Fire Punch Review: WTF Did I Just Read?

Around halfway through reading Fire Punch for the first time, I decided that Tatsuki Fujimoto is my favourite mangaka.
This is not to say that I think Fire Punch is his best work.
If anything, reading it showed me just how much he has improved since writing this manga, going on to write and illustrate my second favourite manga, Chainsaw Man, and the fantastic one shots Look Back and Goodbye Eri.
One thing that has stayed the same across all of Fujimoto’s works, though, is his undobutable creativity, present in Fire Punch from the beginning, all the way to the very end.
Another constant throughout my first read through of Fire Punch was me repeatedly saying, “what the f**k am I reading?”

It felt like every chapter had its own wtf moment.

I don’t think I am exagerrating when I say that Fire Punch is the craziest work of fiction that I have ever read.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue reading after the first ten chapters because of how completely grim everything was, but I pushed forward and found a flawed yet rewarding story that is, of course, f****d up on every conceivable level.
Fire Punch is set in a world where super powered people, known as the Blessed, started a new Ice Age that is slowly leading to humanity’s extinction.
Agni is a young blessed with the power of regeneration, who lives with his little Sister Luna in a small village, where he cuts off his arm daily to feed everyone, since there is no food.
Oh, and Agni’s sister wants to have his babies.
So, yeah… that’s a thing.
However, Agni’s life is disrupted when a blessed named Doma arrives in his village, looking for soldiers, only to be disgusted by the cannibalism going on there, leading to him using his flame powers to burn the village to ash.
Everyone in the village dies, except Agni, who is kept alive by his regineration power, although he is left in a constant state of burning agony.
In her last, horrifying moments, Luna urges Agni to live, and so Agni does, persevering to eventually get his revenge on Doma, beginning the story of Fire Punch. 

The manga starts off as a revenge story but later becomes much more.

The story only gets crazier from here, with plenty of weird characters, many of whom have disturbing ideologies, and, of course, plenty of movie references.
It would not be a Fujimoto story without at least one, after all.
Fujimoto embodies these movie references in my favourite character in Fire Punch, Togata, the reginerative blessed who is a movie fan, nut job.
Togata is initially characterized as someone who will do anything to make a movie starring Agni, yet, as the story goes on, Fujimoto pulls back the layers on his character to reveal the vulnerabilities, creating an extremely sympathetic side to him. 
It also helps that he’s incredibly funny.
Seriously, one Togata segment during a truck chase had me laughing so hard my sides hurt for a couple of minutes afterwards.

I was amazed at how Togata went from a comedic relief character to having one of the most emotional arcs in the story.

Fujimoto absolutely nails dark humor.
He also nails the themes of the story, with Agni’s and Togata’s arcs being especially hard hitting. 
However, I did say near the beginning of this review that Fire Punch had flaws and there are quite a few.
Probably the two biggest of these are the characters and the pacing.
As I said, there are a lot of wacky characters in Fire Punch, but it does not seem like Fujimoto knew what to do with many of them.
Some just show up, look cool for a while with very little characterisation and then are killed off shortly after, sometimes off screen. 
The pacing can be just as problematic at times, with some important events happening way too fast or even off screen.
Then there’s the constant incest theme with Agni’s character, which is obviously uncomfortable.

To be fair to Fujimoto, though, he does often show creepy Agni’s feelings for his sister are.

Some of these flaws even have a positive side to them, at least if you have read Fujimoto’s more recent works first.
The flaws of Fire Punch make for an interesting comparison, as any reader can see how much he grew as a writer from his first long-running manga to Chainsaw Man.

As well as this, despite the issues, Fire Punch builds up to a great and expectedly crazy ending that closes off the story’s theme about living on no matter what well.
Overall, Fire Punch is a flawed yet meaningful story that is well worth it by the end.
Just be prepared to constantly say or think “what the f**k?” when you read it.  

Choujin X, Chapter 21, A Cloaker Review: Antagonist Payoff.

