Friday, April 21, 2017

Attack on Titan, vol. 22 review

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Attack on Titan, vol. 22, Hajime Isayama. Grade: B
The young Jiiku rats out his parents to the Maaru authorities, and they're both arrested (Grisha suspects that the boy resented being raised as a rebel to help restore the Eldians to power, and just wanted the safety provided by some other relatives). The guards torture Grisha by cutting off his fingers one at a time to try to get him to reveal the identity of Fukurou (Owl). He doesn't know, so eventually he and the other rebels are shipped to Paradis island for execution. Two of the guards on this mission were the ones that showed up at his parent's house when his sister was killed. The older of the two had been the one that fed the girl to a pack of dogs to amuse his sons. There's a big wall around the island, right up against the docks. One of Grisha's closest friends in the rebel group demands to know why this is happening to him and demands answers from Grisha. Then, one of the guards kicks him off the wall and tells him to start running. After this, the other guards inject serum into the backs of the necks of the other prisoners and push them into the hole beyond the wall, where they turn into titans and chase after the human to eat him. They're followed by the one female prisoner - Grisha's wife, Diana. She's turned into the huge smiley titan. Through all this, the younger guard of the pair has been abusing Grisha and keeping him from doing anything rash. However, when the older guard least expects it, the younger one kicks him off the wall. The older guard is quickly eaten. The younger one reveals himself as Fukurou, and tells Grisha to watch closely, saying "this is how you activate the titan power." His cuts his hand, turns into Toothy, and then kills all the other guards and destroys their ship.

("Welcome to Paradis, Mr. Grisha." Owl is standing behind Grisha.)

When Owl returns to human form, he tells Grisha he'd been able to infiltrate the Maaru military with the help of a doctor friend, and been in hiding ever since (Owl had been a child when he witnessed the Maaru burn his family alive). He chose Grisha as his successor because of the way the boy reacted after the death of his sister. The problem with being a titan is that you only live 13 more years after that, and his time is almost up. Owl eventually gets Grisha to agree to keep on living in order to seek revenge against the Maaru. Through all this, the scene switches between Grisha and Eren, and we learn that Eren is getting memory flashbacks of things stored in the family DNA. Owl spent a lot of time briefing Grisha on what he'd been able to learn from the Maaru archives. Ymir is referred to as "Shiso no Kyojin" (Founding Titan). The Maaru teach that she was a demon from hell, while the Eldians claim she was a saint from heaven. In fact, the original Ymir started out as a human somehow. There are 9 named titans, and only her direct descendants can take on their forms when given the serum. Unfortunately, while Diana was the heir of the original King Fritz, she wasn't related to Ymir like Grisha is. Owl then tells Grisha to go fight for freedom as the "Shingeki no Kyojin" (Advance Titan, which is also the title of the manga).

(Grisha watches Owl turn into Shingeki and wipe out the Maaru guards.)

After finding the diaries in the cabin, Eren and Mikasa mysteriously ended up in holding cells in their base camp. After a few days, Eren seems to have settled down some and is allowed out of the cell. Mikasa is in something of a panic at learning that titans only live for 13 years, giving Eren just 8 years left, but she recovers, too. Hange wants to know what Eren is seeing from the flashbacks, and doesn't like being unable to get answers. However, he gets a message calling him back to the city to report. When they get return, they hand over a letter to the new queen Historia that they found on Reiner. In it, Ymir recounts being an abandoned orphan living on the streets in a Maaru city. Some guy found her, cleaned her up, and presented her to his cult as someone named "Ymir". When the Maarian militia arrived and broke up the cult, she'd clung to the name without knowing what was going to happen to her because of it. She was taken to Paradis, injected, and kicked into the hole, where she became one of the named titans. She regrets not being able to marry Histora now.

(The current Ymir goes from living on the streets to turning into a symbol of hope for the other Eldians.)

From this point, the city and military leaders try to figure out what to do next. They've got Grisha's three books, which detail Paradis' true history, and the knowledge that there's something outside what they'd thought was the outermost wall. What do they do with this? Some of the information gets printed in the newspapers, but within the ranks, Armin is getting backlash for being the one that had been saved, not Elwin, so a lot of people believe that they'd lost their one chance at having a leader that could take them to victory against the titans, and they really resent Armin for it. One thing is certain, the original King Fritz had the ability to control the other titans, which he used in the battles against the Maaru, and everything will be lost if the power falls into the hands of the enemy. Eren realizes that he does control Coordinate, but he's not ready to discuss this with the others yet. He finally realizes that the one time Coordinate worked was when he punched Smiley (because Smiley was actually his father's first wife, and she was in the Fritz line).

(The squad reaches the ocean.)

A big promotion ceremony is held, where Historia bestows ribbons on the surviving survey team members. When she gets to Eren, he kisses her hand in return and gets a new memory - of Grisha confronting the Fritz family and saying that he's one of them, an Eldian descended from Ymir. He begs the then-Queen to destroy all of the titans (including his wife and children) before everyone is eaten by the wall titans. The Queen apparently said "no". Eren freezes, then keeps the information from Historia. Time passes. Finally, 6 years after the first arrival of the gate kicker titan, people have returned to the third outer gate and rebuilding begins. The survey group goes out past Wall Maria to investigate Grisha's claims. They encounter one feral titan, but it's unable to walk by itself so they ignore it. Eventually, they get to the ocean, and it's everything Armin envisioned. The others enjoy splashing each other and playing in the waves, but Eren just stands and stares out across the water. He says that he'd believed that if they got out here, they'd find freedom. But now, he knows that "out there" is the enemy. He asks, "If we go out there and kill all the enemy, will we have freedom then?"

Summary: Well, this got dark fast. (Not really; it's always been dark, but the gore is more graphic and personal now.) This is not a book for the squeamish. But, we learn a lot more about the island, the origin of the titans, and Eren's link to Jiiku (which extends linking Jiiku to the first King Fritz. Therefore, if Jiiku gets Coordinate, he can easily control ALL of the titans, including Armin and Eren himself.) The question is "What's next?" Recommended if you like the rest of the series. Not recommended if you don't like the evil underside of humanity.

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