Battle Angel Alita (known in Japan as Gunnm(literally gun dream), is a cyberpunk manga series created by Yukito Kishiro in 1990 and originally published in Shueisha’s Business Jump magazine.
The manga was first published in Shueisha’s Business Jump magazine. It was then serialized from 1990 to 1995 in nine tankōbon. In the U.S., Viz originally released the story in a 25-page comic book, it then followed the same volume format as its Japanese counterpart. Along with the rest of the series, Kishiro’s original Battle Angel Alita manga is licensed for North American publication through Kodansha USA. Battle Angel Alita was licensed for international release in a number of languages and regions. It was published in Spain by Planeta DeAgostini, in Brazil by Editora JBC, in France and Netherlands by Glenat, in Poland by JPF, in Germany by Carlsen, in Taiwan by Tong Li Publishing and in Argentina by Editorial Ivrea.
Another series titled Battle Angel Alita: Holy Night & Other Stories (Ganmu Gaiden) was published in Ultra Jump from January 24, 1997 to December 19, 2006. It was released in a single volume on December 19, 2007. It is composed of four short side stories: Holy Night, Sonic Finger, Hometown and Barjack Rhapsody. The series has been licensed by Kodansha USA, who published it digitally on October 30, 2018 and as hardcover on November 20, 2018.
A 6-volume special edition titled Gunnm: Complete Edition was released in Japan on December 23, 1998. The series was released in B5 format and contains the original story, but with a different ending accommodating for the continuation of the story in Battle Angel Alita: Last Order. Also included are rough sketches, a timeline and the first three Battle Angel Alita: Holy Night & Other Stories short stories.
A novel was released on April 4, 1997, by JUMP j-BOOKS, as part of the Japanese publisher Shueisha.
The series is set in the post-apocalyptic future and focuses on Alita, a cyborg who has lost all memories and is found in a garbage heap by a cybernetics doctor who rebuilds and takes care of her. She discovers that there is one thing she remembers, the legendary cyborg martial art Panzer Kunst, which leads to her becoming a Hunter Warrior or bounty hunter. The story traces Alita’s attempts to rediscover her past and the characters whose lives she impacts on her journey. The manga series is continued in Battle Angel Alita: Last Order and Battle Angel Alita: Mars Chronicle.
Battle Angel Alita tells the story of Alita (“Gally” in the original Japanese version), an amnesiac female cyborg. Her intact head and chest, in suspended animation, are found by cybermedic expert Daisuke Ido in the local garbage dump. Ido manages to revive her, and, finding she has lost her memory, names her Alita after his deceased cat. The rebuilt Alita soon discovers that she remembers the legendary martial art Panzer Kunst, although she does not recall anything else. Alita uses her Panzer Kunst to first become a mercenary Hunter-Warrior, killing cyborg criminals in the Scrapyard, and then as a player in the brutal sport of Motorball. While in combat, Alita awakens memories of her earlier life on Mars. She becomes involved with the floating city of Tiphares as one of their agents, and is sent to hunt down criminals. Foremost is the mad genius Desty Nova, who clashes with Alita before becoming her ally.
The futuristic dystopian world of Battle Angel Alita revolves around the city of Scrapyard, grown up around a massive scrap heap that rains down from Tiphares (Salem in the anime). Ground dwellers have no access to Tiphares and are forced to make a living in the sprawl below. Many are heavily modified by cybernetics to better cope with their hard life.
Tiphares exploits the Scrapyard and surrounding farms, paying mercenaries (called Hunter-Warriors) to hunt criminals and arranging violent sports to keep the population entertained. Massive tubes connect the Scrapyard to Tiphares, and the city uses robots for carrying out errands and providing security on the ground. Occasionally, Tiphareans (such as Daisuke Ido and Desty Nova) are exiled and sent to the ground. Aside from the robots and exiles, there is little contact between the two cities.
The story takes place in the former United States. According to a map, printed in the eighth volume, Scrapyard/Tiphares is near Kansas City, Missouri, and the Necropolis is Colorado Springs, Colorado. Radio KAOS is at Dallas. Figure’s coastal hometown is Alhambra. Desty Nova’s Granite Inn is built out of a military base – NORAD at Cheyenne Mountain Complex, Colorado.
Battle Angel Alita is eventually revealed to take place in the 26th century. The sequel Battle Angel Alita: Last Order introduces a calendar era called “Era Sputnik” which has an epoch of AD 1957. The original Battle Angel Alita series begins in es. 577 (AD 2533) and ends in es. 590 (AD 2546), Battle Angel Alita: Last Order is mostly set in es. 591 (AD 2547), and Battle Angel Alita: Mars Chronicle currently alternates between es. 373-374 (AD 2329-2330) and es. 594 (AD 2550).