Set in a bleak future, the earth has disintegrated into a rotting mechanical trash-heap inhabited by talking cyborgs, merciless bounty hunters and other misfits of society. Floating above this pollution is the nirvana that is Zarem - a germ-free haven for the social elite of the planet. Working amidst the waste is a brilliant cybernetic scientist named Dr Ido, who one day stumbles across the wreckage of a centuries-old cyborg. Calling her Alita, he works painstakingly to rebuild her. Brought back to life, Alita has no memory of her past, and befriends a young boy who lives with Dr Ido. As the two become closer, Alita wonders if their futures lie together, but when her extraordinary powers are realised she enters the cut throat world of the (bounty) hunter-warriors.
Quite possibly the best thing Manga have yet released, this packs more emotional wallop into fifty minutes than all seven Overfiend episodes to date. The heroine Alita has come to terms with life, love and death. The Japanese title was Gun Dream, and this reflects the approach of the anime, which covers the whole range from tender moments to hard-edged violence, both resulting through Alita's chosen life as a bounty hunter. Her unsettling mix of ultra-savagery and innocence is captured well and the setting is beautifully rendered. The ending has real punch, it's the sort of thing Hollywood avoids like the plague, and even the dubbing isn't bad: though the import subtitled version is still superior, this is an insignificant quibble. Proof - as if any more were needed - that anime has a lot more to offer than mindless.
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