Ever since the first Chapter of Choujin X, readers have been wondering what role Azuma would have in the story, with many, including myself, theorizing that he would go on to become an antagonist.
Well, Chapter 21, “A Cloaker”, seems to have confirmed this theory.
I have not reviewed many of recent Choujin X chapters but I have really enjoyed them, as it felt like something big was coming, what with Tokio’s kidnapping by Ume and Ricardo, followed by Azuma’s brutal death at Ume’s hands.
However, I and many others did not believe Azuma was dead because he had been built up quite a bit beforehand, and had seemingly awakened some of his Choujin abilities, what with the escaped Hyena being able to talk with him.
Sure enough, “A Cloaker” begins with Azuma’s resurrection, as his Choujin power finally acitvates, and in the most horrifying way, at that.
This resurrection appears from a dying Azuma’s POV, as we see a statue looking down on him, presenting its hands, almost as if it is gifting him his Choujin power.
Along with this religiously symbolic image, we also see a fly coming down to land on Azuma’s eyelid and walk across it, reminding Azuma of a time when he saw jets flying in the sky as a child.
While this is happening, we get narration from an unknown person explaining that Choujin are given the form that most becomes them, often based off their emotions and feelings, like that of hope, fury, love, etc.
This creates a complex, which Azuma was apparently lacking up until this point because he could not become a Choujin without it.
Now, however, as the dying Azuma looks up at the moon, he gains this complex, allowing him to transform into the titular Moon Beast we saw at the end of the previous chapter.
So, great, Azuma is here to help save Tokio, right?
Well, not exactly.
He certainly starts off doing so by brutally dispatching Ricardo and Ume, decapitating Ricardo, and kicking Ume in the back so hard that his foot ejects out of her chest.
The reason Azuma so easily defeats these two is explained by the narrator to be because his fighting strength was already strong before he become a Choujin, so it has been amplified.
Ely realizes the Moon Beast is Azuma, yet, before she can do anything, Azuma is upon her, punching through her stomach, even though she is trying to help Tokio.
At this point, Tokio and Azuma seem to notice one another, and Azuma is shown to be baring his teeth towards Tokio in a look of surprising hatred.
Azuma easily beats Tokio aside when he tries to help Ely, and breaks Momoma’s neck and slices Simon’s throat when they try to stop him as well.
With Tokio being the last man standing, Azuma then turns to him and speaks his first words as a Choujin: “Tokio… Fight… Me.”
The chapter then ends on Tokio’s horrified, “why?”, which, in my opinion, is Tokio asking both why Azuma would hurt all of his friends and why Azuma wants to fight him.
As for the answer to the latter, I think it is because Azuma has an inferiority complex directed towards Tokio.
For so long, Tokio had relied on Azuma for almost everything, yet he was the one to become a Choujin first and do heroic acts.
With Azuma’s penchant for fighting for justice, this may have caused him to feel inferior to Tokio, leading to him entering a chaos state when he first transformed, much like Shiozaki, resulting in him attacking everyone and wanting to fight Tokio to prove himself.
My question, though, is why Azuma was able to speak with the Hyena a couple of chapters ago?
Beast Choujins are able to talk to the animals that their transformations are based off.
So, Tokio can talk to birds as a Vulture Choujin and Nari can talk to snakes as a Snake Choujin.
Given that Azuma could talk to the Hyena, I thought that meant he would turn into a Hyena Choujin but he has instead transformed into a Moon Beast.
This makes sense because Azuma was looking up at the moon when he resurrected and transformed but I still wonder how he was able to talk with the Hyena?
Hopefully, this will be explained in a future chapter.
Another obvious question I am sure all of us readers have after finishing this chapter is how many of the characters have died at Azuma’s hands?
I am sure all of our main characters who were injured will survive, these being Ely, Simon, and Momoma.
Ume and Ricardo, however, are another matter.
Ume looked quite dead when Azuma kicked her off the roof, yet Azuma also looked dead and he was just resurrected.
Also, Ricardo was decapitated but in one panel it looks like he is groaning, so he may make it out.
Honestly, I hope the both of them do survive, along with our main characters because I quite like them as antagonists.
As for how the fight between Tokio and Azuma will go, I honestly don’t see Tokio winning.
Azuma just straight up massacred dozens of other Choujins who are stronger than Tokio at this point.
The fight might be interrupted by the Noh Mask Choujin, though, who may see Azuma as a better candidate than Tokio for what the monster in the tower has planned.
Either way, the future chapters of Choujin X will be quite interesting, since Azuma has apparently emerged as an antagonist, like many of us predicted.
Overall, “A Cloaker” is one of the best chapters of the manga so far, and I am extremely interested to see where Sui Ishida takes his story next.

Goodbye Eri Review: Blurring the Line Between Fact and Fiction.

