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Badass Adorable incarnate.
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In the early twenty-sixth century, a wealthy elite live lives of sybaritic luxury in Tiphares (Zalem in the original Japanese version), a city that floats in the sky. Below the city, though, is a city-sized scrapyard called the Scrapyard (Scrap Iron City in the original Japanese version) 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 Tiphares, 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).

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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 Battle Angel Alita (titled Gunnm in Japanese) 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 October of 2014, Battle Angel Alita: Mars Chronicle (Gunnm: Kasei Senki), the sequel to Last Order, started.

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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 revisiting the same first two volumes of the manga as the OVAs,note  titled Alita: Battle Angel finally got out of Development Hell, and was at long last released on February 14, 2019. Thanks to James 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.

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.

Art-wise, the manga's cyberpunk style is reminiscent of a cross between Moebius and Simon Bisley.


Battle Angel Alita provides examples of:

  • The Ace: 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 Crimes Are Equal: Zig-Zagged in the Scrapyard. Violate any of the Factory's laws and that's it; the sentence is death. You get a bounty on your head - literally - and you become a lottery ticket for any Hunter-Warrior capable of killing you and hauling your head to the Factory for processing.
  • All-Powerful Bystander: Tunpò, 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: When people
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: The final chapters of Last Order revolve around Figure Four setting out to find Alita around and after the final battle of the ZOTT.
  • Animal Motifs: For Alita it's cats due to her personality, and to a lesser extent octopuses due to her constant pout. Sechs' appears to be a shark, thanks to her his sharp teeth and deadly grin, and Zekka's compound eyes and overall design resembles a wasp.
  • 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, wiping out most of humanity.
  • Art Evolution: In series, and, more starkly, between Gunnm and Last Order.
  • Asshole Victim: Erika murdered her parents, but seeing how they treated her, they've deserved it.
  • 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 Boast: There are many, both delivered by Alita and by her antagonists. However, even if it can arguably be fully appreciated only by someone with a discrete knowledge of basic physics, the most epic one of the first series is probably delivered in the second-last chapter by Desty Nova, among all people. It comes after that he has defied Tiphares to the point that they prefer to readmit him into their lot instead of fighting him and that he has (apparently) trapped Alita into his Ouroboros Machine to brainwash her. And with this boast he is not only defying one of the most fearsome warriors of Alita’s world (i.e. Kaos in his Den incarnation), but the law which governs the fabric of reality itself. You know that he is doomed, but it is still impressive.
    Desty Nova: I spit upon this frail crazed world! I spit upon the second law of thermodynamics!
  • 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 the Space Angels in a serious fight. Given that even their Idiot Hero of a Lancer Sechs led them to the semi-finals singlehandedly and then did most of the work to beat Jupiter's team 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, 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.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Surprisingly for such a dark story, there's not just one, but actually two of them: the Earth Sphere's Melchizedek, in the form and personality of Arthur Farrel, and the Jovian Zeus, both roughly on the level of The Culture's Minds, and in the Last Order they join forces to guide and guard the humanity from the shadows, through their agent, the Last Order.note 
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Last Order ends with the Scrapyard, Tiphares, and Ketheres finally making peace, and Figure finally being reunited with Alita... or at least the one he met. The one we have been following the whole series instead continues her journey to Mars, leaving all of her former comrades behind with the belief that she may not return alive. "If I had but one wish...it would be that I could be her." The story of Alita continues, in the sequel to Last Order.
  • 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. Also maske tumor, as shown by Baron Muster.
  • 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 first appearance in 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 Food: Makaku, Alita's first big bounty, got that bounty because he's fond of randomly grabbing people in the streets, tearing off the tops of their skulls, and slurping up their brains. Notably, it's not just pure sadism(though he has plenty of that) - it's because he's a junkie; Nova designed his cyborg body to efficiently extract beta-endorphin from chordate nerve tissue. A few seconds before he's first seen snacking on people, his underling is offering money for a (living and playing!) dog's brain.
  • Brain Uploading: All the citizens of Zalem 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. Unfortunately for humanity, the Desty Nova that next appears is a back-up from BEFORE this softening.
  • 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 PortaNova!"). 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. Nova X even uses his own downgraded clones for experimentation. Hey, don't judge him!
