Man, Hajime Isayama sure does like pulling on our heart strings doesn’t he?
Long before Chapter 132 of Attack on Titan, “Wings of Freedom”, came out, I was pretty sure I knew what was going to happen.
What with all the Happy Birthday wishes for Hange and talks of there being two major character deaths this chapter, I was almost certain that the eccentric 14th Commander of the Survey Corps was not going to make it out alive.
Sure enough, Chapter 132 delivered one of the emotional character deaths of the series with Hange Zoe sacrificing herself so that the alliance could escape to confront Eren and try to stop the Rumbling.
For a chapter that ends in tragedy though, much of “Wings of Freedom” is actually light hearted, with a lot of character growth and great jokes being showcased as the plane is being prepared for take off in Odiha.
The best of these jokes came when Mikasa realized that Annie has a crush on Armin.
Her face when she realized this was absolutely priceless and reminded me a lot of the surprised Pikachu face meme.
Two interesting points for the story to explore also come out of this interaction.
The first of these is Mikasa telling Annie that she has the scarf Eren gave her but that she doesn’t want to wear it right now.
This line, along with Louise revealing in Chapter 126 that Eren told her to get rid of the scarf, seems to be foreshadowing a big plot development surrounding Mikasa and Eren’s connection with that scarf.
Knowing Isayama though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this storyline end tragically.
The second interesting point that comes out of Mikasa and Annie’s conversation is that Armin didn’t actually convince Annie to come with them, like I thought he would, and Annie still plans on staying behind.
In fact, it’s not just her, but Gabi, Falco, Yelena and Kiyomi are also not coming.
Now, while these characters staying behind for the final battle does make sense, with Annie not wanting to fight anymore, Gabi and Falco being children, Yelena being injured, and Kiyomi not having the skills, I still think there is a lot of missed potential in leaving them out.
For example, Is Yelena really never going to have a conclusion to her relationship with Zeke?
However, I will not fault “Wings of Freedom” for this because, although I would be disappointed if Isayama left these characters out of the final battle, that hasn’t happened yet so I can’t criticize the chapter for it right now.
Hopefully, Isayama will find a way to give each of these characters a chance to shine before the story ends.
Following Annie’s interaction with Mikasa, we get a set of goodbye’s from her.
There is a heart warming scene where she says goodbye to Reiner and Pieck and Reiner apologizes to her for making her and Bertholdt go along with the mission to attack Paradis, before they embrace.
Afterwards, we see Annie waving goodbye to the Scouts, accompanied by a couple of panels of her looking sadly at Armin before departing.
Well, if that’s not a death flag for Annie or Armin then I don’t know what is.
Honestly, though, there are so many things that could constitute as death flags in this chapter, from Pieck saying she has to pay back her dead comrades, to Reiner entrusting Annie with Gabi and Falco’s safety, to Hange asking Levi if he thinks their dead comrades are watching them.
Sadly, the death flag about Hange was entirely valid this chapter.
I was worried about her dying since she saw her dead comrades in Chapter 127, just like Erwin did before he died, and my fears were finally realized this chapter.
However, Hange is not the first big death in Chapter 132.
No, that death goes to Floch as, surprising no one, he managed to latch onto the ship like a cockroach and makes his last stand, damaging the ship before he is taken out by Mikasa.
I will say that I do have mixed feelings about Floch’s death here.
On the one hand, his final words show that he really did care about protecting his people, even though he took it way too far by devolving into Nationalism, and his death does have an impact, leading to Hange having to sacrifice herself.
On the other hand, I’m not sure if Mikasa was the right choice for the one to kill Floch.
Sure, she is certainly a better choice than Gabi, but I think it would have been better for a character who had more build up with him like Jean or Hange to do the deed.
Isayama may have been paying off the scene where Mikasa nearly killed Floch when he tried to stop her taking the syringe from Levi, before Hange stopped her, in Chapter 84 but that may be stretching it.
In any case, Floch’s death certainly wasn’t bad, I just think it could have been executed slightly better.
What was perfect though was Hange’s death.
As I said, Floch was the cause of her having to sacrifice herself because he shot holes in the plane’s fuel tank just as the Rumbling arrived, forcing someone to stay behind to kill some of the advancing Wall Titans to give the alliance time to escape.
Hange chooses to do so, taking responsibility for the comrades she had killed and appoints Armin as the 15th Commander of the Survey Corps.
It is then that we get one of the most gut wrenching moments of the chapter as Levi confronts Hange before she departs.
Hange is clearly trying to put on a brave face and, accepting that she has made her choice, Levi puts a fist to her chess and says for the first time, “Devote your heart.”
From here, we get the emotional death of Hange, around her birthday no less, as she courageously fights the Wall Titans, killing at least four of them and giving her allies enough time to escape.
One of her last words is especially fitting, “Titans really are incredible.”
Hange often struggled with being the Commander and even admits in this chapter that she was powerless and couldn’t offer Eren any hope (which was unfortunately mistranslated, making it seem liked she was throwing Eren under the bus).
Yet, in her final moments, Hange was her true Titan loving self, going back to the time when she was most happy, studying her Titans, and saves her comrades lives.
The panel of her on fire, falling to her death, as the 104th look on in tears is not even the most heart breaking thing about Hange’s death.
For me, the saddest thing about it is Levi’s reaction, with him saying he will see Hange later and asking her to watch over them.
Levi is a character who has always kept his emotions on the inside, never allowing himself to cry over his comrades’ deaths and continue with his mission, and yet you can still tell how torn up he is about Hange’s death.
He has now lost all of his old friends, being the last of the old scouts.
A part of me wonders if killing Levi off would be completely sad now because then at least he could be reunited with his comrades, just like Hange was at the end of the chapter.
She wakes up in a Wall Titan’s footprint and is welcomed by Erwin, Hange, Mike, Gelgar, Nanaba, and all of her old Survey Corps friends.
Whether this really is the afterlife or just her hallucinating in her final moments, it is both a gut wrenching and heart warming scene that does Hange’s death justice.
It actually reminded me of (The Promised Neverland Spoilers!) Yugo’s death from from The Promised Neverland.
Now, I’m just afraid that the rest of the characters are going to start dropping like flies, especially since we’re close to the end, with the alliance most likely about to confront Eren at Fort Salta in the next few chapters.
Speaking of, that’s another interesting thing about Chapter 132.
Yelena reveals that Eren is most likely heading to attack Fort Salta, Atlas backwards, and also reveals that the place Eren attacked in Chapter 130 was called Acirfa, Africa backwards.
I guess Isayama really does consider the world of Attack on Titan ours, only flipped upside down, huh?
Overall, Chapter 132, “Wings of Freedom”, was another fantastic chapter of Attack on Titan, despite a few concerns, like some of the characters being left behind, and some issues I had, like with Mikasa being the one to kill Floch.
Far surpassing these slightly iffy moments were were some surprisingly wholesome and funny moments, like Hange asking to ride Pieck’s Cart Titan, and the emotional and fitting send off for Hange, one of the story’s most beloved characters.