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Battle Angel Alita is known as Gunnm in Japan, and Alita as Gally.

Why was the title and name of the series changed when it was localized? What other changes did they make from the original Japanese version?

  • Alita can be a "japanese" version of Alida. Alida in germanic means battle and in latin means (angel) with small wings. – Ali Dec 12 '17 at 18:16
  • Also known as Gunnm / Gally in France – David 天宇 Wong Feb 13 at 2:41
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Viz Media was responsible for localizing the Battle Angel Alita manga, and the reason apparently makes no sense, (from this page):

Gally's name is changed to Alita. Why this was done is unknown, but the person who decided on the change tried to "validate" it, explaining that coincidentally Alita comes from Russian and has something to do with Mars (which is where Gally is from, incidentally).

There's a dream sequence where in the original Japanese version, Gally's dream self is named "Alita". The Viz version has the two reversed.

Back in 1993, as Kishiro-sensei was quickly bringing things to a close with the Gunnm manga, he came across a plot point which he could use to take a jab at Viz. Early on, Kishiro learned that Viz decided to change, for reasons that truly make no sense, Gally's name to Alita. Towards the end of the series, Dr. Nova traps Gally in the Oruboros machine, in an attempt to crush her spirit. At one point, Nova is talking with Ido and suggests her name to be (in the japanese version) "Alita," the cat's name is "Gally." (Gally and the cats' names are important). Unfortunately, Viz decides to play along word for word, and Nova names her "Gally" and the cat is "Alita." So much for that potshot.

Additionally, Viz changed a bunch of names of a city, facility, and the computer (via Wikipedia, with emphasis):

Besides renaming Gally to Alita, the North American version of the manga also changed the city of Salem to Tiphares, after Tiferet. Since Kishiro also used the name Jeru for the facility atop Salem, Jeru was renamed Ketheres in the translation, after Keter. To further develop the Biblical theme in the original series, Salem's main computer was named Melchizedek, "the king of Salem" and "priest to the Most High God".

Although "Alita" isn't a bible reference (western religion), a number of these names were changed, and Alita is a western name (moreso than "Gally"), so that it's more accessible to western audiences.


EDIT: I found the quote, from AN's "Ask John" column:

In the October 1993 issue of Animerica, Fred Burke, co-translator for the Viz Comics Battle Angel Alita manga explains that, “For a Viz Comic to work, it’s got to appeal to more than just the hard-core manga and anime crowd;” therefore there were several alterations made in the translation of the manga. Yukito Kishiro’s title Gunnm, a compound of Gun Dream, was re-named Battle Angel Alita. Gally, the protagonist, had her name changed to Alita, a name, Burke explains, means “noble:” a name that he discovered while searching through a book of baby names. Burke also explains that, for no reason given, the floating city Zalem was re-named Tiphares: a name meaning “beauty,” taken from the Qabalah and the mystical Tree of Life. Furthermore, Yugo’s name was given a cosmetic change to Hugo for American readers.

  • 2
    I think they managed to outdo 4kids for poor translation skills. – Killua May 19 '13 at 3:00
  • they need to justify their job – David 天宇 Wong Feb 13 at 2:40
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The word "Alita" in spanish means "Small Wing", so it also makes some sense when you translate the title to spanish " Battle Angel's Small Wing".

-1

Changing names is quite usual for translators/publishers when it comes to foreign works. Apparently their idea is that people couldn't possibly buy something with "foreign-sounding" names because that would be too confusing for our little brains. It's all about marketing. This is why "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" has been changed to "HP and the Sorcerer's Stone" for the American market: because the publisher feared that people would run away if they saw the word "philosophy" in the title.

Now you'll have to explain to me why it is the case here but not in Europe: for instance I know that the French version of Yukito Kishiro's works has kept every names and it's been a huge hit, not just among the "hard-core manga and anime crowd" as Burke thinks it would be. At some point it would be nice to see publishers and translators respect the work of the author and the intelligence of the readers.

-3

GALLY is the original name for the Gally Battle Angel Japanese cartoon. This is a sad attempt to make political correctness for giving a. Few props to recognize a hispanic female heroine. Much like, the thinking that ghost in a shell should be played by a european in the live movie version. It sure would be nice to have Gally identified as Japanese in both the big screen animation and live movie version.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

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    Japanese? Why? The original Gally is a freaking Martian. Not to mention, "cartoon"? There was a 2-episode OVA of it, but the real bulk of the story is a huge manga series. – Nyerguds Feb 17 at 0:10

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