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Battle Angel Alita: Last Order October 21, 2013

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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.

Battle Angel Alita (Gunnm) January 22, 2012

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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…)

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…)

Cross Game Vol. 3 May 18, 2011

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Cross game vol3 cover

Another rivetting volume of Cross Game continues my conversion into a fan of sports manga or, more precisely, that drawn by Mitsuru Adachi.

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Pluto May 6, 2011

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Atom
It takes some balls to reimagine the work of the ‘God of Manga’ Osamu Tezuka, let alone his most treasured work. But if anyone can, Naoki Urasawa can. I’m hyperbolic at times, but believe me when I say this is one of the best manga, maybe even sci-fi, that I’ve ever read.

Pluto takes the most famous story in Tezuka’s Astro Boy (The Greatest Robot on Earth arc) and gives it the Urasawa touch, parachuting in a murder-mystery, thriller aspects and enough robot sci-fi themes to have Asamov frothing at the mouth. It is brilliant because it satisfies the reader on so many levels: aesthetically, entertainingly, thoughtfully. (more…)

New manga 28/4/11 April 30, 2011

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20th Century Boys rolls on. Interesting, rather than exciting, I felt. Still it’s enough to keep me interested, but now that the big secret of the Friend’s identity has been revealed, I’m less gripped than I was before. Still, I’m intrigued how the plot is going to resolve itself and what the Friend’s motivation was (if it’s just that ‘he’s evil’ I will be sorely disappointed). I have faith in Urasawa though. No matter how sprawling this has become he manages to keep hold of it and everything and everyone has a purpose, so I am hopeful of a big payoff. If it’s anywhere as good as Pluto, I’ll be happy ^^
Meanwhile, Cross Game continues to be AMAZING!! I think I’m going to write a separate post on vol. 3 so will save my thoughts for then.

New manga 8/4/11 April 9, 2011

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Latest Amazon order brings the new volume of Kimi Ni Todoke and the final volume of Pluto (because I can’t get it from the library, but I have to know how it ends!).
I have a lot of thoughts on Pluto, but will save for a proper post when I’ve finished the whole thing. I’m pretty sure already though that it’s one of the best manga – and sci-fi – I’ve ever read.
Kimi Ni Todoke vol 7 was nice, though didn’t pull on the heartstrings as much as previous volumes. Still, SawakoxKazehaya is hotting up, and what a bittersweet cliffhanger with the Valentine chocolates! I want more RyuxChizu though ^^

 

New loot: Cross Game Vol.2 January 18, 2011

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I LOVE this series already. Have a soft spot for sports/coming-of-age tales. Maybe because they’re full of experiences an lessons I wish I’d had/learned as a teen?