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Battle Angel Alita: Last Order October 21, 2013

Posted by ayasawada in Manga.
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Last Order cover

I recently started reading Last OrderYukito Kishiro‘s follow up/continuation of Battle Angel Alita (Gunmm), now conveniently available in big volume omnibus editions from Kodansha. Four volumes (or two omnibus editions) in and it’s a cracking read, though a bit different from the original.

In 2001, six years after illness forced an early finish for Alita, Kishiro returned to undo and reimagine Alita’s fate, promising answers to the many unanswered questions in that universe. I of course loved that original and haven’t got much more to say beyond that post. But what’s interesting to me is the way that the series has changed, from an epic, sprawling seinen manga to something a bit more shonen, albeit still with those philosophical, intellectual and emotional elements of seinen mixed in. Where the original felt something like a series of OAVs, every arc different and a step toward something new (or a new stage in Alita’s evolution), Last Order, at least thus far, feels like an ongoing series of fights, of characters on a series of quests. There was always something of that element to the original of course, but somehow the changes in terrain mixed it up a little more, adding to that sense of disorientation and ponderance as Alita wandered the lands.

The change isn’t necessarily bad – I’m only at the beginning of Last Order after all. And with 18 volumes and counting, Last Order has already doubled the length of its predecessor, necessitating perhaps the kind of long-running plots that keep manga like Naruto and Bleach selling big. Kishiro has no doubt changed a lot too, if only from recovering his health, and it’s interesting to speculate how this new outlook (if he has one) has changed how Alita’s world goes. There’s also the change in location to factor in – from the wastelands of Earth to the fabled city of Tiphares, then up to space. And of course there are those unanswered questions. We’re learning more and more about who Alita was those hundreds of years ago before the scrapyard, where Panzer Kunst comes from, who controls this new-age society and why it is the way it is. In many ways it’s both a typical and brilliantly imaginative view of a post-apocalyptic society (or not so apocalyptic for those in the elite – not to spoil it too much…).

One thing that hasn’t changed is Kishiro’s remarkable attention to detail, whether in his stunning artwork, footnotes or character background. His ideas and knowledge really add to your immersion in this world. This plus the compulsion to find out those answers, particularly Alita’s identity, as well as her reason to live, are what drives both the reader and Alita on. Let’s see where this goes, but for now this manga comes highly recommended.

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2012 anime retrospective December 30, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Drama, Film, Manga.
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Hyoka
Another year, another great batch of anime watching. Despite my ‘cutting down’ due to time constraints, I still ended up watching over 20 shows this year, not to mention the odd OAV, movie, drama, live-action adaptation etc. etc. As I rarely get a chance to blog on a series’ end, I thought it might be fun to follow many other blogs’ lead and gather my thoughts in retrospect. (more…)

A Japanophile in New York July 23, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Books, Food, Games, Manga, Personal, Travel.
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It’s a common habit of mine that no matter where I go on holiday, I always end up drawn to the Japanese stuff. New York, the concrete jungle where dreams are made of, was no different.

As one of the most famous and most cultured cities in the world it’s no surprise NYC caters well for the Japanophile. So where should you visit if you find yourself in the Big Apple in need of a Japanese fix? (more…)

There and back again: from Tsubasa to XXXholic June 10, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Manga, Personal.
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XXXholicA couple of months ago, the last volume of CLAMP‘s long-running  XXXholic was finally published in English. It brought to an end (of sorts) Watanuki’s journey from boy to man, from student to shopkeeper, and given that the series also happens to have perfectly spanned my working life to date, I can’t help but feel a bit of empathy.

I started following XXXholic and its sister series Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle back in the Spring of 2004. I happened to get my first proper job at a place round the corner from one of my favourite comic book stores (the brilliant Gosh! comics, then in Bloomsbury, now moved to bigger premises).  Every lunchtime was spent spending my paycheck on numerous series, and having recently got into CLAMP’s works (like many, largely through a love of Cardcaptor Sakura and Chobits) I was excited to see these two crossover series, the debut titles from new publisher Del Rey, and so soon (relatively) after their debuts in Japan.

Eight years later, much has changed. Del Rey has now closed, my career has had its ups and downs, and so have these two manga.  (more…)

Battle Angel Alita (Gunnm) January 22, 2012

Posted by ayasawada in Manga, Rave.
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Evolution of Alita/Gally.In the early days of my otakudom, Battle Angel Alita was one of the most well-known titles. The anime adaptation epitomised the new wave of Japanimation that the then Manga Video was pushing: sexy heroines, gory violence, cyborgs and post-apocalyptic desolation. Over the years, I read more about the manga Gunnm, praised by sci-fi and manga fans as a classic and attracting further attention when James Cameron acquired up the movie rights. I picked up the first few volumes in thrift stores, eBay and (most recently) local libraries. This month I finished the whole of the original series. And it blew my mind.

<SPOILER WARNING> (more…)

Hyper Japan 2011 July 24, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Culture, Food, Games, Japan, Manga.
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Hyper Japan 2011, a set on Flickr.

This weekend I went to the Hyper Japan exhibition at London’s Kensington Olympia.

A celebration of contemporary Japanese culture, it’s the second year the event has run. Having missed it last year, I booked my ticket well in advance this time.

Was it worth it? Yes and no. While I did enjoy bits of it, I have to say, overall, it was a bit of a disappointment. It’s largely another ‘pay high entrance fee to get into a space where you can spend more money’ do. And in contrast to, say, MCM Expo, there weren’t many ‘bargains’ to be had when you were inside. Most of the stuff, from food to figurines remained at a premium. (more…)

Japan 2011 – the otaku’s tale July 4, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Culture, Japan, Manga, Travel.
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Atom statue

No trip to Japan is complete without a bit of fanboying. I’ve written about the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum and Tetsujin 28 statue already (the Tezuka museum was probably the otaku highlight of my trip).

This post is largely mopping up a few random observations and running through this trip’s haul of merchandise. (more…)

Tetsujin 28 statue, Kobe July 4, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Japan, Manga, Travel.
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I saw the life-sized Gundam on my last trip to Japan, so it seemed appropriate to this time visit the other giant robot statue in Japan: Kobe’s Tetsujin 28. (more…)

Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum July 3, 2011

Posted by ayasawada in Anime, Japan, Manga, Personal, Travel.
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Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum sign

One of the highlights of my trip to Japan was a visit to this shrine to the ‘God of Manga’ Osamu Tezuka.

Given how many times I’ve been to Kansai, I’d thought about stopping by many times before, but never quite had the time or inclination. For one thing, I haven’t actually read or watched that much of his original work. Probably the closest I’ve come is watching recent remakes or reimaginings, like Naoki Urasawa’s Pluto series. This is not to say I’m ignorant – I’m fully aware of Tezuka-sensei’s influence and history (it’s hard for any anime or manga fan not to be). In fact, one of the earliest anime I saw as a child was a bastardised cut of an adaptation of his Phoenix series. It confused the hell out of me as a five year old, but it says something about Tezuka’s vision that part of it still sticks in my memory despite my youth, not to mention the bad dubbing and editing.

The Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum is based in Tezuka’s home town of Takarazuka, an easy 40 minute ride from Osaka Station on the JR Takarazuka line. Exiting the station into a little shopping mall, you quickly find Atom pointing the way. (more…)

20th Century Boys Vol. 15 July 1, 2011

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I received the latest volume of 20th Century boys this week and read it in one sitting!
(SPOILERS) (more…)