Gun Dream: A slow and discursive re-read of Battle Angel Alita

Discussion in 'Fan Town' started by sptrashcan, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. sptrashcan

    sptrashcan The Opinion Haver

    What is this thread?
    In this thread, I'm going to read one chapter of the manga Battle Angel Alita by Yukito Kishiro per day. Then I'm going to write something, using that chapter as a starting point, but also including Kishiro's work as a whole, manga and comics in general, and whatever else comes to mind.

    What is Battle Angel Alita?
    Battle Angel Alita is the English title common to an overall story spanning three manga series: Ganmu 銃夢 (lit. Gun Dream, localized as Battle Angel Alita), originally serialized in 53 chapters in Shueisha Business Jump and collected in 9 tankoubon volumes from 1990 to 1995; Ganmu Rasuto Ōdā 銃夢 Last Order (lit. Gun Dream Last Order, localized as Battle Angel Alita: Last Order), originally serialized in 100 chapters in Shueisha Ultra Jump and then in 24 additional chapters in Kodansha Evening after a dispute between Kishiro and the Shueisha editorial team, and collected in 19 tankoubon volumes from 2001 to 2014; and Ganmu Kasei Senki 銃夢火星戦記 (lit. Gun Dream Mars War Chronicle, localized as Battle Angel Alita: Mars Chronicle), currently in ongoing serialization in Kodansha Evening with 36 chapters and collected in 7 tankoubon volumes from 2014 onward.

    The series has also been adapted as: a two part original video animation directed by Hiroshi Fukutomi and produced by KSS Inc., Movic, Animate and Madhouse in 1993; a Playstation 1 video game produced by Yukito Products and published Banpresto in 1998; and a feature film directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron in 2019.

    Okay, but what is Battle Angel Alita?
    It's the story of Alita, a cyborg martial artist with a complicated past, and her life and times in a post-apocalyptic dystopian cyberpunk future. It features extremely rad fights, shocking ultra-violence, a huge cast of characters with distinctive looks and well-defined personalities, humor, drama, philosophy, and a giant robot from the planet Mercury who beats people up with its wiener (I promise this makes sense in context).

    Why Battle Angel Alita?
    I like it a lot, for reasons I'm sure I'll get into. There's a lot to talk about. I think it deserves (and benefits from) more attention. And with the relatively recent feature film, there might be more people curious about it.

    Why this thread format?
    Since Tumblr stopped being a website I was interested in using, I've been wanting to do a long-form cultural critique project in a public forum. This public commitment to a structured format will hopefully encourage me to keep up with the work, and by keeping to a scheduled reading order this can also serve as a "book club" style forum for discussion where everyone can be reading and talking about the same thing at the same time and bouncing ideas off each other.

    This sounds interesting and I want to read along.

    All three series are currently available digitally through Comixology and other digital distribution platforms. They can also be purchased physically wherever books are sold; the first series has been reissued by Kodansha in a handsome collection of six large-format hardcover volumes, and the second and third are available as paperbacks. They may also be available through your local library. If none of these options are available to you for financial or availability reasons, I am sure that you can find scanned and translated chapters available at any number of questionably legal websites, but please consider purchasing volumes if you like them and have the ability to do so.

    This sounds like something I don't want to engage with.
    That's a reasonable position. Take care of yourself and have a good one.

    Tomorrow's reading: Fight 1 "Rusty Angel" (錆びた天使, Sabita Tenshi)
    • Like x 3
  2. sptrashcan

    sptrashcan The Opinion Haver

    Fight 1 "Rusty Angel" (錆びた天使, Sabita Tenshi)
    "As of today, your name is 'Alita'!"

    Cyberdoctor Daisuke Ido finds the dormant head and torso of a cyborg while searching a vast junk heap for spare parts. He revives the cyborg in his workshop, and on finding that she has lost her memories, dubs her "Alita." As Ido assembles Alita a new body, she begins to suspect that he is murdering women to find parts for her. When she follows him and sees him preparing to ambush a woman, she fears the worst and rushes to stop him from killing for her sake. However, Ido was preparing his ambush for the true killer, a bat-faced mutant, and due to Alita's interference the mutant disarms Ido. Alita leaps to Ido's defense and instinctively uses the Martian cyborg martial art Panzerkunst to defeat the mutant. Ido claims the bounty for the killer and explains to Alita that he is one of the hunter-warriors who are paid bounties for criminals by the ruling authority of the Scrap Yard, the Factory.

