Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama is one of those once-in-a-lifetime kind of series that has made a lasting impact not only on fans but the industry as well. Not only has the Attack on Titan manga made waves, but its anime adaptation has also, reaching new heights as the most popular TV show in the US the week its final season began airing.
With the manga being complete and the final season wrapping up right now, it's a bittersweet feeling, but there's a lot to celebrate as well, especially given how much the series has grown and flourished over the years to become the colossal titan it is now.
Since the anime is nearing its end, a lot of people are wondering what they are going to do next. If that's you, I highly recommend getting into the manga if you have yet to do so! As it currently stands, 4 Attack on Titan manga editions have been released, the singles, the Attack on Titan manga box sets, the Attack on Titan omnibuses, and the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions, so there are a lot of ways to get into the manga.
But what's the best way to read Attack on Titan? I picked up every edition and compared them side by side so we can find out!
Attack on Titan Background
Attack on Titan by Hajime Isayama began releasing in Japan in 2009. It was translated in English by Kodansha shortly after in 2012. It has since become one of the best selling manga of all time.
The series was then adapted into an anime in 2013. Since then, 4 seasons of Attack on Titan have aired with two seasons, Attack on Titan Season 3 and Attack on Titan Season 4, being released in 2 parts. All seasons of the Attack on Titan anime aside from the final season were animated by Wit Studio, who also animated series like Vinland Saga, who's 2nd season has been confirmed and one of our top anime of 2020, Great Pretender. MAPPA, who are also animating the upcoming Chainsaw Man anime, took over to do the animation for Attack on Titan's final season.
Ways to Read Attack on Titan Manga
Attack on Titan has been published in English in 4 different formats. Kodansha first released paperback singles of Attack on Titan in 2012. A total of 34 singles were released. Then, the Attack on Titan manga box sets began releasing. They correspond to the seasons of Attack on Titan's anime, so they collect the volumes that cover the material in each season and fully collect the series in 6 box sets.
The Attack on Titan Colossal Editions began releasing next. They are oversized 5-in-1 editions and they are going to collect the series in 7 volumes. We did an individual review of the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions as well if you'd like to check that out. The most recent edition to release are the Attack on Titan omnibuses, which are 3-in-1's.
Next I want to go over what's different about each of the Attack on Titan manga editions and how they compare!
Attack on Titan Manga Editions Compared
The Attack on Titan Colossal Editions have completely new designs and artwork. Each Colossal Edition features a different Titan. Colossal Edition 1 has artwork of the Colossal Titan looking up over the wall, 2 has artwork of the Female Titan, 3 has artwork of the Armoured Titan, 4 features the Beast Titan, 5 the War Hammer Titan, 6 the Jaw Titan, and the artwork for 7 has yet to be officially revealed. The covers have a matte finish.
Unfortunately, with the way these covers were made and the weight of these volumes, they are prone to damage if you aren’t careful. These really needed to be hardcovers and I hope we get a hardcover release of AoT some day.
The box sets of course have the same covers as the individuals since they collect the paperbacks. When it comes to overall design, I actually prefer the look of the individual paperbacks over the Colossal Editions. Unlike the Colossal Editions, which have a matte cover, the paperbacks have a glossy finish.
Another thing I want to mention is that there are individual paperback exclusives for select volumes that have variant covers or extras as well that you may want to look into. For instance, there’s a Books-A-Million exclusive of volume 34 that has really cool artwork of Eren on the front cover and an exclusive variant cover from Kinokuniya of 34 that shows all of the characters together and extras.
There’s an exclusive Volume 34 through Barnes and Noble too, but that one just comes with extras inside, not a different cover. That being said, you can choose between different options for a few of the paperbacks thanks to the exclusive variants that have been released.
The omnibuses feature the same artwork that's seen on some of the singles. Omnibus 1 features the same artwork of Volume 1’s paperback, but omnibus 2 is going to have the artwork of Volume 5 on it, so it looks like they are choosing the cover they think looks the best out of the three paperbacks they collect. The lettering on these omnibuses is raised, which is unique to these editions. Like the paperbacks, the covers of the omnibuses have a glossy finish as well.
Time to Collect
The singles are fully released, so if you are wanting to read Attack on Titan asap, they are the way to go.
The Colossal Editions have so far released up through volume 30, so Colossal Edition 7 will be the final Colossal Edition to release; However, it looks like they only release 1 Colossal Edition every year in the Fall, so it is expected that Colossal Edition 7 won’t be shipping out until Fall 2022 at the earliest.
