Attack on Titan volume 16, Hajime Isayama, Kodansha 2015

Japanese cover art: Attack on Titan Volume 16

Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人, Shingeki no Kyojin) is a force to be reckoned with. And no, I’m not talking about the monstrous, human-eating, gigantic Titans that represent chaos and xenophobia for the series’ protagonists. I’m talking about pure, cold, hard capitalism here. Numbers, numbers, numbers, money, money, money.

Two editions of Attack on Titan Volume 16 were released in Japan on April 9, and Mikikazu Komatsu of Crunchyroll reports that overall sales of the two editions broke 1,000,000 (yes, you read those zeroes correctly) in the first week. Over one million copies in a week!

Let’s break that down a bit. The cost of the regular edition of AoT vol. 16 is ¥463 or, as of the time I’m writing, just under US $4. For comparison, a new single-issue comic from Marvel or DC typically sells for $3.99 on Amazon/Comixology. Japanese volumes (called tankōbon) collect multiple single issues though and are therefore more comparable to American graphic novels or trade paperbacks. For the moment, let’s just compare based on a similar price point, though.

Attack on Titan vol 15 Cover, Hajime Isayama, Kodansha, March 2015The regular edition of AoT vol. 16 sold 868,694 copies in a week. Marvel’s release of a gender-swapped Thor comic has been making quite a few waves, but the numbers look pale in comparison to Attack on Titan: 150,862 during its debut month. For March, 2015, the comic book sales charts were topped by Princess Leia, which sold 253,655.

The Attack on Titan empire continues to grow, too. Not only is the original manga still running, but there is also an anime series, a spin-off manga called Attack on Titan: Before the Fall, a light novel series, more spin-off manga series, a couple of visual novels, a “Colossal Edition” series that collects multiple volumes, a video game, and a live-action movie set to release later this year. In the US, Attack on Titan Volume 15 was released on March 17, 2015, and as of today it remains on the New York Times’ Best Sellers (manga) List for the fourth week in a row. It’s not just in Japan that Attack on Titan is squishing the competition.

Speaking of Volume 15, just how was it anyway? (If you haven’t read the series and/or want to avoid spoilers, you’ll want to skip the following paragraph.)

"Saturn Devouring His Son" by Francisco Goya, c. 1819-1823, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

“Saturn Devouring His Son” by Francisco Goya, c. 1819-1823, Museo del Prado, Madrid.

The gripping pace of previous volumes continues in Attack on Titan 15, even though there’s not a lot of physical action and the Titans are hardly even depicted. No, this volume features a lot of psychological wrestling and political intrigue as the Survey Corps struggles to escape from the corner they’ve been pushed into by the Military Police. To do so, however, they have to both escape capture and expose the corruption at the heart of the monarchy. Meanwhile, Eren, our contrary hero with the power of a Titan, remains in captivity—and, apparently, at risk of being eaten! Attack on Titan owes a lot to Greek myth.

The artwork, panel structure, and depth of character remain as strong as ever, even if the plot points come together somewhat conveniently. The use of Deus ex Machina is alive and well in Isayama’s blockbuster hit—but then, mythological Titans = Gods, right? As the staggering amount of people who recently purchased Volume 16 of AoT would likely attest, convenient plot devices don’t take away from one’s enjoyment of the series. Maybe giants really are the new zombie.

Attack on Titan 60-meter class Titan, Hajime Isayama, Kodansha

AoT’s 60-meter class Titan

Can’t wait to get your hands on Attack on Titan Volume 16 here in the US? Kodansha is set to release it in late August, 2015. Only four more months to go until you can hold it in your hands! Although, if you don’t need a physical copy, you can catch the simulpub on Crunchyroll. Whichever way you choose, there seem to be a lot more giants, aerial stunts, political intrigue, and action ahead. With sales numbers and a fan base like these, Attack on Titan‘s momentum is sure to keep it crashing forward for some time to come.