Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Manga Review: Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, Volume 1, by Satoshi Shiki, Ryo Suzukaze, Hajime Isayama, and Thores Shibamoto

Rating (Out of 5): ~4
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Volumes: 2+
Spoilers?: No.
Volume: 2.

Goodreads Synopsis:

A prequel series to the number one bestseller in Japan. Humanity has learned to live in complacency behind its high walls, protected from the giant Titans. But when a Titan-worshipping cult opens one of the gates, a Titan wreaks havoc, consuming the cultists. After the rampage is over, two young Survey Corps members are shocked to discover a pregnant woman's partially digested corpse - with her baby still alive inside it! What will the fate of this "child of the Titans" be? And how will humanity learn to cope with the Titan threat?


I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. For one, I didn’t read the synopsis, because I wanted it to be a surprise. But I also didn’t know how much influence Hajime Isayama had, so I didn’t know how far it would stray, if there would be similar characters, what the art would look like, or what.
First of all, this story is really only set in the same world. There are none of the same characters, as far as I can tell. It’s a completely different story.
Also, the artwork is very different. It’s honestly prettier than the original. I know that some people don’t like Isayama’s artwork, but I’ve grown used to it. Still, this one is prettier, nicer to look at. (Also, it has a lot more ink used, I noticed.)
This story stars Kuklo and Sharle, who are both in pretty bad situations. Kuklo is possibly a titan, or able to be a titan, or something. He was born in a messy situation involving a titan, but he looks like a normal boy. And he’s being held prisoner by a merchant, abused by the man’s son. Sharle is the man’s daughter, being generally ignored and forced to marry someone she doesn’t want to. Their meeting isn’t ideal, but Sharle quickly decides to help Kuklo, and feed him. And it’s obvious that Kuklo is starving, in a horrible state of mind, doesn’t really know how to talk.
I rather quickly grew to like both characters. The ending was a rather big cliffhanger, too, and now I’m really eager to read the next one, to see what happens next. I want to see Kuklo mature, learn, and become more of a person, as well as see what he intends to do next. I want to see Sharle mature, a lot. I'm intrigued by the plot, but this volume seemed a little more character driven, whereas the original series is more plot driven. I definitely don't mind, though.
The one real aspect that this volume was missing, though, I think, is the character development. While I did grow attached and interested in them, there wasn’t a lot of development. Isayama definitely flourishes in that area, where Suzukaze (I think?) doesn’t quite as much. I didn’t get quite as much of a feel for all of the characters, definitely not as fast, as I did in the original. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, and there is still time for more to happen. 
I’m excited for the next volume, and a little bummed that I have to wait so long.

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