Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Volume 2

Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Volume 2Creator: Hikaru Suruga
Original story: Gun Snark

U.S. publisher: Kodansha
ISBN: 9781612629438
Released: October 2014
Original release: 2014

Attack on Titan: No Regrets, Volume 2 is the final volume of Hikaru Suruga’s manga adaptation of the A Choice with No Regrets visual novel written by Gun Snark. No Regrets is one of the many spinoffs and adaptations of Hajime Isayama’s immensely popular Attack on Titan manga series. It focuses on the backstory of one of Attack on Titan‘s most beloved characters, Levi, and how he became an exceptionally skilled and valued member of the Survey Corps. The second volume of the No Regrets manga was originally released in Japan in 2014, as was Kodansha Comics’ English-language edition. The volume also includes two short, largely comedic, No Regrets side stories as well as a special interview between Isayama and Suruga discussing the story and characters of the Attack on Titan franchise. I rather enjoyed the first volume of No Regrets and so was looking forward to reading the conclusion of the series.

At one point they were considered to be some of the most notorious criminals in the Underground, but now Levi, Isabel, and Furlan have been coerced into joining the Survey Corps, which may very well be a death sentence. Initially they weren’t well-liked by their fellow soldiers, and the three of them weren’t particularly happy with their situation, either. But during their first expedition outside of the walls, Levi and his crew leave quite an impression by handily dispatching an abnormal Titan with seeming ease. Levi and the others still don’t fit in with the rest of the Survey Corps members, but at least their remarkable skills, especially Levi’s, are recognized and admired. The extra attention they receive after defeating the Titan isn’t exactly welcome, though—Furlan is trying to coordinate a covert mission that will either lead to the three criminals’ ultimate freedom or to their deaths. They have been hired by a high-ranking political figure to steal back incriminating documents from Erwin, one of the Survey Corps’ most promising young leaders, and to end his life in the process.

What I particularly liked about the first volume of No Regrets was that it expanded the setting of Attack on Titan in addition to providing valuable background information about Levi, Erwin, and their relationship to each other. Sadly, the second volume doesn’t add much more that is new; I felt like I had already seen many of the scenes play out before and it was very clear how some of the events were going to end. The second volume of No Regrets spends a fair amount of time explaining the long-distance scouting formation, for example. While it’s noteworthy that No Regrets shows the first time that the maneuver is ever attempted, anyone familiar with Attack on Titan should already be quite aware of how the formation functions and its importance. Likewise, as is to be expected, encounters with Titans never tend to go well. Because in many ways No Regrets serves as a prequel to Attack on Titan, the deaths of major characters in the series are not at all surprising and lose some of their impact as a result.

More than anyone else’s, No Regrets is Levi’s story, but Erwin plays a pivotal role in it as well. Both of the men are exceptionally charismatic leaders, although Erwin is the only one of the two who actually seeks that role. Levi doesn’t want to be responsible for the lives of others while Erwin is willing to shoulder the weight of the sacrifices made in the fight against the Titans. He is extremely intelligent and talented and able to make tough decision. Even at the cost of individual lives, Erwin voluntarily employs dubious methods if he believes that the results will increase the odds of humanity’s survival. His almost fanatical drive and obsession contrasts sharply with Levi’s more reserved and internally focused nature. As is known will happen, eventually Erwin wins Levi over to his cause and gives him a firm direction and purpose, but this foregone conclusion does seem to occur rather abruptly. Still, the exploration of Levi and Erwin’s respective personalities and motivations in No Regrets is probably what the series does best and is what the manga brings to Attack on Titan as a whole.

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.