Hints, confirmations, and revelations all up on this chapter. With a chapter I was expecting to be the start to hardcore chase action, we got that and way more.
Picking up from last month, Ymir has clearly chosen her affiliation. Or rather, chosen Bert and Reiner since they can best support her affiliation; Christa and nothing but Christa. Eren, clearly taming his burning anger to a mildling flame of hatred, laments over his successful capture of exactly zero informations. Not even one information was discovered by him and his stumpy little fury nubs. None of his impassioned flares irrational, but still. Now with Ymir brick walling Eren, and the other two with no intention of revealing their cards, all he’s got now is to take his chance before the sun sets. Yeah Eren, keep on keeping that spirit. Maybe one day you’ll succeed at something.
As for our traitor duo, they end up having a pretty interesting conversation. First of all they confirm what kind of Titan form Ymir seems to have – Berholdt is huge, Reiner is a juggernaut, Annie and Eren are fighter types, but Ymir, who lacks in size, makes up for it with speed. Nothing that couldn’t be discerned from her Titan forms appearance, but it’s a nice confirmation to have. Continuing from that, Bert finally name drops the name of their comrade, Berik, whom Ymir Titan devoured. I don’t particularly know if the name itself has significance, seems Germanic like the rest, but at least we’ve finally got a name for him.
However while Bert is hung up on this detail, Reiner reasons that exactly for this reason Ymir can be trust. As she has finally recovered from the mindless state she was in when she ate Berik, she now would want nothing but to live and live for herself. The fact that she would consider Christa even more important than that means that in matters involving her, Ymir can definitely be trusted. But what this conversation means is that Ymir was definitely once human, then turned into a mindless Titan for unspecified reasons, and within the last 5 years managed to regain her humanity, coherent thought. Furthermore? It implies the same likely happened to Reiner and Bert, probably the Berik kid as well.
Christa’s importance is expanded upon as well, confirming her status as a member of one of the people privy to the wall cult thanks to some spying by Annie ‘still the best traitor’ Leonhardt. The traitors had seemingly assumed that Eren was a coordinate of sorts, whatever that means, and in the case Eren isn’t this coordinate, their mission is still compromised. But with Christa around, the search for this coordinate should go much easier. At first I considered that if this coordinate is supposed to be a location, it could in fact be Eren’s basement, however they wouldn’t need Christa’s aid to find that. But if they thought Eren was a coordinate, than it’s likely another person or something which can cause a Titan like Eren to appear. Thankfully they don’t use so much obfuscating language that it’s impossible to tell what they’re getting at, but it’s still on that (despairingly delicious) policy of trickling only enough information to keep people satisfied while revealing no concrete answers.
With that, they both vow to get Annie (do they even know what condition she’s in currently), Christa, and the coordinate or whatever it leads to, as well as sharing the wish to never return to this place within the wall. At which point wacky Reiner decides it’s time to urge Bert to confess to Annie. Wait, what. Is that supposed to be a… thing? Bert liking Annie? Oh man, now this is interesting. Not because I have any sort of fun indiscriminately pairing characters together, but rather since it presents an interesting side to these characters and a question to the readers. Is this real, or is it another case of Reiner pushing his delusions on somebody else?
Now, if we go with the assumption that this crush on Annie is legit something Bert has, it can make for some actual dynamics from the silent giant once the crystalized kicking machine becomes relevant again. But even more than that, this would just go to show how much Isayama has planned for this story and planted seeds in earlier chapters. The guy does have his tendency to stare, especially as his traitor buddies when they act and, well, do things. But Bert does in fact seem to glance in Annie’s direction when she’s in the spotlight, like during her apology to the corpses of Trost. Now, that alone could be taken as him starting at his traitor buddies. It’s just one scene after all. He and he alone looks back at Annie as she walks away to join the Military Police when he and the other trainees join the Recon corps. And it’s obvious in this case he’s starting at her. It’d give a whole new meaning to that glance back. Bert is like Isayama’s sick attempt at telling as much about a character as he can without having him saying a freaking word. I’m pretty willing to accept this as the trust, but on the other hand, Bert’s reactions can be taken another way.
Who exactly is it who said anything about this crush and to whom. The unreliable information source that is Reiner to the meek and nervous Bertholdt. Reiner himself has a good deal of interactions with Annie which would suggest that he’s into her, so he could once more be acting out the delusions his mind has created. He’s already picked up false signals from Christa. And that’s without getting into what Reiner said to Ymir at castle Utgard about his supposed preferences. The guy is simply too off his rocker to take his words at face value, particularly about relationship junk. And Bert can simply be too dominated to say anything about it. Whenever Reiner does something crazy Bert isn’t expecting, he doesn’t ever really have any time nor ability to speak out against it until it’s too late. Reiner overpowers Bert all the time, so if this is some fantasy situation Reiner created from his faulty observations, Bert just doesn’t have it in him to say anything. This would just put another layer on their personal interactions.
Regardless, Reiner’s line to finish the conversation is a strong one. It defines the lives these two live, and quickly silences any objections Bert had. Which is thus about time for the Recon Squad and their signal flares to start appearing on the horizon. Accurately judging that Irwin is likely the reason the troops were able to mobilize so quickly, the duo prepare for their own swift escape. And holy shit, YES, Eren, I love you. There is no controlling the lid on this guy’s palpable hatred, and it is the very best. Even with nonexistent hands, he still puts any bit of a fight he possibly can. Just watching him pummel Reiner with his elbow is so very satisfying, and having him rabidly curse while pinned down just puts the biggest smile on the face. As long as Eren’s rage is justified and used productively, like to slow down the traitors at every step since he knows they want him alive for now, his murderous impulses are gonna keep being delightful.
