From 2009 to 2021, mangaka Hajime Isayama gifted us with Attack on Titan, delivering a chapter every single month, except for one due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
After all these years of dedication, he brought his series to a close at 139 chapters.
Now, the second half of the final season for The Attack on Titan anime is set to begin airing soon.
To honour this occasion, I decided to give the manga a reread and then do a top ten list ranking my favourite chapters.
And you know what?
I’m glad I decided to do the reread.
I made it clear in my review for the final chapter’s updated version that I do not like Attack on Titan‘s ending, and when it comes to a long running series, the ending is usually the first thing that comes to my mind.
So, in the months since the story ended, I have been left with a feeling of bitterness over how it all concluded.
Giving the story another read really reminded of how incredible of a writer Isayama is.
He delivered so many fantastic chapters that I honestly struggled narrowing them all down to a top ten list.
Naturally, this left me with some honourable mentions, so I will get into those before I begin the list.
The chapters that just missed the cut were Chapters 122, “From You, 2,000 Years Ago”, and 123, “Island Devils”.
I really wanted to put these chapters on the list, but they didn’t get in because of how the ending recontextualized them in negative ways for me.
This was especially the case for Chapter 122, which pained me not to include because it used to be my favourite chapter, before the final one changed my interpretation of “From You, 2,000 Years Ago” so drastically that it shot it right out of my top ten.
With these honourable mentions now listed, here are what I consider to be the top ten best chapters of Attack on Titan, starting with…
10. Chapter 80: Nameless Soldiers.
Beginning with a chapter from the Return to Shiganshina Arc, “Nameless Soldiers” is the chapter that is the culmination of Erwin Smith’s character arc.
Erwin is my favourite character in Attack on Titan and this chapter really exemplifies why.
“Nameless Soldiers” centers around the conclusion for his arc as, stuck between choosing to die for humanity or be selfish and flee to the basement to find out the truth his father sought, Erwin cannot make that decision.
So, in a powerful moment, Levi makes the choice for him, telling his friend to give up on his dream and die for humanity.
And so, Erwin speaks to his recruits, informing them that they will begin a mounted suicide charge against the Beast Titan, distracting their enemy long enough so Levi can kill him.
Erwin told Levi earlier than in order to convince the recruits to take part in this plan, they would need, “the skills of a first-rate conman”, meaning himself.
However, the impassioned words he speaks to the recruits to convince them to ride to their deaths with him rings entirely true, as he speaks of how they give meaning to the lives of their fallen comrades, and whoever follows them will give meaning to theirs.
Thus, in his final moments, Erwin becomes what he always pretended to be: a soldier dedicated to saving humanity, no matter the cost.
And with Erwin’s fall we begin to see the rise of other characters, although some of them in a negative way, like Floch.
His breakdown in this chapter is the perfect prelude for how his trauma will lead to him becoming a dangerous extremist.
There is also the continuation of the fight between Bertholdt and the Scouts of the 104th, the bad situation getting much worse with the reappearance of Reiner.
This serves as a prelude for Armin’s big sacrifice, two chapters from then in “Hero” but we’ll get to that later.
As for “Nameless Soldiers”, it is a fantastic chapter that begins the end of Erwin Smith’s tragic character arc.
9. Chapter 119: Two Brothers.
I read this chapter in public and when I got to the end my jaw was on the floor… I got a lot of strange looks from people.
Chapter 119, “Two Brothers” is one of the chapters I am most excited to see adapted in part two of the final season.
Centering on the battle of Shiganshina the first part of the anime left off on, “Two Brothers” is an action packed chapter with the core theme of the connection between brothers, and the tragedies this connection can recreate.
We see this tragedy replicated through three different sets of brothers.
First, there is Falco and Colt.
Colt storms onto the battlefield, dragging Falco along, begging Zeke not to scream and transform his brother into a Titan.
However, Zeke too has a little brother who he wants to protect: Eren, and so is not deterred, although he does show sympathy.
When Zeke screams Colt could have simply abandoned Falco but he sticks with his brother to the end, holding him close and declaring that he will always be with him, before Falco transforms, killing him.
It is then we get the second brotherly tragedy with Porco and Marcel.
Earlier in the chapter, Porco finally got to see his brother’s memories, learning how Marcel made sure he did not get the Armoured Titan to protect him.
