Thursday, October 22, 2009

Battle Angel Alita: Last Order — The Art

If I have one complaint about the excellent Battle Angel Alita: Last Order series, it’s the size: Viz Media publishes the books in tiny paperback proportion that does a disservice to Yukito Kishiro’s marvelous art. (See my earlier post, “Alita Returns in October.”)

In France, the earlier books in his Gunnm series were printed bande dessinée style, in a 10-by-seven-inch format. Those giant pages gave space to Kishiro’s magnificently detailed drawings. (The one image that immediately comes to mind is that of the tiny heroine, Alita — or Gally, as she’s called in the Japanese and French versions — standing high above the city atop a Space Needle-like structure … an image James Cameron “borrowed” for his Dark Angel TV series, before he announced his intention to make a Battle Angel Alita movie.)

The Viz versions sometimes require the reader to look and look again to take in everything that’s going on in the panels, some only one and a half by two inches big. That’s especially the case in volume 12, just released last week in America, which features a battle royale among hundreds of would-be karate competitors in a giant sports event, ZOTT, the Zenith of Things Tournament.

Think how breathtaking the artist’s drawing of the repair work being done to the outer space ZOTT arena would look, or his rendering of Toji’s vision of Planet Karate, if given more room in this edition.

Kirshiro’s drawings are often complicated, but so, too, are the Gunnm stories. More in the next post ….

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