Tatsuki Fujimoto has had a stellar career as a mangaka.
Chainsaw Man is my second favourite manga behind Attack on Titan and his one shot Look Back is an emotional rollercoaster.
I have also just started reading his first serialized manga, Fire Punch, which so far is already turning out to be one of the most insane manga I have read.
Well, Fujimoto recently released a new one shot Goodbye Eri, which, at first, looked like it was going to be a simple, emotional story, much like Look Back, before the story goes completley off the rails and explodes.
Ordinarily, me saying that would be a way of me dissing this story but no, this time I mean it as a compliment.
It leaves a lot up to the reader and this is what makes it so great.
Goodbye Eri begins at the 12th Birthday of Yuta, who’s parents have bought him a smart phone.
This pleasant Birthday gift quickly turns grim, however, as it is revealed that Yuta’s mother is dying from a terminal illness and she bought Yuta the smart phone to film her life all the way up to her final moments.
One bit of foreshadowing for what will be revealed about Yuta’s mother can be seen with the dad’s reaction to her request: how he looks between his wife and son, as if he wants to say something but then stops himself.
From here, the one shot proceeds pretty expectantly, with Yuta filming his mother’s life, their time togethor, and her degrading health.
Eventually, Yuta’s mother is dying in the hostpital, so his father takes him to film her final moments.
However, at the last second, Yuta gets cold feet and runs away from the hostpital as it suddenly explodes, leaving Yuta’s fellow students who are watching his movie in a state of shock.
Yep, Yuta created a film of his mother’s struggle with her terminal illness, only to add an explosion at the end, as if it was supposed to be an action movie.
His school mates take it about how you would expect, with many condemning and laughing at the movie.
One of Yuta’s teachers even pulls him aside to tell him off for “making a mockery” of his mother’s death with the explosion.
Yuta’s only response?
“That was awesome right?”
The teacher naturally does not take this well.
Yuta then interviews a bunch of other students about his movie, all of which criticize him for it, most potently one girl whose mother also died, who says she can’t forgive Yuta for adding the explosion at the end.
All of this leads to Yuta deciding to commit suicide, heading to the roof of the hostpital where his mother’s died to leap from it.
However, before he can, he is interrupted by a girl named Eri, who recognises him as the director of Dead Explosion Mother, and drags him to an abandoned building where she watches some movies with him.
Afterwards, the two talk, and Eri is the first person who speaks positively of Yuta’s movie, saying that she liked, “the way it blurred the line between fact and fiction,” something that will be very important later.
Eri goes on to state that Yuta’s movie was awesome and convinces him that he should make another movie next year to make everyone who laughed at his previous movie cry.
From here, we see the progression of Eri and Yuta’s friendship, just like we saw the progression of Yuta’s mother’s illness, only instead of the illness building, it’s the two friends watching movies togethor and making plans for Yuta’s next film.
There are multiple great moments of humor spliced in here, like when Eri pulls a peace sign whenever the heroes win and Yuta says “aww yeah,” every time there are nipples on screen.
We also get another key moment, this time between Yuta and his father, where the dad says that Yuta has always “sprinkled a pinch of fantasy on everything,” which explains part of the reason why Yuta added the explosion when his mother died in his original movie.
After this conversation, Yuta meets with Eri again and pitches her his new movie about himself meeting a dying vampire (Eri) after his movie is criticized.
Like his mother, the vampire is also dying, and the main character has to film her death to overcome the death of his mother.
Eri agrees to this film being the one Yuta will make and the conversation concludes with Yuta asking Eri to meet his father.
However, this meeting does not go over well because Yuta’s father is angry that they are making a movie, thinking it will hurt Yuta more, yelling at Eri to get out.
“And cut!” Eri cries out, revealing this argument to have been a part of their movie, since Yuta’s father has prior theater experience.
Then we get an interesting line from Yuta’s father, “To quote a friend of mine… creation is all about getting into the audience’s problems to make them laugh and cry, right? Well it wouldn’t be fair if the creator’s didn’t get hurt too, would it?”
The three of them then agree to reshoot the scene with that line in it.
I think this line may be a moment of Fujimoto speaking through the character of Yuta’s father.
Perhaps the “to quote a friend of mine” part of the line means that this is something Fujimoto thinks or something one of Fujimoto’s friends said to him, which he then decided to put into the oneshot.
Whatever the meaning of this scene is, it does lead into the moment where Yuta is hurt again, as he learns that Eri is also suffering from a terminal illness, after she collapses on a beach while filming.
In the hostpital, Eri asks Yuta to film her final moments, just like his mother wanted to do for him, causing Yuta to flee in a panic.
Yuta is then met by his father, who decides to show him his mother’s final moments on film, where we get one of the big bombshells of the one shot.
While Yuta’s mother lay dying in the hospital bed, Yuta’s father explained to her that Yuta would not come out of the car to see her, so he will be filming her final moments.
This causes Yuta’s mother to claim that her son was always useless, and we then get a bunch of panels showing her being abusive to Yuta and forcing him to film her life, revealing that Yuta made his mother look good in the film he made, having the power as the director to decide how she would be remembered.
Along with this moment being shocking and emotional, it also brings Eri’s comment about Yuta’s film blurring the line between fact and fiction to the forefront.
In that film, we see Yuta running away from the hostpital before it explodes, yet in the video of his mother’s final moments, his father says he is staying in the car rather than running away.
So how much of what we are shown before the explosion is real, if it was not just the explosion and his mother’s personality that were manipulated?
Is what we are seeing here fact or fiction in this story?
That is a question that the reader will ask a lot going forward.
Following Yuta’s talk with his father, he goes to see Eri and reconciles with her, agreeing to film her until her death, which he does so, all the way up until Eri is on her death bed, where she says to create a movie that will make everyone bawl their eyes out.
Cut to the school auditorium again after Eri’s death where, this time, the audience are all bawling their eyes out as they watch Yuta’s movie, to which Yuta pulls Eri’s peace sign at the hero’s victory.
An indeterminable amount of time later, Yuta is approached by the girl who said she could not forgive him for adding the explosion.
She reveals that Eri actually wore glasses, had a dental retainer, never dated Yuta, and actually had a massive temper to the point that this girl and Yuta were her only friends.
The girl then thanks Yuta for depicting Eri in such a positive light.
Taking her words into account, though, this means that every single moment we have seen between Eri and Yuta was either staged or recreated for their movie, again blurring the line between fact and fiction.
Then we get the biggest mind screw of all, as the one shot supposedly jumps forward decades later, as Yuta narrates that he eventually got married and had a daughter, but could never stop recutting Eri’s movie.
We then see the older Yuta, looking just like his father, only without the facial hair, and he says to his phone that his entire family, including his father, were killed in a car accident.
Not wanting to endure any more deaths, Yuta decides to take his own life, apparently going to the abandoned building where he and Eri watched movies to do so.
It is here that the mind screw part comes in, as Yuta walks into the abandoned building, and finds Eri, somehow still alive and watching his movie.
She comments that his movie is on track but something about it is not quite there, as films ending with the love interest’s death are overdone.
“It’s missing a pinch of fantasy, don’t you think?” She says.
Yuta says the film has fantasy because he turned Eri into a vampire, but Eri says that is fact because she really is a vampire, but one whose body dies every 200 years due to her overflowing memories.
When she died in front of Yuta, she revived three days later, without her memory.
Only the movie he made told her things about herself.
Although, given that it has been established that the version of Eri Yuka showed was idealized, she may have the wrong picture.
Eri then comments on the beauty of his movie, and how people can be immortalized through them (much like a vampire, I would say), to which Yuka agrees, before saying his titular goodbye to Eri.
Now, after much struggle, Yuta finally knows why he spent so long recutting his movie.
As Eri said, it was missing a pinch of fantasy, and that fantasy comes when the building explodes as Yuta walks away triumphant, bringing the one shot to an end.
Okay, so what the hell does this all mean?
Is Eri really a vampire?
How much of the film is real?
Well, the beauty of this one shot is that it is subjective.
Eri says at one point that stories which blur the line between fact and fiction, “make for a good puzzle.”
Allow me to state my own interpretation of this puzzle then.
I think that the parts with Yuta’s mother and Eri dying are real, although they are both depicted as idealized versions of themselves.
During the filming of Eri’s portion of the story, the two decided that there was something missing about the movie, as it “needed a pinch of fantasy.”
So, the two decided to get Yuta’s dad to play a future version of Yuta, shaving his facial hair to pull it off.
They then filmed the entire ending vampire scene with the building exploding at the end.
After this, they filmed the rest of the movie up until Eri’s death, whereupon Yuta compiled all of his footage into the film we are now seeing in the oneshot.
Or who knows, the entire thing could be a fictional movie, if you want to think of it that way.
There really are so many different ways to interpret Goodbye Eri.
But, no matter what you may think happened in this story, I think we can all agree, as Yuta says after his film Dead Explosion Mother debuts, “That was awesome, right?”
Tatsuki Fujimoto has done it again, delivering another amazing one shot that I will not forget for some time.