    There's a lot I have to say here at the start, so this is probably going to run long compared to future installments. Also, some of what I'm about to get into is likely to be common knowledge to at least some readers, so forgive me if this seems didactic or tendentious, but I feel that there's some context that needs to be established about the circumstances under which the work was created in order to properly analyze the creative choices that Yukito Kishiro is making. So, let's talk a little bit about manga production and distribution.

    The great majority of commercial manga is initially serialized in anthology magazines, which contain, on average, 20 page installments from 10 to 20 different ongoing series. The anthologies are largely printed in black and white on cheap, low-quality paper and sold in massive volume at bargain prices. These volumes, while barely profitable, are largely considered a space for advertising and auditioning series for the considerably more lucrative collected edition (tankoubon) market, as well as merchandising through toys, memorabilia, and television and film adaptations. The publishers closely monitor magazine sales and regularly poll readers on their favorite series, and stories that aren't pulling enough attention get unceremoniously axed with little warning. Within this system, a staff of magazine editors work closely with series creators, keeping them apprised of their own series' numbers as well as general trends within the industry, and frequently making suggestions on everything from story direction to themes for new series based on their observations.

    Ganmu wasn't Kishiro's first commercially published work - he had previously created several one-off stories, the first of which ran in Weekly Shonen Sunday when he was just 17 - but it was his first commercial serialization. In 1990, editors at Shueisha were interested in having him submit a story as part of a special anthology for their Business Jump magazine. Looking through his unpublished work, they suggested that a female cyborg police officer from a short story entitled "Rainmaker" might be a good main character, and Kishiro produced this first chapter as a one-off with an eye for possible serialization, which he would be granted later that year.

    So why does all of this matter? Well, this first chapter is a successful example of a serialization pilot, and as such it had to accomplish two goals: first, to tell a complete and satisfying short story, and second, to leave readers excited about the possibility of further stories. And it had to do so within the constraints of its format: 6 full-color pages, printed in high quality at the front of the magazine and serving as an eye-catching advertisement, followed by 22 black and white pages printed cheaply in the back to complete the story. Let's start with how Kishiro uses those full-color pages.

    Page 1 is mainly establishing a place: a huge landfill, clawed at by cybernetic cranes, washed with the rusty colors of a smog-filled sunset, takes up the foreground, while in the background a black cityscape throws up tall industrial chimneys against a red and yellow sky. A closer look at the landfill reveals that it is full of cyborg parts, heads and arms and feet jutting out like dismembered corpses, and among them a shadowy figure moves through the dust.

    Pages 2 and 3 are a title illustration, and the first appearance of our protagonist, depicted in a fanciful illustration as an angelic figure made of and rising from (or sinking into) a heap of metal parts. This serves no immediate narrative purpose, but it does establish who the story is about and creates an image for her: as a person brought low from a higher plane, once powerful, now damaged and vulnerable. This is Alita as conceived by Ido - a pure and innocent creature, needing protection and nurture (in short, moe) - and while this conception is soon to be proved wildly wrong in many ways, it establishes a starting point for her characterization in this short story. (As an artistic and commercial artifact, this two-page spread is also something that an enthusiastic reader could pull from the magazine and pin up as a poster, were they so inclined...)

    Pages 4 and 5 continue the narrative from page 1, revealing our first in-narrative character: Daisuke Ido, cyberphysician, scavenging for usable parts amidst the junk. He is depicted in a full-body illustration along the side of page 4, and it's worth noting at this point that one of Kishiro's strengths is in cartooning. Ido cuts a remarkably distinctive figure with his incredibly long face, prominent nose, and wild mane of hair atop a lanky, long-limbed body. Like all of Kishiro's characters, he has an instantly recognizable silhouette and profile, and as the cast of characters quickly expands to a staggering size over the course of the series, the visual distinctiveness of each character adds a much-appreciated clarity to the story. At the end of page 5, Ido, silhouetted against the hazy setting sun, triumphantly pulls a cybernetic head and torso from the refuse heap. Here is our protagonist, bald-headed and fragmentary but instantly recognizable, painted in golden tones against the ruddy sky and black smokestacks.

    Page 6 establishes Ido's shop, shining with yellow light against the blue of twilight, a distinctly industrial and yet ramshackle construction of bulbous pipes and brutalist squared-off concrete. The female cyborg torso and head sit dormant on a table, connected to a mess of tubes, cables, pumps, and a fantastically complex jury-rigged diagnostic computer. Ido and Gonzu (another remarkable piece of cartooning, with his broad, sagging face, heavy brows, squat frame, and riveted pipe-end for a scalp) look on as the cyborg's eyelashes flicker.

