Alita: Battle Angel Director Defends "Uncanny And Striking" Manga-Style Eyes

"We really wanted to honor that tradition."

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Alita: Battle Angel is the long-awaited adaptation of the classic manga series, produced and co-written by James Cameron and directed by Sin City's Robert Rodriguez. The first trailer dropped last week week, and while it was packed with kinetic sci-fi action, most of the online discussion has been centered around the decision to give lead actress Rosa Salazar giant manga-style eyes.

Rodriguez has now commented on the issue, and explained that it had long been the plan to give Alita big eyes in the style of the source material. "It was always [Cameron]'s intention to create a photo-realistic version of the manga eyes that we're so accustomed to seeing," he told Empire. "We really wanted to honor that tradition and see that look standing next to any human character. To have the right person to emote behind it was really essential. Her origins are in the film and you understand why she looks that way.

"If the eyes are the windows to the soul, we have some pretty big windows. You can see a lot going on in there! When it gets to the emotional scenes it's really uncanny and striking. And captivating!"

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Cameron intended to direct the movie for many years, but last year handed over the reins to Rodriguez, who is also known for the likes of From Dusk Till Dawn, Desperado, and the Spy Kids movies. It hits theaters on July 20, 2018.

In 2015, Cameron told Variety: "Robert and I have been looking for a film to do together for years, so I was pumped when he said he wanted to do Battle Angel. He's very collaborative and we're already like two kids building a go-kart, just having fun riffing creatively and technically.

"This project is near and dear to me, and there's nobody I trust more than Robert, with his technical virtuosity and rebel style, to take over the directing reins. We're looking forward to learning a lot from each other while we make a kick-ass epic."

Battle Angel Alita is the futuristic story of an amnesiac cyborg who becomes a deadly bounty hunter. It was first published in 1990 and ran for nine volumes until 1995. In 1993, a two-episode anime version was produced, which adapted the first two volumes of the manga.

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