So, I saw the first couple episodes of this anime before starting to read the manga. And I'm pretty glad I did. I had difficulty taking the manga seriously because the first couple episodes were essentially full of "more drama! MORE DRAMA! To the point it actually made it hard to take things seriously.
The manga, while aesthetically less pleasing to me, kept things a little more restrained, so the horror of the situation worked a lot better for me. And what is that situation?
Gigantic creatures have taken over most of the Earth. These creatures - named Titans - have forced humanity to hide behind enormous walls that keep them out. But when a super huge Titan attacks the outermost wall, everything changes again.
This first volume is largely an introduction - to the world, to the characters, to the political situation. There is a slight issue in the sheer volume of characters that get thrown at us. There's maybe five that actually made enough of an impact to make me remember them, which somewhat lowered the amount of emotional impact I felt by some of the stuff going on. But I can definitely see why this title caught on. There's a lot of action, dire stakes and an overarching sense of dread that really drive things forward.
So after the pretty impressive time span of the previous volume, this one takes place of just part of one battle, taking up maybe a couple hours, tops. And honestly, I like it better. The protracted look gives us a lot more time to get to know some of the characters, which is great.
The central point in this volume concerns trying to save a supply depot, taking out the titans attacking it and resupplying themselves because they're almost out of the gas that lets them zip around. And as one of the characters says, their mobility is the only thing that's going to keep them alive. It's a nice way to attack the "we're coming together as a group and trusting/supporting each other" that stories like this always do. Except, you know, with a lot of death that makes it hard to tell who's going to be in the group in the next few minutes.
Is there anything unusual here other than the body count? Not really. But the story is solid, and Mikasa at least is a fascinating character to follow.
So, things are getting... interesting? I'm not sure I expected that twist. I will say that, as a revelation about our main character forces some tough decisions, we get more information about Armin. And I'm starting to find Armin nearly as interesting as Mikasa.
I talked about how nice it was in the last volume that we took more time, but I gotta admit - our main character Eren is just not interesting to me, and so this focus on him at length this time didn't do much for me.
Oh, but we met a leader of the human forces who also happens to be awesome so far. So that was nice. :)
We finally get a little more of the back story of our main soldiers, and I think this is the issue where this series really started to grab me.
While we got to know some of the main characters earlier, this time we're starting to see the people around them flesh out. And honestly, that's really nice. It not only makes them feel real, it also makes the world fill out, as they're from different places, with different experiences that led them to becoming soldiers.
It's a really solid issue, definitely my favorite so far. Of course, getting to know and like these people means it's going to bother me a bit more if... eh, let's be real, WHEN they die in later issues.