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Desty Nova (ディスティ・ノヴァ Disuti Nova?) was a renegade Tipharean scientist and the father of Kaos. He is the second Tipharean introduced in Battle Angel Alita. Nova is a highly eccentric, yet brilliant and creative genius who specializes in Nanotechnology . The focus of his research is the study of karma (Karmatron Dynamics), leading him to pursue what can be considered hideous and inhumane experiments. He has also given a few of his patients a new lease on life to see if they are capable of overcoming their karma.

Nova's motives were driven by his discovery of the brain bio-chip that functions as the brain for all adult Tiphareans. The brain biochip was created by the GENE Project, a LADDER initiative intent on producing super geniuses.


As a Tipharean, Nova is a man with fair hair, depicted in color illustrations as being white. His most distinguishing characteristic are the unique and ornate glasses he wears, which he is never seen without except just once, when he took them off during a dream sequence that Alita was experiencing through the Ouroboros Program.[1] He usually wears a dress shirt with tie and slacks, over which is a white lab coat. As an indication that he has become a citizen of Tiphares, he bears a small tattoo of the Tipharean symbol on his forehead. In Gunnm: Martian Memory Nova wears a white lab coat with dark green trim, a yellow dress shirt, and red tie. His white hair has a blue tinge. An illustration by Yukito Kishiro for the 2003 Ultra Jump calendar depicts him as having white hair and wearing a white dress shirt, white lab coat, and purple tie.[2]

When leaving the Scrapyard in ES 580[3], Nova was dressed in a patterned short sleeved shirt and shorts.[4] In the early part of the final dream that Alita experienced while trapped in the Ouroboros Nova wore a medium colored scarf over his lab coat.[5] After Alita decapitated him in the Granite Inn, he appeared minus his head but with his backup head in his stomach exposed, wearing the collar and tie from his dress shirt and the rest of his clothing.[6] He would later have his head reattached by the time he returns to Tiphares.


Nova's personality ranges from calm and composed to maniacal and insane. Over the course of the series, he ranges from outright evil to being a generous ally and then back again. He was driven by his desire to research karma, which he terms Karmatron Dynamics. His views of human life were colored by his discovery of the brain bio-chip at some point after he became a citizen of Tiphares. This led him to undertake numerous experiments, many of which were considered by others to be inhumane and sickening and without apparent regard for the lives and well being of those he experimented on.

Conversely, however, he has taken on certain characters as patients with the aim of giving them a second chance at life and typically with newer abilities and powers that they did not possess before, again within the context to see how they would overcome their karma. A comment made by Makaku hints that despite Nova's interest to see if his subjects could overcome their karma, he apparently does not keep in contact or monitor most of them. Nova is known for his characteristic laughter and his obsessive love of flan.

During the time in the cyber space that Nova made into a dream that he impression Alita in, Nova showed a different side of himself during the time he spent with Alita as he admitted that he wonders what it is that he was chasing and trying to achieve through his various experiments. When the dream was broken and right before his death he admitted that he wished that the dream could have been longer. However, due to backing up himself he returned to life, but this version of Nova doesn't seem to care or show any hints of the sympathetic side the former showed.

The one constant in Nova's life is his research; he holds it in the highest regard over anything and everything else and is more than willingly to sacrifice the lives of anyone to be able to further even the most trivial aspects of his research.



Nova and his son Kaos were estranged from each other stemming from the latter's opposition to his father's experiments. When Kaos was young he received a bird as a present from his father which he one day let out of its cage, resulting in it being shot and killed by a netman. Nova called Kaos foolish for his ignorance that nothing that could fly was permitted in the Scrapyard. After discovering the Den aspect of Kaos' personality, Nova installed an EPR transmitter into his son's chest to separate Den from Kaos. Upon reuniting with his son, Nova had little hesitation to subject Kaos to various disgusting and painful torture experiences, telling his son that it would all be for making him a stronger, more suitable man. He likewise had no problem with supposedly killing Kaos by fatal electrocution as he attempted to enter the Ouroboros Program, or trying to kill him within the Ouroboros as Den


Jasmine acted as a caretaker to Kaos in Nova's household while Kaos was a child, and was a close friend of Kaos growing up. Nova had no qualms about having his Cyborg Assassins kill her, even though she was a close friend to his son, or that she had served him in helping care for his son as a maternal or older sister figure during childhood.


Nova has an interesting relationship with Alita, with the two frequently going back and forth from being enemies to allies; while being responsible for the actions behind Makaku, Jashugan, Zapan, and Den, Nova has also given Alita the means to fight back against them. This complex evolves further in Last Order due to the actions of several of his incarnations who were born in the wake of the original Nova's death.


Genius intellect: As a creation of the GENE Project, Nova had a genius level intelligence and had expertise in several areas.

Expert cyberphysician: Nova was a highly skilled cyberphysician, allowing him to work on any type of cyborg. He also experimented with turning normal people into all manner of hellish cyborgs.

Master inventor: Using his expertise in nanotechnology, Nova created numerous inventions and devices, among them the most advanced to appear in the series.


