Among the garbage dumped down from the mysterious aerial city of Zalem, a new life is found. Restored by a brilliant cyberneticist, a young girl named Gally struggles to find her own place in the world, to learn the extent of her own deadly abilities and to discover that which makes her truly human: love.
What I Liked: The dichotomy of the idyllic Zalem and the "fallen" Scrap Iron City, told through both the setting and the characters. The fact that Alita / Gally acclimatises to her new cyborg body quickly and bypasses the cliched "lost humanity" angst. Great animation and character designs (for the time). Good pacing, with a number of interesting minor plotlines. What I Didn't: Lack of development on Alita / Gally's past (to be expected, though, of a <60-minute OVA). Ending is a little open-ended, giving the impression that it's a marketing ploy to get people to read the manga. Final Verdict: Sure it's a mish-mash of science fiction cliché, what with an amnesic female cyborg-turned-bounty hunter living in a cyberpunk crapsack future, but it's what Battle Angel Alita does with all these elements that makes it a good watch. The setting feels gritty and violent, the characters are compelling and the brilliant animation holds up 21 years later. Even though it feels like a marketing ploy (being very short and lacking some detail in places), I liked every minute of it.
Battle Angel Alita is a fun, cyberpunk OVA about an android named Gally; found in the dump by a cybernetics doctor. The anime is a solid effort in the cyberpunk genre, and whilst not the most engrossing it is definitely a good time. The OVA sets up a very cyberpunk-esque environment; we have this decrepit town rife with crime whilst up floating above is the city of Zalem, described as some sort of 'promised land' by certain characters. The style the OVA boasts really reinforces the grim environment that Scrap Iron City possesses, a City with little hope. As for the characters that populate the city we get a multitude of fun designs, especially the doctor and his mighty chin. Gally herself has a pretty great design with her duster coat and metal limbs. We are treated to a fair bit of action, most of which is pretty well done although it's doesn't build up much tension as every fight is resolved rather effortlessly by Gally. She doesn't encounter any real difficulties combat-wise. The scenes in-between action do a decent job of setting up the world and getting across the motives each character has. It's very clear who wants what. The pacing is good, it flows between action and calmer, dialogue scenes seamlessly. Unfortunately this OVA adapts material from a much larger manga series. It has an open ending with a few loose threads. I felt that with the material it did adapt it managed to create a good anime in its own right, but it seems to me that the intention was to get people to read the manga. I suppose they were successful in that I really do fancy giving the source material a try. Conclusion As previously mentioned Battle Angel Alita is a very solid anime with great aesthetics, a decent story and some likeable characters with very clear motivations. For those of you that are fans of the genre there is plenty to enjoy, and if not necessarily a fan then there is no harm in giving this OVA a try. A SpanglishJC 'Short Review' Daily Anime Marathon Club #5 Review
Story The story of the OVA is pretty much the same as any cyberpunk story. Basically Gally is restored as a big-haired human head atop an incredibly creepy biomechanical body, realises she has a residual memory of how to kick major bad guy ass, and goes ahead kicking major bad guy ass and accidentally falling in love. People in the Scrapyard go around ripping people's organs out through their skin to sell on; it's a pretty violent place to live. The story is all about Gally's relationship with Yugo. However, the relationship is doomed to disaster because of Yugo's obsession with reaching the idealistic city of Zalem. Overall I felt that the pacing of the story was poor. Gally meets Yugo way too early, and her past is not satisfactorily explained. All the really important stuff happens right near the end. The reason for this is that Battle Angel is really a manga and the manga is a lot longer and goes into more depth; the OVA's are apparently just like a teaser.I enjoyed the storyboarding in that various important scenes, such as Chiren donating blood to Yugo, and that black guy extracting Chiren's organs, were not actually shown but alluded to.AnimationBattle Angel is from 1993 and looks it. The character designs are besmirched with scribbles and black lines, and the characters all look more like caricatures, with wildly varying designs. It works well in some cases, but bombs majorly in others, to the modern eye. The animation is really nothing special either. As previously stated, the core of the franchise is the manga, however, so it's not so much a condemnation.SoundI didn't really like any of the Japanese voices; in fact, in a rare occurrence, I much preferred Gally's English voice. She sounded a lot more throaty, earthy and interesting, and since the story is about her personal journey, this is fitting. I enjoyed the ending theme greatly though: it plays like eighties R'n'B and captures the spirit of Gally's desire for Yugo.CharactersI will confess that I didn't really watch the first half of it properly, but, while I paid no attention to the character development, I don't think there was that much of it. This didn't stop me from caring about Gally and Yugo during the final segment of the OVA, though. The character development seemed to occur when Gally and Yugo got together in various abandoned factories to talk about reaching Zalem and/or their feelings for each other. On the whole, I was slightly annoyed that Yugo didn't grow as a person and realise going to Zalem isn't the be all and end all, but maybe that wasn't the point they were trying to make.The other characters in the story exist to illustrate the "industry" that reaching Zalem creates. Zalem is wealth and power, the castle in the sky that serves as the heaven of the religion of materialism, and which literally shits all over the characters who serve it in the Scrapyard. Zalem remains something of a McGuffin in the story and there is a clear moral in there about how no matter how hard you try, there will always be something you die reaching for. I can't tell if the characters' worship of the city, despite its treatment of them, is a commentary in itself of people's attitude to wealth, or if they are trying to say that it's good that we have motivations such as Zalem to drive the world on.OverallI'm not the world's greatest fan of cyberpunk: I think it's depressing and hard to relate to, and I absolutely despised Ghost in the Shell. Despite being utterly terrible in almost every technical aspect, I found this OVA a relatively moving experience and certainly enjoyable, and I can't really put my finger on why. It may have been the pacy storyline. The moral of the story was also refreshingly simple, yet remained slightly ambiguous. Wikipedia tells me that James Cameron is looking to adapt this to the big screen in 2013 in the same vein as Avatar and I would definitely be going to see it: I think it would adapt well as a film.
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