Manga Review: Attack on Titan Volume Five

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 world, 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.

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

Right at the beginning of Volume Five, the story goes back in time a year to show a soldier named Ilse Langnar keeping a journal as she tries to outrun Titans. She gets a surprise when she runs into a Titan who speaks a few words to her. Unfortunately, when Ilse starts yelling at the Titan, it gets upset and eats her. A year later, Levi finds Ilse’s journal that has an entry about communicating with the Titan. This seems like a random thing to appear at the beginning of the volume, but this information ends up being referenced later in Volume Five.

Most of Volume Five, however, focuses on Eren and what his future holds. Eren is taken to a military tribunal to determine which branch of the military will be responsible for him. Arguments are made by the Military Police Brigade and the Survey Corps. While there was potential for this section of the story to be dry, it ended up being quite exciting once the leader of the church gets involved in the proceedings. As the arguing intensifies, Eren eventually snaps and starts yelling. Levi jumps in and kicks Eren in the head, which causes one of Eren’s teeth to go flying. At the end of the proceedings, Eren is placed in the custody of the Survey Corps.

Eren is recruited by Zoe Hange to help with experiments being conducted on the Titans that were captured. Unfortunately, the Titans are mysteriously killed before Eren and Hange can get there to conduct the experiments. How the Titans were killed serves as a mystery to be solved during the volume, but it isn’t solved before reaching the end of it.

The recruits now have to choose which path they want to go in: the survey corps or the military police. In the end, most of the recruits that trained with Eren end up in the survey corps. It’s amazing that the survey corps managed to keep as many recruits as it did, considering the rather pessimistic speech that Erwin gives. But at least Mikasa and Armin can continue to be around Eren in order to give him support.

At the end of the volume, there’s a training mission to do a trial run of getting Eren to Shiganshina District so he can get to the basement of his old house and find what information his father may have had on the Titans. During the exercise, they encounter several Titans. And right at the end of the volume, there’s a surprise for both the characters and the reader: there’s a female Titan!

Volume Five presents some interesting concepts, such as the fact that the Titans apparently have the ability to do some minor communication, the fact that Eren’s lost tooth starts growing back rather quickly, and that there are also female Titans in existence. Prior to this volume, the Titans that appeared were all definitely male. And the way the female Titan is depicted, it appears that she may have more brains and wit about her than many of the males do. This could potentially cause problems for the humans, since most of their encounters have been with Titans that don’t appear to be terribly bright. Volume Five starts adding some new and interesting layers to Attack on Titan, and these new layers are so compelling and interesting that a reader may not want to put this volume down as they read it.

While the overall art style hasn’t really improved much over the course of these five volumes, Isayama shows that he’s capable of drawing horses and making them look good. It’s a shame that he’s able to draw horses with so much detail but isn’t able to do that well with his drawings of humans. However, I have to say that Hange is probably the best drawn human character in the story at this point. Isayama seemed to spend more time drawing this particular character than most of the others.

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

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