Though Viz Media has been releasing the Battle Angel Alita and the Battle Angel Alita: Last Order series in a tiny format, Yukito Kishiro has managed to cram true art into those small boxes.
In fact, his art work can be magnificent. I always think of that drawing of Alita on top a Space Needle-like building, overlooking the Scrapyard below — an image writer-director James Cameron copied for his “Dark Angel” TV program.
In the most recent edition of Last Order, Kishiro lays out one of his most shocking scenes. In the first chapter of volume 13, we are shown the bestial Homme du Feu, as he tries to sort out his feelings for the gorgeous Olympe, his combat instructor and the only creature who’s ever shown him kindness. As the panels progress, and he recounts “a desire that was my torment,” the boxes themselves become angular, the type grows larger.
… Then a two-page tableau of surprising horror. I’ve been reading Kishiro for years, and I did not see this coming:
The giant crushing paw anchoring the right foreground, the small piercing white pupil-less eyes in the upper left, the dagger teeth and the destruction brought down on Olympe.
And then things get even worse.
Kishiro can turn scenes of mad violence into beauty. And does, often. It’s a rare and powerful skill.
See my earlier posts on volume 13 here and here.