Doc Ido, a doctor and mechanic who lives and works in the hellish, postapocalyptic "Scrapyard", finds the—miraculously preserved—remains of a female cyborg in a junk heap. After he revives and rebuilds her, the preternaturally strong, amnesiac "Gally" begins to forge a life for herself in a world where every day can bring a fight for life. Adapts the first two volumes of the "Battle Angel Alita" manga.
Every so often an anime is released that receives mixed reviews, not because it's good or bad, but simply because the context is ambiguous. Battle Angel Alita is one such example of this.
The series began as a manga by Kishiro Yukito in 1990, and after a short time the OVA was produced and released to Japanese and Western markets in 1993.
This is where the ambiguity comes in. To many who have read the manga, the story appears to be incomplete at first glance, especially given the numerous changes that have been made in the OVA. To those who haven't read the manga, there seems
to be nothing too wrong with the plot, aside from the odd inconsistency that is. Where the ambiguity occurs is in the consideration of the plot - is it good or not? If you've read the manga then you can readily pick faults with the OVA, however there is one important point that is missed from this perspective. Likewise, if you have only seen the OVA, then you may be under the impression that the story doesn't really go anywhere.
I should mention before continuing that another source of ambiguity is the fact that the OVA has been released by both ADV and Viz Media (only in the UK, Europe and Australia though), and that both releases feature different nomenclature for certain characters and places.
Now here's the important bit. The Battle Angel Alita OVA was never intended to be a standalone tale. It's only purpose was to serve as an introduction to the manga, much like 3x3 Eyes or, more recently, Ga Rei: Zero. The OVA is simply a compressed (and altered), form of the first tow volumes of the manga after all, and when one considers that the whole thing was simply one big marketing tool, then the question becomes "Did it make me want to read the manga?" (which I'll answer in a bit).
The OVA is split into two episodes, the first being Rusty Angel, followed by Tears Sign. As stated, these episodes are nothing more than compressed and altered version of the first two volumes of the manga, however, I found that they worked rather well in their own right. The changes that were made actually served to hold the plot together, and whilst purists may argue that it should have stuck firmly to the manga, it's surprising how often playing fast and loose with the original can actually improve the new version. Battle Angel Alita is one of those titles that, whilst having it's own plot problems, is able to hold it's own against the manga.
The artwork for the OVA is very good indeed, especially as this is an early 90s anime. There is a penchant for pointy chins, however this can be overlooked given the atmospheric nature of the scrapyard city. Animation is also a big plus for the OVA. The action sequences are very smooth, and character movements are surprisingly well executed on the whole. The character designs tend to stay close to the manga, something which allowed the creators to concentrate on other areas of production.
The sound is also good for its time. The music is generally very good throughout the OVA, however there are moments when the action and the music don't mix too well, giving the scenes in question an incomplete feel. The sound effects are well used, but can be a little on the "clunky" side. The voice actors in both the Japanese and English dubs are pretty good on the whole, although I have to say that I prefer the Japanese version nowadays, although this is simply a matter of choice rather than any comment on the quality of the english dub.
The characters are well done on the whole, but are also another source of ambiguity. There are characters whose roles have been upscaled or downplayed, who have been removed altogether, combined into one, or who have been brought in as completely new. This is the main reason why I feel the OVA should not be judged on the basis of the manga. Rather, I prefer to view the OVA as an alternate beginning to the manga.
The main character, Alita, was originally called Gally in the manga. She is an amnesiac cyborg who whose head and upper torso was found in stasis on a scrap heap by her surrogate "father" Ido Daisuke. Because of her amnesia, her character appears innocent, almost angelic at times, one of the reasons for the title. The other "main" character in the OVA is Yugo, a local boy who is acquainted with Ido.
The most interesting aspect of the OVA, and one which was successfully transposed from the manga, was the development and deterioration of both Alita and Yugo respectively. The OVA is effectively a baptism of fire for Alita, however it is quite the opposite for Yugo. It's nice to see that the producers decided to keep the core of the story whole, something which helps to develop both Alita and Yugo during the course of the anime.
The other characters only really receive minimal development, however given that this is only a two part OVA, and is nothing more than an introduction to the manga, this can be excused.
I found that I enjoyed this immensely. The action was very good, and whilst some of the drama was clearly hammed up,the characters were rather refreshing, especially as I was unfamiliar with the manga when I first viewed the OVA.
This is a good effort on the whole. It does have its issues, however given that it is simply an advert for the manga (something which should be kept firmly in mind when judging this show), these are understandable. That said, the producers have made the effort to ensure that the OVA can stand on its own, and what they have produced is a rather charming, quirky, and somewhat violent piece of work. The dystopian future envisioned by Kishiro Yukito has transposed well to anime, and the fact that the producers have decided to be creative rather than staid has helped to produce something which is more than an advert.
My hope now is that this OVA, along with 3x3 Eyes, will go the way of Tetsuwan Birdy.
This 2 episode anime OVA is not great. In fact, it could use a lot of work.
Why? Well let's start with the good.