  • Imaginos Body: A powerful cyborg body built for Alita which existed in two versions, one in the original series and the second in Last Order.
    • Imaginos trigger: A device allowing the original Imaginos Body to undergo an irreversible transformation shaped by Alita's will.
  • Restorer: Nanomachines which, after injected into a subject's body, allow them to quickly recover from any type of injury, even normally fatal ones.
  • Stereotomy: An advanced version of the restorer that automatically recreates a copy of Nova when he dies, resulting in the creation of multiple incarnations of Nova existing simultaneously:
    • Nova II: The Nova whom Alita first met and who briefly joined forces with her in Last Order.
      • Super Nova: Another version derived from one of Nova II's brain bio-chips, who allied himself with Aga Mbadi.
    • Nova X: The most recent Nova incarnation. He functions like his old self, but is even more obsessed with flan than before.
    • Porta-Nova: A portable handheld version of Nova derived from one of Nova II's brain bio-chips.


As he usually took to acting behind the scenes or as a spectator, it is unknown if Nova had any actual experience in fighting or overall combat; however, it is presumed he at least had knowledge of weapons and artillery as he gave Alita a revolver with specially made bullets filled with Collapser. He also would often wield a scalpel while conducting his experiments on patients or to himself.[7]


At some point in his early adult life, Nova underwent the process to become a citizen of Tiphares and had his brain removed and replaced with a brain bio-chip; however, he would somehow learn the exact nature of the process years later. Taking this discovery into account, he realized that because of the discovery, he had essentially altered the course of his destiny; he began to form the basis of his research theories regarding karma around this and how others could possibly fight against this seemingly destined fate like he did. Eventually, the rulers of the city would come to regard his research methods to unravel the components of karma research as inhumane and unorthodox, casting Nova out of Tiphares in B.K. 16.

After taking up residence within the Scrapyard, he somehow sired an heir that he would go on to name Kaos. Eventually, he would gift his young son with a caged bird; when Kaos released the bird and it was killed by a netman, Nova laughed at how pointless the gesture was and mocked his son.[8] Several years after his arrival in the Scrapyard, Nova came across a man named Barzarld and subsequently hired him on as an assistant. One day, Nova was brutally beaten by Kaos and was dumbstruck at how his frail son was strong enough to nearly kill him. Puzzled, he was able to subdue Kaos and learned about his son's psychometry and his alternate persona known as Den; fascinated by this, Nova designed and equipped an inhibitor to his teenage son's chest which would allow Den to take over him subconsciously without Kaos being aware of it. After several years, Kaos would abandon Nova and left into the Badlands; undeterred, Nova would keep on Barzarld as an assistant and found a woman named Eelai who he took on as a second assistant as well as an occasional lover. Possibly as a result of him getting beaten almost to death, Nova designed and injected nanomachines into his system to help recover from serious injuries; he would also inject these into both Barzarld and Eelai.

While continuing with his sadistic experiments, Nova managed to treat many inhabitants in the Scrapyard to see if they were capable of fighting their karma. Among the first was a sewer-dwelling boy named Makaku who was horribly burned and left for dead by a gang of flamethrower wielding punks. Deciding to save his life, Nova granted him a powerful worm-like body with the ability to inhabit the bodies of his victims and becoming a brain-eating criminal. Some time later, he learned about the accident involving an up and coming motorball player named Jashugan; seeing him as another prime candidate, Nova volunteered his services and was able to perform life-saving neural surgery on the player. Despite saving Jashugan's life, the procedure was not perfect and he slowly began to die over a course of several years.


Battle Angel Alita[]

Zapan Arc[]

Emboldened by overwhelming evidence that a fellow Tipharean was behind these events, Daisuke Ido visited Nova at his manor in the Northern District. Ido was greeted by Nova who showed off the horrific results of his karmic research executed on hapless individuals before taking Ido prisoner. Offering him the chance to be his assistant, Nova then baited Alita into coming to his manor after which removing the lock on her Berserker Body while in the process of transplanting Zapan's brain into it. However, Nova was unprepared for the results and was confronted with making a decision: destroying his latest experiment or lose his entire research due to the Berserker Body absorbing everything around it. Choosing to save his research, Nova prepared to shoot Zapan but was knocked aside from some falling debris and unable to stop the rampage; after regaining consciousness, Nova expressed some surprise by the results and also learned that Ido had been torn apart during the rampage. Undeterred, he instructed Barzarld to gather the remains and he sat atop the ruins of his manor waiting for the arrival of Alita. He informed her of both Ido's death and Zapan's escape from confinement, showing Ido's remains as proof; Nova was greatly taken by surprise when Alita vengefully slashed both his assistants and stabbed Nova through the head despite him pleading for her to listen to reason. He was revived via nanomachines and mentioned that he was looking to bring Ido back to life. Alita released him and before departing, Nova gave Alita the means to defeat Zapan; a revolver and bullets filled with Collapser that would disintegrate the Berserker Body. He would flee into the Badlands with his assistants to continue his work.

