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Battle Angel Alita

a.k.a. Gunnm

gunnm-2
Genre: Action
Company: Shueisha
Format: 2 OVA
Dates: 6/21/1993 to 8/21/1993

Below the floating utopia Zalem lies the underbelly of future Earth known as Scrap Iron City. This is where the ostracized and the forgotten scrape to make a living. Dr. Ido, a physician who doubles as a for-hire vigilante, discovers a broken female android among a heap of garbage. With her body restored, her mind remains in a haze, not knowing her identity or her purpose. The only tie to her past is her amazing abilities in combat. Who is this striking warrior, and what purpose did she serve in her previous existence?

summary by Kain

 

Reviewed: 09/28/2001 by
Grade: 86% av-Kain

Highs: Unique art-style; characters that you can sympathize with; a story more involving than one would first think

Lows: The two halves of the story could’ve melded together more smoothly; would have been better had it been longer

Battle Angel Alita is one of those anime that, like Rodney Dangerfield, doesn’t get any respect. Rarely is it mentioned in the same breath with the other greats, nor is it watched by the majority of those who consider themselves anime otaku. What a pity, I say.

The story is deceptively simple. At first glance I said to myself, “Oh God, not another ‘protagonist loses memory and must fight evil to rediscover one’s past’ theme”. As I kept watching this intriguing OVA series I realized the story was about freedom. Now whether from the perspective of a Marxist proletariat escaping the shackles of the wealthy or the capitalist bourgeois aspiring for the golden pedestal of Zalem I am not sure. Perhaps someone with more background in political history can enlighten me on this anime’s true intentions.

Regardless of how one interprets it, this one is a gem. The artwork has a rustic and dreary feel to it, no doubt intentional but rarely seen in anime. I knew I was watching something good when I felt for the characters’ plights. I wouldn’t watch it if I wanted to lift my spirits, that’s for sure. All the characters reside in a world where the line between good and bad is fuzzy at best, and everyone is a victim.

This is one anime that left me both inspired and emotionally drained. I was also left craving more, and wished there were more OVAs to satiate my thirst. Some say the manga is better than the anime. I say get both and you’ll be satisfied.

 

Reviewed: 01/25/2005 by
Grade: 85% av-Liegenschonheit

Highs: Topnotch character design; art style that complements the mood of the anime

Lows: Far too short; questions left unanswered

In a list of classic anime, Battle Angel Alita should fall somewhere within the top five. However, this anime gets left off that list far too often. With a unique and enthrallingly dreary atmosphere, character designs that are sometimes elegant, sometimes repulsive and characters that are easily sympathised with, Battle Angel Alita gets less recognition than it deserves.

In a story stocked with grim realities, cycles of victimization and the good stooping to evil deeds, the art style is perfect for enhancing the atmosphere and mood; grime and grit come across in each scene, the lines of the landscape are jagged and broken and the color palette is relentlessly heavy and monochromatic. Out of this dank setting come the characters, some as dark and dingy as the city itself, others bright and open in contrast. The character design of Gally is just plain cool. More than just a pretty face with big expressive eyes, her face is completely open and energetic, giving her vivid emotion and easily readable moods. Keeping with the quality of the anime, the secondary characters are very well balanced and flawed.

In any action anime, the battle scenes are what can really make or break it, and in this anime they don’t disappoint. With a finesse that many newer anime could only dream of possessing, Battle Angel Alita launches into slick action sequences that are fast paced and well planned. Without relying on “power moves” or a whole lot of discussion, Gally’s grace and strength are evident instead in the fluid animation.

Battle Angel Alita is a story about love, hope and oppression. Although it is fast and manages to fit several impressive action scenes into its short length, this anime suffers no shortage of drama or emotion. Instead, it is enthrallingly sad, poignant and relentlessly emotional up to the very end. That ending is a bit disappointing as no answers are offered to the question of Gally’s past, and these two OVA feel like the beginning to what could have been a much longer series.

 

Battle Angel Alita can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.


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