A job like Attack of the giants, with its narrative themes and paradigms related to the editorial context of shonen, it has simply never been seen. The epilogue of Hajime Isayama’s manga places an entire era as a tombstone, a decade of experimentalism for the Japanese comic book market and in which the dark fantasy of the young Japanese sensei has established itself as a real cult phenomenon, outside the Land of Growth. Sun.
The work’s deeply international breath, and its powerful dramaturgical vein, have accompanied us during almost 12 years of serialization, little more than a decade characterized by a sumptuous, never banal and, until the end, surprising writing operation. levels. We reached the end of a journey, the journey of Eren, but also of Armin and Mikasa, as well as Reiner, Levi and also Gabi and Falco and Jean and Connie with a touch of bitterness: that of an end that, despite of the moving background message, he was not able to adequately provide all the answers we had asked ourselves (for a more complete picture, read our summary of the ending of Attack of the Giants here).
A shonen out of the box
Summing up the Attack on Titan manga may not be easy: it is a work whose impact on the shonen landscape was, in 2009, devastating to say the least. A complex narrative universe, steeped in mysteries, with a “lore” partially perceptible in its early stages and extraordinarily layered as the story continued its course, one piece after another, one arcana at a time. A dark fantasy with an irrepressible stylistic imprint and a very clear script idea: to deconstruct, from the beginning, all the paradigms of an entire narrative genre. And you do it very well, Isayama: each narrative arc, each script track, each character introduced (and subsequently deepened) takes its place in a large mosaic that becomes more and more complex, gradually assuming the action-splashing tones of the first. chapters. gradually a political dimension and, gradually, more and more intimate and introspective.
Eren is the alpha and omega of a story that wants to deconstruct all the traps of the narrative and the classic hero: the predestined, despite himself, surrounded and crushed by the weight of a cast of incredible characters, slowly evolving and exploding with overwhelming (and haunting) force in a final arc in which the most incredible author choices emerge.
Attack of the Giants is a story of continuous change: an apology for violence, terrifying and cruelly realistic about war and the relativism of conflict, a critique of racism in which all the pessimistic vision of its author emerges in an overwhelming way, but is above all a story of continuous changes of roles.
A devastating metaphor about the relationship between pain and love, between heroism and martyrdom. It is a story of descent into hell, whose ascent seems possible but never predictable, as a warning. An omen that has the bitter and spicy taste of a dark world without the possibility of redemption, but in which the flashes of light and positivism towards humanity do not completely fade.
A coherent work, (almost) to the end
The last parenthesis that leads to the poignant epilogue of the work is, in fact, the sum of Hajime Isayama’s entire artistic career. In the crazy final showdown, and in the twists that enrich the already complicated tradition of Shingeki no Kyojin, all the issues addressed by the author in the 11 years of serialization intersect with violence. The authorial force of the work lies precisely in the narrative management of the entire production, which in the final arc substantially modifies and overturns the tones and perspectives of the story, playing until the end a series of twists with a devastating and sensational impact.
In the final arc, all the character development of the protagonists is played, phenomenal on an emotional level, meticulous and refined in the great design of their script. But not everything is perfect: Isayama is one of those who has always liked to ask a thousand questions to give, in the end, the right answers at the right time, feeding the expectations of the final resolution of his story.
And if until chapter 138 of Attack of the Giants the entire narrative mosaic is vigorously upheld and the qualitative bar held high, unfortunately it is precisely with the epilogue that the author could not close the work with the same authorial ideas they have always distinguished it. The themes and final message of the latest tables remain extraordinary and devastating, but the rush to bring their story to fruition without providing sufficient answers about the manga-drenched construction of the entire world will, unfortunately, remain a small blot on a great masterpiece that could have been total. A heartfelt, moving and symbolic epilogue that, however, cannot fully satisfy for the handling of some twists and certain narrative implications, which would have needed at least one more chapter, but which as a whole has at least the merit of remaining coherent. with the narrative universe of the work.
Inaccuracy and Violence: Isayama’s Stylistic Code
The graphic style of Attack of the Giants has always been a cross and a delight to its readers. Messy and imprecise at first, peculiar language and authorial style at the end. With its crude, essential, in certain situations even grotesque, Hajime Isayama has slowly imposed a stylistic code very different from the visual cleanliness and wonders of the animated version.
However, to date, it is difficult to imagine the Attack on Titan manga without the essential and deeply gory aesthetic of its young author. Panel after panel, Isayama-sensei’s pencil has managed to carve an important place for the aesthetic language of the work, a feature capable of enhancing the most violent aspect of the story and especially the dynamism in the action phases.
The curved lines, the true leitmotif of Isayama’s titanic anatomy, accompany the action without ever making it too confusing (except, perhaps, only for the final battle), a dirty and violent graphic style that fully enhances all the pathos and visual exasperation of the work. It must be said, however, that the design of the characters, too flat and little varied, especially in the initial volumes, suffers from it. One element, the visual style, which is still part of the author’s language of the mangaka, which also manages to provide flashes of direction and a simply powerful stage construction. The mirror reflected in his subjects and in his writing: a complex creature, sometimes deformed, but tremendously fascinating.