As for the box sets, the Attack on Titan The Final Season Part 1 box set, which collects volumes 23-28, just came out, so only one more to go and they will be fully released. A release date for the Final Season Part 2 box set has yet to be confirmed. The last box set that was released as a Part 1 and Part 2 was released about 8 months apart, so I’m expecting these will be on the same schedule. Potentially late summer or early fall at the earliest.
The omnibuses just began releasing not too long ago with Omnibus 1 shipping out in October 2021. Omnibus 2 is slated to release on January 18th, so it looks like these are on a 3 month release schedule. If one omnibus collects three volumes of Attack on Titan, this means there will probably be 11 omnibuses released depending on how they split up the final volumes. On a schedule of three months, given that there aren’t any delays, it will be around 2.25 years before you can fully collect the series through the omnibuses.
Retail cost for Colossal Editions tends to be $49.99 USD for 1 edition, which collects 5 volumes. For some reason though, Colossal Edition 1 is $59.99 USD at retail. Most likely because it’s the only one that has full color pages. That being said, the rest of the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions are $49.99 USD.
The omnibuses are $19.99 USD and they collect 3 volumes, the individual paperbacks are $10.99 USD per volume, and the manga box sets, which typically collect four-six volumes per set since they correspond to the seasons of the anime, retail anywhere from $43.96 to $65.94 USD.
Given that information, the Colossal Editions are approximately $10 USD per volume, the omnibuses are $6.66 USD per volume, the individuals are $10.99 USD per volume, and the box sets are $10.99 USD a volume regardless of how many volumes they collect.
Based on retail prices, the box set saves you no money in comparison to buying the individual volumes unless you get them on discount, which you often can when you can find them in stock.
The biggest savings is actually the omnibus, which I was surprised to discover, because the box sets are usually the best bang for your buck. If you are looking for the cheapest way to collect Attack on Titan, the cheapest way is going to be through the omnibuses, the second cheapest would be the Colossal Editions even if ever so marginally, followed by the box sets and the individuals, which are evenly priced per volume at retail.
Where to Shop Attack on Titan Manga
One of the biggest differences between the Attack on Titan manga editions is their size. The individual paperbacks, which you can buy individually or get in the box sets, are about 5.08 x 0.68 x 7.38in, the omnibuses are slightly bigger than the individuals at 5.7 x 1.90 x 8.10in, but the largest format out right now are the Colossal Editions, which are 7 x 1.80 x 10.50in.
Quality & Sturdiness
Both the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions and omnibuses are quite prone to spine and cover damage due to their size and weight. The individual paperbacks are definitely the most sturdy out of the three given that they are smaller and are easier to handle. When shopping for the first omnibus, I sifted through ten omnibuses before I found one without any spine damage.
The same goes for the Colossal Editions when buying them in store, but I tend to receive good quality Colossal Editions when I buy them through sites like Right Stuf. Amazon, however, is a different story. They tend to send me highly damaged Colossal Editions, so it all depends on where you preorder your volumes from. Read up more on which manga sites and bookstores have the best shipping.
That being said, it is harder to get the Colossal Editions and Attack on Titan omnibuses in awesome condition but it’s not impossible.
Another thing is that you have to handle the Colossal Editions with care. Due to their weight, you really have to be careful when sliding them on and off the shelf so you don’t damage the spine or covers. The covers are prone to denting and folding at the edges since they are paperback.
Winner in the quality and sturdiness department is definitely the individual paperbacks, which you can also collect in the box sets.
A lot of people generally think that the larger the format, the more readability issues there will be. This can be prevented with a hardcover and sewn-binding manga release as seen with the Berserk Deluxe Editions, but unfortunately the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions have a glued binding, no eye, and they are paperback.
With how thick these volumes are, they really would have benefited from a hardcover, sewn-binding release. Due to how they were made though, the Colossal Editions have the most issues with readability, especially at the beginning of the volumes. As you get into the volume more, they are much easier to read, but I did find myself having to turn my head in weird positions to fully read the chapters in the beginning of the editions.
The Colossal Editions are also quite heavy, so you have to read them when seated generally. I definitely can’t hold those up for extended periods of time let alone seconds, so if you are wanting a volume that you can take on the run with you to read or something that you can easily hold, these are probably not the best option for you.
The omnibuses are easier to read than the Colossal Editions and are much less heavy. You can easily hold these while reading and the quote bubbles and artwork fall less into the gutter than the Colossal Editions do. That being said, they still have more issues with readability, especially when it comes to gutter loss, than the individual volumes do.
