After Chapter 124 of Attack on Titan, I was interested to see how Hajime Isayama would use Annie in the story but was slightly skeptical that he could make me care for her after she was gone for so long.
Well, he just proved me wrong again because Chapter 125, “After Glow” provided more insight into Annie’s past, putting her relationship with her father in an entirely new light.
As I expected, Annie encounters Hitch who, after some persuasion and threats, agrees to take Annie to the battlefield.
Along the way, Annie answers Hitch’s question about why she killed so many people to achieve her goal.
Annie reveals that, like Reiner, she is the offspring of an affair between an Eldian and a Marleyan, which resulted in her being cast aside.
The man we previously thought was Annie’s father adopted her in order to force her to become a warrior so he could become an honorary Marleyan.
Having never known love, Annie viewed all life as meaningless, including her own, until the day of her departure.
Realizing he was wrong and that he sees Annie as his daughter, Mr Leonhart breaks down and begs Annie to come home to him.
This being the only love Annie has experienced causes her to focus on returning to him to such an extent that she is willing to kill hundreds if not thousands to do it.
She says she would do all the terrible things she’s done again if it helps her get back to her father.
All of this information really helped me understand Annie a lot more than I had previously, and painted her in a flawed yet very relatable light.
However, as Hitch points out, if the Rumbling succeeds then Annie’s father will be killed.
Speaking of, the chapter then cuts to Mr Leonhart himself in Liberio where he and the other Eldians try to convince their Marleyan guards that the Rumbling has been activated.
However, because of their racism, the Marleyans believe this may be the start of an uprising so place them all under arrest.
Remembering Annie’s promise to come home, Mr Leonhart fights back using his martial skills and looks to be setting the uprising that the Marleyan guards feared happening into motion.
It will be interesting to see if such an uprising has any effect, especially considering Eren’s plan to destroy the world.
A part of me is now wondering if Eren broadcast his message to all Eldians to start these uprisings across the world.
Unfortunately, Paradis looks prime for uprisings as well, or at least a civil war.
At the beginning of “After Glow”, Eren releasing the wall Titans is revealed to have accidentally killed probably hundreds of people from falling rubble.
This has caused quite the divide in Stohess, with some commending Eren and some condemning him.
All of this infighting can lead to nothing good, with a part of me wondering if this will tie into a bittersweet ending for the manga.
Eren could succeed in destroying the world, ending hatred for Eldians, but a new cycle of violence begins between those who worship him and those who despise him.
Either way, it is pretty chilling to see Erwin’s heroic catchphrase of “dedicate your hearts” being turned into a cult-like chant.
And then there is Keith, who tells the recruits who are now on his side to wait for their chance to make a stand, preparing them for their own uprising when the chance comes.
Along with this, Keith’s scene also shows how great this chapter is at transitioning, with every scene being connected somewhat.
When Annie talks of her father the scene cuts to him, when Mr Leonhart attacks the Marleyan guard and a shot is fired the scene cuts to Keith hearing a gunshot, and when Keith stands up the scene cuts to Armin sitting down.
During this moment, we get what is definitely the most intense scene between Armin and Mikasa in the manga.
Armin is at his breaking point and Mikasa feels lost, asking what she should do and what they are going to do about Eren.
Frustrated at this, Armin tells Mikasa to think for herself, yells at her that they don’t have time to focus on Eren, and finally reflects that Erwin should have been revived instead of him.
Armin saying this pretty much foreshadows that he will eventually prove he was the right choice and I can’t wait to see how he will prove this.
As for Mikasa, her character development in this final arc is the best she has had so far.
I’ve always liked Mikasa but there have been a lot of missed opportunities with her character, especially in the Uprising Arc.
So, her developing by slowly becoming more independent and moving away from Eren is great.
At the end of the scene she even notices her scarf is gone, which was probably taken by Louise and will come up again later.
We then get probably the funniest part of the chapter when Gabi says her goodbyes to the Braus family, before she and Armin go to rescue Falco.
Kaya tells Gabi that her name is strange and Mia is better causing Gabi to comedically exclaim, before the two embrace as a goodbye.
Now, a lot of people appear to be criticizing Armin for trying to help Gabi save Falco but I think it makes perfect sense because it is the best way to get the warriors on their side and end the conflict on Paradis.
If Connie kills Falco then they can kiss their chance at peace goodbye.
Connie only cares about bringing his mum back, though, which is understandable.
Still we can see from the look on his face as he takes Falco to Ragako that he is conflicted but the memories of his mother strengthens his resolve.
Although, it is pretty weird that Falco is not tied up in this scene.
He was at the end of Chapter 124 and it would be safest for Connie to transport him like that.
Even if Falco does not know he is a Titan Shifter, he will quickly catch on when Connie tries to fed him to his mother and fight back.
Also, Falco does seem a little too trusting of Connie here, taking what he told him at face value immediately.
Did he learn nothing from being manipulated by Eren in Liberio?
On the upside, Falco has no memory of killing his brother when he transformed so him learning this should create some great and tragic character development for him.
Along with this, Falco seems to recognize Connie, even though Connie doesn’t know him.
Now, this could just be Falco recognizing Connie from when he and Gabi got on the airship, but I actually think this is pointing to him getting Ymir’s memories.
And, if my prediction that him and Connie will run into Historia is correct, then this could have a huge impact.
Either way, I highly doubt Connie will succeed in feeding Falco to his mum because Armin and Gabi are on their way to try and talk him out of it.
Just as they will have to stop Connie, it looks like Jean and Mikasa will have to stop Floch as well who reveals he knew Eren’s plan and places all of the volunteers, including Onyankopon and Yelena, under arrest.
I am surprised Floch didn’t just execute them all there because he must know they will cause trouble but, thankfully for whatever reason, he decided to hold off on that, only executing one of the volunteers who fought back.
And what an execution that was because it is one of the goriest deaths in the entire manga.
The bullet from Floch’s gun rearranged the man’s entire face, with his jaw becoming unhinged.
We can see that Floch feels no remorse for killing this nameless volunteer because he then happily tells Jean that they are free and he is now a hero.
Jean actually seems to momentarily be happy about this until he sees the look on Onyankopon’s face and hears Floch say he can go back to being “the arrogant bastard you were.”
Here’s the thing Floch, Jean is definitely not that person anymore and will most likely take a stand against you.
I see Floch as what Jean could have been so a fight between the two seems highly likely.
Let’s just hope Jean doesn’t get himself killed in that fight.
In any case, upon arriving on the scene, Mikasa questions Floch about the whereabouts of Levi and Hange, only for him to say Zeke killed them.
Isayama may as well have inserted the “why are you lying” meme because the end of the chapter proves Floch is a liar.
As Pieck and Magath look at the airships fleeing Paradis to warn the rest of the world of the Rumbling, Hange appears behind them with an injured Levi in tow, calling him “a completely harmless man who failed to die.”
It will be interesting to see what Levi’s role to play in the finale is with how bandaged up he is.
Some have speculated he will be turned into a Shifter but I have already established that that this is the last thing I want to happen.
It would be way more interesting for him to struggle with his injuries.
I do wonder what Hange’s plan in talking to Pieck is, though, and how she plans to convince them to help her out.
She certainly took a big risk by showing herself to them.
I smell a team up between the warriors and scouts coming.
It would be very exciting if this did happen because then we will see many characters interact for the first time.
Overall, “After Glow” is a solid chapter of Attack on Titan.
There is not a lot of action but superb character development that could eventually lead to a plan to take the fight to Eren.