The Attack on Titan Manga returned this month with an outing not as great as last month but was still worth the months wait. This episode had a vibe like the calm before a storm, this was more set-up to whatever is coming. The sense of unknowing we as a community have right now regarding the direction of the story is very similar to the beginning of Isayama’s narrative and that’s incredible. It’s evident that we are nearing the end of this series, Isayama predicted that the series would end around 100 chapters, however, seeing were everything stands at this point, (chapter 95) it is looking more like the run will last until around 120 chapters. I would love to see a grand finale and a worthwhile resolution that stretched to 150 overall chapters, but I trust Isayama’s judgement and that would take another 5 years. This month’s chapter itself contain a heavy amount of information including the anticipated reveal of the 9th and final titan shifter, insight in Reiner’s character, motivations and history, a tiny bit more insight into Annie’s possible true motivations (not really), possible insight into the intentions of Zeke moving forward and the beginnings of the Gabi and Falco rivalry.
The most talked about aspect following this month’s chapter was the reveal of the 9th titan shifter. We have learnt the name of this titan: The Warhammer Titan, and the family that is in control of its power. The name itself indicates that this titan will cause, mass amounts of destruction. This titan is held by a previously unmentioned tribe of respected Eldians called Tybur. This tribe of Eldians are respected and left alone by the Marlian government because they were the first Eldians to turn against King Fritz back in the day, and assisted the Marlian people to topple the Eldian empire. Because the Marley Government left them alone they have remained and uninvolved third party until this point in the story. I doubt that these two parties, the Marlian Government and the Tybur tribe have been completely unaffected by each other. The probability that both are spying on each other is immense, especially the Marlian party because of their spying tactics in this very chapter. I can see their relationship, as well as their exploits to undermine each other being explored in future chapters. We are still yet to see the Warhammer Titan, so it is possibly that at some point the Tybur family lost their titan shifting abilities and are exclaiming that they still possess it, to prove their worth to the Marley government and to keep their status. We also don’t know of their motivations in wanting to finally now assist the Marley forces in their attempt to destroy Paradise. The questions Isayama answers seem to always be replace with other questions.
A key aspect of this month’s chapter was the conversation that was held between all the remaining Marlian titan shifters. A panel in this scene has caused some prevalent confusion amongst some readers. The panel in question is the one which depicts Reiner seemingly uncovering the fact that the higher-ups within the Marlian Military were listening in on their conversation. Some readers mistakenly thought that Reiner was recording the conversation for some unknown personal reason. However, this is evidentially not true since a scene following this one depicts Marlian higher-ups discussing what they just heard. The fact that they were pleased with how the titan shifters talked about them in private and proving the trust, they have in them, could be a set up for an eventual unforeseen betrayal from the side of the Titan Shifters. If they had all realised that they were being recorded and are planning something else, they could be using these recorded meeting to give misinformation to the Marlian Military. Additionally, some readers have theorised that Zeke may have an anti-Marley plan in works, with some claiming that Reiner is assisting him as well as the other Marlian titan shifters. This would have to be because of their interactions with the people of Paradise and would rely them significantly changing as characters off-screen. This is unless we explore Reiner’s change of heart in the next couple of chapters by continuing to see the first few chapters of this series through the perspective of the undercover titan shifters. Both Reiner and Zeke have done detrimental things in favour of Marley so an allegiance alteration for either of them would be huge. They would both have major regrets about selling out their parents and destroying walls. A plan like this could explain why Reiner is desperately trying to motivate Falco to inherit the Armoured Titan, he is evidently far less radicalised than Gabi and could be more helpful in assisting an anti-Marley plan.
