Last year, leading up to the release of Alita: Battle Angel, we discussed every volume of the original manga. The article below was one of two we wrote on volume six—MDRMN’s excellent post made it to print, while this was left as a draft. I finished it up, though, and present it to you as something that will hopefully provide encouragement, despite its second-post status.
Sometimes life seems absolutely hopeless. Some of you have endured incredible hardship and unmentionable tragedy, through which it must be a struggle to attain peace. But even for me, one who has never been in such a position and who has a faith that there is a light that shines through any darkness, dread and frustration still sometimes floods my mind. I can feel like my world is collapsing around me—which is exactly when I need some falling fish (more on that later).
Alita must be feeling this way in volume six of the manga. On the brink of destruction, she agrees to a deal with a Zaleminite organization that will allow her to live and continue searching for Ido, but at the cost of trading her freedom and fighting skills to Zalem. A time skip finds her still looking and having descended into a madness of sorts, letting the excitement of battle and slaughter dull her pain.
Alita’s world—and in fact, the entire world of Battle Angel Alita—is a bleak one. Injustice reigns, violence is a way of life, and the innocent suffer. Alita, a picture of such innocence, is battered emotionally and physically throughout the course of the series, and by volume six, the potential is there for the franchise to really feel like torture porn. Without a memory, having lost Ido (perhaps permanently) and other friends and lovers, turned into a enslaved weapon, and later in the volume, being captured and losing her feet, Alita bears such a heavy weight that it grows wearisome on the reader, too. Her loss of hope in ours as well.
But lest Alita devolve into something so tortuous, the volume introduces us to a new character just in the nick of time. Figure Four is a renegade type who is saved by Alita. In a story as old as time, the two don’t get along at first before falling in love. It’s no wonder then that he rubs off on Alita, and she begins to adopt his thoughts about freedom, which are basically summed up this way: Freedom isn’t about being solitary and unattached; it means to choose your own path. That idea is enough to shake Alita from her hypnotic state and return her to sanity. And to top it off, volume six ends on an even higher note—with the pair on the verge of death in the desert, dying of thirst, a miracles occurs: Waters fall from heaven, as do fish, demonstrating that this is no common occurrence!
I think that when we feel that there’s no hope, there are signs in our lives, too, that show otherwise. I know that for me, I don’t have to look further than my family, than the Bible sitting on my table, than my own habits of prayer that seek one greater than myself, to know that there’s light—I just need to right myself and look for it when everything else tells me it doesn’t exist, or else be pointed that way by a loved one, as Alita is by Figure Four. I hope that you and I will both seek the same when we’re in a similar place as Alita, knowing the truth, that there is hope. There is light.
There are fish.