Attack on Titan Volume 26: Most Heartbreaking Death Yet?

Chapter 103: Assault.

4 stars
Continuing the action started in Chapter 100 of the Scouts’ attack on Marley, Chapter 103 opens with the spectacular full page image of the battle, seen above.
It is artwork like this that shows just how far Hajime Isayama has come from when he first started the series.
In those early days his artwork often looked a little stiff and, at worst, unnatural.
Now, however, I find problems like this in Isayama’s artwork to be very few.
The shot of Falco watching the battle as Zeke, Galliard and Pieck engage the scouts is a testament to this.
Speaking of Falco, the conformation of him and Reiner’s survival at the beginning of the chapter was a relief to me.
While I was almost certain Falco would survive, I was concerned about Reiner so to see him alive, although injured, was reassuring.
That said, the chapter continues to show how broken Reiner has become, with his wish to die keeping him from healing properly.
It will be interesting to see if Reiner can overcome these feelings and redeem himself in the future of the story.
The rest of “Assault” is pure action with the scouts taking on the Titans and pretty much wiping the floor with them.
Both Zeke and Pieck fall in this chapter and, upon reading, I took issue with both of these events.
At first I was angered that Zeke was defeated so easily but, after reading the rest of the volume and seeing what happens, my opinion changed.
For Pieck, however, my opinion did not change.
I felt the way the chapter ended with Jean about to kill her, only for Falco to get in the way, ending the chapter on a cliffhanger almost killed the tension completely.
It reminded me a lot of the ending to season two episode seven, “Close Combat”, where the episode’s tension was killed when it abruptly ended before Bertholdt could fall on Eren and Reiner.
All of this said, I did enjoy the action sequences that came before this with Sasha once again showing how great of a sharpshooter she is both with a bow and a gun.
Then there is Jean and the other scouts destroying Pieck’s Cart Titan with their thunder spears so badly that it is a miracle she survived.
Even Galliard surprisingly got a moment to shine when he swats a Scout out of the sky to protect Pieck.
This was just a small hint of how cool a character Galliard would become in the next chapters.
The best moment of “Assault” though came with the long-awaited return of Armin who, in one of his coolest moments, destroyed the entire fleet of battleships sent in to help with his nuclear Colossal Titan transformation.
It was great to see Armin again after his long absence and the way he appeared left me eager to see what would happen with him next.
Overall, “Assault” was a good start to Volume 26 with great action, even if the ending was abrupt.

Chapter 104: Victors.

5 stars
“Victors” is not just a fantastic chapter of Attack on Titan but one that gives the Scouts probably their most successful victory to date… before it is rudely snatched away by the events of the next chapter.
However, even knowing this event was coming did not make the Scouts’ victory any less sweeter when Eren succeeded in consuming the Warhammer Titan.
While I will admit I was once again disappointed by the user of the Warhammer Titan (with her only appearing for a short time before dying without us knowing her name) it will be interesting to see what Eren does with this new Titan power he has gained.
The way Eren achieves gaining this power is also one of the most ingenious character moments of Attack on Titan.
After seeing how powerful the Jaw Titan’s claws and jaws are, Eren grabs Galliard with the help of Mikasa and forces him to crush the Warhammer Titan so Eren can eat the remains.
This was a very shocking moment that shows how much smarter Eren has become over the years.
The standout of this chapter for me, however, was surprisingly Galliard with how amazingly strong his Titan turned out to be.
Without Mikasa taking him by surprise, it seemed to me that Galliard would have been a very difficult foe for Eren to defeat.
As Mikasa easily points out in the chapter, Galliard’s Jaw Titan is very different from Ymir’s.
However, while I liked Galliard’s skills as a Titan Shifter this chapter I still have yet to warm up to his character.
That said, “Victors” does look to be building up some actual character development for him that may make me like him more.
In a powerful scene for Reiner, he temporarily overcomes his wish to die and, after transforming into a weakened version of his Armoured Titan, rushes in to save Galliard from Eren.
Galliard has been shown to extremely dislike Reiner because of how he caused his brother’s death so this could remove the wedge between them and create some actual development for Galliard.
Another point to mention is Galliard’s Jaw Titan’s possibly being used to help Marley in the future, rather than how it was used unwillingly against Marley in this chapter.
If Galliard could crush the Warhammer Titan’s crystal then it is also possible for him to do the same for Annie, hopefully without killing her this time.
All of this is great set up if it does end up being what happens.
If not though, the rest of this chapter is still fantastic with numerous standout scenes.
We get out first look at Armin’s Colossal Titan, which is much skinnier than Bertholdt’s because of Armin’s physique.
Armin also seems to realise for the first time what it was like for Bertholdt destroying Wall Maria’s gate at the beginning of the series.
We also get the continuation of the abrupt ending to the previous chapter, which added a nice layer of character development for Jean.
Before he can shoot his thunder spear at Falco and Pieck, the smoke from her Titan as she emerges from it blocks his view causing him to miss.
However, Jean does wonder if he missed intentionally not wanting to harm a child, which shows how honorable Jean is, despite being on the attacking side this time around.
The scouts are also revealed to have a zeppelin of their own this chapter, with Hange and new character Onyankopon flying it.
After picking up Armin, Hange and him have a touching moment when Hange wonders if he was possessed by Erwin’s ghost, showing the burden both share as Erwin’s successors.
Hange as his literal one, being the new Commander of the Survey Corps, and Armin the figurative one, having been chose to inherit the Colossal Titan over Erwin.
“Victors” is a fantastic chapter.
It has plenty of amazing action and character moments that will be very exciting to witness when season four is animated in a couple of years.

