Saturday, May 21, 2016

Attack on Titan, vol. 15 review

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Attack on Titan, vol. 15, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
A pair of newspaper reporters interview Nile Dok, the commander of the military police brigade (the guy that had wanted to take Eren at the trial and dissect him, and who is a friend of Erwin's), and the newer reporter, Pyur, wants to write an investigative article that puts the police in a bad light. The older guy, Roy, is afraid of the King's power (and of Kenny Ackerman) and assures Nile that they'll regurgitate the official police findings. Later, though, Nile is unhappy with the thought that Ackerman's group is working under the "police" banner. At a cabin, Armin throws up at the memory of having to kill the woman that threatened Jean. He demands that Jean take care of himself from now on. Of the group, only Mikasa and Levi have little compunction against shooting fellow humans. Levi commands all of them to pull the trigger without hesitating in the future. A little later, a pair of newbie Survey squad recruits are in the woods hunting for the "murderers." Levi and team capture them easily, but the guy, Marlowe Freudenberg, says that he wants to join them, declaring that someone like Levi wouldn't resort to murder. His partner, Hitch Feulner, had been Annie's roommate, and she's upset that none of the other Survey team will tell her what happened to Annie. Levi tells them that Annie was the female-form rogue, and goes on to order Sasha to "deal" with them.

(Armin deals with killing humans rather badly.)

Jean volunteers to take Sasha's place, and tells the two captives to march into the woods, waving his knife around and threatening them. He trips, flinging the knife in Marlowe's direction, and things get a bit silly as Hitch runs to safety and Marlowe tries to argue that he really does want to join them. Hitch comes back and hits Jean in the head with a branch, and she and Marlowe are thus allowed to join the group (becoming full members up to volume 19, at least). Later, at night, the squad slips into a mansion, hamstringing all the guards rather than killing them, to kidnap their leader. Levi tries to get the guy to reveal where Eren and Historia are being held, but he just says that Erwin Smith has been arrested and is going to be tried and hung to death for treason against the crown. Levi roughs him up some more, and the guy claims to not know anything, and to talk to Kenny Ackerman. This name causes Mikasa Ackerman to shiver, although she apparently doesn't realize that Levi has the same last name. Then Sasha yells that someone is approaching, and it looks like the group is about to come under attack.

(Jean is a really bad actor.)

In town, Pyur wants to know why Roy is acting like a lapdog for the King, and the older reporter just says that this is the way their world works. Then Hange and an assistant show up in the newsroom and pressure the two reporters into giving him some help. The next day, three of Ackerman's policemen catch up with Flegel in an abandoned part of his family's town. The leader has been desperate to kill him, and is now happy to finally be able to do so. Flegel gets him to admit that the police killed his father and the rest of his staff, then Hange and his assistant fly in to disarm the three assailants. Flegel directs their attention upward, where the townspeople are standing at the balconies, having heard every word that had been said. In the shadows behind the railings, Pyur and Roy hide and take notes. Flegel sits on the police leader's head, vowing to take his father's place for running the Reeves family company and protecting the rest of this town. Roy still refuses to run the story, claiming that his family is in danger from the King, and Hange gets angry.

(Flegel promises to protect "his" town from the police.)

In the palace, Erwin is bound and chained, facing the current King and his cabinet, and surrounded by the military police and backed by Pixis. Erwin is asked if he wants to give any last words before being sentenced. He suggests that the Survey team is the only thing standing between the nobility and the giants, should the rogue giants breach Wall Rose and head for the central city. One of the key elements here is that when Nile Dok had been roughing Erwin up in the jail cell to try to get him to apologize for the attempted treason, he'd revealed that his family lives in the area next to Rose. Suddenly, one of the Survey members bursts into the room and announces that the Gatekicker rogue had kicked a hole in Wall Rose, and the Armored rogue and a bunch of wild giants are killing everyone in the area.

(The King sleeps through the giant invasion crisis, as Commander Zackly arrives to take control of the situation.)

Pixis orders the guards to go out and fend off the giants, while all the refugees are to be brought in to the inner city. One of the nobles yells, "No, seal the gates! No one comes in or goes out." The nobles are afraid of what will happen if there's a crush of people from the outer city, and what might happen if the giants get to the palace. Nile suddenly has to pick sides - either support the King and let his family die, or try to protect his family and be accused of treason. Then, Commander Darius Zackly enters the room (he's the one that presided over Eren's trial), and says that this was just a drill. But, based on the behavior of the nobles, it's pretty clear that they don't have the citizens' best interests in mind. He orders their arrests, which Nile is much more willing to effect now. One of the nobles kicks the King's throne and calls him worthless trash. The guy had been sleeping through all this, and blearily asks if it's time for dinner yet.

(Rod and Historia touch Eren's back, triggering a flood of memories that aren't his.)

Pyur writes up the story of the coup d'etat, which Levi's team happily reads in the newspaper later. Zackly pardons Erwin and the rest of the Survey squad, and Zackly talks a bit with Erwin in a horse-drawn carriage about the costs of power and the ultimate goals of revenge (Zackly hated the nobles, and Erwin wanted to avenge his father's death). Hange reunites with Levi's group, saying that it looks like Historia Reiss is going to be installed as the next true ruler. Erwin had gotten info on the Reiss family, which Hange relays to Levi. Rod Reiss had a wife and five kids, plus Historia with the maid. The oldest daughter, Freida, would occasionally take trips out to the farm, where she apparently would spend time with Historia. About 5 years earlier, close to the fall of Wall Maria, a robber supposedly broke into the church that the Reiss family lived in, and set a fire that killed everyone but Rod, who escaped to safety. And Historia's mother was killed by the military police at about the same time.

Hange speculates that Rod had spared Historia because she would be the last of the Reiss bloodline. Levi comments on that, implying that there may be something at work between him and Kenny Ackerman. Hange thinks that Rod's being the only survivor of a fire is suspicious, and that they may find answers by going to the Reiss family church in the woods. The scene changes to a large cavern. Eren is gagged and chained at the top of a pillar, while Historia tells him that her father has told her everything about why she was abandoned and the events leading up to their kidnapping. In the background, Kenny Ackerman, her mother's killer, talks to Rod before walking away. She says that Rod had ordered Dimo's death, but it was required to save everyone else. She asks the boy to be patient a bit longer. Rod takes Historia to the top of the pillar, and tells her to place her hand on Eren's back, which is all that's needed to give the explanation. The two touch Eren, and his mind is suddenly flooded with other people's memories. He sees the church, a trapdoor in the floor leading to the cave, Frieda and the rest of the Reiss family, an ugly white-haired female rogue, someone eating Rod's kids, the church burning, a hand with a key wrapped in it, himself screaming in front of a huge syringe, himself turning into a baby version of Toothy, and himself again next to the half-eaten remains of his father. Rod asks, "Well, have you remembered your father's crimes?"

Summary: The overthrow of the false king is a success, and the Survey group can continue with their plans to rescue Eren and Historia from Kenny Ackerman, although now it seems as if there's no reason for a rescue any more, since Historia is happily reunited with her father and Kenny isn't a threat. On the other hand, it's looking like Eren's father, Grisha, killed the other Reiss family members, somehow got Coordinate from them, and then had Eren eat him to have Coordinate passed on to the boy. No explanation yet for what the serum in the syringe is for (it's probably not a memory-erasing drug after all), or why Rod Reiss as the true King wasn't eaten with the rest of his family. We're still left with questions in with the Carnage.

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