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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Thoughts on Alita: Battle Angel

Full disclosure; I own (and have read) all nine volumes of the original Battle Angel Alita manga. I have seen both episodes of the OVA. I've only got a couple volumes of Last Order, and have not followed the series for quite some time. To illustrate to you just much time I've spent away from this franchise, Mars Chronicle was completely new to me.

We've known that James Cameron was interested in adapting Battle Angel Alita for a long time now, early '90s I think.

I didn't really get interested in the series until 2008-9. I ordered volume 1 at the local bookstore, and I was hooked. The art, the detail, the story. It all pulled me in and kept me there for eight more volumes. I started losing interest in Last Order, I kind of forgotten about Alita.

Fast forward to December 9th, 2017, the long awaited Battle Angel Alita movie's first trailer has launched. And I watched the whole thing with a big smile on my face. Not to say I liked everything I saw. I mean, yeah, Alita looks like a Snapchat filter gone wrong, but here's the thing; she's basically a brain inside of a robot body. It's fair to say that there might be some differences between a brain in a robot versus an ordinary human. The thing is, if they were going to go all cartoonish on her appearance, why stop at the eyes? In every other medium that Alita has appeared in, she's had big poofy hair and pouty lips. (One of her nicknames is octopus lips for crying out loud.) And for that matter, why not go all in when using CGI on all of the human faces? Ido is clearly present in the trailer but he sure as heck doesn't look like he does in the manga or anime.

And speaking of the anime - is Jennifer Connelly playing Chiren? Chiren was an anime exclusive character, who didn't live to see the end of the OVA. (Spoilers.) I have to wonder just why this character is even there. Don't get me wrong, on its own merits, the 1993 OVA is perfectly fine. But there's just no comparison to the size and scope of the manga. Seeing Hugo, Makaku and Zapan during the trailer made me really excited, but who was the scythe girl? She must be new to the franchise. No sign of Desty Nova, not that I was expecting to see him so soon. No sign of Gonzu either.

I mean, in every adaptation, something will stay the same, and something will change. Look at King Kong. I do have my concerns as to whether or not this film will give proper respect to the source material, because I respect it a great deal myself. (Perhaps it's time for me to give it respect again.) Judging from this trailer, the visuals of the film might turn off a number of people, but the content has drawn me in.

I will be seeing this film. If you wish to see the film, I recommend reading the manga first, at least the first nine volumes. Comixology has them.

Battle Angel Alita is one of the best kept secrets out of Japan. It is totally worth your time. Whether the film is worth your time, well, we'll all find out July 20th, 2018. (Maybe by then I'll get the title of the film right, Alita: Battle Angel.)

In the meanwhile, I've got some reading to do.

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