Battle Angel Alita
Also known as: Gunnm
In the future there are two distinct categories of people. Some people live in the clouds. They live in beautiful cities suspended high in the sky away from the turmoils below. The other category of people live in what is known as the "scrap heap". The scrap heap is just that, a heap of scrap. Occasionally the city above ejects some junk for people to forage through. And life in the scrap heap is tough, especially when there is no law enforcement. While guns are illegal, just about every other form of weaponry is not only permitted but common. Coupled with the fact that most people have cybernetic enhancements this means you have to watch your back at every corner.
One day a man named Dr Ido was digging through the scrap heap and made an interesting find. He found the torso of a young girl in suspended animation. As a cybernetics expert he decides to rebuild the girl. Unfortunately she has no memories, so Ido decides to name her Alita. While Dr. Ido treats Alita as his daughter, she begins to have her suspicions about him. And after following Dr. Ido she discovers that while he is a doctor during the day, he is a hunter-warrior by night. Because there is no law enforcement, the small amount of law that is dished out is done through bounties. The bounty hunters who enforce the law this way are known as hunter-warriors.
While Ido is no armature as a hunter-warrior, Alita has a natural talent for it. In fact it is much of a mystery why she has such fighting skills, but that just adds to the mysteries of her past. In a tough world such as this, Alita decides that she must earn a living for herself, and with her abilities becoming a hunter-warrior was a natural choice. While just a girl in appearance, she dishes out justice on a scale never seen before. But what is this girl going to do with her earnings?
First note is that there were a lot of weird (unnecessary) name changes concerning this anime when compared to the original series. The series had it's name changed from Gunnm to "Battle Angel Alita". Actually her name isn't Alita, it's Galley. And the giant floating city was renamed from Tiphares to Zalem. Why? Who knows.
This was a title that I picked up as a sort of "ho-hum, guess I'll rent this" type of title. I was completely blown away by it. Pretty much everything comes together well for this anime, and the only real drawback of this title is that it's too short! While you tend to see enough "grim future" sort of titles, this is one of the few titles that executes it flawlessly - and by that I mean you get a glimpse of grit, but it doesn't do everything in its power to make you depressed like many such titles often try to do.
Characters are thoroughly interesting and believable. The story is also top quality end for end, although for the two 30 minute segments that this series spans - it makes it close to inadequate. That however is a personal bias because if you know anything about this series, you know that it is based off of a manga which goes on for volume after volume - and let me tell you, there are some pretty awesome twists to be read there. In that way it's sort of a disappointment that Battle Angel Alita would do just such a good job with two episodes, and have tons of source material to further draw upon, but just leave it hanging. By hanging I mean that it didn't' go any farther, the two episodes were quite complete in and of themselves.
If you are looking for a futuristic dystopia sort of anime, then Battle Angel Alita is one of the best starting points to get into. I will however warn you that the ending is VERY sad. But even though I tend to like happy endings, I'll admit that the ending here also is one of the factors that sets Battle Angel Alita one step above.
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reviewed by archen in 1998