    From here we switch to black and white pages, and the color steps aside in favor of Kishiro's distinctive, highly detailed ink work. At this point in his career, Kishiro hasn't quite found himself as an artist yet, and so his influences stand out more - if he hasn't read a lot of Moebius, he has definitely read the work of people who have, and the organic shapes of his cybertechnology are strongly reminiscent of H. R. Giger's mechanical humanoids. Notably, it is not until the black and white pages that we get a full establishing shot of the Scrap Yard and the floating city Zalem that hovers impossibly over it, tethered to the ground like a balloon by immense cables that stretch in all directions to the undercity's periphery.

    And soon after that, we have our first example of the graphic violence that the series is famous for. It's worth noting at this point that manga magazines are strongly targeted toward particular demographics. Business Jump, in particular, was aimed squarely at young men in their mid-20s joining the working world. In 1990, the same year Kishiro began Ganmu, the magazine was wrapping up the serialization of Riki-Oh, an infamously gruesome post-apocalyptic martial arts tale, and in two years Ganmu would share the magazine with Golden Boy, an increasingly filthy picaresque about the escapades of a wandering horndog dilettante. Thus, the sequence in which a sex worker has her head graphically shredded is not, shall we say, out of keeping with the overall editorial direction of the magazine. That said, while on the one hand the gory violence is to continue and ramp up as the series continues, on the other hand this is about as sexy as Ganmu gets. Kishiro would not draw a whole-ass titty in a printed comic until nine years later, in a different series altogether, and in general he seems uninterested in portraying conventionally erotic themes. This probably served him well in breaking into the American market, which is considerably more sensitive about sexual than violent content as a rule.

    Over the remaining pages, a conventional and satisfactory suspense story with a twist is developed and concluded, but other mysteries are left unresolved. Ido turns out not to be the culprit of the serial murders, while Alita demonstrates instinctive knowledge of Panzer Kunst, the strongest cyborg martial art from Mars. This fact, tossed off in a footnote, cannot but raise a host of questions in the reader's head. What is a cyborg martial art? Why is Panzer Kunst the strongest among them? How can a martial art be from Mars? And who was Alita before she was Alita, such that she would know a cyborg martial art from Mars? Is she from Mars? Is Zalem connected to Mars somehow? All good questions, and none are answered here. They will have to wait for the serialization, and some of them won't be answered for years later. For the time being, it is enough to establish that these are questions that have answers.

    Did Kishiro know what the answers were when he wrote this chapter? It seems unlikely that they were the answers that he would eventually give as the series progressed. In the absence of testimony from the man himself, the question of "what did he know and when did he know it" cannot be answered. Based on evidence I'll get into later, however, I think it is distinctly possible that he wasn't entirely making it up as he went along, and that he had at least a vague idea of the entire arc of Alita's life fairly early on. But that's a story for another day, I think. For now, we have this chapter, a Pygmalion story turned murder thriller with a twist ending, and a world that demands further exploration.

    Tomorrow's reading: Fight 2 "Fighting Instincts" (戦いの血, Tatakai no Chi)
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
    • Like x 1
  3. sptrashcan

    sptrashcan The Opinion Haver

    A Belated Disclaimer:
    1. Despite my tendency toward academic language, I am full of shit. I am an interested and careful reader, and I am doing a modicum of research, but I am not doing anywhere near the level of due diligence required to be considered a reference, much less an authority. Do not, by any means, take my word for anything.
    2. Likewise, my opinions and readings are my own, and are much more personal than universal. If I find something in the text that resonates with you, great! If you have an entirely different take, even better - I would be delighted if you shared it, even if - especially if - I don't agree.
    3. On that note, this is a conversation, not a lecture. I'm going on at length because I have a lot I want to say (whether valuable or not). If you have opinions on the work that don't run to a dozen paragraphs or more, that's fine (healthy, even, probably) - just share whatever you want, at whatever length you want. Of course, nobody is obliged to write anything, and I'll keep trucking along with this re-read whether anyone cares or not. But the door's open.
    • Informative x 1
  4. sptrashcan

    sptrashcan The Opinion Haver

    Fight 2 "Fight on Instinct" (戦いの血, Tatakai no Chi)
    "I'm not your dress-up doll!"

