Sunday Spotlight: Absurd Desperation in Attack on Titan

Shingeki No Kyoujin

Justin: We’ve now reached Volume 3 of Attack on Titan. Let’s just say Volume 2 left off on one hell of a surprise, as Eren somehow managed to be alive somehow. If there was anything that Volume 3 had to answer, it was definitely how in the world did Eren survive? What did he do to be able to turn into a Titan? As it turned out, it has something to do with his father and whatever he had been working on in his basement.

Manjiorin: I think we mentioned this in one of our prior reviews, but the interview in Volume 1 was a little spoilerish, so I think Eren not being dead wasn’t a huge surprise for me. I was a bit disappointed at the lack of impact because of that, but there’s still a pretty good mystery set-up. What did Eren’s father leave, and why did he leave it to Eren?

Justin: It ultimately makes me wonder why, at this critical time, Eren’s father disappeared in the first place. I can only guess he created something that would be able to fight the Titans. The only problem is if this was something that can realistically defeat them, why the secrecy? At this point, while there was a way to defeat the Titans, it still resulted in major casualties for the army. How long had he been hiding this? What were his intentions? Unfortunately, the manga did not explore that since the main focus ended up being just what was Eren: was he human or a Titan? Whatever the case, his own team wasn’t too sure as they ended up turning on him.

Manjiorin: I was actually pretty convinced that Eren was completely human, and maintained control over himself even when in Titan form. It certainly seemed that way initially, but his team and everyone else have been so scarred by the Titan attacks that even they view Eren with a cautious eye, which causes Eren to question himself. Still, the team’s sees the potential in his Titan strength, and devise a plan to have Eren plug up the breached gate while he’s in Titan form.

Eren and his team, I think, are really playing with fire by trying to harness Titan strength for their own use. It’s desperation at its height, but what else do they have to lose? Everyone seems revved up when they realize what Eren can help them accomplish, but there has to be a price to pay for that — maybe not for his team, but at least for Eren himself.

Justin: I actually was not a fan of that decision. Armin basically admitted it was a hypothetical thing — he didn’t want to test it out, and considering that Eren hasn’t mastered how to change into a Titan, this I think was way too risky. My only guess is they really didn’t want to lose Trost to more Titans. But this is more of a case of human survival, and as expected, Eren doesn’t have full mastery of changing into a Titan, especially when he’s had to use it twice. Now he’s put the team in an even more precarious position.

Shingeki No Kyoujin

But it’s interesting. Exactly how could thoughts of Eren’s past pop up while he is a Titan? As soon as he gets hit, he’s just a shell of himself, and just wants to rest. Methinks this may be in need of more explanation than it seems, but the author might have the chops to pull it off. So far I’m still interested in knowing what happens next, and wondering if they’re gonna be able to get out of their situation and breathe easy for a change. Believe it or not, it feels like the art has gotten better in this chapter (with a few designs that are still fairly off), and I don’t know about you, but Volume 4 is a must read. A raging cooking battle arc? Seriously, just take my money Kodansha. Just take it!

Manjiorin: I definitely agree that the plan was shaky, but I appreciated that Armin got some time in the spotlight despite his self-doubt. The fact that Eren thought enough of Armin to trust him with his life empowered Armin to step up to the plate and help the commander decide on a (admittedly not well-thought out) plan. Ultimately, it feels a lot like decisions are being made on the fly, with fuzzy (at best) information about just what the Corps (and the human race) are up against. With Eren on the “inside”– literally — the team takes the best shot they have.

And Eren wants to help, that you can tell. But he barely knows the nature of the Titans, much less himself or the motives of his father and the basement key. So when he overextends his Titan abilities, it’s not so easy to pull him back out.

And that’s what will draw me back to volume 4: will Eren lose himself while trying to save everyone else? Does Eren’s father have anything to do with how things are playing out? (I’m willing to bet he does.) It’s all interesting stuff and worthy of investing in another volume for me.

Justin: Same for me as well.

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