This knowledge, along with seeing Colt give his life for his own brother (and also never giving up the chance to one up Reiner) motivates Porco to sacrifice himself to Falco so he can return as a human.
The deaths of Porco and Falco are quite emotional, which surprised me the first time I read the chapter.
To be honest, I never really cared about either of them before their deaths, but Isayama did such a great job writing their endings that I came to care about the both of them because of this.
It’s not just them either because we also get the Titanization of Pyxis, Nile, Roeg (although who really cares about him?), and hundreds of other soldiers.
And then we get the big cliffhanger of Eren’s head being shot off by Gabi, finishing off the tragic theme of brotherly connection with Zeke’s horrified face at seeing his brother decapitated.
This was the part of the chapter that made my jaw drop and earned me the odd look from the people sitting next to me when I read it.
“Two Brothers” is easily one of Attack on Titan‘s most tragic chapters, with the compelling theme of the bonds of brotherhood ending in disaster.
8. Chapter 82: Hero.
The Return to Shiganshina Arc was a storyline full of sacrificies.
First there was Erwin in Chapter 80, and then Armin in Chapter 82, “Hero.”
This is definitley Armin’s best chapter, with him giving up on his dream to see the ocean for humanity, much like how Erwin gave up on his dream for the same thing, aligning Armin as Erwin’s future successor.
The chapter begins with Armin finishing the explanation of his plan to Eren over panels of Historia, Hitch and other military personel to show what they will lose if they don’t defeat Bertholdt here and now.
Armin tries to reassure Eren by telling him he has never been much of a hero but before Eren can in turn reassure him that this is not true, Bertholdt approaches and they begin to enact their plan… only for it to seemingly fail immediately when Eren falls off the wall.
This leaves Armin to fight Bertholdt alone, holding onto the Colossal Titan’s teeth with his vertical manuvering gear, so he will not get blown away by the intense heat.
As this is happening, Mikasa, Jean, Connie and Sasha face off against Reiner, to stop him from interfering with Armin’s plan.
Unfortunately, their plan of attack initially goes as smoothly as Armin’s seemed to, with Sasha being injured and Reiner’s jaw not being shot open, meaning Mikasa cannot blow Reiner out of his Titan from the inside with her remaining Thunder Spear.
This creates the perfect oppurtunity for Hange to come flying in, missing one eye and using her Thunder Spear to force Reiner’s mouth open, allowing Mikasa to deal the finishing blow.
More exciting and horrifying, though, is Armin’s struggles, as he quickly finds himself burning alive under the intense heat created from Bertholdt’s steam attack.
As the heat overwhelms him, Armin thinks of how he will pass on his dream of seeing the ocean to Eren, again much like how Erwin passed on his dream to see the basement to those who followed him.
With Armin down, Bertholdt suddenly notices that Eren has hardened his Titan, realizing this was all a part of Armin’s plan far too late, as Eren flies up behind him in a glorious full page spread to cut him out of the Colossal Titan.
Eren then descends to Armin’s resting place on the roof, telling him what he was about to when Armin said he was never much of a hero, that he was the bravest of them all, bringing a crushing end to the chapter.
“Hero” is an action packed chapter that follows on from “Nameless Soldiers” with the Return to Shiganshina Arc’s constant theme of sacrifice.
The anime adaptation of this episode is often ranked as one of the series’ best, and it is easy to see why, with “Hero” providing some fantastic, logically planned fights, with sacrifice being a key motif, leading perfectly into the choice between Erwin and Armin, which we will also get to later.
7: Chapter 66: Wish.
The best chapter of the Uprising Arc, “Wish” centers around the fantastic character development of Historia and Eren in the Reiss cave.
Despite Eren being the main character of the story, this is definitley Historia’s chapter though.
Her character arc in this storyline is one of my favourites and, much like how “Hero” is Armin’s best chapter, “Wish” is Historia’s, being the moment she finally decides to follow Ymir’s advice and live for herself.
The build up to this moment is excellent as well, focusing on the dilemma going on in her head perfectly as her father, Rod, attempts to manipulate her into eating Eren and becoming the next Founding Titan.
We see her memories of Ymir and Frieda, leading her to confront Rod, who tells her the truth about the Founder: that whoever from their family inherits it comes under the influence of the first king’s ideology.
