Otaku USA Magazine
Precious Territory: Moving on with Attack on Titan

Attack on Titan is one of those rare anime series that probably helped spawn a few new manga readers. Even those who are stubbornly reluctant to pick up the original source material of their favorite series would be hard-pressed to just sit on their thumbs and wait for that magical moment when Attack on Titan returns to the small screen. Since we don’t know exactly when that will be—Hajime Isayama’s manga needs quite a bit more breathing room unless they want to dive into some of the ancillary material by other creative teams—there’s little recourse other than taking that leap into the English publication of Attack on Titan.

Thankfully there are a couple of options for anyone who wants to continue with the series. Kodansha’s graphic novels are certainly the obvious choice, and those who don’t mind catching up on a few spoilers outside of the manga can also head over to Crunchyroll and start reading their simulpub. While it’s perfectly acceptable to just pick up where the show left off—which is around chapter 33 of the manga—it’s important to keep in mind that, as tends to be the case with adaptations, not everything made its way from one medium to the other unscathed.

Don’t look at me like that! I’ve actually found myself in the same boat since the anime came to an end. Though I read the first few volumes of Isayama‘s manga prior to Wit Studio’s spin on it, I ended up sticking with the anime and leaving its source behind in a blinding burst of hissing steam. I tried to hold out and start the manga over from the beginning, but when it landed on Crunchyroll I just couldn’t resist briefly refreshing myself and reading from that point on.

Needless to say, quite a bit has happened in the world within the walls and beyond. I won’t go into too many spoilers here, but at this point I’m assuming you’ve at least seen all 25 episodes of the anime. I’ve also tried to keep images as spoiler-free as possible, but I know how sensitive people can be, so avert your eyes if you’re even the least bit wary.

One of the major conflicts in the final third of the adaptation was the battle with the Female Titan and, as that went on, the question and eventual answer to what human was behind the impressively agile warrior. There are still plenty of questions begging to be answered in the series, but more and more players have been revealed as Titans, making Eren and his transformative power an increasingly crucial weapon for humanity. It’s this flickering hope that keeps the Survey Corps and the rest of the soldiers fighting on to rescue Eren, even when he ends up in the clutches of some of the series’ most formidable foes.

At this point Isayama’s art is notably improved, but still rough around the edges. His characters continue to bounce back and forth between competent and awkward, reminding one what a fantastic job Wit did on adapting them into a cleaner but still distinctive style. Where Isayama really still needs work, however, is in the action scenes. There are some intense moments in Attack on Titan that tend to be muddled a bit thanks to sloppy layouts and unclear action. Is Mikasa flipping in this panel? What is that Titan holding? Did someone die? It can be a bit of a mess at times, but the fact that it’s still engrossing is a testament to how deep the story’s hooks can sink.

Attack on Titan is an exciting series in both formats, and hopefully the popularity of the anime pulls more folks into the world of comics. One thing’s for sure: Catching up will just make you long for everything to return to glorious full motion once more.

Read our full story on Attack on Titan in the April 2014 issue of Otaku USA Magazine. On sale now, it also includes features on Cowboy Bebop, ChihayafuruBeyond the Boundary, and more of your favorite anime, manga, games, and music.

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