There are no clear qualifications for someone to be a hunter-warrior, save for a desire to become one. Alita registers as one in her first civilian body, which has no special characteristics. The inherently deadly nature of their work however, means that all hunter-warriors specialize in the use of a specific martial art, fighting technique, weapon (s), or otherwise have their own means of giving themselves an advantage over their quarry. The vast majority of hunter-warriors appear to be male and are largely or fully cyborg. Alita has so far been the only female hunter-warrior shown, and Ido is an exception to the latter quality in that he is fully human.
In order to register as a hunter-warrior, one visits any of the numbered factories located in the Scrapyard. Here, an assigned deckman registers the new hunter-warrior by burning a unique barcode onto their neuroglia. This is the only means the Factory has of identifying a hunter-warrior, as cyborgs lack natural cell patterns such as fingerprints, voice prints, or retina patterns. These patterns can be easily stolen and/or counterfeited with existing technology, and many cyborgs no longer have any at all. The process is painless and relatively quick, and the hunter-warrior is assigned a registration number. How Ido was registered as a hunter-warrior however, has not been made clear, as he had his original brain replaced with an M.I.B. memory chip, and would thus not be able to register in that sense.
When a crime has been committed and a criminal identified, netmen put the criminals on the bounty list. The chip value of a bounty is dispassionately calculated depending on the nature of the crime committed, regardless of who the perpetrator is. Public terminals are updated with the latest bounties, from which a report can be printed for a fee. Netmen also post these reports at the criminal’s place of residence if applicable. In order to collect on a bounty, a hunter-warrior must bring in the bounty’s head to a factory for identification and payment. The criminals’ brains are then either incinerated or recycled by the pharmaceutical industry. Becoming a bounty is thus tantamount to receiving a death sentence.
If a criminal cannot be identified, the netmen do not put them on the bounty list unless they have committed a Class A crime. The GUNNM: Gaiden side story “The Sonic Finger” reveals that there is an unofficial bounty list known as the “Black List” of criminals who have not been identified by the Factory that is put together by Scrapyard residents, mostly the victims’ families. The Informants Guild, of which Walrom is a member, is awarded for any information that leads to the arrest or capture of these criminals. It is inferred that the bounties on criminals who are on the Black List are funded by civilians.
The netmen will on occasion assist hunter-warriors with tracking a particular criminal down, but only if they have committed a Class A offense. A netman assists Zapan and other hunter-warriors in setting a trap for Alita because she is suspected of insurrection by attempting to flee with Hugo after he becomes a bounty.
At the end of the Battle Angel Alita manga, the factories are destroyed or shut down as a result of the self-destruction of Melchizedek and near collapse of Tiphares. Vector and Kaos join forces to bring order and peace out of the turmoil that ensues, but what effect this has had on the hunter-warrior system has not been elaborated on. Hunter-warriors have yet to play an active role in Battle Angel Alita: Last Order.
Alita became a hunter-warrior after saving Ido from a mutant woman who had gone berserk and was targeting other women. She is considered the Scrapyard’s best hunter-warrior for killing Makaku, a notorious criminal who was on the bounty list for years. Because of her Panzer Kunst, no other hunter-warrior could match her in combat or skill. Alita stopped being a hunter-warrior after Hugo’s death. However, when she was charged by the Factory with the Class A offense of using a firearm in the Scrapyard to kill Zapan in the Berserker Body, she was identified by her hunter-warrior registration.
Ido was a hunter-warrior for at least five years before he found Alita in the Tiphares dump heap, and was working as one before he became a cyberphysician. It is not clear if he continued his hunter-warrior activities after Alita retired from motorball, but Alita did use his rocket hammer against Zapan when he possessed the Berserker Body. After having his memory erased, Ido is now working as a full time cyberphysician at Farm 21.
A renowned hunter-warrior, Clive Lee tracks Hugo down when he becomes a bounty. He was the same hunter-warrior who Nana, Hugo’s sister in law, betrayed her husband to years ago over her fears of his building a successful flying machine. He uses a technique called the “White Hot Palm” which makes his forearms hot enough to burn through human limbs and as he suggests, even those of cyborgs. Alita fights him after he slices off Hugo’s left arm. She is able to defeat him by charging his body with electricity, attracting a strike of lightning that electrocutes him. Lee's name is not revealed until later, when Murdock the Dog Master visits Bar New Kansas. Because they were fighting in an abandoned factory and there were no witnesses (Hugo was unconscious), no one else besides Alita knows who killed Lee.
In the Battle Angel OVA, Lee is shown to have acted alone when he went after Yugo's (Hugo's) brother. Also in contrast to the manga, he also slices off the brother's right hand that was clutching onto him in a death grip, which Yugo later has transplanted onto his arm. Lee watched the initial fight between Grewcica and Gally (Alita). He is in Bar Kansas when Grewcica challenges her in his new body, and witnesses their fight in the Tiphares dump heap. Unlike in the manga, he is more of a rival of Gally’s, jealous over her success as hunter-warrior at having beaten him to every bounty since Grewcica. He also uses an extendable double-bladed sword instead of the “White Hot Palm.” After a longer fight with Gally, he too is electrocuted by a strike of lightning.
Another well-known hunter-warrior, Murdock is so-called because he utilizes four cyborg dogs, Hubris, Valor, Glory, and Fury, whom he can communicate with without speaking due to partial cyberization on his part, although he is largely human. Alita first comes across him when he investigates the corpses of two hunter-warriors who Zapan has killed. At Bar New Kansas, Murdock reveals that he has a soft spot for the toddler Koyomi and that he has been tracking Zapan for two years for killing his daughter Sara. He and Alita corner Zapan in the sewers, where, after Zapan is paralyzed with fear despite Alita giving him a chance to do what he will with her while she plays a song, Murdock’s dogs tear him to pieces, apparently killing him. Murdock recovers Sara’s preserved head, which Zapan had been carrying since he killed her, which he buries in the Bar New Kansas courtyard. He then stays at the bar for a while. When Zapan appears at Bar New Kansas in his incarnation of the Berserker Body and kills the hunter-warriors present, Murdock confronts him. He has Fury protect Shumira and Koyomi while his other three dogs deal with Zapan. Zapan counters by creating a dog from plasma, the Demon Dog, which defeats them handily. In a last ditch attempt, Murdock detonates a powerful grenade that destroys the bar, but Zapan survives the explosion.