We can clearly see that Rod believes this is the right thing, even though he is still manipulating his daughter.
Historia, however, is not having it because, when Rod tries to force the transformation upon her, she remembers what Ymir told her back in the Clash of the Titans Arc.
“Live your life with pride,” Ymir tells her in a great full page spread, and, boy, does Historia live her life with pride in this moment, slapping the injection out of Rod’s hands and then throwing him over her shoulder to the floor, possibly breaking his back.
She then declares that she will not allow her father to kill her, dashing up the stairs to free Eren, only to berate him as well when he insists that she eat him to save humanity.
In the heat of the moment, she declares that she thinks humanity should be wiped out by the Titans and she does not care if that makes her humanity’s enemy.
This is a character literally saying she wants humanity to be destroyed and we’re cheering her on.
Even Kenny of all people is cheering her on.
It is one of Attack on Titan’s most inspirational scenes, and the anime completley did it justice when it was adapted with the fantastic song “Zero Eclipse” by Hiroyuki Sawano.
Eren’s arc in this chapter is also great, as he finally breaks down after learning of how his father murdered Historia’s family and potentially doomed humanity.
However, when Rod licks the Titan serumn, causing him to transform into the second largest Titan of the series, and Eren’s friends are in danger, he is again left with a choice by Levi, and chooses to fight.
Lunging forward, Eren grabs a vile of Titan sermun labelled “armour” and bites down on it, hoping to believe in himself one more time, bringing an end to the chapter as he transforms.
These two arcs of Eren and Historia are amazing, especially Historia’s, with hers being one of the most inspirational of the entire story, as I already stated.
This is why it was such a let down to read the final arc and see her character assassinated and sidelined with a degrading pregancy subplot.
Isayama really dropped the ball with her more than any other character in the final arc.
That said, this does not change how incredible her character development is in “Wish.”
6. Chapter 42: Warrior.
“I’m the Armoured Titan and he’s the Colossal Titan.”
With just a single sentence, Isayama made the entire fandom go, “wait, what!?”
Sure, some did see the twist of Reiner and Bertholdt being the Armoured and Colossal Titans coming but Isayama still managed to subvert expectations by having the biggest twist of the story, at that point, revealed in the most casual of ways.
It is honestly one of the most creative twist reveals I have ever seen, and the buildup to it and its fallout are absolutley excellent.
First, we get some subtle hints of what is about to happen, like Bertholdt bringing up going back to their home town and Reiner responding enthusiastically.
We even see some signs that Eren and the others are onto the two, as Eren seems to purposely bring up their home town first and he, Mikasa and Armin seem reluctant to tell Hannes why they are really there.
Then we get the reveal which, along with being creatively casual, also does a great job at showcasing how far gone Reiner is mentally, suffering from a split identity, with his soldier and warrior personality in constant confliction.
Reiner’s admittance to his and Bertholdt’s true identities is the moment that these two personalities intertwine into a full breakdown, where Reiner is not able to understand how confessing to Eren would be bad for his mission.
It’s some great character writing, however one that also ends up saving Reiner since it is revealed that Eren and the others already knew, with a flashback to this discovery uncovering all of the foreshadowing in prior chapters that lead up to the reveal.
After Reiner’s confession, Eren is smart enough to play it off to try and lead Reiner and Bertholdt into a trap but this causes Reiner to snap completley in the moment, his dialogue hinting at his tragic past, which would be revealed in the Marley Arc.
Before he and Bertholdt can attack though, Mikasa strikes first but she hesitates, resulting in the two warriors transforming before Eren’s eyes, forcing him to transform as well, while shedding tears over the betrayal of two close friends.
“Warrior” was the moment when everything in Attack on Titan clicked for me.
Before this moment, I had been enjoying the story, but it was the genius casualness of this twist that made me realize Attack on Titan was something special.
This was the beginning of Eren and Reiner’s rivalry and it only got better from here.
5. Chapter 100: Declaration of War.
The 100th chapter of Attack on Titan, “Declaration of War” was one hell of a way for Isayama to celebrate reaching that milestone, starting the war between Marley and Paradis with Eren’s confrontation of Reiner.
Before this point, the Marley Arc had been building up Reiner’s character, turning him from an antagonist to a sympathetic victim of the cycle of violence.
