That is how long Annie had been in her crystal prison; even longer than it took to reveal the basement.
Well, after reading Chapter 124 of Attack on Titan, “Melting Away,” the first thought I had was FINALLY!
This is because Annie at long last emerged from her crystal at the end of the chapter, due to Eren using his Founding Titan abilities to remove all of the Titans’ ability to harden, including Reiner’s.
The build up to Annie’s return, with the chapter starting with her father hearing Eren’s speech about his plan, and then ending with Armin realizing she is free before cutting to her, is masterfully done.
I was spoiled about this reveal about an hour before I read “Melting Away” but her return is so well written that I still cheered.
I just hope that Isayama can make me care about her more before the story ends.
Whether he does so or not depends on the role Annie has to play.
However, considering her role also brings in the question of how long the manga has?
I have been predicting for a while that Attack on Titan will end at Chapter 130 but, after Chapter 124, I am having serious doubts about this.
I am now thinking a more suitable number is 134 chapters, which would mean there are 10 chapters left.
The reason I am starting to think this is because of how Annie and other subplots that appear in this chapter seem to be hinting at a longer finale.
A prime example of this is the Connie subplot that was just put into motion.
After Falco ate Porco and inherited the Jaw Titan, Connie and Jean kidnap him, with Jean planning to feed him to one of the Titans Zeke transformed, seriously considering Pyxis.
However, Connie wants to take Falco to Ragako to feed him to his mother so she can become human again.
Armin is against this because that would cause further conflict between Reiner and the Warriors when the world is destroyed; however, before anything can be done, Titans interrupt and Connie runs off with Falco.
So, now Connie is on his way to Ragako to save his mother by feeding her Falco, creating a brand new subplot.
With new storylines like this being brought in, it seems unlikely that the manga will be able to successfully wrap up at Chapter 130, which is why I am thinking Chapter 134 is more likely now.
Back to the actual story, I am glad Connie is getting some development now because I have always thought it was a little strange that he rarely brought up his family when they started working with Zeke, since he’s the one who turned them all into Titans.
I am also interested to see where this subplot could go.
Along with Connie, another standout character is Gabi, who goes through more development by saving Kaya from a Titanized Nile in an epic scene that left me cheering.
The following panel where Kaya hallucinates Gabi as Sasha is also perfectly touching.
I have seen a lot of people complaining that Gabi is stealing the spotlight from more beloved characters, like Mikasa, but I honestly don’t see this.
Mikasa got a lot of development last chapter, and even in this one where Gabi was a key character she shared the spotlight with multiple characters who also developed well.
Probably my favourite of these character developments is Keith Shadis, when he saves the recruits who beat him up and then leads them in the fight against the Titans.
More like Keith, No Longer A Bystander, Chadis!
Sadly, this battle does result in the loss of Dot Pyxis, whose Titan is mercy killed by Armin after being thanked for guiding them all these years.
Both his and Nile’s Titans are killed this chapter, bringing a sad end to these great side characters.
Along with Pyxis’ emotional death, another reason I enjoyed the scene where Keith, Mikasa, Armin, Jean and the other soldiers fight off the Titans is because it is eerily reminiscent of the battle at headquarters during the Trost Arc.
Hajime Isayama has been putting in a lot of parallels to prior arcs in this final one, with Chapter 117 being another prime example by paralleling the Return to Shiganshina Arc.
Such parallels can also be seen in character growths like Niccolo saying they have to leave the forest, referencing Mr Braus’ speech in Chapter 111, and Gabi putting her hair up while looking in a mirror, just like Eren does in Chapter 106.
That last parallel has me wondering if this moment is just a callback or foreshadowing for something more?
Whatever it is, I will say that “Melting Away” is a far calmer chapter than I expected it to be.
Before the Annie reveal, the final moments of the chapter sees the characters resting at headquarters while they all try to deal with the impact Eren’s Rumbling will have.
This leads to Floch turning up, to many a fan’s dismay, and arresting Yelena and the the rest of the Volunteers.
Such an act has me scared that Floch may try to execute them to make Eldians the last remaining race after the Rumbling is completed.
I certainly would not put it past him.
But the real question is definitely if Attack on Titan has been in The Breaking Bad universe this whole time as the Saul Goodman Titan seems to suggest?
Jokes aside, there are also a lot of great visuals in the chapter, like when Mikasa cuts down a Titan right outside the window that Yelena and Onyankopon are looking out of. Another example of this is the individual shots of the 104th Cadets as they take in the fact that Eren is planning to destroy the world to protect them.
As for criticisms, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Jean apparently wanting to feed Falco to Pyxis.
I understand why he would want to save Pyxis, but it was shown that Jean did not want to kill Falco in Chapter 104 so this feels slightly out of character for him.
But the prior moment where he talks about how the Rumbling may be the best thing, as if he is trying to convince himself that it is but not succeeding, makes up for it slightly.
Overall, I would consider “Melting Away” to be on the same level as the previous chapter, “Island Devils.”
It has great character growth with a lot of amazing action, accompanied by epic visuals.
It will be interesting to see how the manga ends, whether that ending comes at Chapter 130, 134, or perhaps slightly longer than that.