Soloist in a Cage Review: A Short, Magestically Brutal Ride.

With so many long running manga out there that span hundreds of chapters, sometimes it’s just nice to sit down and read one with a simple, succinct storyline that can be finished in a single day.
If you’re looking for such a manga, then I would highly recommend Shiro Moriya’s Soloist in a Cage.
Spanning twenty chapters, the story follows Chloe, a young girl born and raised in Prison City, where all those convicted of crimes are sent, whether those crimes be simple theft or cold blooded murder.
As a result, the city is unbelievably dangerous, especially for Chloe, who has to stay indoors protecting her baby brother Locke, after their parents died.
The only reason they have survived so long is through the kindness of Ross Sandberg, a prisoner planning an escape, which Chloe crashes with Locke, planning to go with them.
Tragically, Locke is left behind in an accident during the escape.

Thus begins Chloe’s journey to rescue Locke.

The true story of Soloist in a Cage then begins many years later, as Chloe, now a deadly fighter thanks to Sandberg’s training, reenters the Prison City to rescue her little brother.
During her mission, Chloe encounters many different kinds of groups and characters, from the kind to the vile, all the while dealing with the overwhelming guilt she feels from the amount of blood she has to shed to achieve her goal.
All of this is executed fantastically with some excellent artwork by Moriya, with him transitioning from a comedic to gothic style flawlessly. 

The gothic art style in particular is great to look at.

It is here that I really need to praise Moriya himself because he had to take a year off from writing the manga, due to poor health.
Yet, after going through that, he still returned to finish his story, which I was a little sad to see end because I felt like it had the potential for more.
I wanted to know more about the outside world, like how this dystopian world got so bad that it sends those guilty of relatively harmless crimes to be locked up in the same city as murderous cannibals, for example.
But Moriya chose to end it at Chapter 20 and it is still a good ending that concludes the story in a fittingly ambiguous way.

The ending to Soloist in a Cage concludes Chloe’s story nicely.

Overall, Soloist in a Cage is a great manga that can be read fairly quickly.
It has fantastic artwork, an interesting world, and a likeable main character with a gripping internal struggle.        

Vinland Saga Manga Review: Not What I Expected but in a Good Way.

After finishing and loving the first season of the Vinland Saga anime by WIT Studio, I jumped right into the manga by Makoto Yakimura, and was surprised by the direction the story goes, to say the least.
I have heard a lot of fans say that many people who loved the first season of the anime, like me, may drop the series during or after Season Two because of the direction it goes.
This is not to say I am one of those people, no, I quite enjoyed the direction the manga took, but I am saying that people need to be ready for something quite different in the future of the anime, at least for Season Two.

Be prepared for a lot of farming in Vinland Saga‘s second season.

This season will adapt the Farmland Arc, a storyline that has much lesser scale battles than the first arc, choosing to focus mostly on the character development of Thorfinn, Canute, and many of the new characters.
Speaking of Thorfinn, wow, was I impressed by his development, especially after the first season, where I honestly was getting a bit tired of his angsty revenge phase by the end.
After reading the manga, however, I completely understand why that was necessary.
To be honest, his arc reminds me a lot of Eren from Attack on Titan and Shigaraki from My Hero Academia, at least in my initial perceptions of these characters.
All three of them start off as immature, before their character development justifies them starting off this way, eventually propelling them to be among the best characters of the series.
This is the case for Thorfinn, whose character development in the Farmland Arc is stellar.

Thorfinn’s journey to become a true warrior is gripping.

