Battle Angel Review

battleangelhdr

Dreams, love, and reality. The three themes that are sometimes difficult for people to understand in this dystopian world created by the mind of Yukito Kishiro. A society separating trash from luxury with thousands of feet of cabling.

battleangel9Story
In the world of Battle Angel (or Gunnm as it’s known in Japan), the rich and privelaged live on a floating city called Zalem. However everyone else lives in Scrap Iron City which resides beneath the floating city, living off the garbage discarded by the citizens above. Ido, a once citizen of Zalem, now lives in the Scrap Iron City where he puts his amazing skills in cyborg engineering to use repairing cyborgs that have faced damage or attacks. These attacks generally come by way of people who farm body parts for high dollars. The only thing to quell these attacks is “Hunter Warriors” who are paid for bounties placed on these attackers.

One day Ido comes across a discarded head and upper body of a small cyborg girl which seems to still be alive. He rushes it home to repair it only to find that the girl has no memory. He calls the girl Gally and raises her as his own child. Though it’s not long before Gally is forced to save Ido from a bounty.  This event unlocks a hidden skill within her, revealing that she has an incredible destructive capability.

battleangel3Unfortunately the only big issue I have with the movie was the pacing and leaping around that it did. It was almost as if they cut quite a bit of storytelling out, leaving much of the character development feeling jarring. Be it for time reasons or just budget pinching. Either way, it didn’t help the fluidity of the story. This is echoed by some scenes seemingly leaping forward from a battle’s end to a warm embrace.

That said, I really enjoyed the story that was told. Even with its flaws, the world that they built was intriguing and I was instantly able to relate to the character’s desires to reach Zalem. It’s a dark world, one that we just don’t see much of in anime anymore. Gritty, dire, and just plain hopeless. There’s no school girls and rainbows, just death and filth. I loved it.

The characters within the story are also generally likable, outside the neccessary anti-heroes and villains.  Gally is constantly discovering the dire world she wakes up in and you can’t help but root for her success.  However she often finds herself dealing with the fault of her clueless nature.  By her side is Ido, who was a rather interesting character though not fleshed out enough for my taste.  Of course due to the time constraints.  On the other hand Yugo has much more barring on the story and had almost a reckless desire to reach Zalem that only seems to bring Gally into dire situations.

battleangel6Animation
Since Battle Angel was released in 1999, its graphics may be a bit dated for some people’s taste. That said, this movie aged quite well considering. The animation was well done and the actions scenes stand up to most modern anime shows. Besides a few moments where an attack is portrayed by a fist being backdropped by straight lines, for the most part it was fluent motion that had my eyes glued to the screen.

Conclusion
While Battle Angel can feel jarring at points due to almost a rushed feel, it’s filled with a lot of storytelling that has been lost from anime for quite some time. Fantastic world building that unfortunately is limited by the length of the movie itself.  If anything I can see this as a great gateway to check out the fully realized world within the visual novel series.  It’s definitely something everyone should experience and is still quite a gem after all these years. Gally is essentially the first “butt-kicking loli” and set a course for future archetypes to follow.

Family Friendliness-It must be noted that Battle Angel’s dark and grim world brings with it a very violent set of imagery.  Several scenes depicting graphical beheadings and limb severing.  There’s also a few scenes depicting brief nudity.

THUMBS UP!

THUMBS UP!

REVIEW VERDICT:
Highly Suggested

Pros:

  • Great world building
  • Dark and gritty
  • Unique storyline
  • Great battle scenes

Cons:

  • Jarring pacing issues
  • Time constraints obvious
Share on Google+Share on LinkedInShare on RedditShare on TumblrTweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook

Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.