As such, Eren represents the reader in a way this chapter.
Just like we as the readers have come to understand and sympathize with Reiner’s motivations and trauma, Eren has also come to feel the same way about his rival, now understanding that not just Reiner but the entire conflict between Paradis and the rest of the world is far more complex.
This is such fantastic character development for Eren who, at the beginning of the story, saw everything in black and white: a battle of good vs evil.
Yet, while he has changed in his beliefs on the nature of the conflict, one thing that has not changed about Eren is his resolve to keep moving forward.
I feel that even the smallest of expressions on Eren’s face in these panels hold a lot of meaning, like when he hears Willy say he does not wish to die, “because I was born into this world”, the same phrase Eren’s mother used to speak of him.
So, even though he now understands Reiner and the rest of the world, Eren has to act, committing his own declaration of war just like Willy Tyber at the end of the chapter, only with the instant action of killing Willy and many innocent civilians in front of hundreds of spectators.
Speaking of Willy, he was in the manga for a short amount of time, only four chapters, yet his character is quite compelling, with his own self hatred and sacrificial mission being perfectly explored across the chapter, especially in his opening scene with Magath.
“I’m certain that Eldians are the descendants of devils. And I’m certain that we too are devils,” Magath states in an excellent assessment of the conflict in Attack on Titan.
The war that starts right at the end of Chapter 100 may be based off years of hatred, yet both sides are completley capable of being devils.
My only issue with this chapter is that the impact of Eren asking Reiner why his mother had to die is lost after it is revealed Eren played a hand in her death in the final chapter.
Other than this, “Declaration of War” is amazing with its focus on Reiner’s guilt, Willy’s self hatred, and Eren’s understanding of both of them, yet unflinching resolve.
What a fantastic way for the story to reach its 100th chapter milestone.
4. Chapter 131: Rumbling.
I’ll admit it, when I finished Chapter 130 I did not think we needed any more of a showcase of how horrifying Eren’s Rumbling was.
Then I read Chapter 131 and I realized just how naive I was.
We needed to see this and it is by far the most horrific part of the entire series.
When I reviewed this chapter for the first time, I described it as “Attack on Titan’s Third Impact” and I still think of this as an apt description, since I still got the same feeling rereading this as I did when watching The End of Evangellion: Shock, horror, awe, and a wonder if what I was seeing was even really happening.
The chapter picks up with Ramzi, the young boy whose family Eren and the others partied with in Chapter 123, their last moment of happiness togethor.
Since leaving Ramzi, the young boy has had his hand cut off for stealing, showing just how cruel the world of Attack on Titan is.
It gets even crueler when the Rumbling arrives, as the chapter constantly cuts between Ramzi attempting to flee from hiz oncoming death, and Eren’s first meeting with Ramzi where he saved him, despite knowing he would end up killing him eventually.
This crushing dilemma is clear for Eren, as we see him wandering Marley’s streets in the flashback, knowing that if he did nothing then much less people would die, however it would end with the deaths of his people and that is not something he can accept.
He then comes across Ramzi being attacked and berates himself for thinking about the justice of saving him when he knows he is going to kill the boy, yet his conscience still gets the better of him and he saves him, only to break down upon returning Ramzi to his family.
As he apologises, he admits to himself a horrifying truth: that the Rumbling is not just to protect Paradis and his friends but also because he was disappointed that humanity existed outside the walls and wanted to wipe it all away.
This terrifying admittance is interspliced with the brutal death of Ramzi and his brother, who die alone and scared, crushed under the feet of Titans.
Yet the most horrifying moment of “Rumbling” comes not in these bloody displays, but in the full page spread of a child Eren basking in the freedom he is experiencing during this moment of brutal mass murder on a global scale, telling Armin in Paths that he has finally reached that sight.
We then get the final scene of the chapter between Annie and Armin, a nice moment after all the horror that builds up their relationship, and ends on the cliffhanger of Eren’s head only connected to his Titan through his exposed spinal column.
“Rumbling” is easily Attack on Titan‘s most horrifying chapter, portraying the massive loss of life because of Eren perfectly and in gruesome fashion.
It is a chapter that I am eager to see adapted in the anime, so I can be horrified all over again.
3. Chapter 84: Midnight Sun.
Before this chapter, we had the “deaths” of Erwin and Armin, two characters who both set aside their dreams to sacrifice their lives for humanity.
