Battle Angel (Ganmu)

Until the start of this year I’d never seen Ganmu – which I realised was odd, since I do consider myself a cyberpunk fan. At the time, the then upcoming live-action remake (Alita) prompted me to finally watch Battle Angel and while I still haven’t seen the CGI-version yet, I did at last watch the OVA.

Battle Angel (Ganmu) 1993

And while it’s far too short, it remains equal parts powerful and frustrating. I still really enjoyed every minute – and everyone is probably well-aware that Kishiro never planned to have more than two episodes made, and so there’s nothing remotely like a resolution to the main conflict with the OVA. It’s more like an (effective?) funnel to the manga.

And so I guess I’d say that Battle Angel is still worth seeing due to its place in the history of cyberpunk anime, for that distinctive art style, grim vision of the future and great charactarisation (save for Hugo – a touch more on that later*).

The OVAs have their share of gore here and there, which adds to the general darkness of it all, and fits the tone of the episodes too, both of which are around 30 mins long compared to a ‘regular’ series at 23ish, so there is a touch more time to reveal a bit of character development and establish atmosphere.

Each fight scene is pretty ace too – at times I got an Astro Boy vibe (which makes sense of course) but I don’t consider that a bad thing at all and again, I do think that Battle Angle is worth seeing at least once, even if there’s no way to finish the storyline in two installments.

It’s still a classic and one that I still wish had been given more episodes!

4 Stars

*This is hard to judge for me – because I suspect the manga explores Hugo’s motivations deeper, but in the anime he represents a causality of ‘compressed storylines’ where important things must of a necessity be left out, and I didn’t think his motivation was sold (to me, at least) well enough to justify his flaw.