Gunslinger Girl is an ongoing manga written by Aida Yu. The Manga actually did end in September of 2012, but I wrote this review in December of 2011, so it was still going at the time. The manga has been going for close to a decade so it’s only natural that it has some adaptations. Including a series of PS2 games, an OVA and two anime series. Let’s take a look at the first anime which originally ran from late 2003 to early 2004.
Gunslinger Girl doesn’t have an over-arching story. It’s a series of episodes, mostly stand alone, which are connected by the overall scenario and the characters. The premise is that you have a government agency that enhances young girls with cybernetic parts and conditioning and then sends them on missions, mostly involving counter-terrorism. The episodes are really interesting and they cover a lot of material focusing primarily on the girls. The action scenes are intense and the series has a lot of spectacular moments. It forces the viewer to think about the morality of the situation since, in many ways, the girls are better off now that they’re part of the agency. The only real story issue is that a few episodes reuse parts of earlier episodes for no real reason and it feels like needless filler. This is especially true for the second episode.
The characters are especially important in Gunslinger Girl, since the story revolves around them. Fortunately, the characters are very well done. They have a lot of complexity, they interact well with each other, they have interesting back stories and the major characters have to be the most adorable killing machines ever, especially Claes. The only real issue with the characters is that Henrietta’s crush on Jose gets annoying really quickly. There’s one other girl with that kind of dynamic with her handler, but they only appear in a few episodes so it doesn’t have much time to start getting on your nerves.
The art is excellent. The background and characters are all very well down. The guns, stars and other various objects are very realistically detailed. The whole things catches the viewer’s attention. The art is very carefully used to draw your focus to specific points for important scenes and the effect is spectacular.
The voice acting is very good, most of the time. Unfortunately, there are several foreign words and names that are used in the series, since it’s set in Italy, and a lot of them aren’t pronounced properly. I know, they’re not using their native language, but you’d still think that the director would learn how to pronounce these words and pass that on to the actors. The most distracting of these, because it’s mentioned the most frequently, is “Jose”, which is said all the time, since he’s an important character, and never gets said properly.
The yuri factor is a 2/10. There are roughly three scenes that are slightly homoerotic, but there are very few of these scenes. The girls are all friendly towards each other, but it never goes beyond that.
My final rating for Gunslinger girl is a 9/10. It’s masterfully put together. As a character study, it really works. I only have a few complaints and they’re pretty minor. If you’re a fan of high-paced action and complex characters, I would definitely check it out.