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Manga: Gunnm
Badass Adorable incarnate.

In the early twenty sixth century, a wealthy elite live lives of sybaritic luxury in Tiphares (Salem in the original Japanese version), a city that floats in the sky. Below the city, though, is a city-sized scrap heap to which it constantly contributes its trash; scraping out a living there are all manner of thugs, criminals, scavengers — and the occasional idealist.

One particular idealist is Ido, a cybernetic surgeon and outcast from Salem, who offers medical and mechanical repairs to those who have replaced parts of their bodies with machinery. One day, he finds the head and shoulders of a cyborg on the scrap heap. The brain within the head still lives, and he brings her home to rebuild her. Because the face and what little is left of the body appears to be that of a young girl, that's how he rebuilds her. She's a quiet, almost shy thing, practically mute, and he names her Alita (Gally in the original Japanese version).

Things get complicated when she discovers that her benefactor is also a bounty hunter... and decides that she, too, will hunt dangerous criminal cyborgs. What no one expects is that somewhere in her lost memory are all the skills needed to do so...

The manga series, written by Yukito Kishiro, initially ran from 1991 to 1995, at which point it was ended due to ill health on the part of its creator. In 2000 it was revived, initially for a limited run to provide an epilogue based on the final scenario of the Playstation game Gunnm: Memories of Mars, but the new series, Last Order, has since spiraled into a run longer than the original series, finally concluding with Volume 19, making it more than twice as long as the original.

In 1993, an anime OVA was released based on the first two volumes of the manga (it was later released in the United States by ADV Films under the name Battle Angel). There are no plans to continue animated adaptations, but a live action version produced and directed by Terminator director James Cameron is currently wavering in and out of Development Hell. Thanks to Cameron grabbing the license, the OVA is no longer sold in the United States.

When the manga was released in English as Battle Angel Alita by Viz Media, the name of the main character was changed from Gally to Alita, which — along with some other changes — may cause confusion for some. The creator hung a Lampshade on this during a Lotus-Eater Machine sequence near the end of the original series; in the Japanese version Gally is renamed "Alita" in the dream, and vice versa in the English version.

There are also two short spin-off mangas. One, Ashen Victor, stars Snev, the Crash King, a once-promising Motorball player who crashes in every race he runs. The other, Another Stories, is a collection of four separate side stories that flesh out the universe a bit.

Battle Angel Alita provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Zekka, Zekka, fucking Zekka. It's like someone put Kamina in a cyborg body and gave him awesome Kung Fu skills, and he's such a Large Ham that his idea of being a true man, and therefore a true warrior, is to be able to destroy an entire planet with nothing but pure skill and Hot Blood. Two Faceless Goons in the background promptly hang a lampshade on this.
  • Action Girl: Alita looks like a short teenage girl, but is one of the strongest warriors in the galaxy.
  • Adjective Noun Fred: The English version.
  • After the End: An asteroid impact wiped out most of the earth's surface, the survivors rebuilt most of their civilisation in space. Currently the world is so devastated it isn't even immediately clear the story takes place on Earth.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Happens fairly frequently.
    • It began with the first big villain Makaku, who up until then had been a body-hijacker who had such a severe addiction to endorphins that he ate other people's brains. During his final fight, he drops hints at a tragic backstory, and when he and Alita are seemingly consumed in a massive explosion, she reveals that she's holding it back with the Berserker body, and asks him why he is the way that he is, and it's heartbreaking.
    • Zapan gets it, too, complete with a hallucination that his monstrous transformation and the unintentional murder of the woman he loved were both part of a horrible nightmare.
    • Den is more of an Anti-Villain, but he meets his death with one of the most moving arguments of sentience in a comic that regularly debates what it is that makes someone an individual.
    • Rakan's case is even more tragic than Zapan's when we get to know his backstory. While Zapan was at least somewhat responsible for his fate, everything that happened to Rakan was just sheer bad luck.
    • Even Yoko, Alita's former self. Durring an internal dialog with the current Alita, the solar system's most dangerous assassin and bringer of the second End of the World as We Know It breaks down crying, revealing that no one ever loved her.
  • Alternative Calendar: The space colonies count their years as Era Sputnik, dating from the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957.
    • Spinoffs also use the tongue-in-cheek Anno Koyomi calendar tied to the birth of Koyomi K. at the very beginning of the story. It was actually the first Alternative Calendar in the story, as Era Sputnik was introduced only in Last Order as a Keiran Farrel's invention, and Farrels weren't mentioned in the series before the Cognates arc. Just for the reference, the tenth Z.O.T.T. finals take place in A.K. 15 or E.S. 591 (or A.D. 2548, for that matter).
  • All-Powerful Bystander: Don Fua, after his come back.
  • Always Identical Twins: The Tuned Elf and Zwölf somehow ended up playing this exactly straight. Thinking like one and acting alike.
  • Amnesiac Dissonance
  • Animated Adaptation
  • Animal Motifs:
    • Alita is constantly compared to an octopus because of the way she forms her lips and how her hair is shaped. Her Imaginos body in Last Order can even change color. Similarly, Sechs was at least once compared to a shark on a chapter cover thanks to her his sharp teeth and deadly grin. Sechs is called "octopus lips" too, by Zekka when they're thumb-wrestling. BTW, Zekka's head seems a damn wasp.
