Alita: Battle Angel is an American live-action film adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s Gunnm manga series, which goes by the name of Battle Angel Alita for American releases of the manga. The series is set in a post-apocalyptic world where the luxurious city of Zalam floats above the scrapyards where society’s outcasts scavenge, commit criminal acts, or become bounty hunters called hunter-warriors to get by. Cyber surgeon Dr. Daisuke Ido finds the remains of a cyborg girl and repairs her, giving her the name of Alita as she has no memories of her former life. Seeking answers to her lost memories through fighting, Alita becomes a hunter-warrior against Ido’s wishes after discovering that he is one as well.
Alita: Battle Angel was a movie project that director James Cameron had aspired to want to work on for years, with the film being in development hell for a while until it was announced in 2016 that the project was finally in production. The film adapts story and character elements from the first four volumes of the original manga series, the later Last Order manga, and the 1990s OVA adaptation of the series.
Many Western live-action adaptations of Japanese anime and manga titles often get a bad reputation for being very loose with adapting their source material, a most infamous case being with Dragon Ball Evolution. As far as Alita goes, this film actually does a solid job with being faithful to a number of the plot elements and character developments explored in the manga series. Alita is still depicted in seeking answers to her past through fighting and the film still depicts life in the scrapyards as being a rough one for many of its inhabitants due to Zalam’s influence. This film does combine a number of the plot elements from Alita’s time as a hunter-warrior and her later motorball run together to put together its plot, though these elements are meshed together rather cohesively for the most part with its two-hour runtime being enough to flow through its key events without feeling too sloppy in pacing.
Perhaps the major highlight of Alita though is the implementation of CG animation. A good number of the characters in Alita are known to be cyborgs that make use of various forms of cybernetic implants to replace body parts or to become stronger than their human body’s natural limits. The movie does an excellent job with the rendering of its CG animation for cyborg characters to seamlessly blend in with the live-action camera shots with other characters without sticking out like a sore thumb. The film also sports some impressive choreography and visual spectacle coming from its many action scenes, among which include Alita’s fights with enemy cyborgs and her later involvement with motorball.
That isn’t to say the film is all good though. The film’s mood is noticeably a bit more lighter and not as gritty and bleak as the manga series. The scrapyard’s inhabitants are shown to have somewhat more stable lives with locals shown freely playing motorball at one point in the film and not feeling as dystopian. Sure, the key dramatic scenes of the manga are still intact and I could live with the more violent content from the manga being toned down for the movie to attract a more wider audience. But not being totally faithful to the manga’s mood was a rather glaring aesthetic change I took notice of with the feel of the movie.
I was also not a fan of how the film handled Alita and Yugo’s relationship. The movie depicts it as a typical puppy-love teenage relationship that you could find out of many Western live-action movies to a large degree and I wasn’t convinced of the altered chemistry that the film puts together for their relationship, compared to how nuanced that the manga depicts it in comparison.
The other issue I have is the rather open ending that Alita leaves things on for its plot. Without spoiling too much, a major villain within the series is still at large and is hinted to with some scenes shown throughout the movie. However, said villain never makes an appearance and remains a largely unknown character as a result. It looks like this may be have been done deliberately to set up a possible sequel down the line since the later five volumes of the original manga and Last Order have yet to be adapted. But whether or not this happens will likely come down to how well the movie grosses money while in theaters.
Still while having its faults, Alita: Battle Angel is still one of the better American live-action film adaptations of an anime/ manga series since it does make an effort to try being as faithful to its source material as possible. If sci-fi action titles or if you’re curious over how this American spin on Alita adapts the manga, I’d at least recommend checking out the movie once.
When you mentioned toning the film down for a wider audience, it reminds of superhero films afraid of doing the R rated thing.
Movie studios aiming for a PG-13 rating seems to be a recurring trend for many movie releases nowadays to attract as wide an audience as possible since having a more age-restrictive rating affects box office revenue for the studios. In the case of Alita, it usually gets quite gory with some of the criminals that Alita and Dr. Ito confront, one particular case involving a cyborg serial killer known to eat the brains of his victims.
