On one level, the ongoing story for Battle Angel Alita: Last Order is pretty simple: Alita and her team are fighting their way up the table to win the Zenith of Things Tournament. The grand prize has changed a few times over the course of this long tale, but in volume 12, released in America two weeks ago, it became sovereignty over heavenly Tiphares and the slums of the Scrapyard below for the winners.
But this years-long Gunnm tale has seen countless twists —enemies became allies, allies were torn asunder, huge battles were mounted, individuals fought for honor — with backstories and unexpected side trips all over the place. The adventures have been powerful, thrilling, tragic and sometimes even pretty funny.
And there’s a lot of talk, much of it about free will and destiny (and sometimes about flan). By volume 12, Alita has grown to womanhood (with, for some reason yet to be explained, a tail), but there’s a jarring recent development — cyborg Alita has discovered that, somewhere along the way, her brain was replaced with a bio-chip. So her soul-shredding question: Is she still truly human?
Alita is fighting to win the ZOTT and free Tiphares and the Scrapyard. But she also is struggling to understand her own destiny. In the final panels, as Alita appears to be calmly floating in a graceful cartwheel, she wonders: “I feel as if I’m falling from a great height … in a curious state of suspension and deep loneliness …. If I’m moving faster, accelerating in this descent … what awaits me at the end?”
I posted a preview story on this book’s release, with background on the character and story, in August.