    • Also, when Alita is 'born' from Tunguska, she gets a cat tail. From that moment onwards, she starts behaving just like that (going wherever and doing whatever she wants, staying in high places, and appearing from vent conduits, to say some things).
      • It's also worth noting that this is probably a reference to how her name was chosen because Ido once had a cat named Alita.
  • Anyone Can Die: No one is ever safe from the grim reaper in this series. Even our charming lead was very, VERY dead at one point, but Desty Nova just loves to break the rules.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Desty Nova's nano machines. They allow him to create just about anything. Now if only he would do something constructive with them for once instead of just causing trouble...
  • Apocalypse How: Class 1; in 2012 (E.S. 55), a solar flare's EMP shut down all technology and a massive meteorite impact on Tokyo tilted Earth's axis and wiped out most of humanity.
  • Art Evolution: In series, and, more starkly, between Gunnm and Last Order.
  • The Atoner: Alita in the later half of the Last Order, see Nice Job Breaking It, Hero.
    • Averted with Nova X, who turns out to be just as much of a sociopath as the original.
  • Audience Surrogate: The aforementioned Koyomi K., who was born at the very same day as Ido found Alita's body in the scrap heap in the E.S. 576, launching the whole story.
  • Author Appeal: Kishiro definitely has a thing for women with big lips. Not to mention: Tearing those same ladies to pieces.
  • Ax-Crazy: A fair number of characters qualify for this at one point or another.
  • Badass Crew:
    • Alita spends most of the motorball arc gathering a band of powerful allies for the final battle against Jashugan. They do a really cool slow motion power walk but Jashugan still rips them all to shreds in ten seconds! It's so awesome it hurts...
    • Even more pronounced in the Last Order. While they are a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits in a lot of senses, you really don't want to face Space Angels in a serious fight. Given that even their Idiot Hero of a Lancer Sechs led them through the semi-final with the Venusian team singlehandedly when all other finals were always Jupiter vs. Venus, and then fought the absolutely over-the-top Ace Zekka to a draw in the finals, it's actually quite terrifying to imagine what they are capable of when they're all giving it in full.
  • Badass Normal:
    • Ido's just about the only Hunter-Warrior in town with the body he was born with.
    • Figure Four. A guy who didn't even grow up in the Scrapyard, who can take on Cyborgs in one on one fights. He also knows how to create a primitive but effective shockwave attack with a human body and survives a building falling on him... by pure luck.
    • In Last Order, Zazie, who is from a dirt poor Martian Kingdom, while a cyborg, has a body that is barely above the baseline human, while all other Space Angels have a state of the art bodies.note  It doesn't hinder her much.
  • Battle Tops: Motorball second league champion "Caligula" Armblessed has an ability to transform into one.
  • BFG: Once the plot leaves the Scrapyard, these show up in various sizes.
  • BFS: Dizaster, a stupidly gigantic sword with built-in engines that doubles as a Wave Motion Sword. Its Old Master cyborg wielder Getz, who's definitely of normal height, uses it to fight WARSHIPS, and he's not even a fifth its size.
  • Berserk Button: Zekka's bike. DO NOT TOUCH ZEKKA'S BIKE. Bad things will happen. Sechs learns this the hard way, and when (s)he does Hilarity Ensues.
  • Berserker Tears
  • Blood Knight: Zekka; no doubt quite a number of others over the run.
    • From the first series there's the Bar Jack soldier Knucklehead, who openly admits he joined not for the cause but just to "Ride my motorcycle and fire my gun".
    • Alita becomes this over time.
  • Blood Sport: Motorball, Z.O.T.T., and a number of others.
  • Body Horror: Many of the cyborgs, and anything/body from Venus. Especially Alduína of Venus's Z.O.T.T. team. Of course, she very, very quickly gets worse. And in the original series, the victims of Desty Nova's Karma experiments seen in his first and second laboratories also qualify.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Zekka, in spades, clubs, and sharp pointy things.
  • Bounty Hunter: Ido, Alita, and a number of other characters durring the first arc.
  • Born Lucky: Figure Four is this. While a badass on his own and also capable of getting harmed, he has a long streak of insane luck. Including being on the same train as Alita, surviving a building falling on him because of the way the debris land and comming into a rainstorm filled with sucked up fishes while lost in the desert. Also in his appearance Last Order he so far managed to escape Sechs when a lightning hits her titan blade and ending up in Ido's clinic after losing his arm in the fight with Sechs.
  • Brain Uploading: All the citizens of Salem have their brains uploaded to and replaced with computer chips when they reach adulthood.
  • Broken Ace: Alita is faster, stronger, more talented (and cuter) than almost any other cyborg. She also has a habit of unintentionally making a huge mess of things because of her inherent brashness and lack of foresight.
  • Broken Angel
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Elf and Zwolf, literally on one occasion.
  • Butterfly Knife: Alita's Damascus Blade was made into an oversized one after she quit motorball. Nova recovered the Damascus Blade after killing Alita with a powerful doll bomb but found out that it had sustained extreme fatigue. He decided to use it as a component for Alita's new Imaginos Body, further strengthening the link between blade and bearer.
  • Can't Catch Up: Sechs has this problem with Gally. Though not necessarily in terms of fighting style, but simply because Gally keeps getting a better cyborg body than what Sechs can get. Sechs' body always seem to be one step behind. Until their bodies are even it's hard to tell how evenly matched they are.
