Battle Angel Alita

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Battle Angel Alita
Battle Angel Alita (issue 1 - cover).jpg
Cover of Battle Angel Alita volume 1
銃夢
(Ganmu)
Genre Cyberpunk, Science fiction, Action
Manga
Written by Yukito Kishiro
Published by Shueisha
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Business Jump
Original run December 15, 1990April 1, 1995
Volumes 9 (List of volumes)
Original video animation
Spin-offs
Video game
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Battle Angel Alita, known in Japan as Gunnm (銃夢 Ganmu?, a portmanteau of "Gun" and the onyomi for the Japanese kanji for "Dream"), is a manga series created by Yukito Kishiro in 1990 and originally published in Shueisha's Business Jump magazine. Two of the nine-volume comics were adapted into two anime original video animation episodes titled Battle Angel for North American release by ADV Films and the UK and Australian release by Manga Entertainment. Manga Entertainment also dubbed Battle Angel Alita into English.

The series is set in the post-apocalyptic future and focuses on Alita, a cyborg who has lost all memories and is found in a garbage heap by a cybernetics doctor who rebuilds and takes care of her. She discovers that there is one thing she remembers, the legendary cyborg martial art Panzer Kunst, which leads to her becoming a Hunter Warrior or bounty hunter. The story traces Alita's attempts to rediscover her past and the characters whose lives she impacts on her journey. The manga series is continued in Battle Angel Alita: Last Order.

Plot[edit]

Battle Angel Alita tells the story of Alita ("Gally" in the original Japanese version), an amnesiac female cyborg. Her intact head and chest, in suspended animation, are found by cybermedic expert Daisuke Ido in the local dump. Ido manages to revive her, and finding she has lost her memory, names her Alita after his deceased cat. The rebuilt Alita soon discovers that she remembers the legendary martial art Panzer Kunst, although she does not recall anything else. Alita uses her Panzer Kunst to first become a mercenary Hunter-Warrior, killing cyborg criminals in the Scrapyard, and then as a player in the brutal sport of Motorball. While in combat, Alita awakens memories of her earlier life on Mars. She becomes involved with the floating city of Tiphares as one of their agents, and is sent to hunt criminals down. Foremost is the mad genius Desty Nova, who clashes with Alita before becoming her ally.

The futuristic dystopian world of Battle Angel Alita revolves around the city of Scrapyard, grown up around a massive scrap heap that rains down from Tiphares (Salem in the anime). Ground dwellers have no access to Tiphares and are forced to make a living in the sprawl below. Many are heavily modified by cybernetics to better cope with their hard life.

Tiphares exploits the Scrapyard and surrounding farms, paying mercenaries (called Hunter-Warriors) to hunt criminals and arranging violent sports to keep the population entertained. Massive tubes connect the Scrapyard to Tiphares, and the city uses robots for carrying out errands and providing security on the ground. Occasionally, Tiphareans (such as Ido Daisuke and Desty Nova) are exiled and sent to the ground. Aside from the robots and exiles, there is little between the two cities.

The story takes place in the former United States. According to a map, printed in the eighth volume, Scrapyard/Tiphares is near Kansas City, Missouri, and the Necropolis is Colorado Springs, Colorado. Radio KAOS is at Dallas. Figure's coastal hometown is Alhambra. Desty Nova's Granite Inn is built out of a military base – NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado.[1]

Alita takes part in a sport known as Motorball, the favorite pastime of the citizens of the Scrapyard. In a cross between Roman gladiators and speed skating, the goal is to carry a heavy motorball across the finish line, or to be the last man standing. Motorball was created by the Factory, the link between Tiphares and the Scrapyard, to relieve violent tension in the Scrapyard. It currently continues to receive funding from the Scrapyard. However, the large amount of gambling and revenue garnered from tickets may make motorball self-sufficient at some point. There are three methods of spectation. The most popular is a first person chair focused on a single competitor. The chair has sensory input, which allows the spectator to feel minor jolts. The second is live spectation in the arena, where fans are protected by a high gate. The last, commonly used when sensory input chairs are sold out, is a series of standing-room only monitors. The current grand champion is the neurally enhanced cyborg Jashugan, who is so powerful that he only participates in matches with a 3-on-1 handicap and one arm removed. The participants are grouped into several divisions and can advance after certain conditions are met. Although motorballers who prefer fighting to winning tend to not meet these conditions, fighters become popular among spectators.