Chapter 105: Assassins Bullet.

5 stars
This chapter hurt.
I was spoiled about Sasha’s death days after this chapter came out but my prior knowledge did not make the chapter any less painful to read.
As the series got closer and closer to chapter 105 I wondered just Isayama would kill her off.
Given how this chapter is called “Assassins Bullet” and how Gabi was last seen in the previous chapter racing after the Scouts’ zeppelin with a gun hoping to avenge the death of her friends, I was pretty confident she was the one who would do the deed.
Sadly, my suspicions were correct because, after sneaking on board the zeppelin with Falco, Gabi shot Sasha in the stomach fatally wounding her.
This was a very sad scene to read especially with the other characters’ reaction to it.
In a rare moment we actually got to see Mikasa crying, which is surprising as well as touching because she only seemed to care about Eren and Armin before now.
Eren’s reaction is also was very gripping, with him laughing and crying, just like he did when Hannes was killed all the way back in Chapter 50.
Then there is Sasha herself, whose death is incredibly sad to see, with her last words of “meat” speaking both to her characteristics as a primarily comic-relief character and the manga’s theme of freedom.
Sasha has come a long way since she first appeared in the manga and I am glad that Isayama decided to let her live longer than he originally planned because it gave her a lot of great moments to shine before her death.
As for Gabi, this chapter made me understand why so many fans hate her because of how she murdered Sasha.
That said, I do not blame her for Sasha’s death because this chapter makes it very clear that she has been brainwashed and, from her perspective, Sasha and the others are the bad guys.
Both of these factors are shown in the conversation between Gabi and Falco before she kills Sasha.
While Falco points out how those on Paradis were attacked first, Gabi states she can never forgive the Eldians for killing her friends and all her life has wanted to prove to Marley that there are good Eldians but their attackers may have stopped this.
She makes a good point here because if Attack on Titan had started from Chapter 90 instead of Chapter One then a lot of readers would be on Gab’s side.
Still, this makes for a brilliant contrast between Falco and Gabi.
Falco does not blindly accept Marley’s brainwashing and is able to understand Eren’s point of view, which is contrasted by Gabi’s blind loyalty to Marley because of the brainwashing.
However, Sasha’s tragic death and Gabi’s side of the story are not the only highlights of “Assassins Bullet.”
One particularly explosive reveal confirmed the theory myself and many others had about Zeke, that he was secretly working with Eren the entire time.
It is revealed in this chapter that Zeke deliberately avoided killing the Scouts when fighting and was purposefully captured by Levi so he could help those on Paradis.
While this is an interesting reveal, it is clear to me that Zeke cannot be trusted.
This is the man who who cheered upon killing almost every scout that ran at him in Erwin’s suicide charge.
Whatever his true ambitions are, he is merely siding with the Scouts to achieve them.
The moment they become useless to Zeke he will turn on them in an instant.
This seems to be made very clear by Isayama with the final panel of Zeke having his eyes obscured by the light reflecting off his glasses, hiding both his gaze and true motivations.
Another interesting point is the official introduction of Yelena, a follower of Zeke who was the one who temporarily captured Pieck and Galliard.
However, as Jean points out, it was her fault they escaped, which is another point against Zeke and her truly wishing to help Paradis.
Maybe Yelena purposefully allowed Pieck and Galliard to escape as a part of Zeke’s grand plan but if this is true it has yet to be revealed.
Anyway, I am very excited about Zeke temporarily coming over to Eren’s side because we may finally get the conversation between the two brothers that I have been waiting to see since their family connection was first revealed.
Speaking of Eren, another surprising moment came for his character this chapter when it was revealed he actually went rogue to attack Marley, forcing the Scouts to come and rescue him.
The impact of this will surely be felt in the future as Hange perfectly states, “you put your trust is us… and we’ve lost our trust in you”
The divisions caused by Eren going rogue can even be seen between him, Armin and Mikasa as the chapter opens with them reuniting.
However, rather than this being a happy moment, it is clearly somber with the side by side panels of each individual characters’ face showing just how distant the three have become.
They have certainly come a long way from their first time reaching the ocean but not for the better.
The standout moment of the chapter though is still the tragic death of our beloved potato girl Sasha.
Her death is one of the saddest the series has ever had and, with the manga supposedly about to enter its final arc, we are certain to get a lot more

