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Attack on Titan, vol. 19, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
Erwin notices a giant being used as a 4-legged wagon, carrying a number of wooden barrels and crates. The Simian smashes the ground with its fist, signaling the smaller wild giants to run forward, as Armor starts climbing up the inner wall to them. Erwin realizes that the smaller giants are targeting the horses stabled outside, while Armor wants to engage Eren. If they don't act quickly, they'll be trapped at the top of the wall and slowly starve to death in a siege after a few weeks. Erwin orders the main force to protect the horses, with Levi going with them and waiting for his chance to attack the Simian. Armin and Hange are to implement their plan to deal with Armor. They leave, and when Armor gets to the top of the wall, the only one still there is Erwin. Behind him, there's a flash, and Toothy begins running away from the wall into the town.
(The wagon giant with its cargo of crates and barrels.)
Reiner is a bit rattled by how close Levi had gotten to killing him in the last volume, and he's wondering if Armin's strategic skills are his biggest threat at the moment. He sees Erwin and wants to kill him, but Toothy's appearance and visibility don't make any sense, unless the idea is for him to run for the back wall, climb over it, and make an end run around the line held by the Simian and the larger wild giants. Armor abandons Erwin and slides back down the inner wall to intercept Toothy. However, Armin's plan is to have Toothy fight Armor some distance from the wall so they don't have a recurrence of Bertolt turning into Gatekicker and falling on Eren from a height again. Toothy uses his hardening ability to make stone knuckle plates, and his training with Annie to avoid Armor's punches. They trade blows and Armor takes the brunt of the damage.
(Erwin is where he is today because of all those that had fallen before him.)
Elsewhere, the other Survey members protect the horses and slice up the minor giants, as Erwin imagines that he's gotten to where he is today by clambering up a massive mound of dead bodies. Armor and Toothy keep fighting, while Hange and team wait for their chance. Hange created a new weapon that delivers a powerful electric shock (nicknamed the "raisou," or "thunder lance"), specifically for defeating Armor's armor. Reiner stands up, and Hange and Mikasa shoot their lances into Armor's eyes. The subsequent shock stuns him, and the rest of the team shoot their lances at the back of his neck, blowing away the armor plating there, leaving him exposed and vulnerable. Reiner starts to panic, and flashes back to when he and Bertolt had been talking about how "we giants" have come so far in the last 5 years to reach their goal, in the battle where Eren first turned into Toothy. Marco Bodt overheard them, and asked "what do you mean, 'we giants'?" Reiner realized that the plan was in danger of being exposed, so he grabbed Marco, and had Annie remove the guy's jetpack and weapons. When one of the wild giants got close, Annie, Reiner and Bertolt zipped away, leaving Marco asking for answers and begging for help. When he got eaten, the other three wondered why they were all crying so much.
(Mikasa and Hange use the thunder lances against Armor.)
The scene changes to the previous night, when Reiner and Bertolt were sitting on the wall and drinking coffee with the simian human, talking about that time. The as-yet unnamed guy says that it would have been fine if those two had just run away, leaving Annie behind to keep looking for Coordinate. They think she would have been exposed, too, and the guy says, "fine, just knuckle down and do your jobs now. We get Coordinate, we win the battle here, then we go into town and rescue Annie. Soon, this living hell will end." Then, the four-legged wagon giant comes up and tells "Jiiku Senshichou" (War Leader Jiiku) that the humans are coming. They toast to victory, knock the camping stuff to the ground below, and Reiner and Bertolt run to take up their hiding positions. The flashback ends with Bertolt looking out through eyes holes behind another barrier, wondering what's taking Reiner so long to send the signal.
(When the giant ate Marco.)
Inside the town, Reiner's body is half-out of the Armor rogue, and the top half of his human head has been blown off. Jean rejoices, but Sasha and Connie are crying uncontrollably. Armor stands up and lets out a roar. This is the signal Simian was waiting for. It grabs one of the barrels from the cart, the one Bertolt is in, and throws it over the wall and into the city. Bertolt looks out the eye holes, trying to find Reiner. He locates Armor, and rushes down, afraid that his friend is dead. However, there's still a heartbeat, and the bond between the human spine and the giant brain hasn't been severed yet. Reiner's rogue powers are allowing his human brain to regenerate, but it's going to take time.
(Bertolt realizes that the bond between Armor's giant brain and Reiner's spine is still intact, meaning that he will regenerate instead of dying.)
Bertolt tries moving farther away from Armor to a safe location, but is intercepted by Armin and the others. Armin wants to talk, but Bertolt claims that he's not the weak-willed person they saw before. He says that he's decided that the war is going to end here and now. It's not that one side or the other is evil, it's just that there's no other option than for humans to die. At this point, Misaka swoops in from behind for the kill, and Bertolt spins around and blocks her in the nick of time. She does slice off his ear before he kicks her in the ribs. He tries attacking Armin, but Mikasa throws one of her swords at him and he has to backpedal.
(Jean: "No way... we're the only ones left alive?")
Bertolt soars up into the air to get altitude, as some of the Survey team move in to finish off Reiner. Unfortunately for them, Armor has rolled over on his back and his neck is no longer exposed and he keeps regenerating. Bertolt gets far enough up and shapeshifts into Gatekicker. The resulting explosion is like a small nuclear bomb. Toothy protects Sasha, Connie and Jean from behind one building, while Mikasa ducks behind another one with Armin in tow. Most everyone else gets wiped out, and there's no sign of Hange. It looks like only Toothy and his group of 5 still remain alive. Reiner keeps getting better, and Gatekicker looks angrily their way.
Summary: I hold by my previous speculation that the simian rogue, Jiiku, is related to Grisha somehow. He's finally identified by name in this volume, although it's not included in the character guide at the front of the book, and it's still not listed in the English wiki entry. During his first appearance, he acted like he didn't know that much about humans, and interestingly he seemed fascinated by the jetpack harness he took from one of the Survey squad leaders, although he should have been familiar with it after having seen Reiner and Bertolt use them. (Unless, he didn't have a chance to talk with those two until after they attempted to escape the city with Eren as a captive.) Regardless, he wants to get Coordinate first, and then wipe out the humans in the walled city second, in mass Carnage. (The artwork has gotten a lot better, though.)
And this brings us up to date. Volume 19 came out with an April 8th publication date, and the books have been averaging a volume every 4 months. I expect that #20 will hit the shelves around the first week of August. In the meantime, I guess I do have to say that I want to see how the story turns out now, and I really do have to disagree with that newspaper article that claimed there's no rationale behind the giants attacking the humans. There is a reason, and we're just going to have to wait to find out what it is.