Attack on Titan has absolutely blown up recently. Shocking, powerful, heavy, well-crafted, and visceral… something that just took readers completely by storm. With something so popular and huge, Kodansha Comics decided to put out a special version of the series: Colossal Edition, a behemoth of a book that collects five volumes into one. The second volume is set to release this October and while we wait, let’s take a look at the first one and the beginning of this series.
Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition Vol. 1 (Kodansha Comics)
Written and drawn by: Hajime Isayama
Translated by: Sheldon Drzka
Over a century ago, humanity was nearly wiped out by the arrival of these monstrosities known as Titans, gigantic, human-like monsters that only have one interest: consume all humans (even though they don’t technically need to eat). In response, humanity took refuge behind these gigantic walls and remained there in peace. In the present, everything changed when a Titan appeared and knocked a hole into the wall, causing peace to be broken. From there, we follow a young boy named Eren, his adopted sister of sorts named Misaka, and more as they begin training to fight back against these creatures and encounter all of the devastating twists and turns in their battle for the fate of humanity.
It goes without saying that Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition Vol. 1 is one hell of a thrill ride from beginning to end. There’s ultimately a lot of content in this massive edition with there being over twenty chapters in the entire thing and it all goes for the high price of sixty bucks. As such, let’s break the entire book down piece by piece and see if it is worth the price of admission:
The most terrifying game of peek-a-boo ever begins!
This huge volume covers the whole first arc involving the Titan attack on the city of Trost, the flashback arc involving the characters in the military and the training, the aftermath of Trost, and the beginning of the characters joining the Survey Corps. That’s a lot of story obviously; you can see how it’s constantly evolving and changing. Probably the only part of the story that I found weak, though it’s very debatable to begin with, is Isayama’s placement of the flashback arc. It felt like it should have happened earlier in the series so that the characters could have been more developed before the big Titan outbreak and get you more invested in them. However, I can also see why it was placed after the Trost invasion, since it was a lot more relaxed and quiet than the previous arc.
The writing and characterization are pretty strong and consistent throughout. Almost all of the main and supporting characters undergo development and/or get some bit of focus, so there’s not a flat individual amongst them. They all feel unique and have their own idiosyncrasies and such as we listen to them talk about themselves or others or see small snippets and full on huge flashbacks. The pacing is quick—the story is always on the move and no chapter feels wasted. Tonally, outside of a few moments of hope and brightness, the entire series always feel like a downer and rather depressing due to the carnage and how messed up all of the characters are. It completely fits what the creator’s going for like a glove and despite the thrills and excitement, it can be hard to read through at points since it constantly beats down on you. It’s a fantastic manga when it comes to its story and writing, but its mood may not be for everyone.
Isayama’s artwork is greatly expanded in width and length due to the larger pages and size of the volume. This allows for the reader to really take in every inch of his art, seeing all the positives… but also the negatives. Positively, his characters look very good and well drawn. While some share similar facial features and hair styles, you can easily pick everyone apart from one another fairly quickly. The designs on the Titans are fantastic and downright creepy with their somewhat humanlike appearance crossed with their blank and almost expressionless faces and skinless bodies. There’s no point in the entire series where they don’t look unnerving (especially if Isayama depicts them moving about). The pages and panels are laid out very well, and most things are relatively easy to follow. The only downside to the art is the action, which looks rather stilted. The panels don’t make the action and movement flow naturally, the way characters move comes across as awkward and musculature with how characters bend look strange. It’s not a series to buy for the action due to its less than fluid movement, but everything else is more than capable of making up for it luckily.
Finally, with such a huge volume, we must discuss the presentation and quality of the book itself. It’s massive in height and width—according to Amazon the pages are 7″x10.5″ in size. It’s slightly taller and has a bigger width than a regular trade collection from DC or Image for those curious. It weighs quite a bit, coming in at about five pounds (again, according to Amazon), so it’s not exactly a book that you can take everywhere or read it comfortably in your lap. Binding is solid and not too tight, so you can easily still read everything. The collection uses the glossy kind of paper that is used with regular comic book trades (though a bit thicker) and it looks rather nice. All of the pages that used to be in color are now colorized in this version, the backup material from the regular editions are still in there, and such. It’s a good book overall, but if you already own the volumes, there’s no real reason to upgrade to this since you are not missing out on a whole lot.
Attack on Titan: Colossal Edition Vol. 1 is a truly fantastic book in almost every way. You get a great big chunk of the story to chew on and see how its characters evolve and grow over the many chapters, and its presentation is strong. Its only faults lie with some smaller parts of the artwork and frankly, unless you do not own any of the books and really want to read the comic, the price is a bit too steep and there’s not a lot new in it that you can’t get from the regular single volumes. I recommend this series a lot, but the volume itself only if costs are not that big of a deal to you.