Battle Angel Alita is revealed to take place in the 26th century. The characters refer to years after ES (Era Sputnik), based on the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957. About fourteen years pass after Daisuke Ido discovers Alita in the first graphic novel. This places the entire Battle Angel Alita manga mostly between ES 577 and ES 591, or 2533 and 2547 AD.[1]

Characters[edit]

Battle Angel Alita features a diverse cast of characters, many of whom shift in and out of focus as the story progresses. Some are never to be seen again following the conclusion of a story arc, while others make recurring appearances. The one character who remains a constant throughout is Alita, the protagonist and title character, a young cyborg with amnesia struggling to uncover her forgotten past through the only thing she remembers from it: by fighting. Early on in the story, Daisuke Ido, a bounty-hunting cybernetic doctor who finds and revives Alita plays a major role as well, but midway through the manga he becomes marginalized as focus begins to increasingly shift to Desty Nova, an eccentric nanotechnology scientist who has fled from Tiphares. Nova is the mastermind behind many of the enemies and trials that Alita faces, but does not make an actual appearance until more than two years into the story, although he is alluded to early on. Finally, Kaos, Desty Nova's son, a frail and troubled radio DJ with psychometric powers, also begins to play a crucial role after he comes in contact with Alita. He broadcasts his popular radio show from the wastelands outside the Scrapyard, staying away from the increasing conflict between Tiphares and the rebel army Barjack.

Production[edit]

Besides renaming Gally to Alita, the North American version of the manga also changed the city of Salem to Tiphares, after Tiferet. Since Kishiro also used the name Jeru for the facility atop Salem, Jeru was renamed Ketheres in the translation, after Keter. To further develop the Biblical theme in the original series, Salem's main computer was named Melchizedek, "the king of Salem" and "priest to the Most High God".[2]

Media[edit]

Manga[edit]

The manga was first published in Shueisha's Business Jump magazine. It was then serialized from 1990 to 1995 in nine tankōbon. In the U.S., Viz originally released the story in a 25 page comic book, it then followed the same volume format as its Japanese counterpart. Battle Angel Alita was licensed for international release in a number of languages and regions. It was published in Spain by Planeta DeAgostini,[3] in Brazil by Editora JBC,[4] in France and Netherlands by Glenat,[5][6] in Poland by JPF,[7] in Germany by Carlsen[8] and in Taiwan by Tong Li Publishing.[9]

A second manga titled, Gunnm: Another Stories (銃夢外伝 Ganmu Gaiden?) published in Ultra Jump from January 24, 1997 to December 19, 2006. It was released in a single volume on December 19, 2007. The manga contains four short side stories: Furusato, Seiyakyoku, Sonic Finger, and Bashaku Ondo.

A 6-volume special edition titled Gunnm: Complete Edition was released in Japan on December 23, 1998. The series was released in B5 format and contains the original story, but with a different ending accommodating for the continuation of the story in Battle Angel Alita: Last Order. Included are also rough sketches, a timeline and three short stories published later as Gunnm: Another Stories.

A novel spin-off was released on April 4, 1997 by JUMP j-BOOKS, as part of the Japanese publisher Shueisha.

OVA[edit]

Main article: Battle Angel (OVA)

A two episode OVA was released in 1993, incorporating elements from the first two volumes of the manga with changes to the characters and storyline. According to Kishiro, only two episodes were originally planned. At the time, he was too busy with the manga "to review the plan coolly", nor was he serious about an anime adaptation. It remains the only anime adaptation of Battle Angel Alita to date and there are no plans to revive it.[10]

Alita as depicted in the CG movie

A 3 minute 3D-CGI rendered movie clip is included in volume 6 of the Japanese Gunnm: Complete Edition. It showcases Alita in a Third League motorball race with players from two of her races such as "Armor" Togo, Degchalev, and Valdicci, and depicts events from both of those races.

