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Manga in Minutes: Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1
Created by Hajime Isayama
Kodansha Comics, 208 pp
Rating: Teen (16 +)

Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan is a weird, science fiction/horror tale of humanity under siege. For hundreds of years the small group of humans who survive have lived behind massive walled cities, afraid to step foot outside lest they fall pray to the Titans, giant humanoids who attack with no warning and seemingly no motivation. It’s been a century since the walls were breached, which means it’s about time for a change.

Attack on Titan received quite a bit of positive buzz when it was released in the U.S. last year, and after reading the first volume it’s rather easy to see why. It’s a survival horror tale about humanity under siege, something that’s all the rage nowadays in the form of zombies and the like. Attack on Titan taps into that same psychic vein, only this time the maneating threat comes in the form of giant humanoids. Add in some rather likable characters, namely Eren, a young man who’s tired of humanity living in a giant cage, waiting to be picked off by the Titans, and add a little sci-fi and fantasy element with regards to human civilization and the weaponry created to do battle with the Titans, and you have a recipe for a rather fantastic action/adventure story. Eren’s incredibly likable and while he’s rather head strong and impetuous, there’s just something about his motivation and desire which makes him a compelling lead, someone you want to root for and see win.

Hajime Isayama’s artwork is very strong in some areas. There’s some lovely thatching going on through the book, and the costuming and clothing all feels a bit more grounded and realistic rather than some of the over the top designs often seen in manga and anime. The combat scenes are energetic and generally easy to follow, while being imaginative and exciting as well. Eren and the rest of the human armed forces utilize a complex harness and grapple system which allows them to scale the Titans, walls and any other tall object, leading to some lovely scenes of characters swinging and flying through the air while in combat. In addition, the artwork breaks down and becomes even more sketchy and thatch heavy, adding to the feeling of motion and giving everything strong sense of momentum. The art’s weak point comes through the stiff, awkward body language and poses of many of the characters in non-action scenes. Also, Isayama’s faces leave something to be desired as well. While they’re not horrible or misshapen, many of the human characters look a like, making it difficult to tell them apart in several instances.

Attack on Titan seems like a clever, well done action series with the potential for some incredible fight scenes and enough mystery and world building to leave readers wanting to know more. While the artwork is weak and awkward in some areas, at this point I don’t think it’s enough to really take away from the fact that this is a pretty damn entertaining read.

Attack on Titan, Vol. 1 is available from Kodansha Comics.

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