    Despite Ido's strenuous objections, Alita visits a Factory facility to register as a hunter-warrior. Elsewhere, when his lackey Izuchi cannot provide him with a brain to feed his endorphin addiction quickly enough, a giant cyborg goes on a rampage. Ido reflects on Alita's choices and his own character while hunting down and killing Izuchi. Meanwhile, Alita confronts the giant cyborg, but fails to incapacitate him in one blow and is shattered by his counterattack.

    With the pilot out of the way and serialization in hand, Kishiro begins the first multi-part story arc and introduces its as-yet-unnamed antagonist. He also establishes the foundation of Alita's character in two key lines:

    "What good is happiness if it's only given to you? That's no way to live..."
    "I feel like I was asked a similar question once, long ago... 'Why do you fight?' 'For what purpose?' And my answer was... I'm doing it for my own sake..."

    These two principles of personal responsibility and self-determination are ones that Alita returns to time and time again. Many of Alita's foes test these principles against their own personal philosophies. It's easy to side with Alita's values when the alternatives are cruelty, nihilism, helplessness, and madness; it becomes harder when her personal goals collide with altruism, revolution, or loyalty. I don't know, and am not willing to speculate, whether these are Kishiro's principles. I do think it's worth asking whether they are good principles to live by, and my personal answer is that it depends on one's prior inclinations. Universally applicable advice is unsurprisingly difficult to formulate: at any given time, some people will benefit from hearing that they should pursue their own goals more actively, and some people will benefit from hearing the exact opposite. Of course, it's very hard to tell which group you are in at any given time, so be more self-aware, unless that's your problem, in which case, be less self-aware. (Perfect. Sorted.) In any case, they're good principles for an adventure story protagonist, in that they lead Alita to reject Ido's offer of a comfortable and sheltered life in favor of prowling the Scrapyard for bounties (although not without regrets on the part of both parties - put a pin in this).

    If the pilot chapter failed to convey the message with sufficient force, the introduction of the giant brain-eating cyborg (let's just cheat a bit and acknowledge that his name is Makaku) should rocket-hammer the point home that the Scrapyard sucks real bad. It sucks so bad, in fact, that Daisuke Ido, a man who, and this deserves some emphasis, murders people for kicks, can find gainful employment and community approval merely by volunteering to murder people worse than he is. It is a central premise of the stories to come that the Scrapyard is a Darwinian nightmare, overseen with vast indifference by the powers that be, and while that will be elaborated on further the basic premise is well-established in this initial arc so that it can be leveraged later.

    On the art front I'd like to call attention to the first story page and its illustration of that weird sphere with anatomically detailed human legs. It's an incredibly striking image to open on, and the fact that it decorates the exterior of the Factory facility certainly says something about the dehumanizing mindset of the ruling authority, as do the cylindrical Deckmen and their tacked-on faces. Also, it's quite striking once you actually think about it how many teeth the Deckmen, as well as Izuchi and Makaku, have. So many teeth!

    The fight scene that closes the chapter, as well as the others in this chapter and the one before, show off one of Kishiro's early and enduring strengths as a comics artist: his action sequences have remarkable clarity. It's never unclear to me (unless it is intended to be unclear, due to the confusion of the viewpoint character) where everyone is in relation to each other and the environment, and how each moment leads logically into the next. No dynamism of illustration is sacrificed for this clarity either; the angles and poses are varied and visually interesting, and liberal use of motion lines and blurs add a sense of speed and power without obscuring essential information. The last story panel, by removing all motion indicators in favor of detail and clarity, conveys a sense of a shocking moment frozen in the mind's eye as if captured by high-speed photography. It also calls back to a previous image to convey important information: note that while her torso is shattered and three of her limbs are sent flying, her head and heart remain intact, in a configuration we have previously seen when she was pulled - dormant, but alive - from the scrap heap. This is not the end of the story.

    Tomorrow's reading: Fight 3 "What Has Value" (価値あるもの, Kachi Aru Mono)
    • Like x 1
  5. sptrashcan

    sptrashcan The Opinion Haver

    Fight 3 "What Has Value" (価値あるもの, Kachi Aru Mono)
    "I'll find you a body worthy of a warrior."


    Alita drives her one remaining arm into the giant cyborg Makaku's eye, but the arm shatters before she can drive it into his brain. Ido arrives on the scene and smashes Makaku's body with his rocket hammer, but Makaku's true form, a giant head attached to a worm-like tail, impales Ido with a spike launched from the top of his head before escaping. A badly wounded Ido carries Alita and himself through an indifferent crowd to a phone booth, where he calls Gonzu before passing out.

