I'm a librarian who loves anime, manga, and reading a wide variety of genres.
Here's the thing: I've seen both seasons of the anime, and I loved the show. I disliked Eren, the main character, but that didn't seem to matter. The action scenes were fabulous, and the plot twists were so gripping I couldn't stop watching. Unfortunately, season 2 ended with lots of questions still unanswered and, right now, the best way to get answers is to read the manga.
That's pretty much the only reason why I'm going to read more than this first volume. From what I've been able to find online, Attack on Titan is Isayama's first series – he's done maybe two or three one-shots prior to this. And, oh, it shows.
I've read several manga series where the story is written by one person and the art is done by someone else. I wish that Attack on Titan had been done that way. While Isayama's story ideas are pretty good, he wasn't ready to be drawing something like this. While some panels are okay, a few are so bad that it's hard to tell what was going on. Action scenes and small panels fare the worst, human characters are often sloppily drawn, and the Titans look terrible.
Okay, now that I have some of my gripes about the art out of the way, on to the story and characters. Like I said, I've seen the anime. I can't review this like someone who hasn't. I already know what's going to happen and that, while this volume is incredibly bleak (Isayama is not shy about killing people off), all hope is not lost. I'm guessing a newbie would think otherwise, considering that one of the series' biggest early plot twists happens right at the end of the volume.
There's not really much in this particular volume to interest someone who's seen the anime, and, as a result, it's kind of boring. It's basically the same events, except the anime presented things more chronologically. The manga shows some of the chaos right after Wall Maria was destroyed and then skips straight to Eren, Armin, and Mikasa's Training Corps graduation and the next great blow to humanity's existence. There's been only one training flashback, and it was limited to a classroom lecture on Titans and the way they can be killed.
So far, most of the characters have barely had a chance to make an impression. Eren is still annoying and still unaware that Mikasa is the primary reason he has survived as long as he has. I like Mikasa and Armin, but I think that may be due more to my memories of the anime than to anything in this volume, because neither character has done much yet.
All in all, I'll continue with the series because I want to make it to scenes that weren't in the anime and volumes that haven't been adapted yet. I'm not sure how long this will take. I'm crossing my fingers that Isayama's artwork gets better with each volume.
One thing I did appreciate about this volume were the extra pages explaining a few details about the walls, the towns that jut outside the walls, and the three-dimensional maneuver gear.
A word of warning to Attack on Titan newbies: You may want to avoid reading the 3-page interview with Isayama at the end of the volume. One of his answers includes a spoiler.
(Original review, with read-alikes and watch-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)