Determined as Eren is though, Reiner manages to get the guy into a sleeper hold, causing the titanshifter to pass out. No success in battle today. But boy does he gat a juicy pieace of information before he went out cold. Ymir, not yet aware of the reason for the commotion, gets interrogated by Bert, fueled by his memories of Berik, on if she remembers who she ate while a Titan. She answers that she doesn’t, however she somehow manages to place the time she ate Berik at 5 years ago. So either she does have vague recollections of what happened to her while a Titan, the proximity of her awakening allows her to remember some details, or the actual process of eating humans actually has something to do with regaining her humanity.
I argued that wouldn’t the people within the walls know something if the last point were true, however since Titans have only been a constant factor in their lives for the past 5 years, and any other Titan contact has been by the Recon corp beyond their territory, there’s no point in disregarding the final possibility just yet. In fact, since Titans only eat humans and are only interested in humans, there could be a definite connection of interests and goals right there. With Bert stating that it was the same for Reiner and him, it could give credence to the fact that every Titan human experiences the same in the humanizing process. However, at the same time it can be taken as mindless Titans simply eating people, and that being kinda really horrible. Which is, honestly speaking, a whole lot more likely. Bert goes on to say the same about Eren, but in his case, it seems a lot more uncertain what he’s referring too. If he isn’t referring to Eren’s lapse of memory during Trost, then he is in fact talking about honest to goodness human eating on Eren’s part. The guy clearly doesn’t remember eating any humans since it would definitely make his skin crawl, and if he had, when would that have been? The only time period I could place it in is before the events of the first chapter. Before he met Mikasa. Of course, it could always be the case that Bert is working based on what he knows, and Eren could very easily be a special case. Which is once again, the more likely possibility. But still, I like entertaining these other ideas.
And if that wasn’t enough on the information front, Eren stays awake just long enough to grasp just one last piece of information. Ymir, as a mindless Titan, was wondering around beyond the walls for 60 years, only experiencing a vague nightmare like state the entire time.
Hot damn. FINALLY. THIS IS A BIG ONE.
Alright, so Ymir has now effectively lived for over 60 years, a good majority as a Titan. What exactly does this imply then. It means that humans can live supposedly indefinitely as a Titan. That itself was already fairly clear, but with a confirmation like this, you can tie this into the very nature of the Titans. They don’t need nourishment. No sleep, no air, not a single thing to live. They only need light to function, at least for most Titans. And considering that Ymir phyiscally looks 25 at most, it essentially means that Titans are a humans who are frozen in time. They don’t age, and can last forever as long as their weakspot, the area where the human would be considered to be. In practice this means characters can come from far in the past, like Ymir. It means Titans who are separated from light are practically buried time capsules. This doesn’t change situations like the Titans in Wall Sina as them being there for ages was obvious, however it could change their meaning entirely. It could give an entirely new meaning to the first chapter title, “to you, 2000 years from now”. To Eren’s dream-like state in the first chapter. The piece of news wasn’t necessarily surprising and isn’t necessarily super relevant to everything I mentioned, but it makes certain aspects about the series so much easier and concrete to speculate about.
And imagine. All I’ve talked about here so far are the first 15 pages.
So, after all that is revealed, and confirmed, and even hinted at, we begin the escape and chase! Having to leave earlier than anticipated, they’ve got to get to Titanless ground. It doesn’t take long for Ymir to catch on why they left so early, and in the process realizes that Christa will definitely be in the frontlines to save her. She’s a Goddess after all, too perfect not to. Desperate as this could be her final chance to see Christa, she manages to convince and threaten the duo to let her enact a plan to capture the Goddess. But man. This was a strong moment for Ymir. The relative silence as she racks her brain to find an answers to her dilemma. The nearly getting herself and Bert killed to threaten the duo (Ymir is a brave brave woman to grasp her arms around a head so sweaty). Down to the admittance that she’s a shitty person who just wants to see Christa again. For as mystery driven Ymir has been, her character has developed into something extremely rad. I struggle to see how anybody couldn’t find Ymir at least a bit rad. (◡‿◡✿)
Switching back to the perspective of the Recon Corps + Military Police, they witness the flash of a single Titan transformation. Aiming to regain Eren while fighting as little as possible, the begin the retrieval. And it doesn’t take long at all for the first victims to prop up, mostly from the inexperienced soldiers of the Military Police. As talented as they had to be to join the King’s service, it doesn’t mean squat when you haven’t retained those skills and don’t know how to use them in battle. Leaving the horse at the forest side, the soldiers proceed with their 3DMG to quickly find Ymir in her Titan form. Or rather, they didn’t find her, but she led them to her with her Titan call. And I swear, Connie, do not just swing right towards a Titan like that, no matter who they are. Luring all the soldiers to her, YmirTitan used her ambiguous status to quickly pick out Christa from the crowd, swiftly snatching her up in her Titan mouth. Christa’s “Eh” face is priceless.
Realizing their mistake, Jean being the first to react saying Ymir was always suspicious, they pursue Ymir. However with her Titan form being as fast as it is, it doesn’t take long for her to reach the edge of the forest with an awaiting Bert and Reiner. The art really conveys how quickly they’re acting here, and by the time any of Recon Corp reach them, they’re already too far to grapple to. Thankfully Hannes catches up with the horses and… dammit Hannes, you are literally choking on death flags at this point. I don’t know what Isayama is planning right here, but this is starting to be so obvious that it shouldn’t be effective if played straight. Hannes does have a strong emotional case here though, and I’m expecting some sort of curve ball here to combat all the “you are going to die” Hannes moments. Hopefully a curve ball full of delightful despair.