His character development is the focal point for Chapter 71 “Oath”, one of the best chapters of Vinland Saga.
The rest of the character development for new characters, like Einar, and old ones, like Canute, is also fantastic.
Overall, I loved the Farmland Arc, even if I would place it behind the War Arc because of how amazing of a character Askeladd is.
As for the two arcs that follow it, this is where some of my issues begin to pop up.
For starters, Vinland Saga becomes a much more comedic story after the Farmland Arc.
To be fair, a lot of this humor is very good, however, some of it feels quite unnecessary, especially one Shining reference that was so out of place it pulled me out of the scene.

This gag felt very unnecessary,

There is also a timeskip that is quite poorly executed, in my opinion, and it left me a bit unsure about the most recent arc, until one of the latest chapters, which is fantastic. 
All of this said, though, I want to be clear that I still like these later arcs.
I just don’t think they live up to the standard of the first two.
This could change, however, considering that the series is still ongoing.
And even if it never reaches those same heights, Vinland Saga is still a great story that I have thoroughly enjoyed reading.
I cannot wait for the Second Season, where we will see the fantastic redemption arc of Thorfinn begin.    

Top 10 Attack on Titan Chapters.

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 Impactand 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.   

Spy x Family Review: Heh.

Don’t you hate it when, as the top spy of your country, you are given the task of having a kid and then marrying someone, all in the span of a week, to get close to the target you are supposed to be spying on?
Well, this is the absurd problem the spy known as Twilight faces in Tatsuya Endo’s wickedly funny and wholesome manga Spy x Family. 
Taking on the identity of psychiatrist Loid Forger, Twilight, through a series of increasingly hilarious events, manages to procure a wife, Yor, and child, Anya.

The way the fake marriage between Twilight and Yor transpires is some great chaotic comedy.

Twilight’s mission is to enrol Anya at Eden Academy, the school where his target Donavon Desmond’s son, Damian, is enrolled.
There, Anya will attempt to befriend Damian so Twilight can get close to Desmond, all while he and Yor play at the perfect husband and wife and parents. 
There are just two issues, the first of which is that, unbeknownst to him, Yor is actually an accomplished assassin known as the Thorn Princess.
The second issue is that Anya is actually a telepath who escaped from the organization experimenting on her.
She is the only one in the entire family aware of her parents’ secret identities… and she thinks it’s amazing.
Que an ever increasing hilarious set of events where Twilight takes on spy missions, while trying to keep his family oblivious, Yor assasinates people, while also trying to keep her family oblivious. 
All of this is taking place while a fully aware of everything Anya does everything she can to make sure that her parents don’t find out the truth about the other, so she can keep her newfound family.

These scenarios only get funnier and funnier as the story goes on, with constant great gags, such as Anya’s signature “heh,” which was the image I saw that got me interested in readying Spy x Family in the first place.

Heh indeed Anya. Heh indeed.

As well as being hilarious, the manga is also quite wholesome.
Although Twilight and Yor both enter their fake relationship with the intent of using it for their own personal gain, Twilight to complete his mission and Yor to hide from suspicion of other people over her being single, they slowly begin to grow closer in their relationship.
They actually feel like a real couple, and real parents to Anya.
It got to the point where Yor actually screams at some criminals that she is Anya’s mother and I literally shouted, “damn right, you are!”
Some of the best moments in the manga are just of the family hanging out being wholesome.
It’s not just them, though, because even the side characters are pretty great, from Twilight’s friend Frankie, Damian, Twilight’s fellow spy Nightfall, Anya’s teacher Henderson, and Yor’s brother Yuri.
Some of these characters even provide the biggest laughs of the story so far.
All of this is brought togethor by some great illustrations by Endo, with his paneling doing quite a great job at bringing the humor across. 

A great example of Endo’s paneling creating a hilarious moment. When you understand the context of this it makes it quite hilarious.

Currently at 57 chapters, Spy x Family is a comedic and wholesome blast, one which will probably gain more fans when the anime adaptation by Studio Wit and Cloverworks releases in 2022.
If you have not read Spy x Family already, then I highly recommend it.      

My Hero Academia Chapter 336, Villain Review: Oh, Horikoshi. You Delightful Troll, You.

