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Manga in Minutes: Attack on Titan, Vols. 10 + 11

Attack on Titan, Vol. 10Attack on Titans, Vols. 10 + 11
by Hajime Isayama
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (!6+)

The mystery of the Titans and their breach of the wall deepens as revelations abound in Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan, Vols. 10 + 11! Trapped in the ruins of Utgard Castle, a group sent to investigate the breach find themselves under siege from the small but steadily growing army of Titans. Low on fuel, blades and man power, can the group survive? Revelations abound in these two volumes of Attack on Titan!

One of the great things about the last few volumes of Attack on Titan has been the non-stop twists and turns, all of which deepen the mysteries of the Titans, the Wall, the world and the entire premise of the series. These volumes are absolutely no different as Isayama keeps the the twists coming at breakneck speed. Much of the volume 10 focuses on the relationship between the mysterious Ymir and the young, seemingly idealistic Krista. Both are harboring secrets that connect to the central mysteries of the series, and both are forced to make a choice regarding those secrets in the volume. Their relationship is an odd one, and an extended flash back exposes one of the few issues I have with the series, characters stopping at odd times and making declarative proclamations regarding their motivation and the motivation of others. It’s true, Attack on Titan is a shonen series and these kinds of speeches aren’t exactly rare in shonen manga, but unlike other shonen series who often fall into a vague “fight manga” mold, Attack on Titan has often felt more like an adventure series eschewing the traditional shonen “fight manga” tropes… except for this one. This all segues into the events of volume 11 where Isayama pulls out all the stops and gives us an absolutely insane fight sequence that has be seen to be believed.

Isayama’s artwork has changed over the past 10 volumes, but I found his shift in style to be really noticeable in this volume. Gone is much of the thatched, sketchiness that dominated the earlier parts of the series, and its replaced with a look that makes greater use of toning for shading and to suggest colors. The action sequences, particularly those that dominate much of volume 11, are intense but feel a bit messy and difficult to follow. Isayama’s problems with anatomy come to the forefront as the battle is one that relies heavily upon anatomical elements and accurately depicted body parts. To put it a bit more plainly, when one titan tries to lock the other into a triangle choke it looks incredibly wonky as legs and arms look awkward, out of proportion and distorted by perspective and Isayama’s general problems with anatomy. Make no mistake though, despite his shortcoming as an artist he still manages to make a rather intense, entertaining and memorable fight scene!

Attack on Titan, Vol. 10 + 11 rounds out what’s been a rather amazing year for a series that came onto the scene with little fanfare before exploding into a massive hit, both in Japan and in the US. With an anime series, spin off manga, video games and more due out in the next year, the future looks bright for the franchise. These two volumes, full of revelations, including one that’s haunted the series since the volume one, are another great installment for what was arguably the surprise hit of the 2013.

Attack on Titan, Vol. 10 is available now. Attack on Titant, Vol. 11 will be available on January 28th from Kodansha Comics. Review copies provided by the publisher.

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