Thursday, December 25, 2014

I Reads You Review: ATTACK ON TITAN Volume 1


Creators: Hajime Isayama; Sheldon Orzka (Translator), Steve Wands (Lettering)
Publishing Information: Kodansha Comics (@KodanshaUSA); 208 pages, $10.99 (US), $11.99 (CAN)
Ordering Numbers: ISBN: 978-1-61262-024-4 (ISBN), paperback

Rated: “T” for “Ages 16+”

At some point, I discovered that the popular anime series, “Attack on Titan” (which is broadcast on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim), is based on a manga.  I became curious and wanted to read it, and a 20 percent-off coupon from Barnes and Nobles encouraged me to indulge my curiosity.

Written and illustrated by Hajime Isayama, the Attack on Titan manga began serialization in Japan's Bessatsu Shōnen Magazine (published by Kodansha) in September 2009.  It has been collected 15 tankōbon volumes (or graphic novels) as of December 2014.

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 4) introduces a world where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by enormous walls.  These walls are a defense against the Titans, which are bizarre, gigantic humanoid creatures that devour humans for some unknown reason (while ignoring other animals).  As the first chapter (“To You, 2,000 Years From Now) opens, what is left of mankind has hidden in a giant, three-walled city for the past century, trapped inside by their fear of the Titans.

The tallest Titans are less than 50-feet in height.  The outer wall of the last human refuge is 164-feet tall.  However, a 200-foot tall Titan suddenly appears and breaches the wall, which allows smaller Titans to infiltrate the city and cause death and devastation.  Five years later, Eren Yeager, who witnessed his mother being devoured by a Titan during the breach, is a military cadet looking forward to graduating.  Then, he will begin his campaign to eradicate the Titans.

I find Attack on Titan to be intriguing, but weird.  Creator Hajime Isayama makes the man-eating Titans fearsome and mysterious, and his pitiful humans give this manga an almost fairy tale-like sensibility and poignant quality.  There is also a Junji Ito quality to Isayama's art.

However, I am not sure if I will read this series past Attack on Titan Volume 1.  I thoroughly enjoyed the chaotic last 20 pages, which are both chilling and mesmerizing – with a shocking conclusion.  Perhaps this series will call me back.

[This volumes includes a three-page section in which Hajime Isayama answers readers' questions.]

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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