Battle Angel Alita (Action Edition) Vol. #05 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Sunday, February 20, 2005
Release Date: Sunday, August 01, 2004
Translated by:Fred Burke and Toshifumi Yoshida
What They Say
Yukito Kishiro blurs the lines between human and machine in the sci-fi/action adventure Battle Angel Alita.
Mad scientist Desty Nova resurrects the brain of Zapan - the Hunter-Warrior whose pride Alita has injured one too many times - and fits it with a deadly Berserker body. Now, nothing can stop Zapan from exacting his revenge on Alita and all the Scrapyard inhabitants. Will Alita sacrifice herself to save her friends and other innocents?
As they have done throughout this reproduction, Viz continues to use Kishiro's original cover art. This cover is a wrap around with Alita half encased in concrete. The image is full of greens and browns, but it really details the joints and makeup of Alita's mechanized body. The opposite cover shows how symbolically Zapan is the concrete Alita is stuck in. Creepy!
Viz's logo is pretty fun even though it does not incorporate any of the original concepts (including the title). "Alita" is in large block letters with "Battle Angel" framed within the larger letters. To accentuate the angel aspect Viz even gives the logo little wings. Cute in a dangerous way.
Inside Viz's printing is okay, though there were pages that seemed to be a bit dark. I did not notice any alignment or touch-up problems. This volume features the original volume header, technotes (this volume has notes on nanotechnology) and a comic strip about Desty Nova's favorite snack. Viz also included ads for Battle Angel Alita ~Last Order~, SaiKano and the Key the Metal Idol DVDs.
While definitely a step down from Kishiro's art in Last Order, Alita is still a feast for the eyes. 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. At this point, I feel that this is his strongest aspect. The world he presents in the Scrapyard underneath the floating city is horrible. One could not realize just how hard it must be to live in 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. It 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 decent job. SFX are all overlaid but the retouch looks solid. In the end, 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) and Salem (Tiphares).
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: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The past has come back to haunt Alita. A rival maddened by hate and desperate to rid himself of his pain has decided to finish off something he planned years ago. Now Zapan, the former hunter, is back and is killing everyone in his way to Alita.
However, this story has become quite complicated along the way. Since their last battle, both of these characters have gone through a few changes. Alita has fallen in and out of love, hit the motorball circuit and is now a musician in her spare time. She has begun to live in peace and is advancing herself through helping out this suffering community in the Scrapyard. She is a friend, a daughter, a mentor and a warrior and she now has purpose for protecting this peace she has found.
Zapan, conversely, has seen his life change as well. His last battle with Alita could have meant the end of him, but he was given another chance to live. He was able to reconstruct his body and live in the scrapyard with a new identity. Inside him, there still is the anger and frustration of a man that was always outdone, who always wanted others to look up to him. Nevertheless, for a while he was able to contain those emotions for himself and for those who have taken him in.
Now, fate has brought the two together again. It is like karma that they were finally resolving this matter. One would finally be mortally punished for their crimes and the other would have to live with their pain. Unfortunately, karma has been given new meaning in this battle. This battle will be fought repeatedly, for there is someone who has decided to make karma his game. And that person will end up giving new life to chances that were not taken, ideas that were never thought and lives that deserved to have ended.
Vengeance can be very powerful concept. It is the culmination of many emotions and it can drive people to doing things that would normally be far out of their reach. Early in this series, vengeance put Alita's life in danger. Vengeance drove a rival hunter mad and that madness lead to his demise. Vengeance was also a part of motorball and its violent nature. Alita wanted vengeance against this cruel world before, but years later, she has realized that vengeance just continues to manifest hatred in the circle of life. Peace is where she is at now, but vengeance has returned to hurt those closest to her. Now she will not fight for vengeance, but she will fight for closure. This has to end, the suffering cannot be measured, but she fights for herself and no one else.
Kishiro brings back a character from the dead and he is pissed. By finally going into depth as to how her rival Zapan became the man he is now the idea of "karma" is brought into this title in a heavy way. Karma is now something much more tangible than just fate or destiny. Karma is now being manipulated. It is being abused. It is now even getting renewed chances to play itself out; often with horrible results. However, karma was never supposed to be anything like that. Karma, like vengeance was a result of the past. It was not to be abused by those looking to change the future. Now, karma is just another thing that can be tested and examined and it appears to be asserting its own karma on everyone who tries to control it.
This is what I was talking about in the last review. This is where we should have been chapters ago, but it was worth the wait. Drama, action and a moving plot... Seriously, what more can you ask for. Kishiro cannot do anything wrong in this volume. The plot device using revenge from the very start was brilliant. It creates a mindset that is driven simply by emotion, yet as he brings down the wall around Zapan's past there is much more driving his actions than meet the eye. Then there is the idea of karma and the crazy introduction of Desty Nova, which challenges and intensified the action as the outcome was always in doubt (might still be). Seriously, at its best there Alita is one of the better titles available. If the translation was redone to fix the name changes it would be a must buy, but even with the problems this is a great seinen sci-fi title full of creativity and fantasy. Not too many titles do that well anymore, Alita does all of that and caters specifically to the seinen market by presenting it with a wonderful layout and an engaging plot.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left