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Attack on Titan, vol. 20, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
This volume is one of the fastest reads in the series mainly because it's mostly about the fighting, and there's very little important dialog. For the most part, the battles against Bertolt and the simian titan, Jiiku (English-ified into Zeke) go badly. As the colossus, Bertolt's steam and extreme heat can injure the survey crew more than anything else he does. Armin tries to get Eren, in Toothy form, to grab Bertolt's leg, but Bertolt just kicks him free through the air to smash into the far wall. Armin asks Jean to take over the battle plan, and this would have been useful if Reiner hadn't regenerated enough to recover and stand up.
(Jiiku's rock throwing breaks the sound barrier.)
Meanwhile, Jiiku in simian form is hurling rocks at the survey crew outside the wall, and wiping them out from a distance. Even Levi is convinced that the only option is to fight to the death to allow Erwin to escape with Eren. Erwin goes into a speech about how he's been dreaming of his father, and all of the other soldiers that have died before him. But, would their deaths be meaningless? He yells, "No!" Everyone had laid down their lives to give the younger members a chance to go farther along the path themselves. Their own deaths will have a similar purpose. Erwin's plan is simple. While he and the remaining survey members rush headlong at the simian, Levi is to work around to the back, cutting his way through the smaller titans, to get within striking distance of the simian. As the rush starts, Jiiku watches and seems to imply that King Reiss (maybe an older member of the royal family) had stolen the World's Memory, and Jiiku's been waging this war to get it back. Jiiku throws another handful of rocks, pretty much wiping out everyone, including Erwin. Then, he notices one of his giants falling over, and Levi is now all over him. Levi manages to completely disable the simian and pull Jiiku out of it, but he hesitates in killing the hated enemy until he can locate a survivor that he could feed Jiiku to in order to save him or her. All that's nearby are corpses, and then Jiiku's cart-mounted titan rushes in and rescues him. Jiiku yells out for the remaining titans to kill Levi, and the guy is now too busy defending himself to give chase. Both of them vow revenge.
("Wrong! We will NOT die meaninglessly! Our deaths will be full of purpose!")
Back in the city, Armin notices that Reiner is weaker than before - this is just like with Hange's research on Eren, where there's a limit on how often someone can regenerate in one day. He tells the others (Sasha, Jean, Connie and Mikasa) to focus on Reiner. Armin then goes to Eren to wake him up. There's a lot of fighting, and the Reiner battle comes down to just Mikasa and one lightning spear, when an injured Hange comes up and blows Reiner's chin off with another lightning spear. Mikasa uses her spear to fire Reiner out of his titan body, defeating him. Armin then launches himself at the colossus, keeping Bertolt busy. Finally, Armin is apparently cooked to death and he falls to the roof of a house, but when Bertolt looks at Toothy, he finally realizes that it's just an empty shell. Eren comes in in human form and cuts Bertolt out of the back of the colossus' neck, beating him as well.
(Levi gets the drop on Jiiku.)
At the end of the chapter, Jiiku is badly damaged and has been taken to the woods to hide. Erwin and company are dead, leaving one survey member alive by accident, plus Levi. Inside the city wall, Bertolt and Reiner are unconscious prisoners, but only Eren, Connie, Mikasa and Hange can still walk on their own.
(Hange damages Reiner enough to let Misaka beat him.)
(Eren defeats Bertolt.)
Summary: Lots of battles, people dying, and both sides claiming victory for the righteous. Not sure how much longer the story will run at this point, but I'm hoping it won't be more than another 2 books. Currently, Eren and Mikasa have the option of finding Eren's house, where they can finally unlock the secret door. Assuming that the place hasn't burned down from the fires Colossus was starting. Vol. 21 comes out Dec. 9.