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Battle Angel Alita, known in Japan as Gunnm (銃夢 Ganmu?, a portmanteau of "Gun" and "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.


Battle Angel Alita tells the story of Alita ("Gally" in the original Japanese version), an amnesiac female cyborg. This cyborg's intact head and upper torso are found in a state of suspended animation by the cybermedic expert Daisuke Ido while he is out searching for useful scrap. Ido manages to revive her, and upon finding that the girl has lost her memory, he names her Alita after his recently deceased cat. The rebuilt Alita soon discovers that she possesses instinctive knowledge of the legendary martial art Panzer Kunst, although she has no other memories of her previous life. Alita uses her Panzer Kunst as a link to her lost past, which leads her to first becoming a mercenary Hunter-Warrior, killing cyborg criminals in the Scrapyard, and then a player in the brutal sport of Motorball. While pushing her limits in combat, Alita awakens memories of her earlier life on Mars. She becomes entangled in the machinations of Tiphares as one of their agents, and is sent to hunt those who wish to bring the floating city down. Foremost among these is the mad genius Desty Nova, who clashes with Alita before becoming her ally. Together, they take on the dark secrets of Tiphares.

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 (Zalem or Salem in the anime), a mysterious city floating above the Scrapyard. Ground dwellers have no access to Tiphares and are forced to make a living in the chaotic, violent sprawl below. Many of them are heavily modified by cybernetics to better cope with the hard life in the Scrapyard.

Tiphares exploits the Scrapyard and surrounding farms for its needs, paying mercenaries (called Hunter-Warriors) to hunt criminals and arranging violent sports to keep the population in check. Massive tubes connect the Scrapyard to Tiphares, and the city sends robots through the tubes for carrying out errands and providing security on the ground. Occasionally Tipharean citizens (such as Ido Daisuke and Desty Nova) are sentenced to exile and sent to the ground. Aside from the robots and exiles, there is little to no contact between Tiphares and the Scrapyard.

The story takes place in the former United States. In the map presented in the eighth volume, the locations and geological formations closely correlate to particular cities. According to this map, the site of the Scrapyard/Tiphares is at Kansas City, Missouri, and the Necropolis is Colorado Springs, Colorado. The surrounding Farm Factories that support Tiphares also correspond to real cities; Farm 21 and Farm 22 are Sweetwater, Texas and Garden City, Kansas respectively. Radio KAOS is at the site of Dallas/Fort Worth. Figure's coastal hometown, Alhambra, is a real place in Southern California, and Desty Nova's Granite Inn is said to have been built out of a military base - assumed to be the NORAD main technical facility at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado.[1]

Battle Angel Alita is late in the series revealed to take place in the 26th century. The dating convention used by the characters in the story is 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]


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.


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].



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.

  • On April 4, 1997 a Gunnm novel was released by JUMP j-BOOKS, a part of the Japanese publisher Shueisha.
  • On December 23, 1998 Gunnm: Complete Edition, a Japanese special edition, was released in six volumes in a larger B5 format. They contain 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 earlier as Gunnm: Another Stories.


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.[3]


As of 2010, the film adaptation of Battle Angel is currently in pre-production[4] with director James Cameron. Cameron is said to be a big fan of the manga. The release date for the film is currently set for 2013.[4][5] Cameron intentionally waited until the technology to make the film was up to where he felt it should be. Originally, when MTV News talked to Cameron about the possibility of adapting the series, the director responded with, "Maybe, maybe."[6] Cameron's film would be a live-action adaption of the first three volumes of the manga series.[7] He plans to complete a trilogy if the first film is successful. Avatar was considered a "training ground" for Battle Angel, as the alien characters involved in Avatar are based on technologies which will be needed for Battle Angel's cyborgs.[citation needed] In addition, the film would be filmed with the digital 3D system Cameron developed for Avatar. He has also stated that he has no one in mind for casting yet.

On February 19, 2010 Avatar producer Jon Landau hinted on the online MTV Splash blogpage that Battle Angel Alita may be filmed after Avatar 2, which is already in development[8]. He also half-jokingly stated that James Cameron may rename the project "Alita: The Battle Angel," because of his tradition in naming his films with either an "A" or a "T."[8]

Video game

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.[9] He then expanded the story, which formed the basis for the manga Battle Angel Alita: Last Order.[10]

Related works

Popular culture in Battle Angel

References to elements of Western popular culture within the series include Max Headroom and heavy metal bands Judas Priest, Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie, Megadeth's mascot Vic Rattlehead, the Scorpions, Heaven's Gate, Megadeth, Roger Waters, Queensryche, and especially Blue Öyster Cult. In Tears of an Angel, a factory sign reads "Factory Front 242" in reference to the Belgian Industrial band, Front 242. The Barjack's leader Den makes his final charge to the lyrics of Carmina Burana O Fortuna.

Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 The Kudos! List
  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. "MNS Exclusive Interview: Battle Angel (GUNNM) Creator Yukito Kishiro". Anime News Service. Retrieved 2007-12-14. 
  4. 4.0 4.1
  6. "Battle Angel Alita Could Be Next for the Avatar Treatment". 
  7. Anne Thompson; Sheigh Crabtree (2005-06-14). "Cameron turns to new project". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 2006-09-04. Retrieved 2006-10-18.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  8. 8.0 8.1 «Alita: Battle Angel after Avatar 2
  9. ""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. 
  10. FAQ at

External links

ca:GUNNM cs:Gunnm ko:총몽 id:Battle Angel Alita it:Alita l'angelo della battaglia pt:Gunnm ru:Battle Angel fi:Gunnm tl:Battle Angel Alita th:เพชฌฆาตไซบอร์ก uk:Бойовий Ангел Аліта vi:Battle Angel Alita zh:銃夢