Well, I do like the themes and the concept of the story. It's a post-apocalyptic world where the poor are literally forced to live in the garbage dumps of the rich. While the aristocrats live in a rich, floating city, the poor are forced to live in a brutal, criminal ridden underworld where murderers, assassins, and bounty hunters thrive.
The art and animation are definately great. The character designs seem to have heart and soul in them, unlike many of the newer animes
today, in my opinion... There's just something about these earlier animes, where the imperfections and flaws don't really seem to detract from the style. Certain liberties that artists are given visibly contribute to an intimately crafted feel. For example, when Galley screams, the details in her face evoke a more rigid, less manufactured expression of emotion than many other animes.
However, what I don't like, is how rushed the story is, and how underdeveloped the world and characters are. Many scenes could be added to develop the characters. Characters are introduced, and then minutes later, you are supposed to care about them. Also, this 2 episode OVA is nowhere near long enough to tell the entire story from the manga. Like Berserk, this anime is unfinished.
The music sounds very 80's and is mostly ambient droning to add to the mood of the scenes, much like Vampire Hunter D (1985). So the effectiveness of the music will most likely be a matter of opinion. Personally, I kinda like it.
The best thing about this anime is the concept. The sci-fi world that the anime is set in is so unique, original and amazing that it could have had so much more potential. While the anime is ultimately a dissapointment, it's still a decently entertaining action movie.
You can watch my video review of Battle Angel HERE on Youtube.
In my honest opinion the anime and the manga are a masterpiece, reflecting many people's lives.
Yugo's dream of reaching Tiphares (which may represent one's goals in life) swiftly coming to an end and after risking his life, and eventually lose it, in order to obtain what he dreamt for, he realised that what he really needed was at arm's reach. However he ended up losing even that - something which happens often nowadays. On the other hand, Alita, who had nothing in life (she was raised from the actual scrapyard) learnt to appreciate life and those things she experienced everyday. This can be seen clearly
when she asks Yugo why does he really want to visit Tiphares. Her question is full of pity, somehow knowing that he would lose everything on his road to obtain his dream. This feeling can be seen even better in the manga where Alita risks her life for Koyomi in her battle against Makaku.
The cyberpunk era is strongly depicted with metal, scrap and cybernetic implants dominating the world. The atmosphere of broken dreams, mortals using unnatural enhancements to try and improve their lives and alienation roam throughout the whole OVA.
Although the OVA seems to be as if it was cut short, and I guess many would have wished for further sequels, it was carefully done as not to ruin the mood of the story. It was this particular ending which made me buy alll the manga.
Battle Angel is an action anime with sci-fi elements that manages to be a lot more than a bloody spectacle. It examines many themes: love, hope, freedom, obsession, and the thin line between good and evil. The anime succeeds in meshing all of these together with a coherent storyline, character development, and action without making anything seem artificial. What makes it so impressive is that it's pulled off in a mere two episodes with a 25 minute run time each; while you have many anime with 12 times the episodes completely incapable of doing this. Despite everything it does right though, there is so much
room left for improvement.
Beginning with its setting; the world this story takes place in is very interesting. Scrap Iron City is a cesspool of a community. It's filthy, dangerous, and depressing, in other words it's hell. Floating above it is the city called Zalem. Not much information is given on this supposed heaven, but one thing for sure is that some people are desperate to get there in hopes of living the good life. They're so driven by ambition they become consumed by it, and they're willing to do anything to make the dream a reality.
The characters are very well used in pushing this segment of the story. Their personalities reflect the misery in the city. When viewing things from their perspective it's easy to relate to their plight. Especially, one character whom apparently tasted the life on Zalem at one point. I feel this was a good call on the writers part. Simply because this allows the viewer to understand that life on Zalem isn't exactly a pipe dream. Therefore, story development is definitely a strong point. Gally is by far the most interesting of the characters though, due to her carefree personality and mean streak when called for.
Battle Angel seems to be more aimed at the thinking person to me, but action fans will get something out of it as well. The battles are very good, and even very brutal at times with some imaginative and well planned out scenes. The animation definitely brings out the best in the fights. They're very fluid without the slightest bit of jumpiness. For a 1993 OVA, the visuals are impressive. The artwork ranges from average to great. Special attention was paid to Gally when displaying all of her emotions. Many times her face told her story without the use of dialogue.
The soundtrack is decent with the right music for the right moods. I will mention that the ending theme Cyborg Mermaid performed by Kaori Akima has a very nice melody with some nice vocals. As far as the sub and dubs are concerned. I don't have a problem with neither.
The anime isn't without its flaws. The biggest problem with the series is the length. Although some things are wrapped up, questions are still left hanging and the viewer will be left wanting more. This is one of those titles that deserved better treatment but never got it. This is definitely a title that should be remade.
Overall, Battle Angel is a very good watch. It has characters that bring out the story and nice action scenes. There's a bit of nudity and sexual content yet nothing too graphic despite knowing something went on or is going on. I only recommend this title to the most die hard anime fans.
Highs: Very good action scenes, nice animation and artwork, well developed story
The Doomsday Clock - a metaphor designed to represent how close humanity is to destruction - is at 3 minutes to midnight. To help you prepare for our rapidly approaching destruction, we've got you covered with some top-notch post-apocalyptic anime.