The signs were always there. These two were always choice suspects. But… wow. What a reveal.
After what seems like months (4 of them), the battle of Castle Utgard is over. And here we are with our few survivors, taking a well earned breather. Even Ymir is alive after all the damage she went through, her Titan qualities keeping her mashed potato insides from failing on her. Needless to say, she’s in a curiously perilous position now with her Titan lifestyle revealed. Certainly, she has eyewitnesses to her selfless acts, and an eternal ally in Historia. But truth of the matter is that she kept her secrets hidden for so long, and as we saw with Eren’s trial, Ymir has herself a lot to deal with once she wakes up. Historia, last name Reiss, is another ambiguous case, her heritage potentially playing into the upcoming politics we’re likely to deal with. Hanji’s attitude is particularly telling, honestly almost a little worrying, how she lingers on her name.
More terrifying; her killer stare. It is the one and only hint and warning we get that she knows something. Something immediate and about to happen.
As all of the scout legion climbs up the walls, Reiner laments his current career choice. Brushing with death twice does that to a man. -His warrior heart brought up during Castle Utgard has clearly taken a blow or two, along with his burly warrior arm. Also, remember how the previous two chapters had paired titles Ymir/Historia? Seems like the same dealie is going here with chapter 39 as the tandem buddy, making the pair Soldier/Warrior. So while Reiner is now a soldier willing to risk his life, he was once a warrior willing to live no matter what. It’s kinda cool how thick the author is laying it on, despite not saying anything directly. I mean, heck, the author even went and refreshed Reiner’s first deathly encounter for us, putting it right at the forefront of our memories. It’s some shockingly effective writing.
We also get a return of Hannes, who reports on the whereabouts of the breach. As in, no where at all. Just like with the venture in the dark, they found absolutely nothing. Not even a gosh darned Titan for godsake. Armin has it right, it’s odd how nothing happened for an entire 5 years, yet now everything happens all at once. Like the next goddamn scene. It is like a record scratch in my head, I had to rewind my own damn brain like 3 times before it sunk in. Reiner is the armored titan. Berthold is the colossal titan. It is them. Here they are. In the most casual fucking reveal of the century.
The author went out of his way to make this work. He might’ve been planning this for 20 chapters now, ever since the initial Ymir name drop. With it ripening so obviously as a clue, Ymir’s became the focus so easily. Even with that, it’s not like pinning Titan status on Reiner was difficult once you started digging through the chapters. Chapter 11, Reiner is the first to react to the Titan vapor. The visible similarities between Reiner and the armored titan. The entire situation with Reiner being caught by Titan Annie brought up and explained in this chapter. Those were the more obvious ones I noted myself, but even beyond that there’s evidently a lot of Reiner and Annie interaction which, in hindsight, makes a lot more sense.
First of which comes to mind is during chapter 7, when Annie asks Reiner what to do next, to which he replies “Not yet… let them gather first.” Lookin’ at the entire situation, that doesn’t even make any sense when applied to the titans. You’d want the very opposite to happen, since they titans need to scatter in order for the trainees to access the tower. Now, if you were to reverse the situation and say he was talking about people. The titans’ goal was to break down the wall, until Eren popped up anyhow, so the easiest way to accomplish that would be to have the humans gathered in one location, giving the titans ample time and opportunity to put their plan into action. There’s probably plenty more, but that was a little odd even when first reading it. A compiled list of all that stuff would be killer. Although at this rate, I’m just gonna write out one on my own.
But even if we knew all that, to have it come at the heels of the long-awaited Ymir reveal. To make the battle of Castle Utgard’s finale a fake-out climax, subverting it with a background panel conversation. That’s. That’s pretty good. You can only really ever do a reveal like this once, so to have it be this big and during a supposed breather chapter is effective on so many levels. I couldn’t have been the only one laughing in disbelief at it actually going down like this. Man, I’m okay with how it’s handled, it’s awesome even, but it should also never happen again.
Part of why I feel like it works comes from the hints being dropped like mad this chapter. This village Reiner and Berthold keep going on about is either a home for titans, or possibly even a base of some sort. Meaning in conjunction that titans live in some measure of organized society somewhere the humans cannot reach or see. What’s more is that the two and probably Annie at least, Reiner calling themselves brats, were all fairly ignorant of humans when they launched their initial attack. This at least means in their titan society, these brats would have had some reason and/or grown to hate people enough to attack them. But during their life here, they’ve become increasingly conflicted, Reiner’s sense of morals completely out of whack. So it makes sense for him, currently not in the soundest state of mind, to finally attempt to converse with Eren on a titan to titan level. All this and it appears to be very urgent to him, further stressing the poor titan out.
It speaks at length of the hairy titan as well, who appears both mature as a titan yet ignorant of the current status of humans.
I won’t speak of it at length.
Because Mikasa is here, and she is being the best character again.
Reiner is all but ready to go titan in front of everybody, but before the guy even gets a chance Mikasa already embeds a sword through half of his freaking arm. And if that weren’t enough, the next fraction of a second features her slicing into Berthold’s neck. The guy looks legitimately terrified, and he has all the right to be. The outright terror in his eyes is freaking me out just the tiniest bit; this guy with tears in his eyes is actually the infamous colossal titan. That’s interesting in a way I never imagined it could be. Also hilarious.
But most of all kickass.