So, we all just got trolled.
Last week, when Chapter 335 of My Hero Academia was released, I considered doing a review of it after the cliffhanger reveal that Tooru Haguakure was supposedly the UA traitor.
I had mixed opinions about this apparent reveal when it happened.
On the one hand, Tooru being the traitor lacked any emotional impact because she is one of the most underdeveloped characters in Class 1-A, heck, in the entire story.
But, on the other hand, her being the traitor would allow Horikoshi to flesh out her character and actually provide her with something memorable.
Despite my mixed feelings about this supposed reveal, though, I decided not to review the chapter and just wait until the next one, where Horikoshi would undoubtedly expand on the traitor plotline.
That way, I could see what he planned to do with this twist, so I could fully judge it.
Well, after reading Chapter 336, “Villain,” I can say that I am glad I waited for this chapter to talk about the traitor storyline because Horikoshi played us all magnificently.
It turns out the Tooru cliffhanger was actually a red herring.
She was actually tracking down the true traitor who is Yuga Aoyama.
This is revealed in a great full page spread of his distraught face, followed up by the explanation for why he betrayed UA.
As it turns out, Aoyama was born Quirkless, much like Izuku, so his parents made a deal with All For One.
He would give Aoyama a Quirk and then, in return, Aoyama would spy on UA, or All For One would kill his parents.
I actually find this reveal to be a lot more emotionally impactful than one of the UA students actually being a villain sympathiser because, despite what he claims at the end of the chapter, Aoyama is not a villain but a victim.
He has been put in this terrible situation by the decisions of his parents and now has to protect them, while betraying his friends.
However, despite this, he still strives to be a hero and has done heroic things.
This can be seen most of all in the forest attack, where Aoyama attacked Mr Compress, allowing his classmates to rescue Tokoyami.
Aoyama did this knowing full well that it could put himself and his family in danger but he did it to protect his friends and make up for the terrible situation he had put them all in.
Then, there’s his previously established friendship with Izuku, where he sought to get to know him because of how he thought they were similar, both having Quirks that hurt them.
Well, it now turns out that Aoyama is way more similar to Deku than first thought because they directly parallel one another with this reveal.
Deku was given his power by a hero and Aoyama by a villain, yet both both are striding towards the same goal: to be heroes.
I hope that Aoyama can find some redemption and truly achieve his goal in the process.
As for Tooru not being the traitor, I will admit that I am a little disappointed that she is probably going to remain the same boring character by not being the traitor, but Aoyama is still the better choice and his story now directly parralels with Deku and the themes of the story.
As for the rest of “Villain,” it is short but decent, beginning with Class 1-A training and discussing why All For One will not be tracked down so easily.
It is the Aoyama reveal where the real cheese of this chapter is.
I just have my fingers crossed that this plot twist has some significant consequences and is not just going to be wrapped up in a few chapters, given the breakneck pace Horikoshi has been taking the story recently.
For now, though, I have to praise Horikoshi once more.
You tricked us all, you delightful troll.

Choujin X, Chapters 14 and 15 Review: A Dream Discovered?

I once again fell behind on reviewing Choujin X, and so I have decided to keep my reviews for the manga similar to my My Hero Academia reviews, where I only review chapters that significantly impact me, as the reader.
Well, I think Chapters 14 and 15 suit this definition perfectly, with me quite enjoying the chapters and how they both set up the future of the story and build up the character arcs.

Chapter 14: Sinker, Part 6 – Sayonara. 
Chapter 14 sees the end of Tokio’s fight with transformed Shiozaki in fantastic fashion.
Most of the fighters are out for the count against Shiozaki, however Tokio is still standing, ready to play Shiozaki at his own game.
He also has a better chance than the others, since, as he has beastified into a vulture, he can see the rocks Shiozaki throws, even when they get up to speeds of 200 kilometers an hour.
Although, in order to hit Shiozaki’s throws he has to use what he learned in Little League, so that’s raises some concerns for his chances.
These concerns grow worse when Tokio’s arm is broken by a 300 km throw from Shiozaki but, thankfully, for whatever reason, Tokio does not start to sink.
Desperate, Tokio asks Momoma if he can use the Raise technique that Simon used to try and defeat Shiozaki.
Momoma warns he could die if he gets it wrong but Tokio is insistent.
What follows is Tokio begging Momoma to help him, while Simon yells at her not to.
This conflict Momoma is facing ends when Tokio says he wants to try Raise to save Shiozaki, causing Momoma to remember a Choujin who appears to also have had super strength rescuing her, maybe her father?
Momoma then runs to Tokio at full speed, before jumping and kicking him in the head with such force that it breaks his neck.
However, this allows Tokio to use the Raise ability to restore himself to his complete Beastified form, before he challenges Shiozaki, yelling at him to throw a sinker at him.
This is another ploy from Tokio, as it is revealed that he watched Shiozaki’s sinker throws online, almost obsessively, which plays into his favor because “I’m unbeatable when it comes to worshipping someone!”
Tokio believes that this knowledge of Shiozaki’s sinkers, along with his Beastified abilities, may just give him the edge to win.
In some great paneling from Ishida, Shiozaki throws the sinker and Tokio hits it… only for him to immediately sink into the ground.
However, as Tokio is silently berating himself for being a garbage Choujin, Shiozaki catches the ball he hit, only for his sinking ability to redirect on himself because of this, with him crashing into the ground and returning to normal.
In the aftermath of this battle, Ely arrives to congratulate a still sunken Tokio, Simon shows off his petty side by calling what Tokio did obstruction, while Momoma thinks he did a great job.
Speaking of Simon’s opinion on this, though, I can see him butting heads with Tokio in the future.
Not long after, Ichiiro Sato, a Yamato Mori Keeper, arrives to deal with the situation and considers recruiting Tokio and Ely by force if necessary, however, he knows Sandek will be stubborn about this.
Then, we get the most intriguing and horrifying moment of the chapter, when he states, “the creature of the tower kindles the flame once again,” as we see a leaning tower, emittng smoke.
Next, presumably inside this tower, we see Chandra Hume kneeling before a giant monster right out of a Lovecraftian Horror story.
The monster is gigantic, and has two clasped togethor hands holding pearls for a face.
It also appears to have wings.
Then, the unknown creature says that it has felt the birth of one of its beasts, as the final panel of the chapter shows a pile of decomposing corpses, all with weird markings on their foreheads.
This is quite a horrifying cliffhanger, one which made me quite interested to see where the story will go from here now that this monster that is supposedly the source of the Beast Choujins has appeared.
Who and what this monster is remains to be seen but I am already eagerly anticipating the answer.
That said, the pile of corpses raises some pretty terrifying implications, since in Chapter Two Hume offered to take Ely with him and teach her everything about Choujin.
If he had taken her to this monster, would she have ended up as just another corpse in the pile?
Overall, Chapter 14 was a great chapter that ended the Shiozaki fight well and delivered a horrifying cliffhanger than raises many intriguing questions for Ishida to answer in the future of this story.

