The time is the future, and the place -- Scrap Iron City, a wretched hive of scum and villainy (sorry). In a time where cybernetic replacement organs are as easy to come by as a screwdriver, organ-thefts are a common occurrence. The only thing keeping these criminals in check are the Hunter-Warriors, bounty hunters after the heads of organ-snatchers to trade for cash rewards.
Gally is an amnesiac cyborg girl who is rescued from the scrap heap of the city by a cybernetic surgeon. Who she once was, what she once did -- all of it is a blank in Gally's mind, the only possible hint of her past being the formidable fighting skills she possesses. Although most of her body is artificial, her soul and mind are fully human in their childlike innocence, and have never before experienced tragedy or loss. And there's plenty of tragedy and loss to be had when you're in Scrap Iron...
Battle Angel is probably the best "cyborg-angst"-themed anime title I have seen so far. While nothing in the title really stands out as spectacular, the elements of Battle Angel are all of good quality, resulting in an overall solid viewing experience.
The animation and art are well drawn and executed, with Scrap Iron depicted as the dirty, crime-filled city marked with a few struggling vestiges of humanity here and there. The battle sequences are slick, above average, and a treat to watch as Gally methodically takes her adversaries apart.
The story, what there is of it, is well thought out and interesting, exploring the ideas of love, dreams, and what can happen when dreams go sour. A particularly nice aspect of this title is how the cybernetics and technology of Gally and her surroundings are taken as part of the overall setting, not as the focus of the plot itself. In essence, the story is still about being human and the pains one must suffer to remain so.
The only big problem with this title is that by itself, it lacks the punch to really move or impress the viewer. One gets the feeling that the video is only part one of a much larger series (which it is). Unfortunately, this one volume is all we're going to get (unless you decide to buy the manga series from Viz), making the ending too open-ended and inconclusive to really satisfy. Does Gally ever find out who she is? What is Zalem, really? Well...
Still, Battle Angel is still a good watch, and a worthy pick for an evening's rental, or perhaps even purchase.
Recommended Audience: Not a title to let kids watch on their own. The bits involving violence and gore, while not terribly frequent, are at an intensity and explicitness not appropriate for children. There is a brief (five seconds or so) bit of nudity and implied sex used to show the lack of morals in one of the characters.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Battle Angel © 1993 Yukito Kishiro / Business Jump / Shueisha / KSS / Movic
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