The Cute and the Baffling: Ao no Exorcist 74 & SnK 76

Wow, it’s hard to believe these two manga have approximately the same number of chapters.  Though, of course, Shingeki no Kyojin’s tend to be a little longer, I think (maybe they just feel that way).

So, go get ’em.

http://www.mangapanda.com/shingeki-no-kyojin/76

http://www.mangapanda.com/ao-no-exorcist/74

SPOILERS

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Shingeki no Kyojin‘s chapter opens with all of the survey corps freaking out over the horses.  Some of the corpsmen have never seen a Titan before and  Levi is so super done with everyone’s crap.

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I find the placement of this set of images really puzzling… or maybe, telling?  Levi hates weaklings and, as he says that, he stares right at his commander, Erwin Smith (aka Eyebrows).

Now, for myself, I would categorize Erwin as a moron, not a weakling.  His plans have been stupid from the start, and I can’t think of a mission he’s implemented that’s successfully gone to plan (with the possible exception of the coup).

But weak?  Eh, I suppose. I mean, he’s lost an arm.  Levi was, in previous chapters, pretty dead set again the idea of Erwin coming out on this mission since he could end up as Titan bait.  But, then, we also saw that Erwin seems to have some kind of fully functional prosthetic arm, so…?

To add to my confusion, we get this truly baffling flashback to young!Erwin, in which Erwin apparently laments his idealistic youth.

He tells us that he spent much of his early days as a recruit telling people about the ‘theory’ he and his dad had (which we still have no idea what it was, and which was pretty strongly implied was the reason his dad disappeared/died), but he “stopped talking about it for some reason.”  And, then, he’s like, no, not for “some reason” but “because I realized I was only fighting for my sake.”

Apparently, ‘for his own sake’ means a moment of weakness, of cowardice.  He apparently chose to save his own life rather than throw it away trying to save a comrade who was already mostly dead.

Now… I think my problem understanding this critical moment of Erwin’s youth is that, in this universe, that was A GOOD CALL.  It’s not like going out in a blaze of glory really helps anyone. Especially someone half eaten.

It’s also behavior we see in Armin all the time, who I’m fairly certain we’re supposed to like. Cowardice has been explored in the anime in a way I really liked, that felt real, through Jean’s character.

Okay, but I guess that the point is that he was someone who had had a dream, a purpose, and at that moment of weakness, he lost it. He now just wants to stay alive at any cost.  He learns to preach the line to everyone, lie to them.  That’s how, he says:

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And himself, and how he built a carer/stayed alive on a pile of corpses….

 This is a big reveal, I think.

I think it’s going to have major repercussions, ramifications… ripples…

Especially since it links back to this conversation, and this guy:

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I remember reading this several chapters back and being very confused–if concerned–about what was being hinted at.

I still kind of don’t know, but at least Erwin is thinking he’s going to get to Erin’s basement before he dies.  I would like to see that. I would like to know what his ‘theory’ is about, how it relates to the Shifters, and the mystery of this whole world.

Especially since Reiner/the Armored Titan might be dead.

At least, before Reiner died, he got to do this to Eren:

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Possibly the coolest Titan move since Annie used that one poor guy as a lasso.

The rest of the chapter is a lot of cool Titan-on-Titan fighting which I’m not going to complain about because, frankly, that’s part of what I signed on for.  Their battle ends with some of Survey Corps folks sweeping in with a weapon Hange developed, the Thunder Spear, and breaking the Armored Titan’s armored nape…. and, it seems, exploding his head off.

I think he could be dead.

And now… now I’m not sure why I should keep reading.  Except Bertholdt is still out there.

MY PRECIOUS CINNAMON BUNS NOOOOOooooOOOooooOOOOO

Okay, deep breath.

And… on to something much, much lighter and yet full of shounen HEART, Ao no Exorcist.

Ao no Exorcist continues to satisfy me on a deep and profound level.  The chapter starts with Sword-Boob Lady (Shura Kirigakure) stomping through a snowy woods. We cut back to Mephisto’s office where Yukio and Rin get orders to follow-up on Sword-Boob Lady’s disappearance. The boys bicker about it because, of course, Yukio wants to go on his own.  Mephisto tells him no, this is an ORDER, and f*cking try to relax because I know how you’ve been training and it’s dangerous, you moron.

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 So the boys go.

Rin is so wonderful.  I love his character SO MUCH.  I love that he is super into seeing all the sights while Yukio is so very…serious and glum.

They get to the town of Aomori where they play detective trying to find  traces of where Boob-Lady went.  There’s a running gag around Yukio’s name, where everyone keeps mispronouncing it Yucky-Oh.  (It’s funny, but I imagine it’s funnier in Japanese.)  Anyway, they get a lead, but it’s running late so they end up checking in at inn.  At first the inn seems haunted, but it’s just run by a rickety old lady who TOTALLY SHIPS THEM AS A COUPLE.

I’m sure the Yukio/Rin fandom must be in seventh heaven.

She tries to be very accommodating, telling them they can book a private bath, you know, so they don’t have to worry about what other people might say, and she lays out their futon all nice and close.

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I love that Rin returns her thumbs up, like ALRIGHTY!

The bath scene continues the fan service with much naked Yukio and Rin… including adorable demon tail:

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I love the tail poking up from the water.  It cracks me up.

Then, as Ao no Exorcist does, things get personal, serious… real.  Rin finally tries to talk to Yukio about the strain in their relationship, about how Yukio has stopped talking to him, and how Rin wants to respect his space, his silences, but, damn it, if Yukio ever needs him he’ll be so there.

Yukio acts like he’s been asleep through the whole speech, but we see that he’s really affected by it.

My heart strings tugged a little.  For real.

I have to say one of the things I adore about this manga is that it can be silly as f*ck one minute and then have moments like this–like, real emotion.  And, I care about these two.  Profoundly.  I want things to work out between them.

Plus, in between all the silly and heartwarming and fan service and ‘curtain fic’ scenes, we end up with a really strong PLOT.  Because, we go back to Sword-Boob Lady and see that she’s been called to the forest by… a snake god, and she’s being asked to fulfill a mysterious promise.

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And that’s the cliffhanger.

OMG, I can’t WAIT for the next one!

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