    • 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.
    • To take this trope to it's limits, when Last Order reaches it's conclusion you have two women existing at the same time who can both present a strong case for being the one true Alita, and yet are not quite the cyborg protagonist named Alita who was almost utterly destroyed at the end of the original series. The first being the fully-cybernetic Alita, who shows character continuity with her original self, and the second being the fully-organic body, complete with her restored organic brain (though lacking memories of the events durring Last Order) created to fulfill her promise to Figure Four. The concept of what makes an individual gets taken Up to Eleven here.
  • Colonized Solar System: Venus and Jupiter are superpowers while Mars is in pretty bad shape, and there are smaller settlements here and there.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Motorball player Zafal Takie appears to be based on Grace Jones as Zula in Conan the Destroyer.
  • Crapsack World: Entire solar system has been a life of hell after the Terraforming War.
    • Earth has become a large salvage yard with little to no form of order and opportunities, except for Tiphares that used resources extracted from Earth into manufactured goods sold to enrich themselves.
    • Venus is populated by overweight French cannibals, who ate cloned non-sentient meats from cloning technology along with various advancements to turn themselves into "humpty-dumpty" forms.
    • Moons of Jupiter, particularly Jovia and Europa, had inhabitants are inhabited by fully cybernetically enhanced Russians who chosen this actions just to survive in harsh environment without resorting to large airtight chambers.
    • Mars is locked in centuries-long civil war that resulted in proxy wars between the above three factions after the death of their king.
    • Mercury is populated by an alien race developed out of the escaped nanomachines, which is so incomprehensible that their best attempt at contact so far is a 15-meter-tall mostrosity sent to compete in the Solar System's most notorious Blood Sport.
  • 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 weapons: 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 shoot bullets made from osmium, which is the densest naturally-occurring element currently known to science. She ended up using all of these to win the fight, with only a single 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 that 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 thought Alita wasn't cute enough.
  • Cyberpunk
  • 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.
    • Desty Nova, meanwhile, thanks to some unique tricks, can survive even IF his brain is destroyed completely.
  • 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.
  • Designer Babies : Everyone in Tiphares is one, and born in Uterine Replicators. Desty Nova and Jim Roscoe are the result of the Genetic Engineering Nurtured Enhanced-intelligence (G.E.N.E.) Project: an experiment in breeding superhuman intellect in an isolated environment - Tiphares. 400 were created in Tiphares, no differently from any of its other citizens. 360 went insane in Tiphares itself, if not because they're smart enough to figure out that Tipharean brains are replaced with chips at 18, then because they discover their artificial origins - this is what broke Roscoe. 40 escaped to the surface - and 36 died there. Four of them - among them Desty Nova in Phase 13 of Last Order - managed to ascend the orbital elevator to Ketheres... where Aga Mbadi killed them, and implanted their brain chips in his own brain to enhance his own intellect. Nova was diabolical enough to resist this assimilation... and joined Mbadi in his experiments.
  • 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.
  • Dub Name Change: Gally to Alita. 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.
  • 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
  • Eats Babies: The Venusians, in Last Order, are a complicated example. A culinary specialty of theirs is roasted "infant meat hominid", a non-sentient species developed specifically for human nutrition. A side effect of this is that the flesh is similar to human flesh, making it borderline cannibalism, even if the flesh was produced under lab conditions.
  • Enforced Technology Levels: Not as extreme as most cases - all kinds of sci-fi staples such as computers, advanced medicine, and of course cybernetics are permitted - but the Factory enforces an absolute ban on aircraft and firearms. Both are for self-evident reasons; aircraft are forbidden to keep Scrapyarders out of Tiphares, firearms are forbidden to keep Scrapyarders from standing any real chance against Tiphareans in combat. Getting caught with either is an instant death sentence.
  • 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 is based on the protagonist of Kishiro's one-shot doujinshi, Iron Fist, itself an homage to the Motörhead track of the same name. He also shares an awful lot in common with a certain animated version of Dr. Egon Spengler... But since the show was never aired in Japan, that one may be a coincidence.
    • 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 Z.O.T.T. 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 an Expy of Slaine the Horned King from 2000 AD. He is even wearing Slaine's signature Horned Helm, clan tartans, and boar's-head belt.