Barjack Rebellion Arc[]

Nova spent the following years setting up a base in the ruins of the former Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker, which he would rename the Granite Inn . In addition to capturing and mutilating thousands of innocents for further karmic studies, he allied himself with the rebel group known as Barjack, which was led by Den, the manifestation of his son Kaos' psyche. Despite his son abandoning him, Nova would often listen to his son's pirate radio show and was among the many denizens of the Scrapyard who tuned in for the final broadcast of Radio K.A.O.S., listening to it while operating with Eelai on one of his experiments. Eventually, Nova's connection with Den was noticed by the Ground Investigation Bureau of Tiphares and a bounty was placed on his head to capture him alive, sending Alita to track him down.

Kaos arrive at the Granite Inn a few days after his final broadcast; vowing to have his son carry on his research, Nova captured him and, knowing that Alita would not be far behind, mentally tortured Kaos for several days. When Alita tried to ambush him, Nova was able to render her unconscious via his Ouroboros Program and hacked into the GIB system while laughing at the attempts of Bigott Eizenburg to regain control of Alita. He showed a desire to experiment on Alita's brain, but was caught by surprise when Bigott freely offered her to the scientist. Nova was skeptical of Bigott's offer to return to Tiphares, citing how he was unable to do his experiments there and also how no one is allowed back after being exiled; hearing that both the central agency & LADDER expressed interest in him, Nova reversed his decision and agreed to return. Shortly after, though, Alita was able to break free and struck him in the face and mouth with her pistol. After getting prompted to reveal what the secret of Tiphares is (the brain bio-chips) by Alita, Nova did so and mentioned that it is a mystery to him why the brains of Tipharean citizens are removed; he observed Bigott getting killed and the other operators due to the former exposing the secret inadvertently, musing that he started a mini purge. He then activated a pressurized wall of water and fled while Alita fought against a revived Barzarld.

After activating Eelai from a regeneration bath, Nova tried fleeing the Granite Inn to return back to Tiphares. He was hunted down and killed by Alita following an intense fight that spanned the gulf of both the physical plane of the Inn itself and into the fabric of a cyberspace hell where Nova himself reigned as god. Decapitated by Alita who was aided by Kaos, Nova was assumed dead and the Granite Inn is destroyed.[9] Afterward, Alita had planned to return to Figure Four in Alhambra. However on her way back she was ambushed by Nova using a powerful doll bomb which killed her. After recovering her remains, he used Support System Gabriel to return to Tiphares.[10]

Last Order[]

Tiphares Arc[]

Having returned to Tiphares with what remains of Alita he could gather, Nova decided to formulate a backup plan in case he ever got killed, either by Alita or from some other means; he eventually developed a process called Stereotomy which could backup and grow a duplicate copy of him, effectively rendering Nova immortal. Deciding to keep the process a secret from everyone as to foil any attempts to sabotage it, he proceeded to begin the process of reconstructing the deceased Alita; noticing the potential within a young man named Jim Roscoe, Nova decided to make him his newest assistant.[11] Nova equipped Alita with a revised version of the Imaginos Body that incorporated her Damascus Blade as one of the ingredients. Despite granting Alita a new body, Nova decided to psychologically torture her beliefs in what it meant to be human; to do this, after her brain was fully reconstructed, he removed it and replaced it with a brain bio-chip, storing her original brain inside a fortified box in his lab. After her reconstruction was complete, he prepared a recording that would be triggered by her upon awakening. Nova then hijacked the Tipharean broadcast network and publicly revealed the existence of the brain bio-chips to all, triggering a civil war. The revelation had an unexpected effect on Jim, who killed Nova himself to discover the truth.[12] Nova's brain bio-chips were taken by Jim and his body was left in his lab, where Alita found it a few days later.

However thanks to his stereotomy process, Nova was reborn as Nova II, who as the first incarnation stayed the closest to him in terms of personality. After Nova II was captured by Aga Mbadi, he was later reborn as Super Nova, who has an additional bio-chip. One of the original Nova's bio-chips was used by Ping Wu to create Porta Nova, and the stereotomy process produced an incarnation who outwitted the Tiphareans' attempts to eradicate them when he appeared. This version dubbed himself Nova X, and at one point three incarnations of Nova existed simultaneously. However following the death of Porta Nova at Super Nova's hands, only he and Nova X remain.

Film Version[]

In the live action film, Alita: Battle Angel, Desty Nova is a prominent scientist residing in Zalem, while conducting cruel experiments on the surface-dwellers, including allowing a deadly serial killer and former motorballer known as Grewishka to run wild. He is portrayed by both Edward Norton and Marshala Ali (Vector), who serves as a mouthpiece for delivering Nova's messages to people on the surface. It is unknown if he has a son like his original counterpart. Although unlike his manga counterpart, he was a known key scientist on Earth who was targeted for assassination 300 years prior during the apocalyptic interplanetary war known as The Fall. At the end of the film, he smiles as he looks down Alita, recognizing who she is and preparing to continue with his further schemes.


  • Desty Nova is named after Desdinova, the main character in a long cycle of Blue Öyster Cult songs called the Soft Doctrines of Imaginos. Desdinova is the female half of the protagonist, whose male half is known as Imaginos, and is an immortal, psychic alchemist and shapeshifter who deliberately engineers the corruption and eventual destruction of human civilization.


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