  • Calling Your Attacks
  • Canon Discontinuity: Last Order continues on from just before the end of the original manga; the last 150 or so pages never happened.
    • So the original canon basically ends with Alita being blown into a million pieces and Desty Nova sweeping up her remains. It would be sad if that had been the definitive ending...
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Figure Four, a "straight meat hick", can punch a cyborg in the head to destroy its brain. This is in a universe where an average cyborg can punch through a brick wall.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The P/F box. First seen on the last page of Chapter 5 of Last Order, and stated by Nova in Chapter 6 to contain, "The most valuable thing in the world," is revealed in Chapter 61 to contain Alita's organic brain. Nova created a Tipharean brain chip containing Alita's personality, and the chip-brained Alita is only one to appear in Last Order.
  • Chickification: Nova tries to defeat Alita with a variation of this trope. He puts her in a Lotus-Eater Machine where she can live out her life happily and peacefully with Ido and Nova himself as her father figures. This is supposed to reprogram Alita into a harmless and sweet little girl. It doesn't work. In fact, Nova is the one who is (somewhat) softened by the experience.
  • Cloning Blues: Often resulting in Beta Test Baddie themes.
    • Desty Nova deserves a special mention. In Last Order, Alita, having Acquired both of Desty Nova's brain chips and using them as Bargaining Chips, stages a break-in with the help of another Virtual Portable Desty Nova ("We call it the NovaPod!"). They're all ready to go in when they are interrupted by... Evil Funny Afro Desty Nova ("Let's call me.. Super-Nova!") , who tells them all about how he will be destroying Alita now, but he's interrupted by a transmission from... Desty Nova, Flan Cook.
    • And earlier was a somewhat darkly humorous moment in Tiphares, when it's revealed that nanobot pods growing into cloned Desty Novas have actually become a rampant pest, and are only kept under control by teams of exterminators with flamethrowers incinerating all the ones they find.
    • Alita's 12 TUNED AR-Series Replicas also qualify, even though by the time Last Order begins, AR-6 Sechs ruthlessly hunts down and kills all of the others save for Elf and Zwolf, who managed to kick her ass with their Waif-Fu Wonder Twin Powers just to prove to herself that she's not a cheap imitation and show that she's as good as or better than Alita. When she tries the same with Alita, even with Elf and Zwolf backing her up she gets Curb Stomped.
  • Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Motorball player Zafal Takie appears to be based on Grace Jones as Zula in Conan the Destroyer.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In Last Order, Zazie's level of preparedness for the ZOTT probably rivals Batman.
    • She gets plenty moments of awesome in all her appearance, but it shows the most during the final with Space Karate Team. Let's do a listing here: First, she brought enough weapon and ammo to fill an entire room (but is not allowed to bring most of them in due to the weight restriction). She still looks like a walking armory entering the match. During the match, she effectively use a combination of pistols, grenades and a few exotic weaponry: An Assault Rifle / Grenade Launcher / Shotgun combination gun, and a Metal Storm - like stacked projectile machine gun. However, the true aces up her sleeves are gradually revealed later. The pair of arms that she is using since the beginning was just a pair of Exo-Arms. Her overcoat is actually a Deployable Cover. She has three hovering bunker-buster missile hanging in the air from the match's beginning. Last but not least, the two giant revolvers she has been carrying around shoots bullet made from Osmium, in-universe being the densest stable element. She ended up using all these to win the fight, with only one round left.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Zapan is a case study of this. You should have apologized back in volume one, Alita.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Knucklehead, to a moderate degree. After being degraded by Colonel Bozzle and his unit, he finally snaps, nearly killing Bozzle, sabotaging the socket-soldiers, and pretty much blowing up the entire mechanized company. Not only that, but he frees Alita and snaps her out of the pit of despair she'd fallen into. It's such a big moment for her that he's featured among the faces of people she sees (during Last Order) who had a profound role in her life.
    • There is also Tiegel, "the lamest motorballer ever" who is so bad at motorball everyone simply ignores him. However he is a true Determinator who uses the Metagame for maximum effect and sacrifices himself to save Alita from certain defeat in the final battle.
  • Cute Bruiser: Apparently one of the reasons why the OVAs didn't do too well (and thus never had any sequels) was, reportedly, the fact viewers didn't think Alita wasn't cute enough.
  • Cyber Punk
  • Data Crystal: A MacGuffin in Last Order.
  • Death Is Cheap: As long as the brain is reasonably intact, you can be brought back, but Deader Than Dead still happens frequently.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Alita gains a lot of friends and allies through this.
    • Jokingly averted in one of the omake strips of volume 14, where one of the Guntroll members cheers for the Karate team to beat the Space Angels.
  • Died Standing Up: Jashugan, along with at least one member of Guntroll.
  • Downer Ending: The OVA, which ended on what is possibly the most depressing point in the whole manga ( except any of the references to Lou Collins).
  • Drop the Hammer: Ido's rocket-hammer thing.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Den gets his own when he not only rampages through Factory security, but does so after Kaos had attempted a Reason You Suck Speech on him. Den completely smashes Kaos' accusations that Den is nothing more than a 'figment', and refuses to leave his body even in the face of death.