Yet, Chapter 83 reveals that not only are both still barely clinging to life but also only one of them can be revived by eating Bertholdt.
Chapter 84, “Midnight Sun”, begins with the conflict over who should be revived officially starting, with Eren and Mikasa fighting for Armin, and Levi and Floch fighting for Erwin.
What follows is one of the most emotional chapters of the entire series as all four characters likewise let their emotions dictate who should get the Titan serum, with violent results, Levi punching Eren and Mikasa attacking Levi in retaliation, attempting to take the serum from him.
What makes the tension even more heightened is how each of these characters has a good point about who should be revived.
Eren brings up all of the times Armin’s genius has saved them, from his plan to save Trost District, to him discovering Annie’s identity as the Female Titan, declaring that Armin will be the one to save humanity (something that actually comes true in the final battle).
Floch hits back with the story of how Erwin lead them all against the Beast Titan to their deaths, saying he deserves to spend more time in this hell because the only one who can save humanity is the devil himself.
Floch then goes on to say that him bringing Erwin back is the only reason he survived while others died which, much like Chapter 80, is great setup for him becoming a follower of Eren, coming to see him as the Devil who will save the Eldians.
Floch’s comments even seem to strike a cord with Levi, although not the one he intends, as Levi looks devestated at the thought of his leader and long time friend having to spend more time in their hell.
Then, when Hange and the others arrive, dragging Mikasa and Eren away from their dying friend, Levi has to make the choice.
He is about to inject Erwin when he remembers Kenny’s words, “They were all slaves to something… even him.”
Erwin then slaps Levi’s hand away in a dazed state, hallucinating about the question he asked his father, starting his dream.
Levi realizes that Erwin is a slave to his dream and believes it would be cruel to consign him to more time in hell, as Floch described it, so he injects Armin.
This was not Levi choosing Armin over Erwin, this was Levi choosing to allow his friend to rest and die the man who sacrificied everything for humanity in the end.
We also say goodbye to Bertholdt in this chapter, as he is eaten by Armin to bring him back, screaming at the 104th to save him despite everything he’s done, still thinking of them as his friends.
Even the death of Moblit, a minor character, carries plenty of emotional weight.
It is Erwin’s death that hits the hardest though, with this being the perfect sendoff for him, in my opinion, solidifying him as my favourite character.
“Midnight Sun” is an incredibly emotional chapter, with a storyline that still has the fans debating over whether the characters made the right choice to this day.
2. Chapter 86: That Day.
The mystery of what was in Grisha’s basement had been built up right from the beginning of the story.
There were 84 chapters of buildup before we got the answer in Chapter 85, so the answer had to be satisfying.
And, boy, was it.
Chapter 85 may answer the question of what is in the basement, but it is the following one, “That Day”, which goes all out on the epic reveal of the outside world.
This twist that our main cast is part of a race of people known as Eldians who can turn into Titans, making most of the world hate them, and the history behind all this was the biggest gamechanger in the entire story.
I remember reading this chapter for the first time and just sitting in silence for a couple of minutes, as I took in the enormity of this reveal.
It’s also not just the twist itself which makes “That Day” so great but the characterization of Grisha as well.
Grisha is easily one of Attack on Titan’s most tragic characters and this chapter perfectly illustrates this, as his sister is murdered by a Marleyan military officer, who feeds her to his son’s dogs, while she is still alive.
This horrifying event causes Grisha to blame himself and, like most traumatic events for other characters, leads him to extreme ends, joining a resistance organization known as the Eldia Restorationists, before marrying a woman of royal blood, named Dina.
The two go on to have a son, Zeke, the Beast Titan, with Grisha’s trauma driving him to treat his son terribly for Eldia, leading Zeke to turn in his parents, bringing an end to the chapter.
I got spoiled about Zeke’s identity before he was officially revealed to be Eren’s half-brother but it made the twist no less impactful, with the tragic showcase of his terrible relationship with his father and what it lead him to do.
“That Day” was the chapter that turned Attack on Titan from a story where its characters’ main goal was to save humanity, to a story where the goal was to somehow survive a world that unjustly hates them for what they are and actions taken by their ancestors centuries before.
The series was all the better for this reveal too, eventually leading to the fantastic chapters that appeared earlier on in this list and the incredible chapter at the number one spot.