    • Predator + Lobo + Kit Fisto = Zekka
    • Yani and Derossi, the 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 König (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 simply has a talent for ventriloquism, leading to this trope.
  • Facial Markings: Alita's trademark "antiglare patches" on her cheeks. One of the first indications that she has a backstory is when she instinctively reaches down to a pool of oil and paints them onto her cheeks.
  • Fan Disservice:
  • 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 different sects of Space Karate.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Desty Nova. He also counts as Affably Evil, depending on his mood and which Desty Nova you're talking about..
  • Fictional Sport: Motorball, a deadly race along hazard-filled tracks to carry a heavy ball across the finish line while other players try to take your head off.
  • 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. Thankfully, he got better.
  • Forever War: Mars in Battle Angel Alita has been locked in a civil war for centuries ever since the death of Great King Elfriede, at which point many of the vassal nobles began to fight amongst themselves over land and resources. By the time of Gunnm along with Mars Chronicle, the conflicts on Mars has escalated into a proxy war between four factions: Mars Kingdom Parliament (backed by LADDER), Mars Republik Heer (backed by République Vénus), Mars Front der Befreien (backed by Jupiter System Union), and the Neo-Third Reich Division (new and independent faction).
  • For Science!: 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.
  • Friction Burn: The reason Ido found Alita in that junk pile was because in her previous life, she was executed by atmospheric reentry, and that was where what was left of her landed.
  • 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 the rushed ending of the original manga, and to flesh out a then-released video game. It then spiraled into an 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.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Adult Tiphareans who discover the secret of Tiphares, your brain being replaced with a chip when you come of age, never keep their sanity. Ido hangs on long enough to beg Nova to give him Laser-Guided Amnesia of his life on the surface. The TUNED director sliced open his head to see if it was true, becoming a Talkative Loon upon discovering it was. Alita herself lasts only minutes before the horror of it causes her Imaginos 2.0 body to self-destruct. Nova is actually the exception that proves the rule; this discovery is what drove him so cheerfully insane, which was exacerbated by the other mind-shattering secret of his origins; he was a Designer Baby specifically designed to be smart enough to discover both secrets. Of the 400 created, 360 went berserk in Tiphares itself and were executed by the Medical Inspection Bureau, 36 escaped and died on Earth's surface, and the first to make it back into space killed millions of people just to prove to himself that he was capable of disobeying his creators.
  • Gratuitous French: The République Venus.
  • Gratuitous German: Most notably the names of Panzer Kunst 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.
  • Gorn: Even with most of the characters being cyborgs, the series can still easily reach Gantz levels of ultra-violence.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Happy Rain: The conclusion of volume 6 has Alita and Figure saved from death by dehydration/overheating in the desert by a miraculous rain... that also contains ''fish!''
  • Heart Drive: The Tipharean brain chips count as this for Alita, Sechs, and the twins. Alita keeps hers in the usual spot. The others stretch the trope a bit by hiding theirs in tethered shoulder pets: a pair of cutsey puffballs for Elf and Zwölf, and a cybernetic Mini Me for Sechs.
  • 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.
    • There's 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 Z.O.T.T. 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 (known as "Methuselahization") 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.
  • Journey to the Sky: Alita's love interest Hugo dreams of going to Tiphares (Zalem), a literal city in the sky that Hugo believes is paradise. The city is supported by orbital rings, connected to a Space Elevator, and supplied by the Scrapyard below using Factory tubes that connect the ground to the sky. Hugo is so obsessed with reaching Tiphares that he falls for a scammer's false promises to take him there and steals spines trying to raise the money. He gets a bounty on his head for his crimes, and is mentally shattered by the scammer's admission that he was never going to take Hugo there. When Hugo tries to climb up to Tiphares via the Factory tubes, he gets torn to pieces by its security measures until he can't hold on and falls to his death.
  • Kick the Dog: Played straight in the OVA. More than kicked. Sliced into slices.
  • Kill Sat: The Sword of Damocles is a network 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. It's all Nova's fault, as usual.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: Alita: Battle Angel
  • 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.
  • Loophole Abuse: The Venusians and Jupiterians have turned this into an art form with their seeded teams in the Z.O.T.T. Hardly surprising, since they were designed specifically for the tournament.
