Home > Manga Reviews, Reviews > Attack on Titan: Special Edition, Vols. 18 + 19

Attack on Titan: Special Edition, Vols. 18 + 19

Attack on Titan, Vol. 18Attack on Titan: Special Edition, Vols. 18 + 19
by Hajime Isayama
Kodansha Comics
Rating: Teen (16 +)

It’s the showdown readers have been waiting for! The Survey Corps attempt to retake Shinganshina district and repair the hole in the Wall Maria, but standing in their way are the two titans who have plagued them since the first volume: The Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan. Add the enigmatic Beast Titan to the mix and the Survey Corps could be facing their last stand. All this ,plus the anime adaption of Levi’s backstory, awaits in Attack on Titan: Special Editions, Vols. 18 + 19 from Hajime Isayama!

Much of volume 18 serves as set up for the showdown in 19. Isayama gives Eren and company time to recover from the massive events of the previous volumes, the over throwing of the government and the truth behind the royal family, which means we’re treated to some surprisingly silly moments. Much of the volume is split between a party and a lengthy flashback. The party provides us with some comedic moments, while also allowing Isayama to give us a rather touching moment between Eren, Armin and Mikasa where their chemistry and friendship shine though. It’s contrasted nicely against Levi, who listens in from the shadows. One can’t help but think that the trio reminds him of his friends from No Regrets. Their relationship is something we saw a lot of earlier in the series, but as the group’s been split up or engaged in battles for quite a while, revisiting it was a smart move before throwing them into battle once more. Meanwhile, the flashback sheds more light on Eren’s family while also delving into some philosophical talk about whether people are special and what it means if they are. While the flashback is nice, the philosophical meanderings of the series has never really been its strong point and this is no different. The story grinds to a hault during these moments. Thankfully they’re not terribly long and are followed up by some much lighter fare.

A page from Attack on Titan, Vol. 19

Hajime Isayama showing off his fondness for MMA style fights.

Much like volume 18 was talking and flashbacks, volume 19 is action, action and more action. The operation to retake Shinganshina and repair Wall Maria dominate the volume and Isayama treats readers to some intense and satisfying action scenes as the Titans and Survey Corp clash in a showdown that’s been a long time in the making.

Throughout the series its been clear that Isayama’s artwork has slowly been improving and that change and improvement is still here. Character anatomy seems tighter and the backgrounds nicely detailed, with geography and location playing an important part in the fights. Isayama’s visual strength has always been the intensity he imbues into characters movements and that’s on full display here. Indeed, there are some moments in volume 19 which rank among the best action scenes and memorable splash pages the series has offered.

Like the previous Special Edition releases for the series, these two volumes come with several extras. Each one includes a slipcover by a different American artist, with Cameron Stewart turning in the cover for vol. 18 while Paolo Riveria handles vol. 19. Each one also includes part of the Attack on Titan: No Regrets an anime adaption of material from the Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Vols. 1 + 2 manga series, detailing Levi’s introduction into the Survey Corps. While there are some minor differences between the two series, it’s nothing major. The inclusion of the DVD’s here are also very timely as the manga volumes toss in several flashbacks to events from it which may be a little confusing if readers aren’t familiar with this material.

For the past four or five volumes Attack on Titan has been nothing but major event, major event and major event and these two volumes don’t really do much to change that. The down time in volume 18 is really needed and it’s fantastic to spend some time with these characters out of combat. It’s a nice bit of quiet before the storm. That storm, so far, seems to be living up to its promise as Hajime Isayama delivers the high stakes anything can happen feel that made the series such a hit at the start.

Attack on Titan: Special Edition, Vols. 18 + 19 are available now from Kodansha Comics. Review copies provided by the publisher.

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