Battle Angel Alita (Action Edition) Vol. #2 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, March 23, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, February 10, 2004
Translated by:Fred Burke, Sterling Bell, & Matt Thorn
What They Say
Yukito Kishiro blurs the lines between human and machine in the sci-fi/action adventure Battle Angel Alita.
Alita falls head-over-metal-heels for Hugo, a passionate young man who longs to escape the degradation of the Scrapyard and live in Tiphares, the ethereal city in the sky. Will Alita win a place in his heart? And to what desperate lengths will Hugo go to realize his dream??
Viz uses the original cover art here that has more of the original art than the Shueisha version. On there is a wrap around piece with Alita running through the Scrapyard. The architecture is full of pipes and is covered in all sorts of characters (kanji and korean mostly.)
Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... Viz does a nice job with the logo, giving "Alita" a large font while framing "Battle Angel" within it. Giving the frame wings is cute but a little silly for my tastes.
The printing looks good but a little dark. Viz provides an omake page detailing the "Netmen" and the Public Security System in this series. There are also ads for Flame of Recca, Excel Saga, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tuxedo Gin and Last Order.
While definitely a step down from Kishiro's art in Last Order Alita is still a feast for the eyes. While the character designs have a more comical feel than his current works, there is a lot of creativity with the mix of cyborg parts and human flesh. His backgrounds are also very nice. In many ways I feel that this is his strong part. This world he presents in the Scrapyard underneath the floating city is horrible. One could not realize just how hard it must be if Kishiro did not present it as dark, cold and harsh. I love it! With everything else being so creative I almost did not notice how simple the layout is. This is as textbook as it can be but it does the job by keeping the pace at a nice slow rhythm making sure the reader focuses on the art and the story.
This is one of the series that Viz went back to redo and they do a real nice job. Now in a tall B6 (similar to TP sizes) Alita is right to left; a striking contrast to its tall flopped original Viz print. SFX are all overlaid but the retouch looks solid, so I have no complaints.
Translation looks solid - no significant spelling or grammar errors and it flows very well. Unfortunately, there are a few changes to the original text. There are a few name changes notably Gally (Alita), Yugo (Hugo), and Zalem (Tiphares) and for some reason this was changed: the amount of chips Hugo needs to give Vector is now 10,000 instead of the original 10,000,000. (I wonder why Viz didn't fix that?) Where I felt this translation excelled was with the notes. While not as extensive as Last Order's these notes are filled with all sorts of information (terms for the series along with some scientific terminology) nicely presented in the gutters located at the bottom of the page. Alita may be for older teens but with those notes younger audiences can easily keep up with this great story.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Alita's first battle concludes with a trip into the depths of the Scrapyard sewage system.
It is here that her opponent, the cruel Manaku, grew up struggling to live amongst the waste of those that have been thrown away. Manaku was thrown away garbage soon after his birth and everyday was like hell as he wished to live with everyone else. But when he tried to reach out to those on the surface he was lethally injured. His body started to decay like everything else around him, but he was given another chance. A man from the Tiphares gave him a new body, one that would turn him into a robotic maggot that would feed of off those who give him pain. This body was able to ease his pain but it also drove him into madness as it forced him to rely on murder to survive and only murder could ease his pain.
It was also there where Alita would finally defeat the monster. She would also learn a bit about the cruelty that is felt amongst humanity. It moved her. She could not describe the feeling that she felt when Manaku finally expired but all she could say is that it was full of all sorts of emotions. (Deep.)
Life lessons continue for Alita at the end of her battle. Love is a mysterious thing but is it easy to learn or even understand. Amongst the ruins Alita finds her first love, Hugo. Hugo may not be the first pick for most bachelorettes but Alita sees something different in him. She sees his freedom, his strength, and determination all powered by his dreams. Dreams can pretty hard to reach sometimes (I guess that's why they call them dreams). Dreams could also be nightmares; once a bounty was placed on Hugo's head Alita could no longer associate with him. She only had one choice, but someone made it for her. Hugo was caught for his illegal activities, but in this society people can be disposed of easily so instead of being jailed he was mortally injured. Upon reaching the scene, Alita could only turn in Hugo's head to confirm that he received his punishment.
Love can make you do crazy things, though. Even without a body, Hugo survived by getting connected to Alita's vital systems. It was a risk on her life; one that she easily could do. At Dr. Ido's home, Hugo was fitted into a mechanical body. Once he was able to get around on his own, it was up to him to make a decision on his future: believe in his dream or pass on it. If a Tipharian cannot go back, how could he?
Last volume tested the boundaries of the self. Alita had to grow up quickly and make decisions for her future very quickly after getting her new body. This volume has Alita learning the hardships of love. Emotions can get the better of you in situations like this, for what could be a first time, Alita handled herself like a pro. Yes she had to learn some of the games (act all cute and defenseless at times, be strong and in command at others...), but in the end she stood with her man when he needed it the most. Alita helped him out to get him to a point where he could decide to pursue his goals or stay and maybe be with her (if things work out fine for Alita). At that point her feelings were practically unconditional and whether he stayed or not she wanted him to make that decision on his own accord. Powerful stuff.
For those looking for a sci-fi with action and good drama this is a title that should not be missed. Alita's growth carries this series, as she quickly progresses from head lying in a scrap pile to passionate warrior fighting to save those she cares for.
For those who have issues with edits this series could be frustrating. While everything should be in proper order and the art in unflopped, the text still has the name/text changes could have been fixed (sure changing the lead character's name back to Gally would bring a lot of issues - "Battle Angel Gally who's that??" - but the other changes could easily have been fixed).
Right now I am having a hard time with this series. On one hand, it is a title that I love for an assortment of reasons. This is a story that should be shared but even with some of the positive presentation changes in the production there are still edits to the text. Some people can live with those things and right now I am, but I have a hard time fully endorsing something like this.
As a powerful sci-fi story Gunnm is one of the better titles to make it to North America. Wonderful characters, beautiful art and a sci-fi world that world that presents the truths of living - suffering and ignorance versus compasion and humanity. Gally (Alita) must go through the growing pains of life in her own way through her compassion, strength and determination. Watching her grow is something that I cannot pass up.
As Battle Angel Alita, I could pass on this Fred Burke version, but not being able to share this title would be a shame, as well. Pick up at your own risk it might be well worth it.
Recommended at your risk
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: C
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left