4 out of 5
I’m not generally in favor of uber-decompressed action sequences in comics, as they’re often just glory shots, and equally do not add to the narrative, or offer much reread value. Few creators can do justice to such sequences, executing them with weight such that they’re important story additions, and now, in the seventh volume of Attack on Titan – which is essentially one long struggle with the female titan – Hajime Isayama can add himself to the short list of those who’ve proven capable of doing so.
Throughout the long back and forth, even setting aside the interesting cutaways – our soldiers are in different factions, not all certain what the others are doing – the actual squabble is incredibly well animated with not only exciting choreography, at which Isayama is now excelling, his sketchy style feeding into it awesomely, but also with the ebbing and flowing emotions behind each beat of the fight: the swelling highs of success; the fatal lows of failure. So there’s character throughout the interaction, which makes the exciting directions it takes all the more impactful.
There are still some artistic beats that could do with some sharpening, though I now have faith that we’ll see it improve in subsequent volumes: while his general dialogue pacing has gotten much better, we’re dealing with characters in different places on very similar backgrounds – trees – and it’s a little confusing to have the conversations just bleed in to one another, like they’re all together. There’s also some more subtle work that needs to be done in the denouncement, and the art just isn’t quite there yet. You get the gist, but it doesn’t necessarily read in the faces.
But, man, I do get the AoT fervor now, and I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to talk to other readers about this thing as it was coming out, wholly caught off guard – and satisfied, and blown away – by the sequences Isayama is laying down.