Motorball, a fictional sport played in Battle Angel Alita and Ashen Victor, and the favorite pastime of the citizens of the Scrapyard. Functionally, it serves an important role in society as it allows viewers to temporarily forget the despair of their situation. In actuality, this hyperviolent cross between Roman gladiators and speed skating relieves stress much more with violence than it does with sport. The goal is to carry a heavy motorball across the finish line, or to be the last man standing.
History and Role in the Scrapyard
Motorball was created by the Factory, the link between Tiphares and the Scrapyard, to relieve violent tension in the Scrapyard. It currently continues to receive funding from the Scrapyard. However, the large amount of gambling and revenue garnered from tickets may make motorball self-sufficient at some point.
There are three methods of spectation. The most popular is a first person chair focused on a single competitor. The chair has sensory input, which allows the spectator to feel minor jolts. The second is live spectation in the arena, where fans are protected by a high gate. The last, commonly used when sensory input chairs are sold out, is a series of standing-room only monitors.
The current grand champion is the neurally enhanced cyborg Jashugan, who is so powerful that he only participates in matches with a 3-on-1 handicap and one arm removed. The participants are grouped into several divisions and can advance after certain conditions are met. Although motorballers who prefer fighting to winning tend to not meet these conditions, fighters become popular among spectators.
The motorball weighs 40 kilograms, or around 88 pounds and is 30 centimeters, or around a foot in diameter. It is heavy enough that it can slow down the fastest of competitors from their normal supersonic speeds. The motorball has several randomly activating protrusions that simulate random movement. The protrusions, and thus the movement, can be stopped by hitting a switch within the finger holes of the ball. Should the motorball be lost on a course, a new motorball will be released a predetermined distance from the finish line.
In a normal match, starting position is determined by Amidakuji, a type of random selection. The motorballers start when a stoplight turns from red to green. The motorball is then released by a launcher. Alternatively, in a smaller or special match, a smaller amount of competitors can be led by a pace car, where competition begins when the car releases the motorball itself.
Standard rules are as follows, and can be enforced via time penalties or disqualification.
- No stopping for more than 30 seconds or moving backwards across a track
- No exploding weapons
- No flying or boosters
- Only weapons attached to the cyborg body may be used
- When only two combatants remain, they may discard the motorball and compete in a one on one fight.
Some arenas may have variations on the rules or an increased rate of dangerous gimmicks on the tracks.
Additionally, combatants may at any time enter their pit stop for repairs. Because of the high rate of limb loss, these stops can be frequent and costly. Re-fitting limbs also tends to decrease their efficiency.
A 3 minute 3D-CGI rendered movie clip is included in volume 6 of the Japanese Gunnm: Complete Edition. It showcases Alita in a Third League motorball race with players from two of her races such as "Armor" Togo, Degchalev, and Valdicci, and depicts events from both of those races.
Motorball prior to Battle Angel Alita