Attack on Titan Chapter 129: Retrospective Review. From Isayama, Two Months Ago.

4 and a half stars
After two, agonizing months of delay because of Covid-19, Chapter 129 of Attack on Titan, “Retrospective” has finally been released.
Thankfully, it was more than worth the wait.
In my opinion, “Retrospective” is the best chapter since Chapter 123, “Island Devils”, delivering intense action, a new Titan form, and emotional deaths.
Let’s start with those deaths first; Theo Magath and Keith Shadis.
After temporarily defeating the Yeagerists and helping the alliance escape on the ship with the plane, Magath goes to take out a Marleyan ship to stop the Yeagerists from following them.
It is here that he is saved by Shadis, who earlier blew up a train with enemy reinforcements to save the alliance, and was the mysterious man seen in the window in Chapter 126, as predicted.
The two enter the ship, planning to blow it up to stop the Yeagerists, exchanging names before they sacrifice themselves.
These two deaths are very emotional and incredibly fitting for both characters.
Shadis spent his entire life being a bystander, yet in his last days he took a stand, saving both his recruits’ lives and the alliance’s.
He went out a hero and the world may never know it.
As for Magath, his realization that he would have been happy if had just let the warriors have normal lives is tragic.
Not only this, but his death came as a huge surprise to me.
I was honestly expecting Magath to make it to the end because I thought he would be the one to vouch for the Eldians to the rest of the world if they stopped Eren.
But, nope, that is not what Hajime Isayama is going for here.
This makes me excited because it probably means Isayama isn’t going down the predictable route of just having the alliance defeat Eren and suddenly be accepted by the rest of the world.
Isayama has some trick up his sleeve and I cannot wait to see what it is.
As for the rest of the chapter, it was likewise great.
The action was incredibly intense, with Reiner and Annie taking a beating from the Thunder Spears, the scouts going ballistic on the Yeagerists, and Falco finally transforming into the Jaw Titan and, boy, does he look awesome.
The Jaw Titan has a track record of really great designs; first Porco looked fantastic and now Falco.
It is also kind of funny because Falco’s Titan resembles a Griffin and he has often been linked with birds, like during his introduction in Chapter 91.
I also liked how Isayama stayed consistent with how Titan Shifters don’t have a lot of control when they first control as, like Eren did, Falco attacks his allies after the Yeagerists are fought back.
Thankfully, Magath was there to cut him out or Pieck probably would have been done for.
However, this is where my few criticisms of the chapter come in.
The part where Magath cuts Falco out of his Titan felt like it was missing a few panels and therefore came across as bit jumpy in structure.
Another criticism I have, although this one could easily turn out not be a criticism, is Gabi shooting Floch.
He is shot by her when he goes to destroy the ship with his Thunder Spear, however, if he is dead here then it is a really terrible way for him to go out.
Floch had absolutely no build up with Gabi, so him being killed by her does not fit into his character arc at all.
Sure, his last lines being that he would save Eldia is very fitting but who kills him is not.
This said, I really doubt Floch is dead because Gabi hit him in the shoulder and he fell in the ocean, and if Isayama was really going to kill Floch he would probably have him get shot in the head.
Although, this does make me scared that Floch is going to sneak onto the ship and kill one of the alliance, probably Jean, Hange or Connie.
Until we know for sure if Floch is dead or not though, I will not be holding his potential death against the chapter.
If Floch is dead then it significantly lowers my opinion of  “Retrospective” but if he isn’t then I think Gabi shooting him is fine.
If anything, I am interested in how Isayama will end the final chapter for this volume.
He could do something with Floch, Kyomi, Eren, the possibilities are endless here.
In a recent interview, Isayama said he projects the story only have about 5% left before it is completed and this lines up nicely with my prediction that it will end at Chapter 138.
However Isayama ends the story though, if Chapter 129 is any indicator, I’m sure he can do it right.

Attack on Titan Chapter 124, Melting Away Review: FINALLY!