Film[edit]

Director James Cameron has rights to the film adaptation of Battle Angel.[11] Cameron is said to be a big fan of the manga, and he was waiting until CGI technology was sufficiently advanced to make a live-action 3D film with effects comparable to Avatar.[12] However, he is working on Avatar sequels before starting Alita.[13] On April 18, 2012, Cameron confirmed that Battle Angel is a low priority for him right now, and he doesn't know when he'll get to it.[14]

Cameron's producer Jon Landau says “I am sure you will get to see Battle Angel. It is one of my favourite stories, a great story about a young woman’s journey to self-discovery. It is a film that begs the question: What does it mean to be human?' Are you human if you have a heart, a brain or a soul? I look forward to giving the audience the film.” The film will likely not hit screens before 2017.[15] Landau half-jokingly stated that the project may be titled "Alita: The Battle Angel," because of Cameron's tradition in naming his films with either an "A" or a "T."[13]

Cameron's film would be a live-action adaption of the first four volumes of the manga series; "What I’m going to do is take the spine story and use elements from the first four books. So, the Motorball from books three and four, and parts of the story of one and two will all be in the movie".[16] He has also stated that he has no one in mind for casting yet.

Video game[edit]

Main article: Gunnm: Martian Memory

Gunnm: Martian Memory is an action RPG video game for the PlayStation by Banpresto. It is an adaptation of the manga, following Alita (Gally) from her discovery in the Tiphares dump heap by Daisuke Ido up through and beyond her career as a TUNED agent. The story includes additional elements that Kishiro had conceived when he ended the original manga in 1995, but was unable to implement at the time, which involved Alita going into outer space.[17] He then expanded the story, which formed the basis for the manga Battle Angel Alita: Last Order.[18]

Related works[edit]

  • Ashen Victor, a prequel set six years before the beginning of Battle Angel Alita. It primarily tells the story of a Motorball player and it sets the evolution of the game into what it becomes in the main story.
  • Battle Angel Alita: Last Order, a continuation published monthly in Ultra Jump, and then in Evening.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The KUDOS! List – Culture References Within Battle Angel Alita". Nick15.com. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  2. ^ Genesis 14:18; Melchizedek was renamed "David" in the first North American release of Battle Angel Alita. Subsequent releases retain the original name.
  3. ^ "Gunnm (Alita, ángel de combate)" (in Spanish). Planeta DeAgostini. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "Gunnm – Hyper Future Vision" (in Portuguese). JB Communication do Brasil. Archived from the original on 26 July 2011. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Gunnm #01" (in French). Groupe Glénat. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Battle Angel Alita" (in Dutch). Groupe Glénat. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  7. ^ Abigail (29 September 2006). "Battle Angel Alita". Tanuki.pl (in Polish) (Małgorzata Kaczarowska) 496. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  8. ^ "Battle Angel Alita" (in German). CARLSEN Verlag. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  9. ^ 銃夢 (in Chinese). Tong Li Publishing. Retrieved 13 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "MNS Exclusive Interview: Battle Angel (GUNNM) Creator Yukito Kishiro". Anime News Service. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  11. ^ Lindsay Robertson. "James Cameron Planning 'Avatar' Trilogy". Yahoo!. 
  12. ^ Marshall, Rick (2009-12-14). "'Avatar' Director Offers Update on Battle Angel Alita Adaptation". MTV. 
  13. ^ a b "Alita: Battle Angel after Avatar 2". ICv2. 2010-02-19. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  14. ^ Josh Wilding – 4/18/2012 (2012-04-18). "James Cameron Offers An Update On BATTLE ANGEL". Comicbookmovie.com. Retrieved 2012-09-20. 
  15. ^ Cameron Reveals More On Avatar 4 And Battle Angel is still alive...
  16. ^ "BATTLE ANGEL Update from James Cameron". Collider.com. Retrieved 2011-01-31. 
  17. ^ ""GUNNM Last Order" notice by Yukito Kishiro.". English version of Yukito Kishiro's official website. Archived from the original on 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2007-08-15. 
  18. ^ [1][dead link]

Bibliography[edit]

  • (ed.) Alan Cholodenko, The Illusion of Life 2: More Essays on Animation, Sydney: Power Publications, 2007. ISBN 9 78 0909952 34 1

External links[edit]