With the Attack on Titan anime on a hiatus as we wait for Season 4 Part 3, we’ve decided to continue reading the manga past where the TV show left off. One chapter at a time, we’ll be providing reviews, recaps, and reactions to these amazing “episodes.” Today we’re reviewing Attack on Titan’s manga Chapter 136, “Dedicate Your Heart.”
This article has spoilers only through Attack on Titan Manga Chapter 136. This is a MANGA-focused article, so it has SPOILERS if you’ve only watched Attack on Titan through Season 4 Part 2.
The previous chapter of Attack on Titan was absolutely insane. The crew was fighting resurrected Titan after resurrected Titan, and as manga readers we were able to get a glimpse of some of the previous hosts of the nine warrior Titans, but without getting their back stories. These Titans were basically automatons, controlled by the Founder Ymir, as was made clear when Bertholdt resurrected after crying in a vision that Armin saw. The previous hosts are conscious, but slaves without freedom. There’s a winding theme in this manga about freedom (and blotting out others’ freedom in order to achieve your own.)
Levi Steps Into an Erwin-Type Role & Annie Bonds with Mikasa
The new chapter began right where the previous left off, with Falco literally sweeping into the scene in a Deus ex Machina moment and saving the team. Annie and Gabbi are along for the ride. (I wondered in a previous chapter if there might be a chance that Annie would eat one of Falco’s feathers and become a flying Titan herself at some point. It was weird how Falco brought up his idea after he and Gabbi asked her about her powers. But for now, that hasn’t happened.)
I loved the panel where Annie asked how Armin was first, and then tried to cover that up by also asking about Pieck. Mikasa and Annie have had a meeting of minds of sorts, and Mikasa knows that Annie has a thing for Armin. So of course, she immediately informs Annie that Armin has been taken by one of Ymir’s Titans. Annie volunteers to save Armin, and Levi announces that they ‘re doing a two-pronged attack. One group will save Armin near the tailbone, and the other will help Pieck after she was speared by a Warhammer Titan after trying to blow up the explosives around Eren’s neck.
I like how Levi has kind of stepped into the Armin/Erwin role, devising the plans and steps they should take next. He also puts his foot down and informs the group that they don’t have the luxury of worrying about Eren anymore, even though he obviously regrets having to decide this.
It’s a very Erwin-type moment.
In fact, I love how Erwin’s shadow and his past leadership has inspired so many in this group. Levi, Hange in her last stand, Armin… They’ve all thought about Erwin and used his past as a guide to their future.
Jean admits that Levi’s right, and tells Mikasa this. But Annie is the new “true” friend of Mikasa. She tells her to just focus on saving Armin, and not to think about what the others are doing. I love how this manga keeps developing the characters and growing them, even while the end looms so close.
‘Something Jumped Out of His Spine’
I can’t help but think that a very short panel featuring Gabbi is going to play a big role later. Gabbi tells the group that when she shot off Eren’s head with the anti-Titan rifle, “something jumped out of Eren’s spine.” She describes it as a “shining centipede or something and it connected to Eren’s head.” (Up until this point, I didn’t realize that the spine had literally jumped out of Eren’s body and re-connected to his head. I thought it had grown brand new when Ymir gave her power to him.)
“If that’s the true form of the power of the Titans, we might see it again when we decapitate him.”
That’s interesting. We know that when Ymir fell down the well, a glowing spine attached itself to her and brought her back to life. So does this mean that every person who is a Titan host (or at least, a sentient, Warrior-type host) now has a glowing spine inside them too?
The Same Hatred Continues
When Eren first attacked Fort Salta, the general issued a statement that they were to blame for this hatred coming back to them, and if they got another chance, things would be different next time.
But apparently the people under his command didn’t get the memo. The hatred and in-fighting continues, even as death marches their way. I was so annoyed by these scenes, in part because I feel like real life would go the same way. 😔
The soldiers and the Eldians (including the Warrior parents) have a standoff, guns pointed at each other.
I’m not sure what’s going on in that last scene with Secretary Muller (whom I believe is the “general” who issued the statement in the previous chapter.) I think he’s putting his gun away in that panel in order to extend peace, but I’m not certain. Right after, there’s an indication of a loud sound coming from that arena.
But the scene quickly shifts back to the battle, as Falco deftly avoids all the shrapnel that the Founder is having thrown in his direction. Falco is definitely something special here, and may even have the same stamina for remaining in his Titan form that Pieck has. (Though I’m not sure of this yet.)
The Battle is Intense
Reiner and Jean go to help Pieck, while Mikasa, Conny, and Annie head off to help Armin. (What are Gabbi and Levi doing?)
Pieck’s skill is amazing. She’s a formidable fighter, but she can leave her Titan body and re-form however many times she wants. She has a level of stamina that none of the other Warrior Titans possess. There’s a funny moment when she’s telling this to Jean, and telling him not to worry about her, but he’s already flown past her (obviously not worrying.)
We also see a couple examples of what are likely Jaw Titans, but they seem like pro-Jaws who look almost like Annie but with slight Jaws added to their heads.
The manga then takes us back to Annie and Mikasa. Annie is shocked and angry that Bertholdt is being used as a puppet too, but she has to move past that.
They spot the Titan that has Armin — it’s a pig-like Titan. (Ironic, considering that this all started (sort of) when Ymir released the pigs.) There’s a funny scene that helps break up the action, where Mikasa is basically us, trying to figure out whether it’s a Jaw, Beast, or Cart Titan. Annie tells her that’s not important (so I guess we’ll never find out, haha.)
Annie informs her that it’s a Titan in Okapi form. (In case you’re wondering what an Okapi is, it’s not a pig at all. It’s related to a giraffe. It also has a long tongue like the giraffe, and is the only living relative to them. They live in the Congo and are very secretive.
Meanwhile, I finally get my answer about where Levi is. He and Gabbi are still riding on Falco’s back. Levi is still looking for Zeke, and Gabbi’s willing to cover him if they find him. But Levi flashes back to Erwin, and how he’s never bungled any of Erwin’s orders but this last once, which he just can’t figure out how to fulfill. He wonders if their mission ended back when they got to the sea, and he’s no longer bound to Erwin’s last order.
Levi thinks about how he doesn’t regret choosing Armin over Erwin, since Armin had the same look in his eyes that Erwin had. (It’s an interesting reflection, considering that Armin himself still regrets the choice and thinks Erwin would be better.)
After this brief interlude, we go back to the battle. For some reason, the Okapi with Armin is running toward the head, leading to the Puppet Berthold’s direction. And for some reason, Titan after Titan is protecting the Okapi Titan. They consider whether the Okapi Titan is Ymir. I’m having trouble with this concept. Why would Ymir need to be housed within a Titan at all at this point?
Meanwhile, Armin is struggling. He looks at his own body and wills it — even begs it — to move, but it won’t. Then he screams about how he hates himself and how he’s always failed everyone. He feels like he’s always let everyone down. But when he looks up, he realizes that he’s in the Paths, looking down at his own body.
Armin concludes he’s not really dead. (I’m not sure if that’s correct, since we saw that a very-dead Bertholdt could be reanimated and think again….)
He can only assume that he knows what everyone’s doing because he’s in the Paths and all the Eldians are connected.
That’s when he sees Zeke, just sitting and building a small mound of sand. It’s not even a sand castle. Just a mound of sand.
He immediately recognizes that this is Zeke. Zeke just says, “Hello Eren’s friend. So Ymir ate you too?”
It’s a phenomenal ending. Completely unexpected, but also perfect. I can’t imagine what Armin and Zeke might come up with next. And I can’t imagine how amazingly well this scene will play out in the anime.