Alita! An Origin Story
Do you know that the cyberpunk movie, Alita Battle Angel, owes its origin to the anime? You probably don’t, but it does. In this post, we will be tracing the relationship between the 2019 sensational movie and the anime genre, but before that, it’s important we understand what exactly anime is.
What is anime?
The word anime is believed to be the Japanese word for animation. While the Japanese classify any form of animated cartoon produced anywhere in the world as anime, people outside Japan regard anime as a form of Japanese animation. One thing is however certain, anime is of Japanese origin. The Japanese anime is known to usually feature fantasy themes, colorful graphics, and largely vibrant characters.
The 2019 movie, Alita: Battle Angel, features the story of a cyborg girl found in a junkyard by a Dr. Dyson Ido, a robotics doctor of sorts. Upon discovery, the girl has neither hands nor legs; all that is left of her body is her chest region, which encases her heart, and her head. The cybernetic doctor takes it upon himself to give her another body, a beautiful body he built for his daughter who did not live to use the body.
The doctor soon discovers that the girl is amnesiac, remembering neither her name nor anything about to her past. Therefore, he gives her the name Alita and allows her to live in Iron City. There in the city, she meets a young man, Hugo, who becomes her closest friend. As events unfold, Dr. Ido discovers that Alita is not a young girl as he initially assumes but actually hundreds of years old with an incredibly strong heart that can power the entire city for months. The doctor would also discover that Alita is a strong and skillful fighter.
Meanwhile, things are not easy going for the inhabitants of Iron City. This is a city that is more or less like a dumping ground for Zalem, the city above. To cope with the difficulty in this city, many of the inhabitants turn their bodies either wholly or partly into robots. Others like Hugo keep working hard and hoping that one day they will be able to move to Zalem, where they hope to find peace and tranquility. Iron City is also a city characterized by violence and crime and people trying to undo each other. It seems that much of the crime is orchestrated and masterminded by powers that be at Zalem.
Hunter Warriors are those entrusted with the duty of fighting against the crimes and killings that go on in the city. Dr. Ido is one of the Hunter Warriors. Fascinated by the work of the Hunter Warriors, Alita decides to join them. She succeeds, but gets into a lot of fights and makes enemies in the process. Fortunately, because of her martial prowess, Alita is capable of overcoming all the techniques and antics of her enemies to eliminate her but not without losing her friend, Hugo.
Alita: Battle Angel and Its Anime Relationship
The 2019 movie directed by Robert Rodriguez and produced by James Cameron, is largely an adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s 1990 manga story, Gunnm, translated in English as “Battle Angel Alita”. This is of course not the first adaption of the manga series. In 1993, three years after the publication of the story, it had original video adaptations (OVA): “Battle Angel Alita: Rusty Angel” and “Battle Angel Alita: Tears Sign”. These are anime adaptations. The 2019 live-action movie is neither wholly an adaptation of the original manga story nor that of the anime versions. It rather adapts the two versions in certain degrees.
One significant difference that can be noticed between the OVA versions and the live-action adaption is that while the later reflect on and rewinds Alita’s past, the former did not. Many changes in both names, scenes, actions, and more are also noticeable between Alita: Battle Angel and both the manga and the OVA versions. This should, of course, be expected since it’s an adaptation, not a repetition. The 2019 movie, however, maintains many of the characteristics of the anime genre including a complicated plot, focus on an adult audience, the high reality of the characters, and advanced animation which is seen in the robot bodies won by humans and the robots themselves in charge of security, participating in the motor ball game, and doing other things.