Shingeki no Kyojin Chapter 44

Punch, Throw, Lock

Dying does totally feel like shit, I bet. Let’s just add another tally to the long list of near-death experiences.

It’s kinda impressive how well this series connects with itself; the author has put some real thought into how his manga will play out. Chapters, such as 17 which is called back to here, could pretty easily pass as straightforward character and world building. It showed Annie’s love for her techniques, Reiner’s warrior-like nature. But man, in a story as tight as this, it goes to show that if an element is introduced to the story, it’s going to be relevant in one way or another. So to say, the combat training being useless? A loaded Chekhov’s gun just waiting to fire.

Of course, the best part? The combat training is so specifically entwined to both Annie and Reiner. Annie’s actions are just the right levels of subtle, where you can see the moments where she contemplates on whether or not she should teach Eren. In her own abusive way, naturally. As a Titan, she knows she shouldn’t be helping the regular people so much. They’re the enemy. Yet on the other hand, Eren had clearly grown on her to some extent, and she was in total belief that teaching him combat techniques would essentially amount to nothing when fighting Titans. She’s unsure of herself, and it’s possibly even her justifying teaching him some moves. Hell, she even preaches the philosophy behind her style of attack, self-defense of the weaker against the stronger. Fittingly enough, it sounds right up the alley of the disadvantaged humans against the overwhelming Titans.

Annie might be a traitor, but she’s the BEST traitor.

And then there’s buddy boy Reiner, who was evidently holdin’ back during the training days. So for all of those times Eren managed to throw a big guy like him around, this is the first time the two are truly going at it. Yet deliciously enough, from all those times he had to train with a big guy like him, Eren’s learned and grown stronger. And that’s what I really like about this fight here. It’s not an outlandish power-up that gives Eren a chance to compete, not an upgrade to his Titan form, but purely human abilities to learn and to adapt what they’ve learned. Especially what he’s learned from the traitors themselves. I didn’t actually expect the fight to be much longer than what we had last chapter, a total knock-out absolutely in-line with what I expect from this manga, but this was among the most natural ways to expand it.

And dude. This fight, dude, this fight. Man.

While Isayama’s art always has this sketchy quality to it, the guys a long shot from when he first started off. The intense choreography here isn’t lost at all. It’s real martial arts, actual throws and locks, tuned up to Titan size power and consequences. Just watch Eren tear that limb off, the carnage is beautiful. Seems to be a mix of both wrestling and I could probably say jiu-jitsu? Judging from the double leg submission, triangle mount, and haha, that arm stealing arm bar. Due to the amount of ground grappling, so it’s probably partially inspired by Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Either Isayama is meticulous in researching his combat, or the guy is plain and simple a martial arts/MMA fan. Regardless, the fighting here is damn real and brutal visually thanks to it.

Oh, if only the anime would someday make it here.

Reiner is naturally not very hindered by this. He keeps the juggernaut vibes going strong. But thankfully unlike Reiner, who’s all stranded with but one ally, Eren has an army to aid him. Or more precisely, be the brains of the operation. It’s another instance of taking real aspects into how Titans function, as Reiner modifies his armor into what Hanji compares to a suit of armor; so that the person inside can move, the joints are left unprotected. And holy geez, is Eren ever proving himself this chapter, putting the Armored Titan into a neck hold. As if Mikasa needed a moment to act, Reiner’s knee joints are no more and the guy is at his most vulnerable yet.

Yet the guy is every bit a warrior as he advertised. With his one remaining limb, he freakin drags himself while in submission to a spot by the wall underneath the Colossal Titan. Once there, he roars with all his might. I really love Hanji’s reaction here, knowing very well that the roar could call every Titan in the vicinity to their location. It’s an absolutely sensible expectation, since it’s the same exact thing the Female Type Titan did. But with no regular Titans around, there was honestly only one objective behind the scream.

ABSOLUTELY.

You know, I love the 3D Gear. It makes for killer action scenes. But this is undoubtedly some of the best action we’ve gotten so far. There are some things you can only do in large scale.

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