    • And a little bit of fail when his sword breaks. Ba dum ba daa![1]
  • Dystopia
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: a lot of techniques and attacks require spinning moves or are enhanced by them. Jashugan's "maschine clash" is a martial art focused on causing harmonic resonance with spinning gears built into your limbs.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: If you are a pure meat human living in the scrapyard, chances are you will not stay that way forever since there are thousands of cyborgs creeping around who may want to mug you with bulldozer-like force or accidentally rip your arm off when they tap you on the shoulder to ask for directions. On the plus side: mechanical replacement limbs are always available IF you have the cash to afford them.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Desty Nova. Utterly amoral in his pursuit of "Karma".
  • Expy:
    • Ido shares an awful lot in common with a certain animated version of Dr. Egon Spengler...
    • In Last Order, Tzykrow is a very obvious expy of Zycrow from Aqua Knight. In retrospect, it's kinda easy to see why so many ZOTT participants were actually of the fan-submitted variety; a single author can only come up with so many unique and varied character designs before they start to run a little dry.
    • Kinuba the champion gladiator, who was murdered by Makaku, is the expy of Slaine the Horned King from {{2000AD}}. He is even wearing Slaine's signature Horned Helm, clan tartans and boar's head belt.
    • Predator + Lobo + Kit Fisto = Zekka
    • Yani and Derossi, Space Angels' mechanics, are basically Patlabor's Sakaki and Shige in cyborg bodies.
  • Eye Patch Of Power: Sechs has one.
  • Face Fault: A few occasional instances but a special mention goes to the Ladder meeting when the new martian "queen" brought a teddy bear named Konig (German for King) that greeted the council. The Venusians and Jovians began panicking at the idea that the supposedly dead king had survived assassination by hiding a brain chip in the bear. Turns out the new queen has a talent for ventriloquism, which led to this trope.
  • Facial Markings: Alita's trademark "antiglare patches" on her cheeks. One of the first indications that she has a back story is when she instinctively reaches down to a pool of oil and paints them onto her cheeks.
  • Fan Disservice: RAKAN! Rakan Rakan Rakan Rakan Rakan!
    • Also planet Mercury's The Anomaly's "Battering Ram"... yuck! See Squick below
  • Fantastic Drug: Quite a lot, including one that triggers lycanthropy.
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: Alita's Panzer Kunst for starters, and with the exception of Figure's Anti-Cyborg Style, that's about it for Gunnm. Last Order takes it up a notch with Qu Tuang and her Ahat Mastade, and literally thousands of Space Karate sects.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Desty Nova. He also counts as Affably Evil, depending on his mood and which Desty Nova you're talking about..
  • Finger in the Mail: When Alita shows up at Desty Nova's lab looking for her foster father, Ido, she demands that Desty tell her where he is, who casually tosses her a head-sized metal box and tells her to take a look for herself.
  • For ScienceKARMATRON DYNAMICS!!!: Anything and everything that Desty Nova does. He's VERY big on his pet theory, y'know...
  • French Jerk: The Venusians are descended from French space colonists and all seem to have a very callous attitude toward living things, as expressed by their cavalier use of Organic Technology.
  • Friendly Enemy:
    • Desty Nova to Alita, except that, as he often goes to the great lengths to explain, neither "friend" nor "enemy" has any meaning under Karmatron Dynamics theory.
    • Caerula Sanguis to Alita at certain moments.
  • Funny Background Event: The "Great Karate War" raging on in the background while Toji and Alita hold a tea ceremony.
  • Future Music: Subverted into hyperspace. Our Earth isn't even recognizable anymore, but somehow Yes and Gram Parsons are still part of the pop culture. Alita performing "Big Generator" like a pro and all the cyborgs knowing the lyrics should tell you something about the durability of progrock.
  • Gag Penis: Anomaly has a massive plasma cannon for a penis.
  • Gecko Ending: Inverted, due to health issues the author ended the original manga rather quickly. Last Order started as a Re Write for a rushed ending of the original manga, and to flesh out a then-released video game. It then spiraled into the epic twice the original's size, finally ending by wrapping up hanging plot threads while noting that Alita's adventure will continue, likely on Mars.
  • Gender Bender: Sechs, a rare female-to-male example, and even rarer for the genderbending being completely voluntary.
  • Genre Shift: The series turns into a sports series (a futuristic Blood Sport, but still) with some fighting elements during the Motorball arc.
  • Grand Theft Me: Makaku's signature ability is pushing his worm tail into your spine wile simultaniously ripping your head off so he can steal your superpowered body. In the Alita verse you could theoretically survive even this, but Makaku likes to eat your brain too. He isn't exactly the nicest fellow around.
  • Genki Girl: Shumira.
  • Gratuitous German: Most notably the names of Panzerkunst techniques. They appear to be translated from Japanese to English and then further to German.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body
  • Groin Attack: A suitably epic one to take out that critter in the Squick example below.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Tiphares adults who discover the secret of Tiphares (having your brain replaced with a chip) almost never keep their sanity.
  • Gorn: Even with most of the characters being cyborgs, the series can still easily reach Gantz levels of ultra-violence.
  • Half The Girl She Used To Be Poor Alita ends up like this about once per story arc. Sometimes in one hit, sometimes piece by piece. She always gets rebuilt into something even stronger, though.
  • Heart Drive
  • Hero Antagonist: Several show up, but team Guntroll is the most straight example, being a group more altruistic than Alita herself, though (aside from Saya, who decides to root for Team Karate) they recognized that there was no need for animosity between them pretty early.