    • The Jupiterean team's first fighter, the Übernaut, is exactly 50 meters in diameter and weighs exactly 500 tons, placing it just at the size and weight limit. However, it has the abiliy to cover itself in a shell made of the ground it stands on. Because the size rules only apply upon entry, it can grow as large as it needs to without breaking the rules.
    • The Übernaut also fires a kind of gas that instantly crystalizes into a polymer cube. While the rules only allow for a certain volume of gunpowder to be brought into the arena, the polymer cubes can be recycled and fired again and again and can therefore be used as much as required.
    • The Venusian team has a member called Arduinna, who is only 50 cm long when entering the arena, but grows big enough to cover the arena in minutes, allowing it to grow that big without violating size regulations.
    • Another Venusian member, Bigorne, is able to quickly spawn and "fire" small, fish-like creatures that fly and explode very much like missiles. While the tournament only allows up to five sentient members per team, that rule doesn't apply to members spawned inside the arena.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • Mayan Doomsday: Earth was hit by a meteor, with the effects causing the collapse of civilization, in the year 55 of the Sputnik Era-that is, 2012 AD.
  • 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.
  • Multiarmed Multitasking: Umba, Alita's mechanic in the Motorball arc, has the skills to use a 20-armed robotic harness to replace all of Alita's limbs in under six minutes after they get damaged during her first run-in with Zafal Takie, effectively performing the work of 10 mechanics simultaneously.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Sechs and Zekka get in the world's most hardcore thumb-wrestling match.
  • 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.
  • Nipple and Dimed:
    • Shumira gets a shower scene.
    • Eela after her rebirth.
  • 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: The AR series.
  • Noodle Incident: Alita's adventures on Venus between the end of Last Order and Mars Chronicles have yet to be shown.
  • 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 illegally fire Damocles and destroy the Space Angels.
  • Poorly Disguised Pilot: The "Vampire Arc" really reads less like sincere worldbuilding (since it's awkwardly thrust into the middle of the tournament arc, and goes on a very long time without actually getting to anything relevant) and more like the author having tired of the sci-fi setting and wanting to write something else without starting a new manga.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child
  • Power-Up: several, for Alita and other characters.
  • The Prophecy: Mars Chronicle reveals that Alita and Erika are at the centre of a prophecy called the 13th Oracle.
  • Psychometry: Kaos perceives the world mostly this way (for some reason his ordinary senses are scrambled) His power is so great that he can use the items with the full skill of their previous owners, which is quite a surprise for a bunch of assassins who invade his truck.
  • Putting on the Reich: Col. Payne has shades of a Nazi soldier. Mars was colonized by Germans and plagued by neo-Nazis.
  • 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:
    • Zwölf 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: Duh.
  • 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 armored 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. With the proliferation of Novas in Last Order, it comes close to Refuge in Audacity.
  • 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 Z.O.T.T." 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 Öyster Cult.
    • Desty Nova's name and the name of the "Imaginos" body are also BOC shout-outs. And it makes a lot of sense considering that Desdinova means 'Eternal Light' and Desty Nova is pretty much unkillable... at least permanently.
    • Sechs' boots twice refer to classic heavy metal songs on their underside. "Blood Red Skies" by Judas Priest (one foot has the title, the other "you won't break me") and "Aces High" by Iron Maiden.
    • Kaos' mobile broadcasting station is, appropriately enough, called... Radio Kaos.
    • 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.
    • One character owns an antique synthesizer with the name alan parsons Dymotaped on the side.
    • The fighter champion Kinuba from volume one is Slaine from 2000 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.
    • There's also a character identical to Grace Jones.
    • The Space Angels' engineers are basically Sakaki and Shige, Patlabor's resident gearheads, in cyborg form.
    • The Kudos!
    • And then there's the third iteration of the series: Mars Chronicle.
    • The bio-chipping procedure undergone by the Zalemites/Tipharians is based on a Real Life (if you can call it that) Conspiracy Theory dreamed up by famous paranoid schizophrenic Francis E. Dec.
    • Alita's origin is very similar to Pinoko's from Black Jack.
    • Mars Chronicle Chapter 27 is titled "Thus Sang Elton John", and has a character quote "Rocket Man": "Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids, in fact it's cold as hell."
    • Not having one single regret in her life after getting praised on live TV and cheered on by the audience.
