Books on Japan: Battle Angel Alita Volumes 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9
Battle Angel Alita Vols 5-9
Hemanth Kissoon looks at the classic Battle Angel Alita series Volumes 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9.
Battle Angel Alita Volumes Five, Six, Seven, Eight and Nine
Story and art by Yukito Kishiro
Each of the nine volumes continues straight on from the preceding one as if they formed one huge story. Please see my other reviews of Volumes One to Four.
Taken as a whole, Battle Angel Alita is gripping storytelling. It is unpredictable, very violent and exciting, right up until the very end.
It is laden with sadness and tragedy of the future of the world; a definite dystopian fantasy. Battle Angel Alita has a voice of its own, but similar elements can be seen in Mad Max, Terry Gilliam's Brazil, The Running Man and H.G. Wells' The Time Machine; in particular the latter, where the Eloi live above ground and the Morlocks underground.
On Earth in the far future, those that lead a life of violence and struggle live in the Scrapyard city and in the surrounding farms, while relative harmony exists in the floating city above, Tiphares.
"But here, in the scrapyard, no one ever truly wins," Sarah.
Bounty hunter Zapan has returned in a different form after being pulped. His memory comes back after he sees Alita on television about to fight Jashugan at Motorball, and he wants vengeance. He has rage issues and accidentally kills someone he cares about. Now there's a bounty on Zapan's head. There is so much violence in the first few pages.
Jumping two years into the future: we find out that Alita's Beserker body has been sold to enigmatic scientist Desty Nova, prior to Ed's death, to keep her in Motorball; mechanic Umba is now at an engineering company; and Alita sings in the Hunter Bar. It has now been three years since Ido found Alita. We finally get to meet Dest Nova and some of his plans are revealed. The scope of nanotechnology is introduced, with its uses for good and evil.
Also, Alita realises how much she loves her friends: the barman, Shumira, Koyomi, Ido, Gonzu and Murdoch.
The mythology is getting really dense now, like some of the most satisfying stories, drawing you further into the Battle Angel Alita world.
"You will become our most powerful surface agent - the first of the 'tuned'," Bigott Eizenburg.
The Scrapyard sentences Alita to death for committing a Class A offence at the end of Volume Five. About to be killed, she is saved by Tiphareans in exchange for working for them.
They have been monitoring her for the last two years via an unlikely source.
The mission as a 'tuned' is to arrest Tipharean defected scientist Desty Nova. Her journey starts with the train (driven by a small nuclear power plant) that links the Scrapyard city to the outside farms and mines which supply Tiphares.
The trains are prone to attack by bandits, in particular the lethal Barjack, who steal the shipments and even a train.
There are allusions to 2001: a Space Odyssey, Dr Faustus and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
The breadth of the world created by Kishiro is growing, and new characters introduced, including a new ally, Figure Four.
The Barjack gang reveal its secret plan.
We finally get a proper look at Tiphares in the sky and the ocean on the ground.
It is now ten years on since volume four! A new character is introduced, Lou Collins, Alita's Tipherean operator. Now we also get further glimpses into Alita's past. Kyomoi is now no longer a toddler, and Shumira has eight children.
Den, the leader of the Barjack, explains his motives. Kaos is introduced, the radio dj, who can feel the history and emotions of objects he touches. He could be a key to the mystery of the way of the world.
Volumes Eight and Nine
"I'm a cyborg. I live on the border between flesh and steel," Alita.
The revelations in the next two volumes are huge. Alita's past, and the reasons for the sad state of the world are made known. A huge climax awaits, along with an emotional ending. It would be a real shame to disclose too much. There are themes of sacrifice, love, human frailty and determination.
Battle Angel Alita is epic storytelling with grand imagination.
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