  • Hit So Hard the Calendar Felt It: The setting of Battle Angel Alita: Last Order marks time according to the Era Sputnik, counting from the launch of the Sputnik 1 in 1957.
    • Before that there was a half-joking, half-official Anno Koyomi calendar, tied to the birth of Koyomi K. at the very beginning of the story, which Kishiro still uses to trace the continuity. The fact that her very name means "Calendar" in Japanese isn't accidental in the slightest.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: You know how many people in Eagleland drive cars? That's approximately the percentage of the Scrapyard which has replaced everything but their heads with prosthetics. The SUV percentage replace everything except their brains - and often with bodies more than a story high. And sometimes wide. Given the Crapsack World they all live in, it's not that surprising.
  • Horror Hunger: Part of Homme de Feu's backstory involves him and his caretaker, Olympe, with Homme de Feu realizing as he grows older that he wants to eat her. When he finally does, though, he realizes that she was a Robot Girl all along.
  • Humiliation Conga: Alita's first encounter with Trinidad gets pretty painfull pretty fast. First he casually pats her on the head like she's a first grader. Then he easily overpowers her, makes her KISS HIS FEET, snaps her in half, puts her into a block of plastic and finally flushes her out of the airlock like a piece of trash. Desty Nova also gets outwitted completely for the first time ever. So basically: Don't mess with this guy!
    • Ironically, Trinidad gets his own Conga after some meddling by The Weasel until the end the finals of the ZOTT tournament, to the point that everyone but Caerula (who dices his head to pieces in the end) just stops paying attention to him.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Zazie has her arm cut off, then reveals that she was hiding her real arms under her coat, and what her opponent got was a "servo arm".
  • Iconic Outfit: Alita's sleeveless black jumpsuit with baggy boots and metal knee-guards (sometimes with a duster coat as well) is Alita's first outfit, and the one people remember her in most.
  • Immortality Immorality: A hundred years before the events of Last Order, nanotechnological immortality was controlled by a powerful elite that ruled the solar system with an iron fist. Unfortunately, Weasel's attempt to break their monopoly only made things WORSE. Thanks to him, everyone in space became functionally immortal, causing populations to skyrocket. Children became illegal, and the lucky ones are kidnapped by the government and forced to fight wars for sport. The Republique of Venus eats the unlucky ones.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Morse, a member of the Cognate, prefers to use a length of mooring rebar and whatever chunk of building it was attached to as his main weapon.
    • Springfoot Jack, a cybernetic monster clown, used a hynpotized young girl as club and did the same with Elf using her as boomerang.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Jovians. For all their scientific, engineering and jingoistic-totalitarian-evil-empire cred, their main raison d'etre in the series seems to be to fail amusingly and let the main character subvert their achievements to her good. They are also kind of cute.
    • The fact that they also act very human despite their cold and machine-like appearance helps. Especially when compared to their rivals the Venusians.
  • Guns Are Worthless: Played straight and subverted. Alita defeats one of her biggest enemies with a small handgun and later uses guns to great effect. Last Order character Zazie, while good in unarmed combat, is at her best with her guns. However guns are also often useless. It seems to depend on the gun, ammo user and target - Hollywood Cyborgs are basically bipedal tanks.
  • Kick the Dog: Played straight in the OVA. More than kicked. Sliced into slices.
  • Kill Sat: The Sword of Damocles is a series of them.
  • Knight Templar: He might think that his ideal justifies his means, but everyone and their dog agree that Aga Mbadi is a colossal dick with a control mania.
    • The factory authority is this to the extreme. So you just defeated the unstoppable monster that our strongest troops couldn't even scratch? Nice work doing our job for us, but you still used a gun, and those are a grade one violation of factory law. To the incinerator with you!
  • Kung-Fu Sonic Boom: A lot in Last Order, and justified by the fact that almost everyone is a superhuman cyborg. Sechs and Zekka take it up to eleven by causing injuries to bystanders and collateral damage this way; By thumb wrestling
  • Lady of War: Caerula Sanguis, full stop. Alita would've qualified too, but her style of Waif-Fu is just too direct.
  • La Résistance: What many saw the Barjack Army as.
  • Large And In Charge: Den; seen to some extent with various other characters.
  • Last Minute Hookup: Kaos and Lou get together in the original ending with only a tiny hint of a crush preceding it. It doesn't exist at all in Last order.
  • Like Cannot Cut Like: Monofilament wires.
  • Literal Split Personality: Den and Kaos.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: As of 2010 still in Development Hell, mostly due to James Cameron's various other projects.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Half of them get killed off quickly, but the majority is quite memorable because of their impact on Alita or their insane design/fighting style.
  • Lost Superweapon: Last Order mentions the "Five Demonic Inventions of Humankind", which include:
    • The Berserker cells (like those used in the body that Ido gives Alita)
    • A parasitic weapon called a PIPT (Parasitic Intention Plant Trooper, likely a Venusian invention)
    • The atomic bomb
    • 2-4-5 Trioxin
    • The antimatter bomb
  • Lotus-Eater Machine
  • Made of Plasticine
  • Mad Scientist/Mad Doctor: Desty Nova, with emphasis on the "mad".
  • Magical Particle Accelerator: Jupiter Empire's Wormhole Reactor uses it as one of its parts.
