Manga Review: Attack on Titan Volume One

Attack on Titan Volume One is a manga by Hajime Isayama, and it was published in North America by Kodansha Comics. The series is rated “T” for teens ages 16 and up; after reading this volume, I would agree with this rating.

Attack on Titan Volume 1
Written by: Hajime Isayama
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: June 19, 2012

Attack on Titan is set in an alternative middle-ages world that has been attacked by giant humanoid creatures called Titans. The remains of civilization are protected by three concentric walls that are about 50 meters tall. After building these walls, humanity has remained safe for 100 years and has basically become complacent. While there are people who want to go outside of the walls and explore the wall, many are discouraged from doing so.

Eren Yeager is a young man who wants to explore the outside world, but his parents and his adopted sister Mikasa are very much against this idea. Eren’s father is a doctor, and early on in the volume, he leaves to treat patients located elsewhere.

After Eren’s father leaves, the unthinkable happens. Unusual Titans break through the wall: one is 60 meters tall, while the other has a hardened shell. The city is plunged into chaos, and Eren discovers that his mother is trapped in the rubble of their house. Eren tries to save his mother, but his mother insists that he run to safety and to leave her behind. A guard named Hannes grabs both Eren and Mikasa and carries them off in safety. As they flee, Eren witnesses his mother being by one of the Titans. As they evacuate, Eren swears that he’s going to destroy every last one of the Titans.

Then, the story skips ahead five years, where Eren, Mikasa, their friend Armin, as well as some other young people, complete military training; Mikasa and Eren graduate in the top ten of their class. As the graduates try to figure out which branch of the military they’re going to apply to, they are attacked by Titans. Eren and the others suddenly find themselves in the middle of a real combat situation.

I have to give Attack on Titan a lot of credit for its storytelling. During the opening portion of the volume to set up the world of the series, as well as the character of Eren, Isayama does a very good job of establishing what the reader needs to know to understand what’s going on. Isayama also made it so the reader cares about Eren and what he went through before moving ahead in time five years to tell the main story of the series.

The battle that Eren and the others have with the Titans after finishing their military training is very climactic. What happens to several of the characters feels rather shocking, because as a reader, I didn’t expect this event to happen to these characters so early on in the series.

While I’m able to lavish a bit of praise on the story, I’m sorry to say that I can’t do the same for the art style. To me, the art style looks a bit rough and at times, it also kind of looks like it may have been rushed. I don’t know if this was something intentional Isayama did to symbolize and portray the roughness of the world Eren and the others live in, or if it’s truly not as strong of art as it could have been. The roughness of the art does tend to weaken some of the more emotional panels that appear in the volume.

Even though I wasn’t overly impressed with the art style, the story of Attack on Titan has interested me enough that I’m interested in reading more of this currently popular series to see how Isayama continues the story.

I wrote this review after reading a copy of Attack on Titan Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.

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