Manga Review – Battle Angel Alita, Volume 1

This week I’m taking a look at a manga which maybe, eventually, possibly, might end up becoming a live action film directed by James Cameron.

Title: Battle Angel Alita Volume 1
Written & Illustrated by Yukito Kishiro
Translated by Fred Burke, Sterling Bell, and Matt Thorn
Published by Shueisha (Japan) and Viz Media (USA)
Publication Date: July 1995

Available from

The Premise

Alita is a cyborg scavanged from Junktown, the slums that lie beneath the floating city of Tiphares. She is rebuilt by Daisuke Ido, a cyborg doctor and bounty hunter. After being rehabilitated, Alita also becomes a bounty hunter to help out her father figure. When she ends up biting off more than she can chew with her first job, Ido repairs her with the body of a combat cyborg (or Berserker).

High Points

Oh boy is this a visually interesting world. We don’t see any of Tiphares, but we can make some interesting guesses based on what we see in Junktown

Low Points

This volume throws a lot of stuff at you really fast, and it’s not clear at this point how much is thought out world-building, and how much is gonzo.


Originality: I’m pretty sure that Star Trek had a similar story with a society that was literally stratified, with the “haves” in a floating city on top of the layer cake, and the “have-nots” living among the refuse and cast offs at the bottom. What the episode wouldn’t have had was cyborgs and 90’s SF Gonzo. 4/6

Story: THe story for this volume focuses almost entirely on building the characters of Alita and Daisuke, and how they relate to each other, and it does this fairly well. 4/6

Artwork: The world of Junktown is a very distinctive looking industrial slum. The characters who live there are also fairly unique to this work, in terms of general design style. 5/6

Characterization: This volume fleshes Alita and Daisuke’s attitudes and motivations out fairly well. 4/6

Emotional Response: With this volume being the first of many, likely hood that Alita will die in this volume is rather low – and this volume also sets up that if Alita suffers what would be considered “mortal” damage, she could still be repaired in a new body. 3/6

Flow: 6/6

Overall: This volume doesn’t quite show me why James Cameron wants to make a movie about this manga, though I see why people enjoy the manga. 5/6

In total, Battle Angel Alita – Volume 1 gets 31/42.