  • Sibling Team: Subverted somewhat in that while Sechs, Elf, and Zwölf 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 Zwölf both neatly fill the role of Annoying Younger Sibling with a healthy sprinkling of Genki Girl.
  • 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: Zalem is at the bottom of one.
  • Subordinate Excuse: The reason Kayna worked for Ido.
  • 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!)

    • It later turns out that the Last Order is a codename that Melchizedek and later Zeus, as it joins him on the bandwagon, assigns to its agents designated guardians of Humanity. So far we know of two of them — Caerula and Alita.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The sister city of Zalem, 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 Tunpò 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 Buddhism. It's really sweet and poetic but unfortunately for Alita not canon anymore.
  • They Were Holding You Back
  • Third-Person Person: Shumira
  • This Means Warpaint: Alita runs streaks of tar under her eyes before her confrontation with Makaku. The streaks become an iconic part of her look in later volumes of the manga, to the point that they are added as permanent marks on her face from her Motorball body onwards.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: 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.
  • Title Drop: The "Last Order" is Arthur appointing Vilma the vampire as humanity's guardian and judge by giving her the key to the computer Melchizedek.
  • Together in Death: Homme de Feu and Olympe.
  • Tomato in the Mirror:
    • Several. Most of them involve the main character.
    • Tiphares/Zalem is an entire city of these.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Sara, probably the nicest character in the entire 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; ends in volume 17. Series 1 only ran for nine volumes...
  • Trademark Favorite Food: "Flan is revolution!" - Desty Nova
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: The AR series Tuneds are the upgrades to Tuned Alita, and AR-2 would have killed her if not for Lou interfering. Subverted with Alita's fight against Sechs one year later, since Alita had just received a brand-new Imaginos 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 Zalem". 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 It All Began: Mars Chronicles has Alita returning to Mars, with the starting chapter implying it'll be the final storyline of the series.
  • Where Does He Get All Those Wonderful Toys?: The 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; he built Deckman 100 specifically to maintain Alita's body indefinitely, needing nothing save electricity (although enough to cause the occasional Big Blackout). 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 - but is on board hoping for expat citizenship in the Space Angels' new polity, which will enable him to actually market Fizziroy technology, as LADDER controls the copyright despite it being his design. 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 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 for the entire setting itself.
  • 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 egos, others go suicidal.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Zapan. Also Yoko, Alita's pre-amnesia persona.
  • The Worf Effect: In theory, the Z.O.T.T. (Zenith Of Things Tournament) is a combat tournament with the right of independence as prize, but in practice is entirely constructed around doing this trope at the expense of whoever would want to claim the prize:
    • The hundreds of teams that enroll at any tournament, mostly criminals and rebels, are put into sixteen different battle royales, with the winning team having now proved itself badass enough to enter the actual tournament''.
    • The sixteen teams admitted to the real tournament are divided in two blocks and are allowed to deploy five fighters and a reserve for each of them. The teams then fight each other in single matches to win their blocks, proving themselves just that strong.
    • Before the finals there are the two semi-final matches, where the winners of Block A have to face the team sent from the Jupiter Union and their Block B counterparts must fight the Republique Venus' team. The Jupiter and Venus team always wipe out their opponents, with the pairings in the blocks being structured specifically to weaken the eventual winners while making them look strong and thus make the Jupiter and Venus team better for beating them.
    • The tenth edition, the one featured in Last Order, has a few unexpected instances, the most notables being:
      • Alita (barely) defeating Caerula Sanguis, AKA Vilma Fachiri, the deadliest combatant in history and the one who defeated Yoko in single combat two hundred years before.
      • For the first time in Z.O.T.T. history, both seeded teams are defeated.
  • 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 takes place during a Tournament Arc.
  • World's Strongest Man: Zekka, "The Fist that Extinguishes the Light"
  • Would Hurt a Child: Let's just say that.... Mars Chronicle is sad and leave it at that...
  • 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 6: 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.
  • You Are Already Dead: How Verschlag works, although Vershlag is actually only the first step in a Combination Attack. It actually requires the second stage, the Hertzer Nadel, for the soliton to explode. Erika has actually developed a new, unnamed variationnote  for the technique to be a timed bomb not requiring a second attack.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Gunnm

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