Chapter 15: Fly.
While Chapter 14 is a mostly action chapter, which built the story up with its cliffhanger, Chapter 15, “Fly,” is one that builds up Tokio and Ely’s characters in fantastic ways.
Ironically enough for a chapter named “Fly,” it begins with, well, birds flying, before we see Tokio wake up after his fight with Shiozaki.
Only he wakes up with the same exaggerated face as he did in Chapter Seven, but this time he’s screaming about being the Giant baseball team’s cleanup hitter.
It seems that Tokio waking up from nightmares with an exaggerated, horrified face is going to be a recurring gag in this story, not that I’m complaining.
After wrapping up Ely in a blanket when he sees she is also suffering from an unpleasant dream, Tokio goes outside to rest on a playground, where he is met by Shiozaki.
Shiozaki talks about how he wishes he had not quit baseball, but knows he only has himself to blame for all of the illegal things he did.
Tokio attempts to console him by asking him to play baseball with him in the future.
Shiozaki jokes that Tokio would not even be a good warmup for him but agrees to play a game of catch when his ledger is cleared and he is living an honest life.
It is good to see Shiozaki is changing, although a bit weird that he is not behind bars since his bank robbing was most likely discovered.
Then, we get the most shocking moment of the chapter… Ely’s age!
We see both her and Tokio’s Choujin registration and it turns out that Ely is actually older than Tokio.
She looks like a 12-year-old but it just turns out she is just short, go figure.
Sandek congratulates them on getting their Choujin registration and later talks with Tokio, who asks him what he gets out of being a Choujin.
In a classic moment of Ishida metaphor, Sandek compares happiness to a road where, if the rules are broken, chaos ensues.
Then, is a moment that is definitley a Spider-Man reference, Sandek says that “with great power… come the potential for great chaos.”
Sandek views it as a pleasure to defend the road from this chaos.
After stating this, he turns the question onto Tokio, asking what his heart is telling him to do?
Remembering how he helped Shiozaki, Tokio wonders if he can become a Choujin who helps people.
The look of relization as he thinks this is excellently drawn.
It would seem that Tokio may very well have finally discovered his dream, which he was struggling to find earlier.
This fantastic moment is then followed by a tragic one, which shapes Ely’s character.
She goes to give a replacement skooter to the kid she took one from to escape Hume in Chapter Two.
However, when she reaches the boy’s house, she is met with his grandfather, who reveals that the boy was murdered by Hume.
The scene then cuts to the murderous Smoke Choujin himself, who is at the tower, sitting with his back turned to the pile of corpses.
In Hume’s inner monologue, he mentions how each day “Mother” weakens, and how the beasts they are looking for could be her salvation.
This “Mother” is almost certainly the giant monster seen at the end of the last chapter.
So, does this mean that the many corpses behind Hume are Beast Choujin who were used in an attempt to save “Mother” but were failures and died as a result?
It would also seem that the Noh Mask Choujin works for “Mother” as well, and he and Hume are at odds, with Hume planning to find Tokio first for recognition.
Unbeknowst to Hume, though, he is firmly on Ely’s mind, as she sees his wanted poster while at the airport, along with the reward money for his capture.
This mixes in Ely’s two key motivations, which she brought up in Chapter Eight, taking out bad guys and money.
She wants to stop Hume because of the people he has hurt, most notably the boy, and also because of the reward money she could use to live comfortably.
It is not just Ely who has become more defined as a character, though, but Tokio as well, since after his relization and development through the Shiozaki fight, he has become more skilled, catching a piece of chalk his teacher throws at him in class when he is not listening.
It is that moment that Ely storms in, transferring to Tokio’s school, but walking into the wrong class.
Tokio then begins to follow her, wondering if it’s really Ely, peaking Azuma’s interest, as his eyes seem to prickle.
Could this be Azuma’s Choujin powers finally manifesting?
This is a brief moment, though, and it is cut off by the joke of Tokio still following Ely, wondering if it’s her, only to confront her and for Ely to humorously state, “obviously.”
Meeting to talk on the rooftop of the school, Tokio asks her what she’s doing here, and Ely says she is going to make money taking out bad guys.
She says this with the smoking tower framed in between them, pretty much confirming that a showdown with “mother” is innevitable, as the chapter comes to a close.
“Fly” was another great chapter of Choujin X, building up the character development of both Tokio and Ely excellently.
It seems they are being set up to fight Hume soon, but I do wonder where Ume and Ricardo went, since those two were built up before the Shiozaki fight, but have yet to face off against Tokio and Ely.
It’s just a matter of which villainous Choujin the two fill face off against first, Hume, Noh Mask, or Ume and Ricardo?

Talentless Nana Chapter 67, Beginning of the Revolution Review: It Finally Happens.

