Battle Angel (Hyper Future Vision Gunnm) (1993)
Battle Angel (Hyper Future Vision Gunnm) (1993)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 54 min.

Release Date: June 21st, 1993 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Hiroshi Fukutomi Actors: Miki Ito, Shunsuke Kariya, Kappei Yamaguchi, Mami Koyama, Shigeru Chiba, Ryuzaburo Otomo

 


 

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cavenging through mountains of trash dispensed from a city of elites floating in the clouds, cyber-doctor Ido (Shunsuke Kariya) discovers the body of a female cyborg, whom he rebuilds and brings back to life. Named Gally (Miki Ito), the diminutive, almost childlike woman is warned against organ harvesters who plague the city; since cybernetics have advanced to considerable degrees, virtually the entire body can be replaced and upgraded, save for the brain and spine, which turns the thievery of such components into a lucrative business. Though Gally has no memory of her past, she’s inquisitive about the strange new world she now inhabits, including Ido’s secretive nocturnal activities, and how Yugo (Kapei Yamaguchi), Ido’s youthful assistant, has made a life for himself without any family.

The planet has become little more than a garbage dump for Zalem, the colossal city in the sky, where the rich and powerful have gone to escape the filth of the lower classes. And the town in which Ido operates, illegally repairing cyborgs, is dubbed Scrap Iron City. Like many of the unfortunate souls stuck in the crushing poverty of the Earth’s surface, Ido’s former partner, Dr. Chiren (Mami Koyama), will do whatever it takes to gain passage back to Zalem – now governed by a corrupt system of aristocrats called the Factory.

It’s not long before Gally discovers that Ido works as a bounty hunter, called “hunter warriors,” who have replaced the police; the Factory simply puts bounties on the heads of criminals, who are then swiftly tracked down for the monetary rewards. When Ido finds himself in a jam, Gally comes to the rescue, discovering that she has exceptional physical strengths. Of course, with such power, Gally engages in a series of battles against other enhanced cyborgs, spilling plenty of blood in the process. Not only does the collateral damage include a dog, which is rather shocking (and unnecessary), but there are also explosions and body parts tossed all over the scenery. Unfortunately, because the animation style is so limited in movement, the action is equally restricted in its excitement and complexity. Substituting for this is extremely overdramatic voicework, which gives the entire project a distinct phoniness (a problem – and a signature style – for countless dubbed anime works). It’s difficult to take things seriously when the acting is so over-the-top – especially when the fight sequences are already gravity-defying and supernatural in their designs.

Problematically, it’s never explained why Gally’s powers evolve – or why she’s capable of superhuman feats (particularly a connection with lightning) when she’s not only a seemingly average teenaged girl, mentally, but also a mere cyborg rebuilt by Ido with no special implants or weaponry or other intensifications. Plus, there’s a rushed love story between Gally and Yugo, along with a mysterious samurai-like hunter who watches Gally from the shadows. “Don’t you know there’s no room for love or mercy in a hunter’s code?” And most disappointing of all is the lack of a real resolution; this is an introduction to a moderately amusing world, but one that isn’t able to shed enough light onto a worthwhile story.

Based on the manga (as an approximate adaptation of the first two volumes of a 9-volume collection), and originally released as a two-episode anime series (the first part being called “Hyper Future Vision Gunnm: Rusty Angel”), the second chapter, “Tears Sign,” details the primary villain, Mr. Vector (Shigeru Chiba), who also doesn’t have a backstory, though he’s the underworld link for smuggling people and items between the ground and the sky. The term “Battle Angel” used in the American title is also briefly mentioned when Vector wants Gally to use that name in duels in the central coliseum for public entertainment. But by the end of this brief glimpse into a largely unexplored universe (one that likely influenced subsequent sci-fi endeavors), it’s evident that it’s just a tease – or something of an advertisement for the manga – with no interest in telling a complete (or even comprehensible) tale.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10