4 and a half stars
91 Chapters.
That is how long Annie had been in her crystal prison; even longer than it took to reveal the basement.
Well, after reading Chapter 124 of Attack on Titan, “Melting Away,” the first thought I had was FINALLY!
This is because Annie at long last emerged from her crystal at the end of the chapter, due to Eren using his Founding Titan abilities to remove all of the Titans’ ability to harden, including Reiner’s.
The build up to Annie’s return, with the chapter starting with her father hearing Eren’s speech about his plan, and then ending with Armin realizing she is free before cutting to her, is masterfully done.
I was spoiled about this reveal about an hour before I read “Melting Away” but her return is so well written that I still cheered.
I just hope that Isayama can make me care about her more before the story ends.
Whether he does so or not depends on the role Annie has to play.
However, considering her role also brings in the question of how long the manga has?
I have been predicting for a while that Attack on Titan will end at Chapter 130 but, after Chapter 124, I am having serious doubts about this.
I am now thinking a more suitable number is 134 chapters, which would mean there are 10 chapters left.
The reason I am starting to think this is because of how Annie and other subplots that appear in this chapter seem to be hinting at a longer finale.
A prime example of this is the Connie subplot that was just put into motion.
After Falco ate Porco and inherited the Jaw Titan, Connie and Jean kidnap him, with Jean planning to feed him to one of the Titans Zeke transformed, seriously considering Pyxis.
However, Connie wants to take Falco to Ragako to feed him to his mother so she can become human again.
Armin is against this because that would cause further conflict between Reiner and the Warriors when the world is destroyed; however, before anything can be done, Titans interrupt and Connie runs off with Falco.
So, now Connie is on his way to Ragako to save his mother by feeding her Falco, creating a brand new subplot.
With new storylines like this being brought in, it seems unlikely that the manga will be able to successfully wrap up at Chapter 130, which is why I am thinking Chapter 134 is more likely now.
Back to the actual story, I am glad Connie is getting some development now because I have always thought it was a little strange that he rarely brought up his family when they started working with Zeke, since he’s the one who turned them all into Titans.
I am also interested to see where this subplot could go.
Along with Connie, another standout character is Gabi, who goes through more development by saving Kaya from a Titanized Nile in an epic scene that left me cheering.
The following panel where Kaya hallucinates Gabi as Sasha is also perfectly touching.
I have seen a lot of people complaining that Gabi is stealing the spotlight from more beloved characters, like Mikasa, but I honestly don’t see this.
Mikasa got a lot of development last chapter, and even in this one where Gabi was a key character she shared the spotlight with multiple characters who also developed well.
Probably my favourite of these character developments is Keith Shadis, when he saves the recruits who beat him up and then leads them in the fight against the Titans.
Keith Shadis?
More like Keith, No Longer A Bystander, Shadis.
Sadly, this battle does result in the loss of Dot Pyxis, whose Titan is mercy killed by Armin after being thanked for guiding them all these years.
Both his and Nile’s Titans are killed this chapter, bringing a sad end to these great side characters.
Along with Pyxis’ emotional death, another reason I enjoyed the scene where Keith, Mikasa, Armin, Jean and the other soldiers fight off the Titans is because it is eerily reminiscent of the battle at headquarters during the Trost Arc.
Hajime Isayama has been putting in a lot of parallels to prior arcs in this final one, with Chapter 117 being another prime example by paralleling the Return to Shiganshina Arc.
Such parallels can also be seen in character growths like Niccolo saying they have to leave the forest, referencing Mr Braus’ speech in Chapter 111, and Gabi putting her hair up while looking in a mirror, just like Eren does in Chapter 106.
That last parallel has me wondering if this moment is just a callback or foreshadowing for something more?
Whatever it is, I will say that “Melting Away” is a far calmer chapter than I expected it to be.
Before the Annie reveal, the final moments of the chapter sees the characters resting at headquarters while they all try to deal with the impact Eren’s Rumbling will have.
This leads to Floch turning up, to many a fan’s dismay, and arresting Yelena and the the rest of the Volunteers.
Such an act has me scared that Floch may try to execute them to make Eldians the last remaining race after the Rumbling is completed.
I certainly would not put it past him.
But the real question is definitely if Attack on Titan has been in The Breaking Bad universe this whole time as the Saul Goodman Titan seems to suggest?
Jokes aside, there are also a lot of great visuals in the chapter, like when Mikasa cuts down a Titan right outside the window that Yelena and Onyankopon are looking out of. Another example of this is the individual shots of the 104th Cadets as they take in the fact that Eren is planning to destroy the world to protect them.
As for criticisms, the only one I can think of off the top of my head is Jean apparently wanting to feed Falco to Pyxis.
I understand why he would want to save Pyxis, but it was shown that Jean did not want to kill Falco in Chapter 104 so this feels slightly out of character for him.
But the prior moment where he talks about how the Rumbling may be the best thing, as if he is trying to convince himself that it is but not succeeding, makes up for it slightly.
Overall, I would consider “Melting Away” to be on the same level as the previous chapter, “Island Devils.”
It has great character growth with a lot of amazing action, accompanied by epic visuals.
It will be interesting to see how the manga ends, whether that ending comes at Chapter 130, 134, or perhaps slightly longer than that.