  • Market-Based Title: GUNNM/Battle Angel Alita
  • Marshmallow Hell: A perverted Space Karate assassin is smothered and crushed to bits under a pile of boobs, courtesy of the Venusians. He gets better though, since cyborg bodies are all but made out of LEGO blocks.
  • Meaningful Name: Alita/Gally may be an abbreviation of Galatea, the statue-turned-lover of Pygmalion. She and Ido share a similar relationship at first: Ido reconstructs Alita with the intention of giving her a sweet, peaceful life as his pseudo-daughter. Alita certainly puts a kibosh on THAT idea.
  • Mecha-Mooks
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Berserker and Imaginos bodies are comprised of advanced nanotechnological "machine cells". Anomaly in Last Order is a Humanoid Abomination theorized to have evolved from Grey Goo on the planet Mercury.
  • Midseason Upgrade: Happens to Alita and Sechs. For Alita, her Imaginos body is advanced to 2.0 and 2.1 respectively in a quick and sudden fashion with the acquiring of Fata Morgana and the wormhole reactor. In retrospect, Sechs had to go through it the hard way where hir Fizziroy body is manually upgraded to the heavier gel so that it can withstand more pressure which by extension, increases the number of things he can do with it.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Parodied with Eelai who even has an arrow on her forehead that points down. In the unlikely case you missed it...
  • Most Writers Are Writers: In Last Order, Ping Wu says that the net is like a manga artist without a deadline.
  • Mood Whiplash: Anything with Lou Collins. Every time the girl is mentioned in Last Order is to let us know of another terrible misfortune she suffered.
  • The Movie: James Cameron's next project after Avatar. Though with Avatar's runaway success it seems to be put on the back burner again.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Sechs and Zekka get in the world's most hardcore thumb-wrestling match.
    • Supersonic knitting.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Damn near every volume, almost.
  • Nanomachines
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The main heroine. It was Yoko who caused the last End Of The World As We Know It, but Alita didn't know of it until Volume 9, which doubles as one of her Tomato in the Mirror moments.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Poor Lou...
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: When Alita runs into AR-2 she rapidly loses her confidence when she fails to find a weakness in her opponent. And then AR-2 starts to tear her apart... piece by piece. It's very scary since it's Alita's own mirror image thats laying the smackdown on her.
  • Omniscient Morality License: Not that Desty Nova has ever been really big on morals from the start, but he's became utterly convinced that his knowledge of Karmatron Dynamics justifies just about everything he (in any of his incarnations, even Super Nova) does.
  • Opening a Can of Clones
  • Opposite-Sex Clone: Sechs eventually starts to think of him/her... err, whatever as male, and eventually gets a full male cyborg body to back it up. He basically DECIDES he's male, even if he started as a supposedly superior clone to Alita, down to being female as well. Interesting to notice, even his facial features, which are NEVER actually changed, are still much more masculine than Alita's, even though they're supposed to have the same face.
    • Even body type was somehow more masculine at the start.
  • Original Video Animation
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The "cognates".
  • Perpetual Frown: More like Perpetual Pout, which seems to be Alita's default facial expression. Lampshaded by Jim Roscoe in the first volume of the Last Order, where he asked Nova while they were rebuilding Alita's body, whether her lips are too thick? Lampshaded again by the twins posing as Alita in Vol. 6, with one of them noting that it's difficult to make "octopus lips" all the time, and the other that she has to look sullen and it isn't fun.
  • Playful Hacker: Weasel. In chapter 109 it's revealed that he not only hacked Mbadi's cameras but also uploaded a virus that disabled Mbadi's mind control that coincidentally activated when Mbadi was caught on camera ordering his minister to fire Damocles and destroy the Space Angels.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child
  • Power-Up: several, for Alita and other characters.
  • Putting on the Reich: Col. Payne
  • Put on a Bus: A lot of characters from the original series in Last Order, notably Figure Four.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: When Ido Daisuke saves Shumira from being raped in the begining of "Battle Angel Alita" #3 (Through nearly killing one of the would-be-rapists and actually (most likely) killing the other).
  • Razor Wire: Zwolf and Elf's weapon of choice.
    • Frau X manages to use a shoelace like this.
  • Really 700 Years Old: This time, it's no exaggeration. That's the extent of what Aga Mbadi knows, and he might underestimate it.
  • Remote Body: Desty Nova cures his son's split personality by building a remotely controlled robot body to channel the other mind.
  • Robot Girl
  • Satellite Love Interest: Subverted, as Alita is none too happy to find out that this is what Ido was expecting her to be when he revived her.
  • Scavenger World
  • Scenery Gorn: Countless detailed scenes of the Scrapyard and the surrounding desert wastes.
  • Schematized Prop: Each manga volume features mechanical details of an element featured in the story.
  • Science Fiction
  • Self-Destructive Charge: How Den chooses to go out, charging headlong into the fire of an entire division of the Factory's armoured forces.
  • Send in the Clones: Alita after having fought 10 years for a shady organization, said organization uses records of said fights to create 12 duplicates of her, with all her skills (especially the deadly Panzer Kunst) and a copy of her high tech body.
  • Sequel Hook: Last Order ends with Alita on Mars, hunting down Super Nova and the mysterious Frau X.
  • Serial Escalation: Last Order seems to be an experiment in how batshit insane the series can get. Supersonic knitting? Epic thumb-wrestling matches? A Humongous Mecha with a comically oversized Gag Penis that shoots Wave Motion Beams? Last Order's got it all!
