Whenever I start writing my introductions for Attack on Titan reviews, I always wonder what brings me back to this series. I’m honestly not the biggest fan of this blockbuster manga franchise but I often find myself reviewing the spin-off titles for the site. I think the answer lies in the likability of some of the main cast, and today I’m here to cover a manga based around one of my favourite characters: Levi. With that said, let’s jump into Attack on Titan: No Regrets!
This spin-off of Attack on Titan tells the story of Levi’s past when he lived in the underground as a criminal with his two friends, Isabel Magnolia and Farlan Church. One day the three are chased down by the Survey Corps (whose team includes a young Erwin Smith) and when they’re eventually captured they’re given a choice: join the Survey Corps, where their crimes will be forgotten, or be handed over to the Military Police, where fair treatment of the three is not guaranteed.
Faced with a choice that will change Levi and his companions’ lives forever, the three decide to join the Survey Corps in the hopes of gaining power and getting closer to Erwin. But will our hero come to regret his choice? Levi wishes to murder Erwin for capturing him and his friends, and bringing for them into this reckless group who are charged with fighting the Titans, but when his team is sent out on their first expedition beyond the walls Levi begins to change his views on the world.
Attack on Titan: No Regrets is only an 8-chapter series, therefore it’s hard to say anything more about the plot without spoiling things – so I’ll move away from that and talk about the cast instead. What I enjoyed most about this spin-off was the chance to see a young Levi and Erwin, two of Attack on Titan’s best fighters. Although neither of them are drastically different compared to their personalities in the present day, it’s still fascinating to see how Levi used to live in the filthy underground (perhaps this is why he’s such a clean freak now?) and how ambitious Erwin was even when he was low in the Survey Corps’ rankings. Likewise, Levi’s two friends Isabel and Farlan are also well characterised.
Isabel is a bit of a stereotypical female character but she’s also goofy and incredibly charming. While Levi and Farlan are dreaming about one day living aboveground and being rich, Isabel just wants to stay with her two friends in a place she can call home. She also happens to be quite impressionable and when they join the Survey Corps, she begins to truly believe in the group’s cause (much to Levi’s dismay). Farlan is a very intelligent young man who appears to be the brains behind the trio’s schemes and, like Isabel, is extremely charming. However, Farlan’s characterisation might also be the biggest travesty among the cast because (judging from his design and speech) he appears to be of noble lineage yet the series never addresses his backstory. Despite all of that though, I’d go as far to say that, for me personally, these two and Levi are much better protagonists than the three in the main Attack on Titan series (Eren, Mikasa and Armin).
Attack on Titan: No Regrets Complete Color Edition brings the two single volumes of No Regrets into one large hardback volume filled with bonus stories and illustrations we weren’t treated to in the individual releases. Of course the biggest selling point of this edition is also the fact it’s in full colour! I never read No Regrets in the standard black-and-white editions, so I can’t really comment on how the art has changed between the two, but as far as this edition goes, the artwork is absolutely fantastic.
The artwork for this series has been handled by Hikaru Suruga (who contributed a story to Neo Parasyte f but otherwise has no other works released in English) and is smooth and easy to follow throughout. The colours used are fairly dark tones, even once the story moves out of the underground and takes the characters outside the walls, but I think this works well for the world of Attack on Titan. The series is dark and full of gore (although on the whole there is less gore here than in the main series), so bright colours would have clashed with the overall tone of the plot.
As far as the story is concerned it was written by Gun Snark (who wrote the script for Episode 3 of Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet but otherwise hasn’t had any other works published in English) and reads well. Everything that happens throughout the plot feels close to what main series mangaka, Hajime Isayama, might have scripted for his story and Levi and Erwin always seem like the same characters as originally created. The translation into English is also smooth thanks to translators Ben Applegate and Lindsey Akashi and I found it read really well. Additional translation is credited to Ko Ransom, who translates the majority of the Monogatari novels.
Overall this edition of Attack on Titan: No Regrets is a must-own for all Attack on Titan fans. The chance to get a glimpse into Levi’s background is a welcome one and being able to see it all in full colour is a real treat. Although I might not necessarily enjoy the main series, these spin-offs continue to impress me, so I can only finish up by saying that this book comes highly recommended.