The individual volumes are the lightest weight option and are the easiest to hold while reading. They also have the least issues with image loss. That being said, the Attack on Titan singles are the easiest and most comfortable to read.
When it comes to print quality, the Colossal Editions are the best by far. The individual paperbacks definitely are the worst in terms of print quality, even though they still look good, you can’t see the details much particularly in the highly shadowed and high contrast areas as shown in the YouTube video below.
The omnibuses are the second best in terms of print quality, while the singles are the worst. In the singles, the blacks are too dark in certain areas, so the details and the mid-tones don't stand out as much as they do in the other editions.
The Colossal Editions are printed on white glossy paper whereas the omnibuses and singles are printed on off-white paper that has an egg-shell like finish. The paper quality in the Colossal Editions is the best.
The Colossal Editions overall have the best contrast and the panels are crisp and bold. The blacks are deep, but the mid-tones are present as well, which allows the details in Hajime Isayama's artwork to stand out even more.
Pictures are worth more than words though, especially when it comes to print and page quality, so be sure to check out the video at the end of this post to see how they compare firsthand!
Artwork & Cropping
Hajime Isayama’s art is incredible in any format, but the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions make his artwork look that much more amazing. You are able to see even more detail thanks to the larger format, so I think that the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions do Hajime Isayama’s art justice more so than the paperbacks and omnibuses.
You can really tell how much more incredible the panels look in the Colossal Edition when comparing them side by side to the other formats of AoT.
The omnibuses with their slightly higher print quality and slightly larger format are the second best in my opinion. The larger the format, the more detail you can see. Plus, his art just looks so awesome when its blown up. That being said, the Colossal Editions are the best way to go if you care about experiencing Attack on Titan's art in the largest format.
In regards to cropping, the artwork is cropped slightly in certain editions of Attack on Titan. Horizontally, the panels of the Colossal Editions are the most cropped, the singles are the second most cropped, and the omnibuses are the least cropped. Vertically, the singles are the most cropped, the colossal editions are the second most cropped, and the omnibuses are the least cropped. So all-around, the omnibuses are the least cropped version of Attack on Titan.
You can see examples of how cropped the artwork is in each edition in the YouTube video below!
In terms of extras, the standard paperbacks do include some commentary, interviews, and character sketches, etc, throughout the volumes. That being said, if you get the retailer exclusive volumes some come with new extras, like the Barnes and Noble exclusive volume 34, which comes with an exclusive poster.
Everything that was printed in the individuals is included in the omnibuses, so the omnibuses don’t come with any new material.
As far as the box sets go, the only extra that’s included with the Attack on Titan box set 1 is a sticker set, but other AoT box sets come with different things. For instance, the second box set comes with a double-sided poster. I will say that while it’s nice to get these extras, box sets from other publishers tend to come with better extras than those included in Kodansha’s standard box set releases. The Akira manga box set they released released though is a different story!
And finally, the Colossal Editions feature some new material. Colossal Edition 1 has some beautiful color pages sprinkled through the volume and Colossal Edition 2 has an eight-page color crossover with the superheroes of Marvel's Avengers at the end, but the remaining volumes don’t have any extra material in them. The first Colossal Edition is my favorite though with those full color panels sprinkled throughout the edition. I hope we get a full color release some day after seeing these aside from The Best of Attack on Titan volumes that began releasing in February 2022.
Final Verdict: What is the best way to collect the Attack on Titan manga?
It definitely depends on what you are looking for.
If you are looking for the cheapest way to collect the series, it’s going to be through the omnibuses. If you like large formats, are looking for the best way to experience Attack on Titan’s art, or the highest print quality, the Attack on Titan Colossal Editions are the way to go. If you want to read the full series ASAP or want to collect the individual covers, the individual paperbacks are the way to go. The box sets are good if you like to bulk purchase volumes and want the extras, but you don’t save any money at retail in comparison to buying the individual paperbacks.
What do I think though? Personally, I think the Colossal Editions are the best edition to release so far. Despite their issues, I’m someone who really loves large format manga releases and the art just looks stunning in these editions. Not to mention the print quality is the best. That being said, I still am hoping for a hardcover, sewn-binding release of Attack on Titan’s manga someday!
If you are looking to pick up any of the Attack on Titan manga editions, you can shop them now at one of the stores below! If you want to learn more about each site, check out our favorite manga bookstores and sites!