  • She's a Man in Japan: The German translations of Last Order continue for a while to refer to Sechs as a female after he gains the Fizziroy body.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: "Sadly the Space Angels were obliterated in a mysterious explosion just as they became the first independent team to win the ZOTT." At least, that's what Mbadi thinks will happen...
  • Shout-Out: If you can hit me just once... cue sword to the face
    • Aspects of Sechs as a character appear to be inspired by Luffy from One Piece.
    • There are several references to Fred Saberhagen's Berserker shared-universe series.
    • Zapan's forehead symbol is that of the Blue Oyster Cult. Sechs' boots twice refer to classic heavy metal songs on their underside. Blood Red Skies by Judas Priest and Aces High by Iron Maiden.
    • Olympe and Homme du Feu are so obviously Beauty and the Beast.
    • There's also a lot to various classic rock and metal bands.
    • Iron Maiden's mascot Eddie appears at one point. "Aces High"/"Live to Fly" is stamped on Sechs' soles in chapter 66.
    • Bounty Hunter Zapan has the Blue Oyster Cult logo on his face.
    • One character owns an antique synthesizer with the name alan parsons Dymotaped on the side.
    • One really badass scene in Volume 5 is further enhanced by the imprints on the soles of Sechs' boots, which are "Blood Red Skies" and "You won't break me". A shout-out to a little known Judas Priest song from the "Ram It Down" album.
    • Desty Nova's name and the name of the "Imaginos" armor are also BOC shout-outs, which makes a lot of sense considering that "Desty Nova" as said in Imaginos means 'Eternal Light' and Desty Nova is pretty much unkillable... at least permanently.
    • The fighter champion Kinuba from volume one is Slaine from Two Thousand AD with cyborg arms.
    • Some of the Space Karate fighters are shout-outs to Radon/Rodan, Kamen Rider, The Chupacabra, and Robby the Robot.
      • A Robby the Robot lookalike also appears as part of Ido's collection of scrap early in the manga.
    • The first great cataclysm of their universe happened in E.S. 55 — which translates to AD 2012. Well, most probably not to the movie itself, but to all those crackpot theories it was based on.
    • There's also a character identical to Grace Jones.
    • Space Angels' engineers are basically Sakaki and Shige, Patlabor resident gearheads, in cyborg form.
    • The Kudos! List has an extensive archive here: [2]
  • Sibling Team: Subverted somewhat in that while Sechs, Elf, and Zwolf are android copies of Alita created from over a decade of data gathered on her brain patterns, behavior and fighting style, they all indeed tend to act like siblings. Especially between Alita and Sechs, with a healthy portion of Sibling Yin-Yang thrown in for good measure, while the twins Elf and Zwolf both neatly fill the role of Annoying Younger Sibling with a healthy sprinkling of Genki Girl and Fetish Fuel.
    • A meta example: in recent chapters Yukito Kishiro started to credit his brother Tsutomu, a longtime supporter and assistant, who also maintains their website, in a second billing on the manga covers.
  • Sim Sim Salabim: Indians, or rather their descendants having become the dominant culture in Jeru/Ketheres, there's plenty of goofy Indian mysticism to go along with the rest of the goofy Eastern mysticism sprinkled thoughout the series. Prominent examples include Aga Mbadi and his cosmic yoga, as well as one of the members of the Starship Cult team, who is a cyborg or robot designed to look like an old-timey racist caricature of a fakir (although this has less to do with India and more with the snake charmer acts in old circuses, the Starship Cult being circus-themed).
  • Space Elevator: Salem is at the bottom of one.
  • Subordinate Excuse: The reason Kayna works for Ido in the new arc.
  • Title Drop: In Gunnm, Chapter 49 is called "Gun Dreams". There are also ones in Last Order (obviously spoilers if you click).
    ???: Spirit.
    Alita: Freedom.
    ???: Sword.
    Alita: Scabbard.
    ???: Gun.
    Alita: Dream!(The Panzer Kunst code!)

  • Theme Naming:
    • The sister city of Salem, at the top of the Space Elevator, is called "Jeru" in Japanese.
    • The other competitors in the Motorball story are all named for weapons (Scramasax, Flamberge, Arbelest etc.., (apparently taken from the Tunnels & Trolls Rulebook). This is less obvious than you'd think because the translator directly transcribed the katakana.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Sechs to Alita, Zekka to Don Fua are two examples.
  • The Power of Friendship: The enormous lotus flower Alita creates in the first ending. The lotus flower is a symbol of friendship in budhism. It's really sweet and poetic but unfortunately for Alita not canon anymore.
  • They Were Holding You Back
  • Third-Person Person: Shumira
  • Those Wacky Nazis Whom We Haven't Seen Yet: "Why are there neo-nazis on Mars?!"
    • Newer chapters revealed, it's a group of martian extremists who thought the concept of national socialism appealing and created a hoax about having found the remains of a nazi UFO on Mars to claim the right of owning it.
  • Together in Death: Homme de Feu and Olympe.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    • Several. Most of them involve the main character.
    • Tiphares/Salem is an entire city of these.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Played mercylessly straight with Sara, probably the nicest character in the intire series.
    • Later brought up again with the soul hurting death of Haruka,an event so pointlessly tragic it ends up tainting the very future of the world and forcing Vilma to reject her own husband.
