With the Attack on Titan manga 3 chapters from ending, let’s remember the original one-shot Hajime Isayama wrote. He was 19 years old at the time, and the 65-page manga was called “Humanity vs. Titan” (Humanity vs. Giants). The one-shot was rejected by Weekly Shonen Jump, so the mangaka went to Kodansha’s Magazine Grand Prix contest, where it won the “Fine Work” award. After that, the manga was serialized in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine, and it became one of the best stories of all time. The story was released as “Volume 0”, and it was uploaded online on Magazine Debut (in Japanese) as well. Care for manga spoilers below.
The story had some fundamental differences to the manga we all know and love. First, the main character Murakumo is capable at fighting from the start, and resembles Levi more than Eren. On the other hand, he can also transform into a titan which looks much like the Attack Titan. The main female character’s name is Tsubaki, and she’s not much like Mikasa. She comes to Murakumo begging him to be her master and teach her how to fight, which he eventually does become.
Her goal was to join the Vanguard, which seems to be something like the Survey Corps we know. She asked Murakumo if he was fighting for revenge, to which he replied angrily that he was not. Rather, he says that the Vanguard Corps are there to protect his allies. Although Eren seems to be losing his way, many think that he’s just trying to become a common enemy and sacrifice himself for some kind of true freedom. Although his way of thinking may have changed, he did say this at one point:
Another major difference is the way humans live in the original one-shot of Attack on Titan. Rather than walls and all the backstory behind them,the humans hid in forests. Titans are ‘pure’ beings so they won’t step through nature and that is what keeps humans safe. The titans also have the power to shape-shift into any human they eat, and their napes aren’t their weakness. Instead, they have a ‘nucleus’ which can be anywhere on their body. When titans invade the village, the main character ends up turning into a titan and eventually revealing his own nucleus. One of the titans sees it and aims for it, thus fatally injuring Murakumo. However, the main character manages to kill the titan in his last moment, saving Tsubaki and the village with his life.
The anime version of the original manga is still going strong as well! It trends pretty much every week and has ranked #1 on our weekly poll each time so far. You can watch it on Funimation, and you can also read the full synopsis of the story:
Over a century ago, mankind was devoured by giant beings of unknown intelligence and origin known as Titans. Creatures that eat humans alive indiscriminately and for no apparent reason. The remaining population has managed to survive the last hundred years only by building a multi-walled city capable of keeping the Titans at bay, training military recruits to patrol the perimeter and gather intelligence about their mysterious foe. Eren and Mikasa have lived a relatively peaceful life behind the city’s walls. But when a massive Titan appears, smashing the outer barrier and unleashing a wave of terror, their lives are brutally changed forever…
[Source: Debut Magazine, screenshot via Funimation]