I’d been quite looking forward to read Battle Angel Alita ever since seeing the film version in cinemas. Given that it’s a manga classic, there’s a part of me that’s embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to get to it.
Beneath the floating city of Zalem lies a mountain of junk known as the Scrapyard. While scavenging for parts, talented cybernetic doctor Daisuke Ido finds the still-living cyborg head. He rebuilds her body and names her Alita when they find that she has no memories of her previous life. The only clue that they have is her unexplained instinct for battle.
Given that I’d already seen the film adaptation of Battle Angel Alita, I thought that I would have a pretty good idea of what was happening. I was partially correct, but it was a bit of an odd read. It’s probably the fastest paced book that I’ve read in a long time, as it seems to largely go from one fight scene to another with nary a pause for breath in between. If I didn’t know what to expect, I imagine that it would be exhausting to keep up with. The focus on fight scenes has the unfortunate side effect that there’s not a great deal of characterisation happening. Honestly, the character that felt the most fleshed out by the time the volume ended was Mukaku, the guy that Alita is attempting to take out for his bounty, which seems backwards.
The main thing that saves this for me is the artwork, which is fantastically detailed and dynamic in a way that is not necessarily pretty, but definitely striking. It’s also really good for the body horror, so fans of that genre will probably have a fun time here.
Weirdly fast pacing and weak characterisation does harm an interesting story, but the art and fight choreography is striking enough that I’d still be happy to continue the series. 3/5
Next review: Onslaught of Madness by Jesse Teller