This is what I’ve been waiting for. Volume three of Battle Angel Alita transfers the action from the streets of the Scrapyard to the famed world of Motorball, a psychedelic, cybernetic version of roller derby, where broken bones are traded for obliterated limbs, and concussions for splattered brains.
After Yugo’s apparent death, a despondent Alita abruptly leaves home. Ido puts a pause to his work, both as a hunter-warrior and as a doctor, and obsessively seeks her, finally finding Alita on the Motorball track as a participant. Though a newbie—and experiencing the ups and downs that come along with learning a new sport—Alita is of course very good at it, and before long she gets the attention of Jashugan, the champion of the highest level of the sport. Meanwhile, Ido has become Jashugan’s personal physician (the brain modification that has made the champion so powerful is also killing him) in an attempt to crush Alita.
I should clarify here that Ido doesn’t want Alita literally crushed, as is common in the world in which they live. He simply wants her to suffer defeat, which in Ido’s brilliant mind (I guess all of us become dumb in matters of the heart) will bring her back to her senses—and to him. Alita had seen Ido during a race, but ignored him, which furthered developed within the doctor a feeling of rage and bitterness, while also building in him a sense of jealousy. Alita, meanwhile, feels some of the same emotions when she sees not only that Ido has sided with her new rival, but that he’s become close to Jashugan’s sister, an attractive young woman of Alita’s age to whom she has a disdain (and visa-versa).
The culmination of this is an arm wrestling competition between Jashugan and Alita (how very 80’s/early 90’s), with a Motorball match between the two at stake. Emotions flaring, Alita throws her literal heart into the pot, which will be destroyed should she lose.
How did it come to this? Alita and Ido are acting like babies, and now the former’s life is at risk.
But I know how they feel—after all, I often act the same.
I would love to say that I live in complete marital bliss—even disagreements are settled peaceably and quickly, with lots of “whatever you’d like, dear!” and “no, let’s do it your way this time!” Pristine settlements like that do happen from time to time, but so do arguments, where minor issues escalate with trivial matters leading to walls being built.
In the 80’s film, The War of the Roses, a husband and wife deal with the repercussions of a marriage that’s starting to break apart, but instead of working through their issues civilly, they attack one another viciously and often violently. The ending isn’t happy—the pair literally kill one another, with the wife holding onto her grudge with her last breath. There’s truth in this farce—we’re willing to go to war over matters that we can and should settle through discussion. And why? Because giving grace is the hardest thing in the world to do.
Grace means showing love and forgiveness to one who doesn’t deserve it. To do that, we have to humble ourselves, putting aside our pride and sense of justice to admit that there’s something more important than our desires, a need for control, and the fight to be right. The person is front of us and the idea that loves comes first should be more important—at least that’s the way I want to live. There’s no need for me to play Motorball because my relationship shouldn’t be a sport or game—it’s based on love, not competition or greed.
Alita is a fighting machine, capable of challenging and defeating Jashugan. However, the game she’s playing, both on the track and with Ido, is a high-risk gamble, where a loss could mean more than physical injury—it could mean death. But even if Alita survives, it’s a relationship that might die, and that could be even more challenging to resurrect than a too-far-gone cyborg body. Relationships, once broken, are often challenging to mend—and that goes the same for all of us, whether cyborgs, hunter-warriors, or regular humans, like you and me.