Chapter 106: Volunteers.

4 stars
After the tragic death of Sasha in “Assassin’s Bullet,” Chapter 106, “Volunteers,” serves to make her death all the more painful with a big flashback to in between the four year time jump in which she is present.
Every time I saw her in this chapter it just dug the knife in deeper, especially when the scene transitioned from Eren, Mikasa and Armin at a shooting range to Sasha getting shot in the stomach.
Still, I did enjoy how even though Sasha is dead she is not forgotten.
A lot of other series would have mentioned her only briefly after her death but when characters in Attack on Titan die they are still relevant to the story, either through flashbacks or through their actions having an impact long after they are gone.
Along with all this, the big flashback in this chapter also went on to explain how Yelena, Onyankopon and the rest of Zeke’s followers came to join the Scouts in their efforts.
Upon arriving in Paradis, Yelena shot her superior officer and her soldiers took those who were untrustworthy captive to show their loyalty to Eren and the others.
However, once Zeke was mentioned it caused a whole lot of difficulty for them in gaining those on Paradis’ trust.
In a surprising moment though, Eren spoke up for them, wanting to go through with Zeke’s plan to use his royal blood and Eren’s Founding Titan to initiate the rumbling with the many Colossal Titans inside the wall.
This also seems to be where the first layer of trust between Eren and the scouts was broken, when he reveals he hid the fact that someone with royal blood could be used to initiate the rumbling to protect Historia.
From here though, we see relations between the Marleyan volunteers and the Eldians on Paradis growing.
We see Sasha get attached to a Marleyan named Nicolo because of his cooking and we even get to briefly see the progression of a Marleyan as he went from hating to trusting the Eldians over time.
Another interesting scene came when Sasha asked Onyankopon why his skin is black.
This came across as natural since everyone on Paradis is Eldian, with the exception of Mikasa, so the other characters would never have seen a black person before.
The scene also added another layer to the story of Ymir Fritz, when Onyankopon states that God made various people different races and also was probably the one to give Ymir her Titan powers.
This adds another version of the tale to her myth and how she is perceived and I wonder if we will ever get a solid explanation for how Ymir became the first Titan.
The standout moment of the chapter though, would have to be the return of Annie, who Armin is revealed to be talking to and who is still stuck in that goddamn crystal!
Seriously, she has been in there for 73 chapters, when is she going to come out?
Hopefully, with the reveal that Galliard can crush these crystals Annie can return soon.
Still, it was great to see her again, and not in flashback form, after all this time.
“Volunteers” even gifted us with some great callback moments like with Armin’s seashell, Eren picking up the Marleyan warship just like Kruger did in his first appearance, and Mikasa and Eren once again repeating the common “fight” line seen in the series.
This final moment was the ending scene of the chapter and saw Mikasa supposedly at Sasha’s funeral, Gabi and Falco imprisoned, and Eren also imprisoned in a different area.
Eren’s imprisonment goes to show how he is no longer trusted by the Scouts.
All of this said, the chapter did have a few iffy moments like when Yelena and Onyankopon talk about why Marley has not launched an all out invasion yet.
The biggest reasons are that many countries were inspired by their efforts and went to war with Marley and because Marley was afraid of the Titans still on Paradis, unaware that the Scouts had killed them all.
During this conversation we got a panel of these Titans, which looked pretty goofy because they looked to be dancing.
Overall though, “Volunteers” was still a good chapter to end Volume 26 on.
We got a good explanation of what had happened during the four year time skip and finally got to see Annie again… if only she would wake up already!