year later. (Note that "Ymir" isn't explained until volume 10.)

(Telling a giant that you're not Lady Ymir doesn't always turn out well.)

The scene returns to the present, where Eren is led out of the prison cell only to be chained to a post in the middle of a trial to determine whether he should be turned over to Levi's squad, or be given to the military police and dissected. The trial seems to be going south, and Eren loses his temper, lashing out at civilians making judgments while hiding in the shadows, until Levi stomps forward and kicks him in the face, knocking out a tooth. Levi pounds Eren into the ground, which is enough to convince the tribunal to hand the shape-shifting rogue giant over to the Survey corp. Later, Levi asks if Eren is angry at him, and the boy says "no". Then, it turns out that his tooth is already regenerating.

(Hange tortures the giant captives to learn how they tick. "Sonny" at left, lower right panel. "Bean" to Sonny's left.)

Levi's special team picks an abandoned building as their base of operations, and they spend the day cleaning it up. Eren is introduced to the others, none of whom are that important, with the exception of Zoe Hange, a member of the research group. The army had succeeded in capturing two wild giants alive, and Hange is in the middle of torturing them to determine how they tick. The main points are that the giants are almost immortal, they get their energy from the sun (and sleep at night), and don't have any particular need to eat people. Their only weak point is the area at the base of the back of the neck, which if severed, will turn them into smoldering husks. The next day, the two prisoners, nicknamed "Sonny" and "Bean," are dead. Erwin Smith, Levi's commander, asks if Eren saw who might have done this, and the boy just becomes confused. The recruits get grilled, though it's not clear why immediately (the suspicion later is that one of the jetpack harnesses was found nearby, implying that a spy or something got into the camp to kill the giant prisoners before Zoe could learn more about them. Actually, the found jetpack was taken from Marco's corpse.)

(Most of the new members of the 104th aren't happy at being brave.)

Erwin gathers the forces and says that there's going to be a special team leaving to go outside the inner walls to find the cabin basement that holds the secret to Eren's ability to turn into Toothy, and he wants volunteers. Sasha, Jean, Connie, Mikasa, Armin and Annie find themselves stepping forward mostly against their wills. 1 month later, the team sets out, with groups being divided up to warn each other about wild giants they might run into along the way. Because Eren blocked the north gate with the boulder, the plan is to leave from a remote gate and ride west and north to get to the cabin.

(Armin: "Why me?")

This part of the abandoned city is largely farm lands, with occasional ruins and wooded areas. When someone finds a giant, they fire off a colored smoke signal to indicate if it's a small giant, a bigger one, or something unusual. They try to avoid actual engagement with the enemy, while hoping to keep them from homing in on Eren (who, as a rogue titan, attracts anything that scents him). Eventually, a massive giant in the shape of a woman comes barreling out of the woods, kills the other members of Armin's group, and starts chasing after Armin himself. Seems that there's at least one more rogue titan on the loose, and it's after something.

Summary: While Levi acts evilly, he's fairly compassionate and really is on Eren's side. Mikasa has vowed to kill him, though. The appearance of the female rogue, and the deaths of Marco, Sonny and Bean raise questions that aren't going to be answered right away. Carnage.

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