WARNING: Contains spoilers.
Same Old, Same Old
Next to the mardi gras parade of old titan shifters, what’s interesting about this chapter is the way the characters seem to regress to old habits, old dialogue, old feelings. Whether that’s good or bad is an open question.
Let’s see what our babies have been up to in the AoT universe while we were going gaga over the latest anime adaptation and at the same time trying to keep our lives together on our own planet:
The Ackermanns and déjà vu
Remember the Ackermann dynamic in Chapter 30, when they are running after the Female Titan who had Eren trapped between her jaws? Levi tells Mikasa not to be reckless, to keep her emotions in check, to assess the situation and think before she acts. Mikasa rebels and acts recklessly, leading to Levi getting injured while saving her ass.
This time, hundreds of chapters later, she is raring to go, bristling with energy, prepared to attack with her mighty Ackermann combat skills, and there’s big bro Levi telling her not to be reckless, to keep her emotions in check… In this chapter, Mikasa seems to actually listen to him, doesn’t do anything reckless leading to Levi getting injured, in fact, she saves his ass. Growth? Yes!
But then she reverts back to that crazy old
「私は強い！！ Watashi wa tsuyoi!!」”I am strong!!”Excerpt from Chapter 135 of the manga “Shingeki no Kyojin” ⒸHajime Isayama/Kodansha Comics.
It’s reminiscent of the monologue (well, the exact same words, to be precise) she gave in Chapter 7, when she was trying to rally her peers to make it to the supply chamber. Ten years (four years on their planet) and one hundred and twenty eight chapters later, there she goes again: “I am strong…”
The best part of this panel is that, for a moment, she seems to have grown angel wings. Turns out it’s Falco in his flying Jaw Titan form, with Annie in the driver’s seat. She shouts at Mikasa:
Annie:「ミカサ！！あんたちょっと邪魔！！Mikasa!! Anta chotto jama!!」 “Mikasa!! You’re getting in the way!!”Excerpt from Chapter 135 of the manga “Shingeki no Kyojin” ⒸHajime Isayama/Kodansha Comics.
Made me laugh! Such an Annie thing to say. Only Annie gets to say this to an Ackermann.
Going back to Mikasa’s monologue, will she ever change? Judging from this chapter, I fear the answer to that is a big fat No. The way Armin has to reassure her his transformation won’t kill Eren, the way she goes “Wait” when Pieck attempts to bomb Eren out of his titan’s nape show us that Mikasa is still obsessed with Eren, still sees him as the little boy she needs to protect.
Will we ever see a fully independent Mikasa, not just badass physically but also emotionally? Will she always be like this, still emotionally dependent on Eren, still having her own well-being tied inextricably with his, still unable to think on her own?
That she hasn’t changed all these years is a real disappointment for me, especially since we’ve seen phenomenal character growth for Jean, Connie, Armin. Yes, even Armin has finally acknowledged his own naivete, though he’s still being naïve thinking it’s Founder Ymir who’s got him captured. No, sweetie, it’s Eren, everything is being done by Eren right now. Founder Ymir has given him her powers and she’s doing what he’s telling her to do. He is invincible, he is god in every sense of the word. Yet he cares for you and your cohorts so much that he refuses to take away your powers and freedom.
Which makes me wonder, what do Armin and Mikasa plan to do? Obviously they have no intention of killing Eren. Let’s say they manage to remove him from his titan, then what? Mikasa finally confesses her feelings with an “I love you” and that’ll make Eren go, “Really? Great! Now I’ll stop the rumbling!” Is that where the entire AoT story is headed? Geez, I certainly hope not!
Ah, and speaking of déjà vu, again more injuries for poor Levi, again that leg of his. This time Connie saves him after being saved himself, thank the gods. Levi is still the face of a number of product promotions and marketing campaigns in Japan, so from a capitalist profit perspective no one can afford to let him die just yet. Good work, Connie!
For another oldie, there’s Armin’s flashing back to Erwin about making sacrifices. Another old thought, something we’ve seen in the past, with nearly the exact same words. I think Chapter 135 should be titled “Rehash” or something to that effect.
Jean and Reiner Bromance
Speaking of déjà vu, this chapter has blessed us with some raijean! Yep, that’s a valid BL pairing in the doujinshi world. I’ve seen the works of raijean-shipping artists and they fucking rock! Makes me nostalgic for the AoT BL heydays of 2013-2015.
But I digress. Back to the manga, we finally get to see our beloved Jean in a conversation, this time with the guy who used to be his friend, whom he tried to kill later (with thunder spears while Sasha and Connie were crying), then whose life he saved (when Hange wanted to kill him)… The changing of allegiances has been fascinating, to say the least.
