Alita must fight an old enemy, as well as a war in the desert.
As Kodansha Comics continues to release Battle Angel Alita: Deluxe Editions readers get ever closer to the film’s release this December. Something learned after reviewing volume 2 of this re-release is how creator Yukito Kishiro makes each chapter wildly different than the last. This series seems to defy genre and premise twice-fold in each deluxe edition and this collection is no different.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
After her stint on the Motorball circuit, Alita returns to The Scrapyard with Ido to live out the rest of her days in peace. But it’s not long before Zapan–a bitter enemy from the past–wreaks havoc on all that Alita holds dear. Zapan has an insatiable thirst for vengeance that can only be quenched with Alita’s demise, but does he stand a chance against Alita’s mighty panzerkunst? And in the wake of their earth-shattering battle, Alita faces a tragedy that may be too much for her to handle.
Why does this matter?
Aside from the much-anticipated film on the horizon, this is also one of the greatest and most famous works in manga history. After its release in 1990 it became a huge success and was adapted into cartoon, videogame, and novel formats. It has staying power, people! Plus, I highly enjoyed volume 1 and volume 2.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Zapan needs to chill.
This collection once again can be split down the middle between two varying stories. The first serves as a way for Kishiro to reset Alita after her big Motorball adventure that took up much of volume 2. The second takes on a Desert Storm sort of vibe with Alita battling bandits in the desert. Both chapters feature different aspects of Alita as well as set up different types of conflicts. Plus, they both show off her fighting prowess, which is something Kishiro never fails to deliver on.
This book opens with Alita having nothing to do until an enemy from her past decides killing her is the only solution. This character ends up attacking Alita twice, first as a regular old cyborg and later as a giant metal dragon…thing. That transformation isn’t explained much, but it allows Alita to show off two styles of combat, the first being patient and cunning, and the second full-out with nothing to lose. There’s a strong message of Alita being a hero for the people who live in The Shipyard–those who are poor and weak–and Kishiro does well to lay those seeds.
The second half is set up with how the first finishes and it forces Alita to be a covert ops-style soldier. She’s forced to help the Zalem bastards and be their slave, which brings the story slightly closer to giving us answers about those rich folks in the sky. This story is all about the action and even has a Rambo stand-in named Figure. He’s specially trained and can take out a cyborg even though he’s just a flesh bag, and that makes him a formidable ally to Alita. The most enlightening element of this section is how Kishiro reveals Alita has a berserker side that she revels in. She wants to forget and can do so by blindly, and lustfully, entering battle. This chapter ends on a major cliffhanger that’ll have you wishing Kodansha could move up the June release date for the next volume.
Kishiro draws some magnificent fight scenes in this volume, much like the last, with a particularly improved use of close-up facial expressions. The action is heightened by well-timed close-ups and there are many. This is particularly helpful when Alita goes full berserker. Detailed environments continue to be a major highlight of this series, too. A new element that mimics the fight style explanations of previous volumes pops up in this one and it deals with weaponry. As Alita and other characters whip out guns and ammunition (like bee bullets), Kishiro draws the said weapon in its own box up-close with a detailed explanation. This gives the action an interesting flow as it adds a cutaway like a freeze frame moment in a film or anime. It also reminds readers that Battle Angel Alita is set in the far future where some truly zany weaponry exists.
These Zalem bots are almost too goofy for their own good.
It can’t be perfect can it?
This volume lacks in the Alita character development department. There were hints that Alita was figuring out her past on Mars, but this volume only has a glimmer of a detail (Alita is afraid of a specific type of butterfly). Given how much of an enigma she is it’s too bad these 436 pages couldn’t shed some light on the character.
Another element that is rare for the series is how basic Figure is rendered. He’s practically a cartoon character is some scenes as his meaty face is devoid of detail and his clothing is rather basic-looking. If Kishiro is attempting to make him look basic then he succeeded, but it stands out in a glaring way.
Is It Good?
This is yet another highly enjoyable chapter in the extra-sized and well-made Deluxe Edition series. It’s very clear at this point that this is the definitive edition if you want to own one of the most action-packed manga series ever made.