Ah, the pointless insert of romance as a sub plot. Oh it was an actual romantic relationship in the original source material.
The love Alita has for Yugo in the manga goes unrequited, mostly because Hugo is too focused on his goal of trying to making it up to Zalam. Alita does confront him about his feelings for her shortly after learning of his criminal activity and exchanges a kiss with him, but she's the only one to engage in anything close to romantic.
Not a lot of manga/anime adapted films get sequels. It would too much to rush or end on a higher, closed more albeit changing things in the film
I'm sure this will come down to how well the movie performs in theaters. The movie production budget was about $170 million and was a project that James Cameron wanted to put together for years. A sequel's certainly within the realm of possibility with how much can still be adapted from the manga. But, suppose we will have to wait and see.
Dream: Taka: Looks like you didn't click on the link in my last comment. You'll get the DIO nod when you click on it.
Jan 7, 2020 22:15:55 GMT
Master Menos: Dream: I've always been a PC guy anyways. (Yeah, that was funny!)
Jan 8, 2020 4:09:50 GMT
Master Menos: Sidebar updated! Taka: My turn to scratch your back, Taka. 2019 me got really messed up with the job. @_@
Jan 8, 2020 4:53:59 GMT
Taka: Thanks Master Menos! I'll work on finishing the Winter 2020 guide.
Jan 9, 2020 4:50:29 GMT
Dream: My second Funi poll is done. Titles I will be watching and reviewing will include Chobits, Samurai Champloo, Spice and Wolf, Gankutsuou, and Dance in the Vampire Bund. Will let folks know which one I start off tomorrow at some point.
Jan 11, 2020 5:39:30 GMT
Dream: First anime I will sample among the Funi titles is Chobits. As a heads up, the series on Funi's Youtube channel is missing the two recap episodes the series aired. Not that I'll be missing those however.
Jan 11, 2020 15:13:09 GMT
Dream: Wow, never knew Shinbo was Gil, Sousuke, and Domon. More you know.
Jan 11, 2020 17:52:00 GMT
Dream: Just completed Chobits. Will get a review up for it at some point this afternoon.
Jan 18, 2020 18:37:22 GMT
Dream: Will post a little later what the next voted anime will be that I will watch and review.
Jan 18, 2020 19:48:38 GMT
Dream: Next anime up to cover will be Dance in the Vampire Bund. Suppose a short anime will do for now following Chobits.
Jan 18, 2020 21:32:36 GMT
Dream: Concluding things at episode 2 with Vampire Bund for the night. Hoping to get back to Basquatch tomorrow, as long as I'm not swamped with anything.
Jan 19, 2020 3:00:33 GMT
Dream: Geez, it's really quiet. No activity in the forums since I posted my review from yesterday.
Jan 19, 2020 15:57:41 GMT
Taka: I'll email the receipts. The best anime and manga of 2019 will be extended to Wed. I don't get time off for Mon because of community service. Please vote if you haven't yet. Thank you!
Jan 19, 2020 20:44:07 GMT
Dream: Hmmmm... looks like the version of Vampire Bund I'm seeing on Funi's YouTube channel's an edited version. A couple minutes of episode 2 were clearly removed with Mina in nothing but underwear battling human assassins. Then again, recall there was a good...
Jan 19, 2020 22:49:15 GMT
Dream: ...deal of controversy with the series a decade earlier thanks to the seemingly underaged nudity of Mina while in her younger form.
Jan 19, 2020 22:50:13 GMT
Dream: Not sure if I should be donning the nostalgia goggles or not giving a damn. Looks like the original Digimon Adventure series is getting a reboot airing starting in the Spring season.
Jan 21, 2020 3:21:13 GMT
Taka: I'll watch it if there's nothing catching my eye in Spring. winter 2020 was a weak anime season for me.
Jan 22, 2020 18:29:46 GMT
Dream: Wouldn't say it's all bad for me. Have a few titles holding my interest. Just it typically doesn't have as many major titles of note that would hold me over.
Jan 22, 2020 23:54:44 GMT