    This chapter does a lot of work on a number of different fronts, and I'll address them in no particular order.

    Makaku. Our arc antagonist now has a name and a personality. Once his giant body is destroyed, he transforms from a lumbering brute driven by base needs into a sly and vengeful worm. He claims that his intelligence is limited by the body he inhabits, but there's no reason why this should be taken at face value; it's entirely possible that this is just a belief or delusion that he holds. His is also a name known to Ido as that of an infamous criminal who has evaded capture to the point where bounty hunters no longer even try to claim the price on his head. And by the end of this chapter, he has declared enmity toward Ido and Alita and made his escape, so he'll be showing up again before too long.

    Panzer Kunst. Alita's counterattack requires her to twist her fragmentary body in midair, land and balance on one hand, push off into a controlled leap, make a powerful thrust with no leverage and only the momentum and rotation of her own body for force, and then rapidly rotate around the axis of her arm - again, with no leverage or bracing - with so much torque that it breaks apart at the elbow. Some of this can be credited to the power of her artificial body, but this body was explicitly not built for combat and, unless massively over-engineered for purpose, is unlikely to be significantly stronger than human equivalent. Therefore, this is mainly a demonstration of panzer kunst technique - and panzer kunst technique seems particularly suited for situations where one is floating in midair, with the only forces for maneuver being one's own bodily inertia and whatever can be gained by pushing off nearby surfaces and one's opponent. Panzer kunst begins at zero-G.

    The Scrapyard. It's already been established that the Scrapyard is a place where dire business happens on the regular. We now see that it is also all but devoid of charity, as blank-faced citizens brush past a man who is literally crawling on the ground with a gut wound, paying more attention to televised bloodsport than the actual blood under their feet. (Kinuba the arena champion makes a brief cameo appearance here, setting up the events of the next chapter). A later piece of supplemental material describes what would have happened to Ido if he had succumbed to his injuries before Gonzu arrived: roving cyberdoctors would have chopped up his body for valuable organic parts to sell to wealthier citizens, while his brain would be installed in a cut-rate jury-rigged cyberbody, for which service he would be charged an outrageous fee, essentially placing him in debt-peonage to his "benefactors". In the Scrapyard, flesh is a privilege, not a right. (Nothing is a right.)

    Philosopher citation count:
    Friedrich Nietzche - 1

    Tomorrow's reading: Fight 4 "Resurgents" (甦る狂戦士, Yomigaeru Bāsākā)
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2021
    • Like x 1
  6. sptrashcan

    sptrashcan The Opinion Haver

    Fight 4 "Resurgents" (甦る狂戦士, Yomigaeru Bāsākā)
    "No matter how much I might seem to change, I'll still be the same Alita you've always known..."

    While Alita dreams, a recovering Ido guides Gonzu to his basement storage where he retrieves a cyberbody of extraterrestrial origins and reminisces on the circumstances that led him to discover it and seal it away. Alita awakens installed in the Martian berserker body, and finds it to her satisfaction. Meanwhile, arena champion Kinuba entertains a strange visitor after his latest victory, and explains the secret of his success: the powerful grind cutter weapon in his right hand. The visitor reveals himself to be Makaku, and seizes control of Kinuba's body. Alita and Ido visit Kansas, a bar frequented by hunter-warriors, but when none of them are willing to help defeat Makaku, Alita starts a brawl that ends with the majority of the patrons ejected into the street. Makaku enters Kansas in pursuit of Alita.


    A whopping 54 story pages comprise the 4th chapter, in which Alita receives a Martian combat body to complement her Martian combat skills, and Makaku returns with a vengeance. Both the berserker body and the war in space for which it was built are added to our ever-expanding Chekov's armory, as is the resentful bounty hunter Zapan (whose name and symbol may have been inspired by Zagan, a ruler of hell attested in various medieval demonologies). Zapan gets utterly clowned on in the Kansas bar brawl, being physically manipulated into attacking several of his comrades before joining the rest of the hunter-warrior katamari that gets drop-kicked up the stairwell. This will have consequences later; consequences that may have been avoided if Alita had taken Ido's advice to apologize, but then again, maybe not. This isn't the first appearance of Kansas's proprietor, or his dog, both of whom have had a run-in with Makaku once already; nor will it be their last. It is, however, the first appearance of baby Koyomi, who will grow into a much larger role in the second half of this first series.

