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Why The Code In Alita: Battle Angel Means More Than You Think

Though it left critics largely unimpressed and didn't rake in much at the box office, 2019's Alita: Battle Angel could rightfully be called a sleeper hit for the considerable fanbase it's amassed since its release. Based on Yukito Kishiro's manga and its anime adaptation, the film spins the tale of the cyborg Alita (Rosa Salazar) and her quest to fully restore her memory. The world she inhabits is a harsh one, but luckily, she's no slouch with Panzer Kunst, a martial art specifically developed with cyborg combat in mind.

Panzer Kunst alone isn't enough to get her through the challenges that await, however. Indeed, Alita holds her own against the mighty Grewishka (Jackie Earl Haley), but just barely survives the scuffle in her base body. Dr. Dyson Ido (Christoph Waltz), the man who restored her from her broken-down state near the beginning of the film, sees this, and agrees that Alita's best option moving forward is to adopt the powerful Berserker Body, which she discovers earlier in the film in a ship that crashed and sunk beneath a lake.

Alita must use a three-word password to access the body when she first finds it, which she somehow knows offhand. It may not seem like much in the moment, but Redditor u/ Farboggle recognized that the password is an Easter egg related to Kishiro's second manga series about Alita: Gunnm: Last Order, aka Battle Angel Alita: Last Order.

Remember the code

The alphabet of Alita: Battle Angel is far removed from anything that truly exists, but what keyed u/Farboggle in is the way Alita "spontaneously recalls the password from her lost memory," similar to something that happens in Gunnm: Last Order.

Surrounded by a group of nearly invisible enemies in a smoky room, Alita isn't sure where to look or if her assailants are even real. A voice calls to her: "Stop there. Now ... 'spirit.'" Confused, she contacts her friend Ping Wu, hacker extraordinaire, to make sure she isn't going crazy; his best guess is that the camouflaged mystery men are looking for a password of some sort. They spout off more seemingly random words in the following order: "freedom," "sword," "scabbard," and "gun."

Suddenly, recognition flashes in Alita's eyes — she's remembered something. They're looking for what she refers to as the "Panzer Kunst code," and she supplies the final word: "Dream!" This code is a countersign, a way for practitioners of the cyborg martial art (called Künstlers) to signal each other. So, when one party says "spirit," the other should respond with "freedom," and so on and so forth. ("Bonus fun fact," courtesy of u/Farboggle: "The gun/dream countersign is where the manga derives its name, GUN + DREAM = GUNNM.")

Alita knowing the password to get the Berserker Body follows the same throughline: lost memories coming back to her when she's prompted. There are no other passwords of note in the manga, so it seems highly likely that what she enters on the keypad is three words from the countersign exchange. Based on what happens against the invisible enemies, Alita must type in the responses rather than the prompts: "freedom," "scabbard," and "dream." It's a great little Easter egg, but not the only one Alita: Battle Angel has to offer.