1. Chapter 121: Memories of the Future.
My favourite chapter of the entire series is Chapter 121 “Memories of the Future.”
It is the one where Isayama showed off the best of his writing skills, creating the greatest use of time travel that I have ever seen in fiction, if it can truly be called time travel rather than memory travel.
“Memories of the Future” picks up from the previous chapter, with Eren and Zeke exploring their father’s memories, as Zeke slowly comes to realize that Grisha did not brainwash Eren and really did change, while Eren commits one of his most shocking acts.
This all begins through Eren insisting to Zeke that he has always been himself and it is Zeke that misunderstood him this entire time, proving this by showing him Grisha’s memories of the time Eren killed Mikasa’s kidnappers to save her life.
Following this, we get the big hint of the memory travel twist, as we see the beginning of Chapter One from a different perspective.
Through Eren exploring his father’s memories, we see that Grisha was actually aware that Eren and Zeke were there in the first chapter, completley recontextualizing the beginning of the story in the best of ways.
So, did Isayama really plan this development from the start, or did he just write it to look like he did?
Either way, it’s genius, and what comes next is even better, as Grisha finally goes to the Reiss family cavern to attempt to talk Frieda into using her powers to save humanity.
When this fails, Grisha reveals the secret power of the Attack Titan: that it is able to see the memories of its future successors.
This is where the brilliant time/memory travel element comes into play since, because Grisha can see Eren’s future memories, he can see his two sons exploring his own, allowing a conflict between timelines.
In the past, Grisha was influenced by the future memories of Eren talking to him, and in the present, Eren enters Grisha’s past memories to manipulate him.
Into doing what?
Well, murderering the Reiss family.
That’s right, Eren broke down in Chapter 66 because of what his father had done, completley unaware that he would go on to be the cause of the massacre.
Seeing Eren commit this monstrous act left me speechless when I first read it, and this reaction quickly changed to an emotional one when we got the next scene.
As Grisha emerges from his Titan outside the Reiss chapel, he screams out to Eren in anguish, before revealing he knows Zeke is there, warning him with a hint about the Rumbling Eren will go on to commit.
Grisha then looks up and sees Zeke is there through Eren’s future memories, allowing for the two to finally reconcile thanks to the time/memory travel.
This was a genius use of the power by Isayama, creating a panel that made me cry when Grisha embraces Zeke and tells him that he loves him, something I thought Grisha had always been unable to do before his death.
The fact that I teared up for both Zeke and Grisha, when both have done terrible things, shows how excellent Isayama’s writing of their characters is.
The weaving of the reveal that Eren saw his own future memories of what he would do when he kissed Historia’s hand in Chapter 90 during this is just the icing on the cake.
Not to mention it leads to one of Eren’s most unnerving moments, as when he and Zeke leave Grisha’s memories, Eren implies to his half-brother that he liked the horrible event he saw when he kissed Historia’s hand, stating, “what a sight it was.”
This eventually leads into the “freedom” panel in Chapter 131, but even not knowing what Eren is hinting at in Chapter 121 makes it terrifying, to the point that I was actually temporarily rooting for Zeke to stop Eren as Grisha asked.
Again, I thought this when Zeke had done plenty of terrible things and was currently planning to do terrible things, even though in his mind his Euthanization Plan was right.
Zeke is unable to stop Eren, however, as his drive for freedom allows him to break from his chains, minus his thumbs, and run to catch Ymir, ending what I consider to be the best chapter in Attack on Titan.
“Memories of the Future” has everything.
A brilliant twist with genius writing that recontexualizes the beginning of the story, and fantastic character writing that made me tear up for characters who are honestly pretty bad people.
I am incredibly excited to see this chapter finally adapted in the anime and cannot wait to see how the anime only fans will react to how amazing it is.
Whenever someone brings up fantastic uses of time travel in fiction, Attack on Titan Chapter 121 “Memories of the Future” should be right up there with the best of them.
So, that’s my top ten favourite Attack on Titan chapters. All that’s left for me to do now is wait for part two of the final season to begin airing, where I will review an episode every week. There are also rumors of the ending being adapted into a movie from Chapters 132 to 139 so it will be intriguing to see if that happens. If it does, I will be sure to review that movie as well, whenever it comes out.