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Review
Show: Gunslinger Girl (2003-2004)  
Review by: Craig Burns
Overview:

This show is set in Italy and takes place in the Welfare Department, a government agency that, on the outside, looks like a wonderful place that takes hurt children and helps them to a better life.  In reality they are augmenting their bodies with cybernetics and teaching then to become assassins.  Each girl has a man that trains her called a handler.  These stories deal with the girls' relationships with their handlers and each other as they perform their duties.

I rented these because it looked similar to Noir, an anime that I enjoyed, about two female assassins.  What I got was something completely diffrent, and not in a bad way.  The only similarities are the girls and the guns.  Gunslinger Girl deals more with the relationships of the girls to their handlers and each of their characters.

One of the things that I have realized about anime, and my continuing fascination with it (in general) is the ability to take somewhat absurd ideas and make them serious, and perhaps even believable.  One that springs to mind is Midori Days (Midori no Hibi) that has a really weird premise but makes a somewhat silly idea dramatic and intersting.  That's what Gunslinger Girl does in another vein.  The idea that a government would use little girls to perform assassination is absurd and yet, if it happened, what would the dyanmics be and how would those associated with the program deal with it and life in general?  This show does a good job in exploring those aspects.

If you are looking for a shoot-em-up, this is probably not what you want, although there are some good gun battles.  If you want a decent character driven story, then this is the ticket.  The ending of this series left me feeling a lot like I did at the end of Grave of the Fireflies.  That is not to say that this is in the same league as that movie but the feelings and the aftertaste, to me at least, were similar.

Another thing that is a little different from this anime to others I enjoy is a lack of cohesive story for the season - a running plot.  These are generally stand alone episodes, a sort of "day in the life" show.  The ending of the series does bring to fruition a theme mentioned throughout the show demonstrating the "life" of a cyborg assassin and the drawbacks of the program.

Music:

The opening song for this show is probably one of the best fits for any anime I've seen.  Of course it helps that it's in English and I can understand the words which gives it a little extra meaning.  It's a song by the Delgados, a band from Scotland (now disbanded, I think).  The ending theme song is not remarkable but not too bad and to keep with the setting of the show, it is sung in Italian.

Animation:

The animation in this show is really good, bright and clear.  The backgrounds are detailed and you can believe, in some instances, that you are looking at the scenery depicted.  The few gun fight scenes move fluidly and are sufficiently bloody without going too far.

Suggestions:

This is not something for kids. I would recommend it for older teens and above due to the graphic violence alone.  The invloved situations are also a little mature in nature.  There is no nudity or inapropriate relationships in the show, however.

Favorite Scenes:

The final scene with the meteor shower and the girls singing a bit of the 9th from "lovely lovely Ludwig Van".

The scene where Jose and the Section 1 inspectors where Henryetta explains how Elsa and her handler were killed.

The episode (Promessa - Promise) that explains why Claes has no handler.
Last Updated: 2/19/2007
Other Reviews by Craig Burns
1) The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Updated: 1/25/2007)
2) AD Police (Updated: 2/8/2007)
3) Jubei-chan - Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch (Updated: 1/30/2007)
4) Scrapped Princess (Updated: 2/12/2007)
5) Gunslinger Girl (Updated: 2/19/2007)
6) Crest of the Stars (Updated: 2/23/2007)
7) Banner of the Stars (Updated: 2/26/2007)
8) Boys Be... (Updated: 3/6/2008)
9) Sayonara Jupiter (Updated: 4/17/2007)
10) Reincarnation (Updated: 6/29/2007)
11) Ashura (Updated: 8/10/2007)
12) Transmorphers (Updated: 8/14/2007)
13) Automatons (Updated: 3/3/2008)
14) Kite Liberator (Updated: 4/28/2008)
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