I am super pumped, as I'm sure many of you are, watching the final season of the Attack on Titan anime. In celebration of what I consider to be one of the "greatest anime of all time" and the manga. it's based on coming to a close, Kodansha has released a collection of the best moments from the Attack on Titan manga in full color! I have just finished reading Volume 1 of this 2 volume collection, and I'm here to tell you what I thought of the chapters they decided to give the full-color treatment to and whether you should add it to your collection or not.
To begin, I will tell you that I own and have read all 34 volumes of the manga, and I am caught up on the anime, which has remained very faithful to the manga it is adapted from. I mention this because I think you need to have read the entire manga or finished the entire series before you read this "Best of" collection. The latter is not possible at the time of writing this review (February 17, 2022) since the anime is still ongoing. So, if you have not read the manga, consider yourself warned that a few of the chapters collected here have not yet aired in the anime.
You may be asking yourself: "Why do I need to read a few chapters of the manga in full-color when I can just watch the anime, which is completely colorized?" For one, I think compiling and colorizing the best of Attack on Titan is a great way to pay respect to the creator of the franchise, Hajime Isayama, for all of his hard work in writing such a compelling story and creating such imaginative, beautiful art. With an anime as big as Attack on Titan, we sometimes forget to pay credit where credit is due: to the original creator. How many fans of any anime can tell you the name of the author who wrote the manga? In my opinion, to be a fan of any piece of fiction, it's important to remember the talented people who gave us the stories and characters we love. The Best of Attack on Titan seeks to give fans of AOT the opportunity to see the best of Hajime Isayama's work.
Tie-in series like this are always a risky proposition, as comparisons to the original source material are bound to occur. But Saito does a great job handling both the writing and art. Story-wise, he gets the characters spot on. Their personalities carry over perfectly from the game, and as Ren is a bit of a blank slate in the game, it's fun to see him be the (mostly) calm, confident core of the team. The story can feel a bit crowded at times, with 3 or 4 different plot threads going on and Ren seemingly involved with all of them, but as only a 3-volume series, it does a good job of laying the foundation for an intriguing mystery. It might be a bit daunting to casual readers not familiar with the game or anime, but it's not a deal-breaker if this is your first trip to Yongen-Jaya.
Secondly, the way the manga is drawn and colorized is quite a bit different from the anime. Rather than seeing computer-rendered animation at quick speed, which can be seen as more exciting by some, reading the manga gives you a chance to look at and study the details of beautiful hand-drawn illustrations. Using CGI in the anime has the advantage of providing more detail and depth to the backgrounds, but this can also be seen as a weakness since the images of each frame can be seen as "too crowded." In the manga, Isayama focuses most of his detail on the characters and less on the background. Many of the panels show characters standing in front of a blank, white background so your focus is drawn to their expressions and actions instead of being distracted by the background. Any time Isayama pays attention to the background, it is done with purpose rather than just to fill space. Backgrounds are provided when the reader needs a sense of the environment the story is taking place in and when the characters need to interact with their surroundings. Whereas with emotional moments or intense action, the background is taken away to focus your eyes completely on the characters.
Attack on Titan is a very grim story with lots of dark moments, so the anime often uses dark tones and colors to match the mood. The colors in this manga, however, are very bright and colorful. This might seem like an odd choice, but it really makes the art pop in ways you don't get from the anime. The use of color also shows off the details of the characters' faces and the motion of the action scenes that you can't get from the original black and white art. Plus, as a fan of the horror genre, it's always more exciting to see bright red blood!
Kodansha has chosen an interesting but nice assortment of chapters for this book, including my personal favorite (Episode 81: Promise, in which Commander Erwin and his scouts bravely charge at the Beast Titan as Levi sneaks up on him to deliver an epic attack).
There are a few of my favorites missing, but I assume some of them will appear in Volume 2. This volume also includes the original sketches from Episode 1, which are said to be "vastly different from what was eventually published twelve years ago." In my opinion, they didn't feel vastly different to me since almost everything in the original sketches made it into the final story, but they were still a nice addition to the book for fans who want to see the beginnings of what would become an amazing manga series.
My main criticisms of The Best of Attack on Titan in Color are not from the chapters they determined to be the "best of," but rather the way they presented their choices. The chapters in this volume are not in chronological order, so it isn't like a retrospective journey of the entire series as I hoped it would be. If they aren't chronological, you might think that they would be presented in a ranked order, starting with the 10th best and counting down to the number 1 best chapter of the manga. That would have made sense since there was apparently a poll of the readers' favorite chapters, but that isn't the case either. Instead, it feels as though the "best chapters" were shuffled and put in a completely random order, but each chapter has an introduction on why it was chosen to be included. To give you an idea of what I mean, here are the chapters and why they were chosen: 46 (chosen by the editor of Kodansha in Tokyo), 81 (7th place in the reader poll), 69 (one of the creator's favorites), 126 (2nd place in the reader poll), 71 (one of the creator's favorites), and 130 (8th place in the reader poll). Do you see my confusion?
Aside from that small gripe, the book itself is beautiful. The pages have good quality, the colors are vibrant, and the hardcover design gives it a "collector's" feeling that would make the book look great next to the Complete Color Edition of the side-story "No Regrets," which I also proudly own and love. At the moment, Kodansha hasn't announced when Volume 2 will be released in English, but I am eager to get my hands on that one as well. If it were up to me, I would own the entire series in full color, but it sure feels great to see a few of the best chapters in this format. If you haven't read the entire run of the manga or are just a casual fan, it might be hard to read these chapters out of order and missing context. However, for those of you who have enjoyed the journey from start to finish, eagerly awaiting a new chapter every week for years, it sure feels good revisiting some of Attack on Titan's greatest moments!
The Best of Attack on Titan In Color manga volume 1 is presented in full color in this hardcover edition and features story and art by Hajime Isayama.
Own six of the most explosive chapters from Attack on Titan's 12-year run, selected by readers, editors, and creator Hajime Isayama himself, retouched and rendered in spectacular color! This collectible hardcover also includes the original, never-completed draft of Attack on Titan Episode 1. Experience the moments that defined Levi, Historia, Reiner, Eren, and more of your favorite characters - and then read all 54 pages of the Attack on Titan story that wasn't told!Add to CartLearn More