Attack on Titan vol. 10 – Hajime Isayama

4 out of 5

Individually, the chapters collected in volume 10 of Attack on Titan are thrilling, capturing a tense, longform siege upon the sequestered 104th troops that include Connie, Ymir and more. The way Isayama steps through this conflict, and its ups and downs, as the gear-less crew wait inside a crumbling castle tower, protected from a swarm of approaching titans from senior troops attached to its walls, is quite skillful, wholly justifying extending the scuffle out for so long – a move which I’d likely criticize in regular battle manga for just dilly-dallying. In part, it’s because Isayama has continually stressed the logistics in his fights, putting us through the stresses of resource management, and the emotionally draining experience of having to be on alert for so long; the other part is the characters – even those named for the first time gets drops of personality that give even further weight to matters, not to mention those with whom we’re more familiar offering up background details that flesh out their roles, or – I suppose more thrillingly – add to the mysteries of this world’s past.

The latter bit does extend to what makes this tankobon suffer a bit, though: over-exposure to twists and turns. We get a couple of really big bombs, here, and they happen in relatively quick succession, at least when you’re reading in a collected version like this. The buildup to Eren’s reveal as a titan takes some time; the same is true for Annie. I can understand that packing some more surprises close together is a way of bucking expectations, but there’s something about the way they’re presented and paced in these chapters that makes me feel like there could’ve been some more ideal way to roll them out – the twists are damned interesting and gripping (and lead to a huge cliffhanger for volume 11), but because they also occur without the extended ceremony of the preceding reveals, and so close together, they can also said to pass by a skosh underwhelmingly.

That said, as has been mentioned in previous reviews, Isayama’s sketchy style and story pacing feel very controlled at this point, even if I’m snipping at how they’ve chosen to play things out. I no longer feel like I’m witness a somewhat amateur storyteller come to grips with their Huge Idea – Attack on Titan has shape, and momentum, and I’m fully on board to read what comes next (even knowing what it is, having viewed the anime well ahead of reading these…)