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'Gunnm - Last Order', or 'Battle Angel Alita - Last Order' as it's known in English speaking countries, is the latest installation of the popular Japanese manga, 'Battle Angel Alita', otherwise known as 'Gunnm' in Japan. It is created, written and illustrated by Yukito Kishiro, author of other mangas such as 'Aqua Knight'and 'Ashen Victor'.

The end of 'Angel's Ascension', presented in the graphic novel of the same name isn't the real ending. Rather, Last Order picks up where Alita dies in an explosion, and Desty Nova is seen picking up her remains. Angel's Ascension continues with Alita being reconstructed by Nova in the mid-air city of Tiphares, and is reunited with Lou Collins. She has another challenge ahead of her, prevent Tiphares' total annihilation! I will not go into this with great detail, as it will spoil the ending for anyone who hasn't read the manga, and is interested in doing so.

However, I will describe the Last Order plot in detail, and why Yukito Kishiro decided to scrap the original ending for this one. Kishiro had a 'breakdown' of sorts, (not fully documented), and ended the manga rather hastily and sloppily (not in my opinion, I think the ending suits it well) with the help of other artists, as his health was not good. When he recovered, he decided to create a brand new manga for his fans, as he felt it his responsibilty. To read the Kishiro's letter to his fans, go here:

http://www.interq.or.jp/drums/tsutomu/E-top/E-frame.html

Last Order was published in 2000 in Japan, by Shuiesha, and then translated into English by Viz Communications.

So far there are two volumes translated online, comprised of 12 Phases. I am unsure how many manga there will be in the future, but sources tell me there could be approximately 30 issues.

Yukito Kishiro's art has changed noticably since 1998, the last time he drew Alita, for 'Angel's Ascension'. There are a few theories for this: During his breakdown, he found it hard to complete the art, as it was highly detailed and too much for him to handle, as he had other deadlines. To counter this, he streamlined his style to make it more quicker and more efficient.

Another theory is he was trying for a more mainstream look to help boost the Japanese popularity of 'Battle Angel Alita' (Gunnm). Many people argue that the original series didn't do so well in Japan because his style was rather rough and too detailed for Japanese fans, hence the reason there was only one anime made after it. Some people speculate that he softened his style in order to draw a larger Japanese audience. Alita is more Japanese "cute" in Last Order compared to the original Gunnm. Still, it's highly detailed and emotional, and makes him one of the greatest manga artists ever.

-Plot outline-

Alita is indeed alive, resurrected by Nova, and finds herself in Tiphares for the first time. She meets two Tiphareans, Nora and Pam, stays with them as a bodyguard, and then meets Nova, with his two new Alita clones, Elf and Zwolf. There is also another new enemy, Sechs, a powerful clone of Alita, who worked as a Tuned operator on Earth, then taken with Nova to Tiphares to challenge Alita to a fight. She believes if she defeats Alita, she will become a real warrior, and fully exist.

Alita wishes to find Lou, only to discover she was killed along with many other Tiphareans, as part of a revolt against the micro-chipped older citizens, by the younger people, whose brains have not yet been taken. Basically, Tiphares is separated into two groups, the children who have brains, and the adults without brains. Both are in a scramble to restore Tiphares in their own image; children want a 'free' Tiphares, shaped totally different to the last one, while the adults wish to restore Tiphares back to its former glory, the exact way it was before, peaceful and ordered. Alita is torn between various descisions, as always, and brings her insight into all of it. She also must struggle to come to terms with her past life, as a warrior from the planet Mars.

In conclusion, Battle Angel Alita - Last Order is a manga you shouldn't miss, especially if you've read and enjoyed the other installations. I regret to say I have no idea how this manga ends, as I've only read two volumes, and cannot predict what will happen next, but I'm sure it will be something to remember.

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