Battle Angel Alita as an Existentialist Myth

Alita, Gally from Battle Angel Alita about to land the killing blow


GUNNM, or Battle Angel Alita, is a 1993 two-episode OAV based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga of the same name.  This OAV more-or-less covers the first two volumes of the manga.  I recently re-watched it for the first time in over a decade, and I like it way more now than as a teenager.  The production values aren’t quite as high-quality as its notable cyberpunk contemporaries, but the story and characters hold up and the action is well animated.

Though GUNNM functions well enough as a sci-fi actioner, I think there’s more going on there than the engaging hand-to-hand combat sequences.  In fact, I want to make the case that it can also be viewed as a kind of existentialist myth.  By “myth” I simply mean a traditional story that serves to convey an ideology through narrative, in this case a visual narrative.  Also, I realize that existentialism is quite a sweeping term that encompasses many paradigms of thought; I draw my understanding of these ideas from, in the main, two figures:  Kierkegaard and Dostoyevsky.

Suggested Soundtrack for Reading – The Killing Joke “Nervous System”

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Battle Angel Alita as an Existentialist Myth