What They Say
Xavi Inocencio, the guy who implicated Kuklo in Dario’s homicide (and who also happens to be Sharle’s brother), has joined the Military Police on Captain Gloria’s recommendation. This puts the royal authorities’s most powerful instruments in his search for Kuklo and Sharle. Meanwhile, Kuklo leaves behind Sharle in the Industrial City, heading to try the dangerous and temperamental “device” against an actual Titan…
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Opening Before the Fall with Xavi gives the author an opportunity to flesh out his motivations before the narrative plunges back into the testing of the device. As Xavi hasn’t been a likable or even deserving antagonist, it’s a bit dangerous. His character and thought process is clearer, while he’s not redrawn in a misunderstood light in the opening chapter. He represents the danger that humans model, but mostly he’s a hazard to Sharle’s future with Kuklo.
From there it’s directly to the actions back at the wall. Cardina and Kuklo are reintroduced to Jorge’s son Carlo, and to Maria Carlstead who’s the best-realized girl in this spinoff so far. (Well, compared to doe-eyed Sharle and riding-crop Gloria she’s a huge advancement.) The survey corps is down to a skeleton crew, and it’s only through the strings pulled by Maria that they are able to make it up the wall in the dead of night to begin the evaluation.
Artist Satoshi Shiki is a more robust artist than show creator Isayama. It demonstrates powerfully in this volume during the nighttime testing. In the climb up with wall to descending down outside the wall it’s some outstanding work. The weight of the situation and the awareness of scale works extremely well. You can find two pages which show a close call which is really striking, and you can genuinely feel Kuklo getting tossed around by the titans and the imperfect equipment that is maneuvering. The sense of tension is real, which is funny because unlike most of this chain we know Kuklo is not dangerous in this situation, yet it works.
By the end of the experimental evaluation Kuklo is injured and more work is needed by the equipment. He learns about his father yet it doesn’t alter anything in regards to Kuklo’s disposition about his previous and future self. It makes me wonder why the Pikales let a fellow soldier’s son to be carted off just to now snatch him up.
This volume finishes with a side story about Maria and Angel which works better than the preceding side stories as it gives both a little more depth and isn’t just a throwaway scene.
The Fall steps away from the past to forge ahead into the future. Xavi also shows that he’s not merely bent on revenge but on something computed as he starts to pick apart the politics. However, the bulk of this volume targets the underground, dead of night testing on the equipment against the unknown. It’s a scene wrought with danger and the tension still works despite knowing that death isn’t an option. Kuklo demonstrates that he’s a character that’s at his best when not expounding virtues he really shouldn’t own due to his past, but out there struggling to fight and win.