Chapter 91: The Other Side of the Ocean.
Volume 23 takes Attack on Titan in a brand new direction, kicking off with chapter 91, which picks up four years after the battle of Shiganshina.
I had been spoiled that there would be this time skip but even I was surprised by it because I thought the story would pick up with Eren and the others but it does not.
Instead, the story focuses on Reiner, Zeke and a bunch of brand new characters who are on the opposing side to our protagonists.
From what I have read so far, this seems like an interesting way to explore the other side’s perspective but, depending on how long our main characters stay out of the story, this could be a problem.
Still, it seems to be off to a good start because this chapter delivers some already intriguing characters.
One who quickly caught my attention was Gabi, Reiner’s cousin, who actually reminds me a lot of Eren from the first few chapters of the manga.
She wants to defeat all of those against them without knowing the bigger picture just like Eren and I think it will be interesting to see how she could potentially grow from this.
Chapter 91 also provides other interesting characters like Falco, Colt and Magath.
We also get name drops for two of the Titans we have seen before the Cart Titan and Jaw Titan.
The Cart Titan is the one who helped Zeke during the Shiganshina arc and the Jaw Titan is actually Ymir’s one, although controlled by a different user now, which we will get to later.
We get a look at the new Jaw Titan in this chapter and, I have to say, it has a very cool design.
I am a little confused though as to why it looks completely different from when Ymir had the power.
Is it because they gave the controller a new power like Eren got in the Uprising Arc?
Whatever the case, I still like the design choice.
However, what I did not like about this chapter was the exposition.
Hajime Isayama is usually great at delivering it but in this chapter the way he explains the four year time skip feels very unnatural and more like the characters were filling in the reader, rather than each other.
Still, this is a promising start and I am interested in these new characters we have been given.
Chapter 92: Marley’s Soldiers.
The second chapter of Volume 23, “Marley’s Soldiers” is primarily an action one and, as a result, there is not that much to talk about.
It is still an entertaining chapter though that will look great when season four gets animated, whenever that will be.
We got a better look at the Jaw Titan in action and the Cart Titan arrived as well with operated machine guns on its back.
I like this idea a lot because it shows just how far technology has come in the time skip.
Another thing that showed this was how Reiner is so easily defeated by human weaponry when he jumps in front of Zeke to shield him from battleship fire.
All of this new technology on display shows why the Marleyans are so eager to get the Founding Titan back, because this technology is quickly surpassing them and they need the Founding Titan to stop this.
Along with the action in this chapter, we also get a small amount of character development for Reiner and a first hint at a major reveal.
Reiner flashing back to his time behind the walls and then stating that “walls disgust me” shows just how much his time on Paradis affected him.
Then the best moment of the chapter came when Zeke turns a whole bunch of comatose people into Titans just by screaming.
This explains why all those Titans suddenly appeared at the beginning of the Shiganshina arc.
Overall, Chapter 92 was another good one that added small bits of character growth and a hint at a huge reveal to go along with the exciting action.
Chapter 93: Midnight Train.
Even though I will admit Chapter 93, “Midnight Train” is a good chapter, when I was reading it I was absolutely infuriated.
The reason for this was because we got the death of Ymir in this chapter and it is the worst death of the entire series by a wide margin.
It is revealed that when Ymir went with Reiner and Bertholdt she was eaten by the brother of the Shifter she ate, Porco Galliard, who became the new Jaw Titan.
Personally, I think killing Ymir at this point was a huge mistake.
There are still things we do not know about her, like what the language she read at Utgard Castle was.
Also, Ymir is probably the character most connected to the first Titan Shifter, Ymir Fritz, because she pretended to be her reincarnation.
This gave her a lot of potential to reveal some game changing stuff and now that potential is gone.
This is not why I was angered though.
The real reason for this is because she dies off screen.
All we get is Galliard saying he inherited her power and a still image of Ymir chained up, about to be eaten by him.
That is it.
Isayama is amazing at giving even the most minor of characters amazing deaths but he did not even bother with Ymir and, as a fan of her character, this felt like a huge slap in the face.
The rest of the chapter is admittedly good, with numerous interesting reveals like the one where it is revealed it is Zeke’s royal blood that allows him to control the Titans he transforms.
We also got to officially meet Galliard and the controller of the Cart Titan, Pieck, for the first time.
Then there is Reiner, whose PTSD is treated brilliantly and it all concludes with a fantastic ending where Reiner aims to protect Gabi by urging Falco to inherit the Armoured Titan.
This was all great stuff and redeemed the chapter.
However, even though this was good, the main takeaway of this this chapter for me is still the absolutely terrible death Ymir was given.
I hope they fix this in the anime by giving her an actual death scene.
Chapter 94: The Boy Inside the Walls.
Attack on Titan finally started to give us the backstory of Reiner Braun in this chapter and I was honestly surprised by it.
Seeing Reiner at the beginning of the manga I thought he was always a qualified leader. However, after seeing his backstory, this is clearly not the case.
In this chapter Reiner is actually revealed to have initially been the weakest of the Warriors, with various other recruits, like Galliard, calling him useless.
Seeing this hopeless side to Reiner was great because it adds further complexities to him and, just like with Gabi in Chapter 91, reminds me a lot of Eren.
Both had big goals as children, Eren wanting to explore the outside world and Reiner wanting to save it, but they did not know the full story.
This is perfectly shown with the amazing end to the chapter, which sees Reiner training to be a warrior who will attack the walls before transitioning to a bored Eren inside the walls wondering when something interesting will happen.
It is stuff like this that makes me eager to see Eren and Reiner reunite, hopefully sometime soon.
In this flashback we also got a look at Bertholdt and Annie again, which is good for some nostalgia as Bertholdt died in the Shiganshina arc and Annie is… well, who knows?
Along with this, we finally got to see the infamous “home town” Reiner and Bertholdt kept mentioning, which is an internment zone for Eldians reminiscent of Jewish internment camps in World War Two.
It is here we see to the fullest extent how successfully the Marleyans have brainwashed the Eldians into believing those on Paradis are devils.
It was very disheartening to see these people brainwashed into believing they are right to be persecuted.
This is shown not only through how everyone at Reiner’s dinner table talk about those on Paradis but also with how Reiner talks about them.
It was honestly kind of funny but also sad to see Reiner warping innocent things he saw on Paradis, like Sasha stealing a potato, into something monstrous.
“The Boy Behind the Walls” was a great way to end the volume and makes me hope we get more of Reiner’s backstory soon.