  • Took A Level In Bad Ass: Alita and others, multiple times. When you're a cyborg, increasing your power is as simple as upgrading your body.
  • Tournament Arc: Begins officially in series 2 volume 5; as of volume 17 only one team remains in competition, though there may still be some more fights to be had until a winner can be declared. Series 1 only ran for nine volumes. . .
  • Trademark Favorite Food: "Flan is revolution!" - Desty Nova
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: The GR series Tuneds are the upgrades to Tuned Gally and GR-2 would have killed her if not for Lou interfering. Subverted with Gally's fight against Sechs 1 year later since Gally was given a brand new Imaginous body while Sechs only had a heavily damaged Tuned body.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The main motivation of Aga Mbadi, although what he considers a "utopia" might squick many.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • Nova suffered one at the end of the original manga after seeing Alita's world tree. What burned his britches was one of his creations choosing to sacrifice itself to save him. He is later found with a flower growing out of his head and playing with a "Martian King" toy.
    • Bigott Eisenburg got an utterly devastating one upon finding out the "secret of Salem".It almost made you feel bad for the asshole due to sheer shock value.
    • Aga Mbadi has been suffering one of these when Alita in her Imaginos 2.0 body fuses with the Fata Morgana, manages to overpower his hacking, crushes his hand, humiliates him when he believes he was able to hold back one of her punches and tells him she let Mbadi live because he was needed alive in order to continue The Z.O.T.T.. After this, he breaks out into a rage during his meditations, gives Super Nova free rein on Mars and has lobbied for the use of a super weapon called The Sword Of Damocles from LADDER against the participants of The Z.O.T.T.
  • Waif-Fu
  • We Named the Monkey Jack: Inverted. Alita was named after Ido's recently deceased cat. When she learns this she's not too happy about it, especially since the cat was male.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Aga Mbadi, though he very quickly establishes himself as the most Knight Templarish variation of such, and his good intentions are extremely YMMV.
  • Wham Episode: Volume 5 of the original manga: Alita finally has found balance, and is living a life as happy as she could in the Scrapyard. Oh, Zapan came back, even more twisted? No problem, and gets dealt with... Hey, we finally get to know the guy who got that much foreshadowing! Heh, insanely amusing... What? He has resurrected Zapan's brain? And he is giving him the Berserker body? HE IS GIVING HIM A STRONGER VERSION OF THAT BODY? HE KILLED IDO? Then he gets to the scrapyard, and many of the characters you'd grown to know and love get killed like files, the survivors blame it on Alita, EVERY landmark of the early series gets blown to bits, and Alita has to take Zapan on with just a civilian body, an (illegal) gun, and nanomachines. And for all her troubles, the Factory wants her dead for firing a gun. Then Tiphares shows an interest for her, and HAS to work for them. Cue timeskip.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human? - Mind that this is a universe where the definition of "human" is rather subjective.
    • You have fully organic humans without an ounce of a soul, completely artificial machines with deep personalities, racing vehicles controlled by a human brain and seemingly standard humans with chips for brains. The real question ultimately is about what a person is and being "human" isn't what really matters in the end.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: Space Angels have nowhere near the budget that'd be realistically required to maintain a competitive Z.O.T.T. team. Justified in that Alita and the twins are basically Desty Nova's guinea pigs, and the guy can apparently create whatever he needs. Sechs on his part effectively hired Yani on credit, and the latter agreed mainly for the same reason as Nova — he needed someone to test his newest iteration of a Fizziroy body. Still, they mainly plodder through on credit, donations and Holy Ghost, with only the promise of a prize to back it. At least Zazie is officially "on the loan" from the Martian Kingdom army, which makes them a kind of semi-official Mars entrant, but given that The Kingdom is just as poor, it doesn't help much.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Two volumes of Last Order detail the Backstory of one Caerula Sanguis, which also serves as a How We Got Here.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever??: Several characters show up who have extremely long lifespans. Their way to handle this varies. Some stay very proactive and try to make a difference, others lose their will to accomplish anything at all. Some develop absurdly large ego's, others go suicidal.
  • World Half Empty: The GUNNM world really isn't a nice place to live...
  • World Half Full: ...but sometimes Alita and others manage to make a difference, with a lot of effort. See the first ending.
  • World of Badass: Last Order. Then again, most of it's taken place during a Tournament Arc.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Zapan.
    • Also Yoko, Alita's pre-amnesia persona.
      • To be fair though, while she was a ruthless killer, she did not intentionally start the system-wide war that literally destroyed the world a second time.
  • World's Strongest Man: Zekka - "The Fist that extinguishes the light".
  • Wretched Hive: The Scrapyard.
  • Writing for the Trade: Last Order. The Tournament Arc is much more exciting when you can see how it weaves in and out of Alita's infiltration of Ketheres.
  • Yonkoma: Various Omake parodying the events in the manga.
  • You Are Number Six: When Alita is recruited by GIB she is only called A/G-1; her copies are called AR/GR-1 to 12. By Last Order only three are left and they renamed themselves Sechs, Elf and Zwölf, which are their numbers in German.
    • Figure Four as well.
  • You Are Already Dead: How Verschlag works
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Lou Collins in Last Order. Every time Alita seems to be on a fast track to finally save her, she learns that everything is worse than it seems, and she has to continue.

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alternative title(s): Battle Angel Alita; Gunnm; Battle Angel Alita
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