So… Shingeki no Kyojin/Attack on Titan #71 is out… go read it.
For my money, this entire 51 page chapter has exactly one interesting moment. In the first few pages of the backstory we get from the former commander, we learn that Eren’s dad was “caught” wandering around outside the wall and was brought in. He was, for reasons that are unclear, presumed drunk, and when he clearly had zero understanding of life inside the walls everyone just looked at him and said, “Whoa, dude, major bender, eh? Blackouts and memory loss! You should cut out the sauce!” Instead of thinking to themselves: HOLY F*CK, MAN, ARE YOU A SHIFTER??
Which, of course, is the first thing I figured.
To be fair, I have the reader’s advantage of knowing Ymir’s story of just one day “waking up” and being human.
I will say this is somewhat unexpected. I had long assumed that Eren was a created/manufactured/artificial Shifter. Though I guess we recently learned that the injection that Eren continually flashes back to had something to do with the god-royal memory power and not, in fact, a Titan power injection, so… my theory had been busted some time ago.
The rest of the entire chapter revolves around the theme of being a bystander (the chapter title) in a world full of people more special than you are.
I pretty much despite this theme. I find it profoundly insulting, personally, and anti-shounen. I also hate it because I feel like Isayama-sensei is a little too royal/heredity obsessed for my liking. I’m getting a really awful sense that we might soon get a reveal that Eren’s dad is a Shifter because he’s actually the lost heir of the True Royal family.
At that point, I will officially puke.
I’m too American for this manga. As a people, Americans not very fond of the whole idea of the Divine Right of Kings. In fact, it’s kind of the point of America to eschew that. So, pardon me while I feel deep disappointment as the whole idea that certain people are born more special than others (particularly if it turns out that all the Shifters are the royal children, and hence super-duper-super-double-plus special.)
This is starting to be a little like the midichorian turn that Star Wars took, from which I never quite recovered from. I mean, as a kid, I spent many hours practicing my Force mind powers on a pencil in school. I survived a lot of boring classes working on trying to move that pencil. Then, I grew-up, watched “Phantom Menace” and discover my time was wasted because I was not born to someone with enough midicholrians in their blood. I was not given the Force STD. I guess I could still hold out for a blood transfusion or some unprotected sex (here’s hoping you can get the Force by kissing!), but there is no longer any amount of hard work and dedication that will lead me to the Zen awesome of Jedi Knighthood.
Now, I will tell you, I have never dreamed of eating people. I have not been sitting in my office trying to “get hard” or shift into an eighty foot cannibal. However, I had been kind of hoping that the Titans were something vaguely interesting, like maybe they were a disease (still a possibility, mind you, given the hint of a plague that we saw in this chapter), and that the Shifters were the government’s super-soldiers gone wrong (or gone rogue?)
I guess all that (or some of it) is still a possibility, but this royal family obsession is concerning to me, to say the least. The accident of birth is nothing special; what you do with your life is. Fate is a fetter; destiny should be something you make for yourself.
And maybe this story will work for people who want to believe they were born special snowflakes, the lost heirs. I mean, it can be a fine fantasy, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like Isayama-sensei didn’t give me the sense that was the story they were telling when I started this anime/manga. Maybe I’m an idiot for trying to put my own values on this story. Maybe I’m just a hard sell. But I think the appeal of Levi (the massive fan favorite) is his background. He grew up in the hard, ugly underground and became Humanity’s Strongest. (He’s also been degraded by this mangaka by making him into a torturer, but I’m sure fandom is fixing that furiously by giving him a martyr complex and being the guy who will do the ugly things so others won’t have to. But Isayama-sensei has canonically painted a much uglier, base person who I find, in canon, difficult to love. Does Levi fit this special mode? He’s been reduced to the guy who says, “Just give me the order.” That sounds like a by-stander to me.)
So, I’m not sure what to make of all this.
I signed on to the Survey Corps because, like Jean, I wanted to die fighting the good fight. I did not want to die in an alley, unrecognizable and outside of the spotlight. I want my death to mean something, to be for some reason. I don’t want a mean, ugly demise that ultimately serves no higher purpose.
But maybe SnK/AoT is the anti-shounen that it seemed to be from the start. Maybe life is sucks and then you die, unless you’er a king and then, I guess, you get to be special while life sucks and then you die.
I just depressed myself. I’m going to off and watch some “Kids on the Slope/Noitamina Apollon” to cheer myself up.
P.S. The only other interesting thing in this chapter? Eren’s dad is weirdly hot.