BATTLE ANGEL (1993)

 

Format: 2 29-minute OVA episodes

Type:Sci-Fi Action

Rating: R (N, AC, AL, GV)

American Production:ADV Films

 

Grading

 

Premise:

B

Story:

B-

Writing:

B-

Character Design:

C+

Animation:

C

Artistic Merits:

C

English Dub:

C

Musical Score:

C+

Opener:

n/a

Closer:

C

 

 

Humor Content:

n/a

Action Content:

B-

Drama Content:

C+

 

 

DVD Presentation:

C

DVD Extras:

D

 

 

OVERALL:

C+

 

Synopsis

††††† In a distant future world where cyborgs are common and a ground-bound metropolis has sprung up around the scrapheap of the floating city Zalem, a cyborg-specializing doctor discovers the head and shoulders of a diminutive female cyborg laying in the scrapheap, just barely alive. He uses his talents to restore her and give her a new body, but her memory is lost, so he names her Gally and adopts her much like a daughter. Ido, the doctor, also has a darker second life: that of a hunter-warrior, one of the bounty hunters who deal with the criminal elements of Scrap Iron City at the direction of the almighty Factory. When Gally discovers this she decides to help out, and finds out in the process that she possesses phenomenal combat skills and a hunterís instincts. She proceeds to become a hunter-warrior herself, only to be trapped in a dire moral conflict when the young handyman Hugo, whom she has fallen in love with, appears on the bounty list. Can she save him from himself and other bounty hunters and dissuade him from his obsessive efforts to reach Zalem? Meanwhile Chiren, a former associate of Ido and, like him, an expatriate Zalemite, resolves to return to Zalem any way she can, only to find herself drawn in to Gallyís story as well.

 

The Long View†††††

††††† Battle Angel is based on a popular, visionary, and ultraviolent manga series by Yukito Kushiro, which is called Gunnm (translates as ďGun DreamĒ) in the original Japanese and Battle Angel Alita in its English translation. Only two episodes were ever made, but they are reasonably accurate adaptations of the first two BAA graphic novels. In some places the animation is virtually a panel-for-panel recreation of the manga, while in other places story elements are greatly condensed. The two biggest differences between the manga and animated versions are the addition of the Chiren character and the omission of the ďberserker bodyĒ upgrade that the heroine undergoes after a disastrous early bounty hunt in the manga. And of course the violence is toned down to a mere R rating; although Battle Angel does get quite graphic at times, itís still nothing compared to the splatterfest in the manga. Viewers who have read the English translation of the manga should be aware that some of the names seem to be different in the animation (Gally instead of Alita, Zalem instead of Tiphares) because they are based on the names used in the original Japanese manga rather than the English version.

††††† The extensive character development that was one of the hallmarks of the manga is more limited in the anime due to time constraints but itís still present. Left intact is the dichotomy between Gallyís girlish side and the violent, calculating nature that she rediscovers upon joining Ido as a hunter-warrior. Missing, however, is the explanation for why Ido himself is motivated to be a hunter-warrior, or why Hugo has a scar on one wrist: in the manga Ido reveals that itís an indulgence of his own dark, bloodthirsty side, and Hugo reveals that the scar comes from him having his deceased older brotherís hand transplanted in place of his own after he finds it for sale in a market stall. A worthy attempt is made to capture the distinctive look of Kushiroís cyborgs and human characters, which mostly succeeds even though the character designs are sometimes a bit rough. Less successful is the attempt to capture the distinctive dynamism of the mangaís action sequences. The blame for this rests most heavily on the limitations of the medium, however, because the pace and detail that would be required to fully reproduce the action in the animation would probably be prohibitively expensive.

††††† The English dub for Battle Angel follows the literal translation fairly closely but is otherwise a disappointment. I normally have great respect for the work of lead vocal actress Amanda Winn Lee, but she just doesnít hit the right tone here. The rest of the performances are adequate but unremarkable, and the names involved would lead you to expect better than that. In this case I favor the Japanese vocals. The soundtrack is a little more effective.

††††† Although there are two brief scenes of nudity and some harsh language, Battle Angel easily earns its rating for its violence content alone. It can get gory at times despite the fact that it also frequently pulls its punches on what it shows. It also uses some mature themes (such as theft and sale of body parts) that make it inappropriate for younger audiences.

††††† Battle Angel is not one of the gems of anime but it does present an interesting central character and should serve as an impetus to motivate a viewer to check out the excellent manga series that it is based upon. Its DVD is very difficult to find right now because copies have been pulled from mainstream circulation at the direction of American movie director/producer James Cameron, who owns the film rights to Battle Angel and is supposed to be working on a live-action adaptation. Given Mr. Cameronís great track record with sci-fi action movies and special effects-laden stories, I can only hope that his efforts come to fruition in the not-too-distant future.

 

DVD Extras

††††† Extras are limited to Company Previews and a Production Portfolio. The end credits have an alternate angle option which lists the Japanese voice actors.

 

Links

††††† Most devoted Battle Angel/Gunnm links are centered on the manga, so see the manga review for links when it becomes available.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Gally

Amanda Winn Lee

Doctor Ido

Guil Lunde

Yugo/Hugo(?)

Spike Spencer

Chiren

Laura Chapman

Grewcica

Brian Granvedlt

Gonz

Rick Peeples

Vector

Tristan MacAvery

Rasha and Fight Announcer

Brett Weaver

No. 10 and Tanji

Kurt Stoll

Zavan

Aaron Krohn

assorted minor roles

Tiffany Grant

 

 

 

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