Attack on Titan Vol. 18 Special Edition - Manga Review

After saving Orvud District, the Survey Corps ride out to finally retake Wall Maria. On the eve of battle, Eren discovers more information about his past from an old ally, and reflects upon how far he and his friends have come in the series which inspired the hit anime.

The Lowdown

The Survey Corps have won a tremendous victory by defeating Rod Reiss and saving Orvud District, and now they wait to plan their next move. With the old monarchy overthrown and Historia Reiss (Krista Lenz) installed as Queen, the Survey Corps ride to visit Head Instructor Keith Shadis, Erwin’s predecessor as Commander of the Survey Corps. After learning more about Eren’s father from Shadis, Erwin makes the decision to prepare for a decisive battle in Eren’s hometown, Shiganshina District, to finally uncover what was left in Eren’s basement, and retake Wall Maria for humanity. With the weight of their battles so far weighing heavily upon them, Eren, Mikasa, Armin and the rest of the scouts ride out to meet the Titans.

How Was It?

After the highly dramatic events of the past couple volumes, Attack on Titan Vol. 18 is a transitional volume which might best be categorized as “the calm before the storm”. This is still captivating though because of the way that this volume takes time both to answer some lingering questions about Eren’s past, and to spell out the dramatic stakes of the upcoming battle in a meaningful way. Eren’s meeting with Shadis turns out to be fruitful, and I appreciate the filling in of several questions I had regarding the backstory as well as about the events after the wall fell. This was especially welcome considering the truth about the Reiss family being brought out in the last story arc, and I enjoyed the added bit of backstory this provided in really answering some of the last lingering minor questions about what has transpired so far. The big questions remain unanswered, but now that the plot is moving forward again it finally feels as though we’re on our way towards answer some more of this series’ core mysteries in the future. 

After the meeting with Shadis, the Survey Corps take their time to plan before deciding to finally move to retake Wall Maria in hopes of getting to Eren’s basement. This chapter was purely transitional, but I really liked the way that it set up the dramatic stakes of the upcoming operation by showing our main cast reflecting upon their real dreams before the hard work comes. This was used effectively in the previous volume to close out how far many of these characters such as Eren have come, and this chapter is almost a companion piece to that it sets out how far these character still have to go. I liked that we really got a chance to see a little bit more about what makes these characters fundamentally tick, and this was especially prominent in Eren and Armin’s conversation about their longing to go beyond the wall. This really nailed the “deep breath before the plunge” feel as these character prepare to go into battle again, and I appreciated and enjoyed this set-up quite a bit for the context it provided.

The final half of the volume follows the Survey Corps as they ride out to Shiganshina to put their plan in motion. The art here is great, and I liked the way that author Hajime Isayama illustrated this scene by including a number of larger panels and a couple full-page spreads to showcase the scenery as the crew arrives at Shiganshina. It ends up being a stark reminder that there is a strange sense of beauty to this world that contrasts with the horror brought about by the Titans, and I felt that this complemented the previous chapter nicely in really getting across Eren and Armin’s feeling of being caged by being able to witness just a little bit of the wonder of the world while dreaming of somewhere beyond the walls. The rest of the art in the volume is business as usual for the series, and as usual I enjoyed the sense of fitting sense of speed the art imbues in as the soldiers use of the vertical maneuvering gear.

There’s not a whole lot of action in these last chapters, but what made up for it was the atmospheric sense of foreboding that Isayama was able to subtly create as the Survey Corps rode into a surprisingly abandoned town. Everyone involved knew that something isn’t quite right, and you can almost hear the Jaws music in the background as they put their plan into action. Again, this ends up being a set-up chapter but is one that ends in a satisfying cliffhanger signalling the start of the battle. Now that the stakes have carefully been set-up, I felt ready to see what would happen next and this gave the upcoming conflict a heightened sense of urgency that I appreciated even if I’m bummed about having to wait for the next volume.

Final Thoughts

Attack on Titan Vol. 18 is an enjoyable breather after the last couple volumes that resets the table in a meaningful way as the Survey Corps prepare for their latest confrontation against the Titans. Fans of the series will appreciate the smaller character moments that are included on the eve of battle as well as the bits of the plot that are continued to be filled in. While there isn’t a lot of action in this volume, I really liked the ominous vibes it was able to get across, making the inevitable confrontation coming even more eagerly anticipated on my part.


Attack on Titan 18
By Hajime Isayama

Attack on Titan Vol. 18 was translated by Ko Ransom and published by Kodansha Comics USA on April 5th, 2016. Authored by Hajime Isayama, the series is currently ongoing in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shonen Magazine with 19 volumes currently released in Japan. The series also received a two-cour anime adaption in 2013 by WIT Studio with a second season on the way in late 2016. Volume 19 will be published in English on August 2nd, 2016 in a regular edition and special edition.

Verdict:

B+

Date of Publication: April 5th, 2016

Translator: Ko Ransom

Author: Hajime Isayama

Publisher: Kodansha Comics USA


Note on the Special Edition:

Kodansha Comics USA released this volume in both a regular edition as well as a special edition package which is the same as the content in the Japanese special edition released for this volume. The main draw of this package is an exclusive episode of the Attack on Titan anime series which is part one of an adaption of the “No Regrets” manga story. Additionally, the volume itself comes with a slipcover with a special variant dust jacket drawn by comic artist Cameron Stewart (DC’s BatgirlCatwoman).

No Regrets takes place years before the breaching of Wall Rose, and follows the Levi and his friends Isabel and Furlan as they live in the slums beneath the Royal Capital. Angry and brash, every day is a fight for survival for the three as they use their vertical maneuvering skills to outwit guards. When a young and ambitious soldier in the Survey Corps named Erwin Smith arrives in the Underground and captures them, Levi and his friends soon become unwilling member of the Survey Corp. Bitter at this development, Levi decides to make Erwin his next target. The episode was thoroughly enjoyable, and anyone who is a fan of Levi and Erwin will definitely find a lot of value here for the way it explores their respective backstories. There’s also an enjoyable amount of action, and the animation is of the same superb quality of the home video releases of the Attack on Titan anime series, so fans who enjoyed the anime should definitely check this out.

Here’s what comes in the box:



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka