Friday, March 21, 2008

Battle Angel Alita: Last Order Vol. 9

In the last volume the story of Alita’s story was essentially put on hold in order to tell the story of another angel, Caerula Sanguis; who was once called Vilma Fachiri. Her story is something of a break from the series’ usual SF because Vilma is a vampire.

In Kishiro’s world vampirism is the product of a virus which creates a mutation, Type-V mutants, who share some aspects with vampires of folklore, but not entirely. In volume eight we learned the story of the apocalypse that destroyed the world we know and were told of the foundations of the world to come. We saw the Farrell and Bradley shelters and three generations of human survivors. The advantage of an immortal protagonist is that she can witness it all.

In this volume the history lessons continues up to the origins of Tiphares and the Scrapyard, but much of the story focuses on Vilma and her husband Victor. Victor has been the leader of the Cognates, as the vampires prefer to call themselves. In his human life he was a Crusading knight (that was a long, long time ago) and he interpreted his new life as a mission to hunt down sinful mankind. When the world was destroyed by a twin hit of massive solar flares and a giant asteroid hit, which plunged it into an extended winter, Victor took events as God’s judgement on humanity. With a small group of cognates, including Vilma, he scavenged the planet hunting down survivors. When circumstances brought Vilma to the two shelters, she found herself open to the idea of a peaceful co-existence between humans and Cognates. Victor was not. Events at the Farrell shelter proved him right. Now the same pattern of events is playing out at the much larger Bradley shelter, where the grandson of the Farrell shelter’s founder is taking a growing leadership role. A group of scientists there are also building the prototype of what will be the AI behind Tiphares.

Much of volume nine is an extended martial arts fight, with the combatants continually one-upping each other with mystical techniques – “I’ll see your Gut Wrenching Three Yin Blow, and I’ll raise you…” It gets to be so much like a Hong Kong B movie that one of the characters even goads the other by saying “Show me that technique I saw in a kung fu film years ago.” Fortunately the remaining pages are dense enough, storywise, that it doesn’t read as though we are ripped off. I have heard (I don’t remember where) that Kishiro is using this new series as a platform to tell stories about things and people other than its star. We do learn a lot of Alita’s world, and even the origin of the second series’ title, but I do hope the next volume brings our heroine to the forefront again. Alita appeared only in the first few pages of the last volume and isn’t in this volume at all. The tenth book isn’t due until the end of the year. It’s just too long a wait


Westside Goth said...

i couldn't get into the little Alita i read. or the bit of the anime i saw. i also have no real interest int he much rumored James Cameron film. or was it verified as his next film after the movie he is apperently filiming now?

David Bird said...

Did you read the new series or the old one? Alita has always been a favourite of mine.

And, yes, he is making it into a movie, though I don't know when it due for release.

Westside Goth said...

i've got a couple volumes from each series. its been a while. with manga, and anime, i tend to lean mroe to comedy or action-escapism. well-i guess thats not entirely true. my manga collection is weird but right now my favs are excal saga, gunsmith cats, and nana.