Attack on Titan Manga, Volume 10 (English)

December 20th, 2013

I know. You’re looking up at the URL and checking the date just to make sure you clicked on Okazu, and not, say, A Case Suitable for Treatment. Nope, you’ve come to the right place. It just happens that, quite unusually, I am reviewing a manga  that is 1) available in English and 2) massively popular. This happens so rarely here that it is worth noting.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time discussing the plot of Attack on Titan, it’s structure, art, characters, strengths and weaknesses. I have done that in detail elsewhere. I intend to only discuss two things in today’s review.

As set up I will say that, if you have not yet read any of Attack on Titan, without spoilers, I can tell you there is excellent reason why it is so popular. It hits a pop culture critical Zeitgeist,  is suitable for older teens and adults who are the main audience for that kind of thing and it is not bad for what it is. Although I feel there are more flaws than, perhaps, many of the fans of the series do. This is a tale of the twilight of humanity, and not a gentle twilight, as we saw in Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou. In Shingeki no Kyoujin, humanity’s flickering out quickly and under extremely brutal circumstances.

Today, instead, we discuss Volume 10 and 2 specific characters. Ymir, a member of the Survey Corps who is introduced to us as having a secret and Christa, a member of the Survey Corps who is revealed as having a secret. Realistically, by Volume 10, we should all be very comfortable with the idea that most, if not all, of the Survey Corps members carry a burden they believe is secret. Why else would they sign up for what must by any rational person be seen as certain, horrifying death?

In Volume 9, we encounter Ymir, unliked and unlikable and Christa, who appears adorable and honorable and who Ymir sees right through. And yet, they have a connection. It first appears to be only on Ymir’s side. She’s poking and prodding at Christa, apparently to unearth her sore point. When she uncovers it, she does something unexpected – Ymir opens her own self up to Christa. Now they share each other’s burden.

In Volume 10, their bond ramps up in intensity. I don’t know that I’d call this love, in any meaningful way,  but they need each other, that is obvious. By the end of the volume, they’ve made a pact to both live more honestly…a pact that becomes part of the main plot with Volume 11 (which I read on Crunchyroll’s manga platform.)

It’s not a “Yuri” storyline and I do not trust the creator to not kill both Ymir and Christa horribly, so don’t get your hopes up for a happy ending for them. ^_^ But it’s there, if you want it.

Also, there is a character who Japanese readers seem to have identified as gender non-specific. Hanji is referred to in the English translate as “Ms.,”but the author has stated that Hanji has no specific gender. (By author request, the ‘Ms.’ has been removed from later volumes)

Ratings:

Art –  I’m not a fan. I think the art at best is a 6
Story – I’ll leave this as an ambiguous 5 for the moment, pending my more detailed review.
Characters – Same as above
Yuri – 4-ish if you squint a bit in a dark room
Service – 8 all Guro. Because of the violence, I won’t watch the anime, specifically because of sound effects.

Overall – A qualified 8.

My fuller review – and more detail on Hanji – is up on Hooded Utilitarian.

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4 Responses

  1. Tzivya says:

    I don’t find their relationship subtle at all, they are clearly deeply involved. If it is sexual, dunno, but they have as firm a relationship as, say, Eren and Mikasa. They will almost certainly die, or more likely, Ymir will. That said, it was nice to see a non-het pairing, and it doesn’t really seem hidden or a worry, nor does Hanji’s ambiguity. Hopefully this implies a world where humanity really has accepted that they have bigger things to worry about than oppressing each other. Find happiness where you can, and if you contribute, we’re cool.

    I hope someday they make some clarity on Hanji. I am betting M2F trans, which makes me happy being that myself. Too much to hope she’s also a lesbian like me, but I wouldn’t object to her experimenting on me. ^.^

    • I certainly didn’t mean to imply it was hidden or subtle, just that it’s not, necessarily, love. ^_^ Hanji’s sexuality is never an issue…Hanji’s sex is. The author has stated that he doesn’t care whether readers see Hanji as male, female or other.

  2. Andrew says:

    There is a mind-boggling amount of fanart depicting Ymir and Christa getting married.

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