Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Volume 1

Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Volume 1Creator: Hikaru Suruga
Original story: Gun Snark

U.S. publisher: Kodansha
ISBN: 9781612629414
Released: June 2014
Original release: 2014

I think it’s probably safe at this point to call Hajime Isayama’s manga series Attack on Titan a worldwide phenomenon. It has spawned successful anime adaptations as well as multiple manga spinoffs, a series of novels, and games, among other media. Most of those have been, or soon will be, released in English, too. When it comes to the side manga, I was especially curious about Attack on Titan: No Regrets because so far it has been the only explicitly shoujo offering to be included as part of the franchise. (I was therefore very happy to receive a review copy.) The short manga series in an adaptation by Hikaru Suruga of a Nitroplus visual novel written by Gun Snark and supervised by Isayama himself. The first volume of No Regrets was released in Japan, and then soon after in English by Kodansha Comics, in 2014. Kodansha’s English-language release also collects the story’s prologue chapter, which was included as part of Japan’s special edition of Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Volume 1.

Behind Wall Sheena lies the royal capital and the surrounding city where those who are lucky enough are able to live in luxury. But below it all is the Underground, where outcasts and criminals live in slum-like conditions. It’s there that Levi and his two comrades Isabel and Furlan call home, but they swear to one another that one day they will leave their criminal pasts and the Underground behind and live up above. Their chance comes in the form of Erwin, a young, talented, and devoted Survey Corps squad leader. Levi’s exceptional vertical maneuvering skills have caught Erwin’s attention and after some effort he has caught Levi as well. Erwin offers Levi and his crew a choice: join the Survey Corps themselves, lending their natural strengths to humanity’s fight against the Titans, or submit to the Military Police to answer for their many crimes. The decision isn’t a difficult one to make, but being forced to join the Survey Corps against their will doesn’t sit at all well with Levi; he plans to have his revenge against Erwin.

Arguably, Erwin and Levi are two of Attack on Titan‘s most beloved characters. (Not to mention one of the pairings that I’ve most frequently seen shipped.) There’s a certain intensity to their relationship in the original series—it’s obvious that they share a history and a past with each other—which means exploring their origins and how that bond developed in No Regrets makes a good deal of sense. Personally, I’ve always found Levi and Erwin to be particularly interesting characters, making No Regrets a welcome addition to the Attack on Titan canon. In the first volume of No Regrets their relationship is a volatile and antagonistic one. It’s an extremely important element of the series, but the manga also explores who they are as individuals, which is just as crucial. Each in their own way, both Levi and Erwin are intimidating and formidable men. Erwin may actually be the more terrifying of the two—he’s cool, calm, collected, and incredibly calculating—but Levi’s more obvious aggressiveness and propensity towards violence also leaves an impression.

In addition to focusing on Erwin and Levi, No Regrets features cameos from a few of the other key players from the original Attack on Titan and also introduces new characters, most notably Furlan and Isabel. Granted, seeing as this is still Attack on Titan and that No Regrets already has a considerable death count, there’s certainly no guarantee of their survival. All of the main characters in No Regrets, and to some extent the series’ side and background characters as well, have very distinct personalities which are exhibited through their facial expressions, body language, and individual manners of speech. Suruga’s artwork in No Regrets takes its cues from Isayama’s original series but in general is much cleaner and consistent. Story-wise, the series exhibits an excellent balance between political intrigue and action, including fantastically dynamic vertical maneuvering sequences. For the most part No Regrets stands fairly well on its own, although those familiar with Attack on Titan will get the most out of it. I quite enjoyed the first volume of No Regrets and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

Thank you to Kodansha for providing a copy of Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Volume 1 for review.

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