Jean saves Reiner’s life once again, even failing to notice the pumped-up Mikasa who kills a titan about to devour them. He wouldn’t let go of his friend-again Reiner. The words he says to him are very touching:
Reiner: “Think we still got a fighting chance?” Jean:「いいや・・・でも・・・せめて死ぬところまで足掻いてみようぜ。俺達は往生際の悪い調査兵団だからな・・・Iya…demo…semete shinu tokoro made agaite miyou ze. Oretachi wa oujougiwa no warui Chousaheidan dakara na… 」“No…but…at least let’s keep on struggling till the end…we’re Scouts who don’t know when to give up, that’s why.”Excerpt from Chapter 135 of the manga “Shingeki no Kyojin” ⒸHajime Isayama/Kodansha Comics.
He says “we” to Reiner, including him amongst their group, telling him he’s one of them once more, and the titan shifter is touched. I am, too. Jean, you rock. Many more reasons to love you, *sniffles*.
They’re both big men but hanging from that single line with Jean supporting all of Reiner’s weight with one hand is next to unbelievable. Thank goodness AoT has a different, more robust set of physics principles than our measly little planet’s.
Pieck Makes a Sacrifice
Poor Pieck, skewered with a pitchfork courtesy of the Warhammer titan. But it seems the Warhammer didn’t finish her off by ripping her human body from the Cart’s and then devouring her. So Pieck is still alive, I’m pretty sure of this.
I was actually quite surprised with Pieck’s somewhat rash actions in this chapter. I’ve always seen her as being very subtle, restrained, calculating and scheming with an intellect on par with Zeke’s. The way she went at Eren’s nape without the necessary backup (to make the bombing successful someone else needed to be there to watch her back and make sure no one gets in the way while she detonates the bombs) was un-Pieck-like, in my opinion.
Which brings us to an interesting point: the 104th are reverting to old patterns of behaviour, while the warriors are getting desperate and acting out of character.
What Will Annie Do
Annie & Co have finally reached the rest of the gang! That scene reminds me of the eagles in the Lord of the Rings; being able to fly really does have its perks.
Whatcha gonna do, Annie baby, when you find out your beloved has been imprisoned by a monster that shoved its tongue down his throat?
Can’t wait for some Annie action, and by that I mean combat fighting, not shoving things down Armin’s throat (though dirty-minded me is up for that as well, after everything’s been resolved, of course!).
Where Are My Other Babies?
No Eren, no Historia in this chapter, how utterly disappointing. But at least we got to see Annie, Gabi and flying Falco, and learned that Zeke, and probably Eren, are not inside their respective titans. Where are they? I’d like to think that Eren is with Historia as she gives birth, but that’s just my improbable fantasy.
I’m still certain Armin will think of something that will solve everything, so I’m not worried. Levi is right, as usual: Armin was captured but not killed, when it would have been so easy for Eren to do the latter. It means Eren isn’t blindly eliminating whoever tries to get in his way. It means he still has a conscience and he’s still hopeful someone will come up with something better than what he’s currently doing.
This chapter left me feeling greatly relieved: thank the manga gods Jean & Co aren’t dead yet. That will kill me, and I don’t want to die just yet.
My biggest takeaway from this chapter is that, regardless of the number of years that go by, the main characters remain essentially the same. Mikasa is still unquestioningly forgiving and protective of Eren no matter how extreme he gets, Armin is still feeling inferior to Erwin but hesitates in making the big sacrifice and gets in a bind because of his inability to act quickly, Levi is still getting that leg of his injured while saving a 104th soldier, and so on. It’s as if the Marleyan warriors are changing, but the core islanders remain the same. They’re going full circle, but not in a positive way. There really is little hope left. Or is there?
In the very last panel, we get this little spark of hope. See the final words on the lower right hand side, the one giving us a glimpse of what’s ahead in the coming chapter? It says:
「前を向く。未来は後ろに無いのだらか。Mae wo muku. Mirai wa ushiro ni nai no dakara.」 “Look forward, because the future doesn’t lie in the past.”Excerpt from Chapter 135 of the manga “Shingeki no Kyojin” ⒸHajime Isayama/Kodansha Comics.
Look ahead, because the future lies in front of you and not behind you. That’s the parting message we get from this chapter, and it’s full of hope. I’d like to believe it means a better future for everyone, not just the people on the island.
Another chapter lacking in flashbacks or long conversations, but there’s plenty of action. Looking forward to this chapter being animated!
Thank you so much for reading! What did you think of this chapter? Please take a moment to share a thought or two in the comment section below. xoxo, hana
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