    Also debuting in this chapter is the first of Alita's iconic looks, comprising a black (leather? plastic?) bodysuit, brown gaiters, bare steel knees, fingerless gloves, and a tan trenchcoat that serves, like a superhero's cape, to emphasize the speed and direction of her movement. It's a good design and memorable, despite lasting only one and a half story arcs, and Kishiro will eventually bring back a variation on the bodysuit, although it won't be Alita as such wearing it. While we're on the subject of looks, it's quite handy that the berserker body appears to be configurable in its gender presentation and structural parameters. Despite going through a series of artificial bodies with quite different designs and purposes, Alita will be remarkably consistent in her bodily proportions. In truth this is probably just because that's how Kishiro likes to draw her, and as a cartoonist he values an identifiable silhouette, but it's a notable contrast to the mutable Makaku, whose body changes to suit his needs and whose mind changes to suit his body.

    One minor detail that becomes more and more puzzling with greater consideration is Kinuba's enormous drinking horn. At first glance, it would seem entirely appropriate for a massive man to have a drink scaled to match. But Kinuba was not born five stories tall - that's an artificial body, and his brain at least is presumably no bigger than an ordinary person's (and thus tiny compared to his cavernous skull - this is also how Makaku evades brain damage despite having an entire arm stuck in his eye socket). A flesh-and-blood creature the size of Kinuba would need a proportionately large amount of alcohol in order to absorb enough into the bloodstream to become intoxicated. But unless Kinuba has an entire human body compressed into his artificial head, he's about the lightest drinker you can imagine, weighing in at about four pounds flat of brain matter and spinal cord. He should be perfectly able to get thoroughly buzzed on a milliliter or two of Everclear dripped directly into his circulatory system. Then again, maybe he just likes the sensation of imbibing, or the spectacle of a giant man doing giant things, and maybe he's guzzling biodiesel or some other liquid fuel for his mechanical body - although in that case, his visitor should definitely not share his cup. And while we're on the subject of things that don't make sense if you think about them too hard, how the heck did Makaku get Izuchi's limbs attached to himself?

    Fig. 1: this only raises further questions

    Tomorrow's reading: Fight 5 "Trap at the Mouth of Hell" (奈落の罠, Naraku no Wana)
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
    • Like x 1
  7. sptrashcan

    sptrashcan The Opinion Haver

    Fight 5 "Trap at the Mouth of Hell" (奈落の罠, Naraku no Wana)
    "My body is trembling with the sensation of life."


    Alita and Makaku face off in Kansas. Makaku seems to have the upper hand, and toys with Alita using the grind cutters before slamming her into a wall. Makaku picks up Koyomi and smashes the floor of Kansas, then dives into the hole, daring Alita to come after him. Alita and Fang pursue Makaku into a flooded subterranean city. Above, Ido speculates that the full potential of the berserker body might be unlocked by Alita's survival instincts. Alita finds Koyomi, where Makaku ambushes her. Fang leaps in and pulls Alita's broken arm from Makaku's eye, and Alita uses the distraction to hand Koyomi over to Fang. Makaku reaches for Fang, but Alita cuts Makaku's arm off. Painting marks under her eyes, Alita challenges Makaku as her arm erupts in flame.


    Makaku's philosophy. Here Makaku has the chance to speak for himself, and outlines his views on life. Makaku essentially believes that life is a zero-sum game, where power establishes who will inflict suffering and who will bear it, and there is no other possible relationship. This worldview is utterly corrosive, but surprisingly popular. Whenever I think about it, I remember this comic by Jake Wyatt about a sphinx's revenge:

    The subterranean city. The sheer scale of this buried metropolis is unknown outside of fiction, but it is true that many cities are built on cities which were themselves built on cities, as people continue to live in the same places for the same reasons. Ada Palmer (a much, much better writer than I) writes at Ex Urbe of the layers of Rome, here:

    Eye paint. These facial marks in a distinctive pattern will be shown to be a signature adornment of a kunstler. As drawn here they are reminiscent of eye black, as used by athletes for the purpose of improving vision in bright lighting conditions - although this utility is disputed, and in any case there probably isn't much glare to reduce in this dismal pit. Later, Alita will have similar marks inlaid in her face in silver metal, which is extremely unlikely to serve any functional purpose.

    Tomorrow's reading: Fight 6 "Battle Angel" (戦う天使, Tatakau Tenshi)
    • Like x 1
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice