Another month, another incredible Attack on Titan chapter.
Chapter 134, “In the Depths of Despair” sees the final battle of the story between Eren and the Alliance finally commence.
It’s funny to think that I thought the final battle was beginning all the way back in Chapter 116, which was more than a year ago.
How far the manga has come since then, with admittedly less than stellar chapters like Chapter 126, but mostly incredible ones like chapters 119, 121, 122, 123, 130, 131, and 132.
Well, now I am happy to say that “In the Depths of Despair” is the same quality as these fantastic chapters, delivering plenty of epic moments.
More than that though, the chapter lives up to its name, displaying quite a bit of despair, most of it in regards to children.
This is made clear right from the beginning of “In the Depths of Despair”, where Historia is shown to be giving birth, right as the worldwide genocide of the Rumbling is happening.
Talk about bad timing.
In all seriousness, Historia giving birth now does raise a lot of questions because Levi said there was still a few months before the baby’s arrival and, canonically, this was five days ago.
Levi being wrong here could be a mistake by writer Hajime Isayama or it could be a purposeful detail put in by him, which could have interesting implications for the pregnancy subplot.
I will be discussing this in my predictions post for Chapter 135.
In any case, Historia’s soon-to-be-born baby is not the only child we see in this chapter because we also get a lot of spotlight on other children suffering due to Eren’s Rumbling.
There’s the children aboard the train with the Eldians from Liberio who find that all the airships have left, meaning they cannot escape the Rumbling and will likely be crushed if Eren is not stopped.
Most chilling of all is a baby seen among a fleeing crowd of thousands, stuck between the Rumbling and a cliff.
The people among this crowd are left with the choice of either death by being crushed or death by falling and probably drowning in the sea.
Following this disturbing reveal of their choice in fate, we see a case of unsettling attention to detail by Isayama as a woman among the countless number of people facing their imminent deaths looks a lot like the pregnant woman who Eren saw in Chapter 130.
When Eren looked at her then, it caused him to wonder what his mother would think.
Well, now Eren seems to have pushed such thoughts aside because this pregnant woman has given birth since he saw them, and now Eren is condemning the both of them to their deaths.
In a most likely futile but no less touching attempt to save her child, the woman throws her baby into the crowd as she falls off the cliff.
The baby is catched by another woman and, in a beautifully haunting panel that is now probably my favourite of the entire manga, the countless citizens, doomed to die in the Rumbling, reach out to protect this child against the inevitable, incoming death.
It is the children who truly suffer the most in this chapter, with Historia’s baby being born at the beginning potentially foreshadowing the new life for Paradis children while, in the rest of the world, millions of children are ruthlessly slaughtered in Eren’s genocide.
Children being the biggest victims here is also astutely pointed out by the leading general at Fort Salta who, I just want to say, really grabbed me this chapter, despite us not knowing his name or backstory.
Some say that his speech to his fellow soldiers was forced and contrived but I really disagree with this.
In all honesty, I found it to be one of the most beautiful speeches of the entire story that ties into the themes incredibly well.
This can be seen through his realization of how the hate they gave has now been returned to them through the devil that is Eren and now the ones who will pay the most for this adult hubris is the children.
The profoundness of this speech even causes Karina to come to a realization of how she used Reiner, making her break down and declare how she was never a good mother to him, with Annie’s father saying he was the same way with his daughter.
Her breakdown made it all the more epic when Reiner transformed at the end to fight Zeke’s Beast Titan, which Eren appears to be controlling through the Warhammer Titan.
There were a lot of predictions about how Eren would take out the airships heading for him at the end of the last chapter.
I guessed that he would use the Warhammer Titan to create spears for the Wall Titans to throw at the airships like javelins.
However, nobody predicted that Eren would use Zeke to do it.
It just goes to show how unpredictable Isayama can be with his story.
Now that Zeke is back, it looks like Levi is completely ready to take him on, so it will be interesting to see how their longstanding rivalry ends.
The true star of this chapter for me though was surprisingly not Eren, Levi or the unnamed, bearded general who gave the brilliant speech, but Onyankopon.
Seriously, the guy did an incredible job avoiding the debris sent flying at them by a controlled Zeke.
Onyankopon refused to bail out with the Alliance, instead flying them as close as he could to Eren so they could have the best shot at beating him, planning to make an emergency landing once they had jumped out of the plane.
I just hope he can survive now, since he has served his purpose in the story of delivering the Alliance to the final battle.
Speaking of, we finally know what the final audio that was displayed at Attack on Titan’s final exhibition was all about.
Seeing Armin jump out of the plane and yell out, “Eren!”, just like he did in that audio, gave me goosebumps.
The chapter then ends with the Alliance fighters landing on Eren, and Armin stating that he plans to ask Eren how he is free once he rips him from his Titan.
This is a triumphant ending to “In the Depths of Despair”, which, in all likelihood, will not remain very triumphant as the endgame plays out.
This is the final battle and I, for one, fear that a lot of main characters deaths and a lot of heartbreak will come as the story concludes.
Overall, Chapter 134 is another incredible chapter of Attack on Titan.
The first half is full of despair, with the suffering of children being put on full display, while the second half is an epic and triumphant beginning to the final battle than will, sadly, most likely end in tragedy.
It looks like we only have one more volume left of Attack on Titan, with the story potentially ending at Chapter 138 or 139, and I am prepared to be emotionally destroyed by it.