Last month, Hajime Isayama delivered an Attack on Titan chapter that had the potential to be in my top ten best.
This month, he did it again with Chapter 131, “Rumbling”, which easily goes down as the manga’s darkest chapter by an extremely wide margin.
The majority of “Rumbling” consists of the consequences of Eren’s genocide, resulting in many brutal deaths.
Without a doubt, the most horrific of these deaths are those of Ramzi and his brother Halil.
Ramzi is the boy from Chapter 123, who partied with the Survey Corps when they first came to Marley, and “Rumbling” opens with him showing Halil where he hides the money he has pickpocketed to help their family survive.
Here, we get a tragic showcase of how cruel their lives are, as Ramzi not only reveals that many of their people die during the winter because of the lack of shelter, but is also shown to have had his right hand cut off for stealing.
Not all is lost in Ramzi’s mind though, because he has hope that the money he steals will be enough to get his family out of poverty and give them all a happy life.
A sadly naive dream to be sure but one that is incredibly sympathetic, made all the worse by the arrival of the Rumbling.
With this genocide, both Ramzi’s family, life and dreams are crushed under the massive feet of the Colossal Titans.
Watching Ramzi and Halil desperately run for their lives, only for Halil to turn back for the money, and then be crushed by debris was absolutely horrifying.
This is made even worse to read when it is shown Ramzi survived the falling debris, only to see that his brother’s head has been smashed in and that he is still clutching the money that held all of their hopes.
We then get to see Ramzi slowly being crushed under the foot of a Wall Titan in agonizing detail that is difficult to stomach, let alone read.
Just as horrifying is the panels of the many other innocent people who are murdered in Eren’s genocide.
In one particular heart breaking panel, we see multiple reactions from different people.
Some bang on a door trying to escape their deaths, one breaks off to try and flee in another direction, a mother holds her child close, and a man holding his bags looks up towards their oncoming deaths and just seems to accept his fate.
What makes this situation even more tragic is Eren’s perspective.
It is interlaced with Ramzi’s point of view, and reveals that the hidden memory shard of him from Eren’s memory was not from after Eren left to hide in Marley but rather before.
After leaving the meeting where the person calling for Eldian rights damned the people of Paradis, Eren walked the streets, contemplating his future actions, when he came across Ramzi being attacked.
After some hesitation, wondering why he should save him if he’s going to kill him later, Eren gives in to his conscience and rescues the boy before tearfully telling him he is sorry for what he will do in the future, even if Ramzi does not understand.
This heartbreaking moment makes for a chilling contrast to Eren’s perspective while he is committing the Rumbling.
Here, he admits that when he found out people were outside the walls he was disappointed.
This reveals some selfish motivations behind the Rumbling that make Eren a much darker character than first thought.
Even creepier is the double page spread where Eren is in child form and cries out happily that, “this is freedom.”
This panel is easily one of the best in the entire manga because of how chilling it is.
What makes it darker is that if someone saw this image without context they would think it was wholesome moment and not the horrifying panel that it is.
The following images of more people succumbing to Eren’s genocide in between this horrific panel is gut wrenching.
This all combines to make the Rumbling feel like the Third Impact from The End of Evangelion.
There’s even a moment that seems to be directly inspired by that film because, when Ramzi is being crushed, he sees Ymir, just like all the people who died during the Third Impact saw Rei.
What this means is anyone’s guess but it sure will be interesting to find out.
However, although most of this chapter is horror and despair, there is actually a surprisingly wholesome moment, made even more surprising that it is a ship scene.
But not Eremika or Erehisu, no, this time it is Aruani, Armin and Annie.
Isayama pretty much confirmed that Armin has a crush on Annie and highly implied that Annie returned some of those feelings.
It was a happy moment that brought some levity to an otherwise horrifying chapter.
Armin also admitting that, like Annie, he is a monster too was great for his character, and the moment where a child Eren talks to him in Paths makes me think he is going to have a big role to play soon, which I am excited for.
However, I am also scared as well because Armin and Annie seeming to have a romantic connection now spells out massive death flags for Annie.
Well, at least I’m sure she won’t die until the final confrontation with Eren.
Speaking of, the last panel of the chapter shows Eren, who is seemingly sleeping in his monstrous Titan form.
Only thing is that his head appears to be attached to his body by his exposed spine.
Such a grizzly sight makes me wonder if Eren can even heal from this once he finishes.
Either way though, it will be interesting to see how Attack on Titan finally ends, especially with Eren’s genocide now in full swing.
“Rumbling” is another top ten Attack on Titan chapter with grizzly images that are horrifying but ones that we needed to see to understand the consequences of Eren’s actions.