Another ongoing dynamic explored in this chapter surrounded Falco, beginning his attempt in outshining Gabi, with the intent to inherit the Armoured Titan from Reiner. These initial stages of this attempt are proving to be unsuccessful, but I imagine through his training he will eventually make himself her equal. In a prior scene to this we saw a conversation between Reiner and Gabi, which displayed how much these characters clearly care for each other and is probably, the most likeable Gabi has come across since her introduction. But the conversation highlighted how similar Gabi is to the Reiner depicted in the flashback of this episode. Both have been brainwashed in the same military system, but the real question is if Reiner understands that all of that was a complete fabrication. A possible explanation for why Reiner has been looking so depressed in previous chapters is that he no longer is passionate about the Marlian cause because he has realised that a majority of what he was taught was a complete fabrication. The other possibility is that he is depressed that Gabi is largely a carbon copy of himself before he left to attack the walls and he is in a position where he is unable to do anything. There is so much more intrigue currently revolving around Reiner than there ever has been for Eren.
Additionally, it was also revealed that Reiner was originally not worthy of the shifting abilities he inherited. It was reveal that Marcel tampered with the results and arranged it so that his brother as the unworthy one. This was done to save him from the hell they were about to endure, in the operation to attack Paradise. This weirdly creates a parcel between Historia and Reiner and more sensibly, a parallel, between Marcel and Ymir. Ymir admitted to tampering with the training corps’ results that determined the ‘Top 10’ recruits. Historia and Reiner haven’t got the most in common, the only link I can draw between them is they are both extremely respected in their camps and they both were rejected by their fathers. But the most obvious parallel between Marcel and Ymir is that they both had the shifting ability of the Dancing Titan. Interestingly, Reiner placed the highest amongst the titan shifters and 2nd overall in the ‘Top 10’ even though he was the lowest ranked shifter before training, evidently, he must have grown a lot in that time. However, this could have been due to other factors, Annie not trying her best and Bertolt being too interested in Annie, to score higher results than Reiner.
We also saw Annie in this chapter in a variety of scenes, and got absolutely no further insight into her possible motivations and intentions. In every panel, she appeared in, she had little to no expression on her face, this is corroborated by the scene in which the 4 attacking titan shifters are leaving for Paradise and everyone else is happy or at least a little amused and she was stone-faced and took no enjoyment form it. We saw her in titan form for a panel and nothing could be gleamed by that either. My heavily foreshadowed theory article about Annie and what I believe her possible motivations and explanations could be, will be out soon. (I promise!) Other than that, there are clear indicators that her story is yet to be concluded and I hope that she re-enters the story soon.
Looking forward the most discussed aspect of the manga is whose point of view we will see the story from. This chapter, in many readers minds, seemingly concludes the arc we have spent with the Marlian titan shifters and many are itching to get back with our main cast. I believe however, not only that we will have more time with Reiner and the main character I see a massive opportunity for Reiner to be the main protagonist for the rest of the series. As mentioned previously Reiner is far more interesting than all remaining character from Paradise with maybe the exception of Levi and Jean. Plus, there are still so many unanswered questions. We could still get insight into Reiner, Annie and Bertolt whilst the mount there attack on the walls and how they react after Marcel is eaten and when the expected Founding Titan doesn’t appear. Do they return to the ships awaiting them after Marcel is eaten and get issued a new mission of infiltration, or does this occur after the Founding Titan doesn’t appear? What is there relationship like when they first enter the walls as well as while they’re training? This is all just possibilities if we follow the flashback into more detail, there are many over directions the story could go in the present day. We could see their battle preparations and how they mount their attack and we could see all the other characters like Levi, Mikasa and Jean from the Marlian perspective. I think it would be insane seeing Levi from an antagonist perspective and see just how terrifying his skill truly is. I also think them arriving to find Annie escaped and transformed waiting for them only to turn on them as foreshadowed in previous chapter would be beyond awesome. I think this narrative choice would be unique and polarising and would truly set this series apart from all the rest.
Ultimately Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 95 gets a 7. The chapter revealed some new interesting information, but as previously mentioned, it felt more like set-up than plot progression. I’m still incredibly intrigued to see how Isayama will write the story going forward and will be waiting with baited breath for next months realise.