I don’t read much manga. Too much of it goes on about childish things and cutesiness that I don’t have the patience for. So when I find a series that I like, much less catch up on in a single day, it must be a damn good one.
Shingeki no Kyojin, better known as Attack on Titan, is an up and coming manga to watch out for. The series is relatively new. There are only 37 chapters out at the moment (each chapter being the length of one regular comic book). The first volume has been released to the U.S., but fan-lations are available for the recently released volumes Japan-side.
SnK is set in a world where, a century ago, mankind was almost wiped out by giants who eat us. No one knows or understands why, especially since it seems that the Titans draw no nourishment from it. But by building a city encased in a massive wall, our race is protected until the appearance of the “Colossus”, a one-of-a-kind Titan who is 60 meters tall. After kicking down the gate, the Titans enter and take the outermost layer of the city, while two more walls keep the Titans out.
Eren Jaeger and his adopted sister Mikasa are survivors of the attack, who enlist in the military. When the Colossus appears again five years later, Eren is thrust in battle and soon discovers his ability to transform into a Titan himself. However his gift destroys the trust his allies have in him.
Worse yet, they soon discover that their are others who can shift into Titans; suggesting that the Colossus maybe one of these shapeshifters…
Shingeki no Kyojin is dark. It’s bloody. It’s deep. It’s rewarding. And it’s awesome.
Series creator Hajime Isayama does a great job of taking all those tiring anime/manga clichés and somehow crushing them against his forehead like a beer can. Eren is young, but he hates being just a kid in a cruel world. Nor does he cry or whine or go “poor me” like some other protagonists who tire me out. Not when good old revenge motivates him. Puberty has seemingly been skipped. A lot of the doubt that comes from the protagonists tends to be understandable feelings of, “I don’t wanna get eaten.”
Seeing a real life act of vore would probably damage me psychologically as well. Well, more than I already am.
Likewise, Eren is more a component of an ensemble cast of fleshed out characters. While his power is incredible, it has plenty of limits. He’s lost fights in the series, only to get saved by his allies and friends. This isn’t the tiring “get beat up waiting for Goku” teamwork, it’s legitimate “work together” teamwork. I don’t think there’s any guarantee that Eren will survive to the end of the series.
The best thing that Isayama has done thus far is concoct the perfect pace for character development, world building, discovery and intrigue. The world is young, but there’s a lot of depth. There are details about the Titans which are explored and explained, yet there are many questions left. Fights lead to discovery, and victory is rewarding to the reader as they unravel another clue in the mystery. But there are also distant goals to keep us going, such as the unachieved research material in the home of Eren’s father.
Most awesome of all is the fact that SnK is so young that no one can spoil it for you. It’s so fresh and new that no one knows enough to blow the plot. But fear not! Isayama has admitted in interviews that he’s thought hard about the what happens next. So you (probably) won’t have to fear crazy-weird plot alterations just to keep the series fresh.