I have been keeping up with the Talentless Nana manga, created by Looseboy and illustrated by Iori Furuya, ever since I finished the anime. 
While I have been enjoying the story, for the most part, I did feel that the plot was beginning to get a bit dragged out. 
Nana was constantly being framed for crimes she did not commit, followed by her innevitably proving her innocence, and there was even a cliffhanger where she promised to tell Kyoya everything… only to not tell him everything.
With moments like these, it made me wonder how much more story we would have to go through before Nana finally admitted to her crimes and we got to see some substantial fallout from that.
Well, turns out, we did not have to wait long.
I knew I was in for a treat as soon as I saw the title of this chapter, “Beginning of the Revolution”, an on the nose title that perfectly represents the events of the chapter both in reagards to Nana’s beginning revolution against Tsuruouka and Tsuruoka’s fake one to justify taking out the Talented. 
Chapter 67 begins with Moe having a dream about her grandmother, finally coming to terms with her death, saying she now has a vague sense of what life is about. 
Nana’s efforts to keep Moe from killing and to protect her have really paid off and this is further confirmed when Moe wakes up in the hostpital and Nana affirms their friendship. 
However, despite this happy start, “Beginning of the Revolution” quickly follows this up with an event that will clearly shape the story for some time. 
The cliffhanger from the last chapter was Nanao arriving to free Soma, and we get the payoff for that here, in gruesome fashion for Soma. 
After questioning Soma on his “friendship” with Saijo and the nature of his Talent, Soma admits that it would be dangerous to use his electricity talent in this room because it could cause a “phreatic explosion.”
Nanao says he wants Soma to do it and Soma calls him an idiot because that would kill them both. 
Unfortunately for Soma, this is exactly what Nanao wants, minus the killing himself part, just Soma. 
Using his Talent, Nanao orders Soma to create this phreatic explosion and cause a major incident to frame the Talented, which is Tsuruoka’s plan, before he leaves Soma to die. 
Soma can do nothing but scream for help as he activates his Talent, sealing his fate.
Before we see the result of this act, however, we get the moment Talentless Nana fans have been waiting for forever: Nana’s confession. 
Kyouya, Fuko, and Sachiko are wondering why no police invesitgation has been opened up for the numerous murders, including Saijo’s, and Kyouya speculates that the military actually approves of them killing each other. 
Nana then marches in and announces that he is right stating, “Talented individuals are the ‘Enemies of Humanity.’ They should be killed off secretly.”
I got chills when I read this moment. 
For so long, I and many others had waited for the moment when Nana would confess her to murders and how the military wants to kill all of the Talented and she finally did it. 
She leads them all outside and gives a full confession, even taking the blame for Ryuji’s death by creating the environment where was killed, which I never thought of. 
Fuko and Sachiko are stunned by this, but Kyouya is as level-headed as ever, taking control of the situation by deducing that Tsuruoka put Nana up to murdering the Talented. 
Nana, relieved that Kyouya believes her, offers to tell everyone else about her crimes to get them to evacuate, however, Kyouya points out that they are more likely to swarm her and order her execution for everything she did. 
With a panel above showing all the people she murdered and whose deaths she indirectly caused, Nana says she knows this but still looks determined to risk it to protect the other Talented students, showing just how far she has come since the beginning of the story. 
Kyouya considers this and then agrees to work with Nana, not because he is on her side, but for the good of all. 
They will not have to work alone though because who should show up but none other than Jin, who followed them as a cat before revealing himself. 
He tells Kyouya and the others that he can testify about the military’s crimes because of what he went through five years ago. 
Kyouya and the others are naturally shocked to see Jin appear as if from nowhere, but what I find most interesting is the actual first interaction between Kyouya and Jin… well, their first interaction where Jin isn’t disguised as a cat.
The reason I was excited to see these two meet is because I am a firm believer in the theory that Jin is secretly Kyouya’s sister. 
We know that Jin is not who he appears to be, due to him keeping the real Jin safe because he is in a coma.
So, since Jin’s identity has been built up as a mystery, he is most likely someone important, like Kyouya’s sister.  
There have even been some signs that Jin is actually a girl, like when he jokingly asked Tsuruoka if he was inviting him on a date in their first interaction, and he refrences religion a lot, just like the girl in his story who killed people for religious reasons. 
Ignoring this, the only other person Jin could be that would have a significant impact on the reader is Nana’s brother but Jin actually mentions him in this chapter, telling Nana he found out some information about him, so that would seem to eliminate that theory. 
Speaking of Nana’s brother, though, we will have to wait to find out exactly what it is that Jin discovered about him because, before he can say, he is interrupted by the massive explosion caused by Soma.
The blast is so huge that it looks to have taken out some of the city as well. 
So Nanao has graduated from killing Talented people, to apparently innocent civilians as well, which is way worse than anything Nana did, so it will be interesting to see how Nana reacts to have causing Nanao’s descent. 
Just as Nana realises that the explosion came from the warehouse Soma was kept in, Tsuruoka arrives, declaring Nana a suspect in this terroist act and placing her under arrest, ending the chapter. 
This was a great cliffhanger, unveiling Tsuruoka’s plan to frame the Talented for a terrorist attack to get the public on the side of executing them all so they won’t have to do it covertly anymore. 
Sure, this is yet another instance of Nana being framed for something she did not do, but at least it has the variety of coming with her confession to the crimes she did commit and this being the biggest framing of all, considering its for a terrorist attack not just murder.
I wonder if this will end in a fight with Nana and the Talented against the soldiers, or if Nana will go quietly, giving her allies the chance to escape? 
Either way, it really feels like we are approaching the final arc of this story, if we’re not in it already.
Nana has confessed to her crimes, Jin has also introduced himself, and Tsurukoa and Nanao have initiated their master plan to frame the Talented for a terrorist attack. 
I am eagerly anticipating the next chapter after all of this,