BY HAJIME ISAYAMA. RELEASED IN JAPAN BY KODANSHA, SERIALIZATION ONGOING IN THE MAGAZINE BESSATSU SHONEN MAGAZINE. RELEASED IN NORTH AMERICA BY KODANSHA COMICS.
Sometimes books just read FAST. You pick up the book, start turning the pages, and the next thing you know you're looking at the preview. That's definitely the case with this volume of Attack on Titan, which is nonstop action from beginning to end, and its pace is just unrelenting. We see Armin being clever, Reiner being badass, Eren learning that being in a military organization is a hard thing for a hothead to do, and lots of mass destruction and slaughter of the survey team in general. As if the cover didn't already tip you off.
Armin noted at the end of the last volume that the female Titan who dominates this volume is intelligent, and boy do we see that here. She knows how to protect herself, she's mercilessly cruel and sadistic (you can see the amusement in her face when a soldier begs her to let him go, and she starts spinning him around till he's so much meat before doing so), and far, far harder to get rid of than the run of the mill titans we'd seen to date. It takes Armin, Jean and Reiner all of their combined skills just to get away and try to shove the titan in the right direction.
As for Eren, he's having the same problem that a reader might be having - he spent 5 volumes training and bonding with a group of friends and comrades, only to be torn away from them and forced into a group he barely knows and who doesn't seem to like him much (excepting the resident mad scientist). Not to mention people still won't let him go berserk and just start killing Titans, possibly as it's incredibly stupid. He does begin to get an inkling of what military discipline is like here, as Levi straight up tells him he can do what he wants but reminds him of what they've all been fighting for. In the end, despite his rage and tragic past, it's just not all about Eren.
Speaking of his new squadmates, I appreciated the flashback where we see how well they work together as a unit. Given a series like this, you tend to dismiss anyone who doesn't have a bio at the front of the book as "cannon fodder", and the fact that they had pictures but no text didn't bode well. But the fact is Levi's squad has survived longer than Eren has outside the walls, and they've killed more Titans than he has too. Their well-oiled machine shows Eren that he can turn his rage and anger into something useful to them. And his trust is rewarded in the end, as the female Titan is captured due to the efforts of the entire team.
This was a thrilling volume, and uplifting compared to previous ones. Of course, that means next time it will likely be even more depressing, but hey, you take your victories where you can. When humanity is fighting an unstoppable enemy, you enjoy seeing them fight back. The art needs more improvement still (Dear Isayama: your faces all look alike. Love, Sean), but otherwise it's another winner.