Recapturing Old Glory (or At Least Trying To) – Shingeki no Kyojin #72

Shingeki no Kyojin #72 is out, folks. Go catch up, I’ll wait….

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SPOILERS FOLLOW

I feel like someone in the editorial department sat down with Hajime-sensei and said, “Look you’re hemorrhaging fans, pal, and we just put out the damn live-action movie, which made nice money but is getting fairly harsh reviews , so can you please, please, pretty-please go back to all that stuff people love–you know, the shippy characters, Eren’s basement, the three friends and their dream to see the ocean, and, I dunno,  A FEW [BLEEPING] TITANS??!!”

What can I say?  Hajime-sensei tried.

There were even some parts that worked for me.  Erwin finally decides after all this time that maybe Erwin’s basement is still worth looking into.

Erwin intensifies....

Erwin intensifies….

Erwin does this, apparently, because of the backstory we got of Eren’s father (Grisha) in the previous chapter, in which it becomes obvious that dear old dad was a wandering Shifter, who seemed to be on our side until, you know, he decided to try to eat the king and his family.

Like you do.

But, you know, finally making a return to the Wall of Maria for whatever reason would, in point of fact, be interesting to me.  Also, what is in Eren’s basement has been a question that has haunted SnK fandom since the moment it was first introduced.

So, that made me pretty darn happy.

Then we get an interesting interaction between Erwin and Levi, and whole huge Yay-we’re-finally-doing-something-less-stomach-turning-than-torturing-and-imprisoning-our-own celebration with the Survey Squad.

All of which utterly fascinates me, sub-textually.

Okay, on the surface, we have Levi trying to talk Erwin out of going on a dangerous mission because dude is missing an arm and will be Titan bait.  Erwin is adamant about going, however, so Levi eventually capitulates.  All of this, as I said, on the surface, is fine. But, I tell you, the faces Levi pulls through out and his body language is a lot of this:

Levi is so incredibly done with your bullshit.

Levi is so incredibly done with your bullshit.

Similarly we get this supposedly lighthearted celebration in the ranks, which some genuinely funny moments (like when a fight between Eren and Jean breaks out and they’re both desperately wishing someone would hurry up and break them up), that, again, has this funky sub-text.

Okay, let me give you a for instance.  Potato girl (Sasha) makes a mad grab for the meat on the table, which initially seems very typical of her. The crew actually binds her to a support beam and gags her (which okay, funny? But also kind of harsh.) Connie reminds us that Sasha has changed.  She’s actually never been this truly selfish before. Yeah, she’s hungry potato girl, but she broke that potato in half to share with the instructor who called her out on it, and, of course, the last time a cache of meat was found, she was all about making sure everyone got a fair share.  Now she’s all ‘every soldier for themselves.’

Similarly, there’s poor Eren and Jean dusting it up and wishing someone, anyone would break them up.  No one does.  Not even, notably, Armin or Makisa. All of their friends turn their backs and shrug or shake their heads.

shingeki-no-kyojin-5940391

No one, not a soul, gives one single, solitary f*ck about their crew. And, it seems clear to me that Hajime-sensei is actually taking some pains to point that out.

Finally, Levi steps up and breaks them up.

So I guess the torturer still cares, which, my friends, is, IMHO, a truly sorry state of affairs.

Armin, the sensitive one, seems to get that they’ve all lost their way, because he tries to remind Makisa and Eren of their original dream to see the ocean one day.  Levi, interestingly, is seen lurking in the shadows listening in far more intently to these three than he has been shown doing in any war counsel meeting so far.

Then we’re treated to another it-should-have-been-funny-but-I-found-it-weirdly-dark moment when, at the break of dawn, on the wall, as our heroes are setting off on their mission, the piggy tradesman’s son (Reeves) shouts up that they better do their best because humanity is counting on them.  Specifically they shout to Levi, who of course poo-poos them.  The other commanders standing around point out that it was the Reeve corporation who gave up their share of meat.  This immediately triggers the younger generation’s enthusiasm and they shout back, “Leave it to us!”  Erwin realizes this is the first time EVER that they’ve had this much public support for one of their suicide missions and he actually breaks out into a giant, “Yahoo!” and then gives his “In to battle, my friends!” commander speech and the dawn breaks, and you know, music swells and such.

Except Levi is still standing there looking like, ‘nope. we’re so f*cked it isn’t funny.’  (Though admittedly, he actually seems a little grateful and touched when the crowd initially shouts his name.)

shingeki-no-kyojin-5940493

I have to say that once again, I’m taking my cues from Levi.  I’m actually not a fan of Levi’s (I know, that might be SnK fandom blasphemy, but I honestly find him unlikable and have done since his savage beat-down of Eren and his recent forays into full-on torture have not improved his standing with me. Yeah, I know he’s tragic and he’s taking on the darkness for the rest of us, but it doesn’t work for me.  Sorry.) But, the thing is I’m pretty damn sure Hajime-sensei knows how much fandom grooves on Levi.  I’m also pretty damn sure we’re supposed to trust on Levi’s instincts.

Moreover, Reeves is a dick.  He is literally drawn vaguely piggish and, from what I remember, has been operating with the Survey Corps for dubious and selfish reasons.  Are we really grateful that THIS is the humanity we’re fighting and dying for?  Remember there’s a guy in prison that is being forced to eat his own body waste and will be paraded yearly in public.  We, Ewrin’s crew, also established what looks a [bleep]-load like a concentration camp for the former nobles who didn’t support our regime change.

These are Humanity’s Finest, folks.  Go team. (sarcasm).

On a similar note, the thing that really stood out for me in this chapter was how much the shine has worn off in the relationship between Erwin and Levi.  I mean, we literally ended Levi’s spin-off with the sun shining behind Erwin’s head and now Levi is all, “Yeah, yeah, but when we take the wall, then what, because your sorry a$$ ain’t making it that far.”

Also, Levi’s not wrong.  Erwin is the supposed brains behind this outfit (not that we’ve actually seen him succeed at much, but he’s clearly set up to be the smart one), and it’s kind of moronic for the commander to go to the front lines, especially one who can’t operate 3-D maneuver gear one-armed.

Then we get this whole, horrible end:

evil shifters

It wouldn’t be so bad (because: yay Reiner and Bertholdt!) if it wasn’t for those words.  “Good and evil”?  So, wait, now all the Shifters are evil?  Wha…? MY PRECIOUS CINNAMON BUN BBS!

I will admit that pretty much all the Shifters are my favorite characters, starting with Annie all the way down to Ymir (and I guess Erin).

But these two are my very, very favorites. Particularly Reiner, who, btw, has AWESOME hair here.  Their stories are far more interesting and sympathetic than anyone on the supposed good side.  Being the Armored Titan was so traumatizing to Reiner that he split his personality and refused to believe he was ever that evil.  In stark comparison, Makisa and Eren bonded over murdering a bandit (I mean, yes, who was raping someone, but it’s a weirdly bloodthirsty scene.)

So, I still don’t know. I’m going to go with my gut and continue to root for the Shifters.  Maybe, if we’re headed off to confront them again, we might actually learn their stories.

Please gods let it not suck.

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