By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez’s live-action adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s Gunnm (Alita: Battle Angel in America) barely scratches the surface of what the 28 volume manga is. I’m also considering Last Order and excluding Mars Chronicles–which is still ongoing. Ever since Cameron announced he secured the rights in 2000 to bringing Gally’s (her name in the original manga) story to the cinema, I wondered if all the series will be covered. The anime barely scratched the surface. According to Polygon, this producer secured the rights for future video treatments and no further animation is likely to happen.
This film uses most of the American naming conventions than stick to the original. The CGI and motion capture technology to realize what Cameron wanted was not there and the wait for this film was frustrating. Cameron’s first idea was to turn the heroine into a Joan of Arc type figure and thankfully Kishiro corrected him. Gally is a rōnin. She serves no master. It makes sense, because in all her travels in the manga, she either had to leave people she cares for behind or they will die. This detail was revealed in a taped Q&A in early screenings of this film and to have this manga artist give his nod of approval is a good sign.