The Colossus Titan has breached Wall Rose, and Titans are flooding in. The evacuation is going slowly because a greedy merchant is blocking the way. The few remaining soldiers still fighting don't have enough gas to escape to safety and will soon be unable to use their three-dimensional maneuver gear. They can replenish their supplies at HQ, but the building is overrun by Titans. Mikasa and Armin are momentarily thrown by their grief over Eren's death, but then a shocking new Titan appears and Armin comes up with a plan.
Story-wise, I thought this volume was a bit better than the first. Unfortunately, the story is still crippled by its terrible art. If I hadn't already seen the anime, I would likely have wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what was happening in certain panels and what had happened from one panel to the next. I really hate Isayama's overly dark, sketchy art style.
If you've seen the anime, there's almost nothing in this volume that will be new to you. The only potentially new thing I spotted was a moment during a flashback explaining Mikasa's backstory. Mikasa has a brand on her wrist that is passed down from generation to generation in her family (or at least on her mother's side). It's hard to tell whether it will end up being important, or if it was just Mikasa's mother's family's way of signifying “we are the last of the Asians.”
In the first half of the volume, the most interesting things were finding out Mikasa's backstory and seeing her in action. She's awesome and takes no crap from anyone (except possibly Eren). I found the ease with which Child Eren murdered several grown men to be just as disturbing in the manga as in the anime. No hesitation, no doubt, just “they are animals and they must die.”
The second half of the volume has one of my favorite moments, the first appearance of the Titan-killing Titan. Unfortunately, again, it was crippled by the bad art. I'd honestly rather re-watch that portion of the anime than re-read it in the manga.
I will continue reading this series because I want to get to stuff that hasn't been shown in the anime. I hope it will eventually become more enjoyable.
Several pages of Attack on Titan world-related information: an illustration of the extent of territory left to the human race; illustrations of the wall-mounted artillery and its ammo; and an illustration of the relative scale of the various types of Titans vs. a soldier and a building. Also included is a rejected cover proposal sketch.
Read-alikes and Watch-alikes:
- Claymore (manga) by Norihiro Yagi; Claymore (anime TV series) - I've only seen one episode of this, so I don't know a ton about it, but the descriptions I read make it sound like a good fit (violence, threat to humanity, and monster-killing soldiers). In this series, monsters called Yoma prey on humans and live among them in disguise. Claymores, young women who have become half-monster in order to kill the Yoma, are humanity's only hope.
- Battle Angel Alita (manga) by Yukito Kishiro - It's been ages since I last read this. In this world, the wealthy live in a flying city, while the poor live in a scrap heap below the wealthy. A former citizen of the flying city finds the head of a cyborg-girl in the scrap heap and gives her a body. The girl, Alita, becomes a hunter-warrior. I added this series to the list because it's a sci-fi action story with a kick-butt girl warrior character. I can't believe it never occurred to me before, but Alita and Mikasa look an awful lot alike. Anyway, if Mikasa is one of your favorite characters in Attack on Titan, you might want to give this series a try.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion (anime TV series) - Okay, I admit it, I've never seen more than an episode or two of this series. I doubt I will ever see more, because the little I did see bored me - I'm not a mecha fan at all. I added it to this list because it's another "mankind's last hope against giant invaders" series.