Manga Review: Attack on Titan Volume Four

Attack on Titan Volume Four is a manga by Hajime Isayama, and it was published in North America by Kodansha Comics in 2013. The series is rated “T” for teens ages 16 and up; after reading the first four volumes of the series, I would agree with this rating.

Attack on Titan Volume 4
Written by: Hajime Isayama
Publisher: Kodansha
English Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: March 26, 2013

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 and his friends Mikasa and Armin end up enlisting in the military forces after Unusual Titans attacked their city. Five years after that attack, Eren and his friends have to fight more Titans. At the end of Volume One, Armin sees Eren being devoured by a Titan. But it’s revealed during Volume Two that Eren possesses an ability to transform into a Titan at will.

During Volume Three, the military tries to use Eren’s ability, but things seem to go horribly wrong. The beginning of Volume Four sees the tide turning after Armin reminds Eren why he wanted to go into the outside world. I thought that the intercutting that happened between current time and the flashback worked well here. In current time, Armin tries to talk to Eren from the outside while he’s in Titan form, and the flashback sees Armin talking to Eren from outside his house and trying to reach him. And it’s this push by Armin that snaps Eren out of what was affecting him while in Titan form and gets him to follow through with the plan.

Quite a bit of Volume Four ends up focusing on a flashback of when Eren, Armin, and Mikasa were starting out their training in the military and helps to fill in the time skip that takes place during Volume One. This section also allows the audience to get to know some of the other characters that have been seen, including Jean, Connie, Bertolt, and Reiner. Not only does this section allow the reader to fill in gaps from the time skip, but it also makes the next scene that takes place in current time more poignant. Without what was seen in the flashback, the death o f a particular character wouldn’t have has as much of an impact as it does.

Right at the end of the volume, the reader is introduced to Commander Erwin and Captain Levi, who are interrogating Eren; included in the interrogation are questions about the basement room in Eren’s home. The volume ends with Levi taking responsibility for Eren and accepting Eren into the Survey Corps.

Overall, the point of Volume Four was to provide some more character development and to fill in backstory than it was to actually propel the overarching story forward. Sometimes you just need a volume that slows the story down temporarily and allow the reader to catch their breath before moving on in the story. And with the way that Volume Four ends, I suspect that Volume Five will return to moving the story forward again. I predict that the focus will be on Eren entering the Survey Corps and it may also possibly work at starting to develop Levi as a character. I also suspect that the basement room, which received another mention near the end of Volume Four, will also end up being important in the series; however, I don’t think it’ll be a plot point in Volume Five.

Even though the art in this series may not be as good as it could be, it really seems to illustrate just how “gritty” the world they inhabit is. And the story is compelling enough that it makes it a little easier for the reader to not put much focus on the art style of the series.

If you’ve read the first three volumes of Attack on Titan and enjoyed them, then I think you’ll also enjoy reading Volume Four.

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

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