“Guise-san, I just wanted to help you.”
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At a glance, this series may sound like another “girls with guns” flick that would be full of action, comical situations, and maybe a bit of fan service. However, Gunslinger Girl is nothing of the like. In fact, this series is not focused on action, doesn’t have fan service scenes, and carries a very serious and dark tone.
The Social Welfare Agency is a government funded organization that is know for saving the lives of young children. At least, that is what the world believes. It is actually an organization that specializes in destroying criminals and terrorists. The agency uses young brainwashed girls with cybernetic implants to carry out the government’s dirty work. Each girl is assigned a guardian or “brother” that trains and watches over the girls. As the series progresses, the audience will experience the lives of these people in the agency.
Gunslinger Girl is less about action and more about the character development. Don’t misunderstand, there is action in the series, but the series is not action focused. The lives of each cybernetic girl is what drives the story and hooks the viewer. The series does not seem to fit into any particular plot. It is simply about the lives of these girls. The background stories simply help the viewer learn who the characters are. The missions they go on and the people they kill mean very little in the main point of Gunslinger Girl.
Seeing the girls’ conflict between their human emotions and their brainwashing knowledge is interesting. Also seeing how they affect the people around them—such as their trainers—is fascinating. These girls are young. Very young. And the cybernetic implants take a toll on their little bodies. Seeing them handle an automatic weapon in one scene then kill a person in the next, kind of has an odd feeling to it. Yet, later you see the girls talking as friends and having tea in another scene. Life is short and fragile for these young girls, so they have a whole different perspective on life than most ordinary people. The series does carry an overall melancholy tone, but it does well to hold a little light-heartedness and a feel for the appreciation of life. After watching the final episode, the series still feels unfinished. It feels like the series comes to an end much to fast, which was its big disappointment.
Composer Toshihiko Sahashi, known for work in Big O and Full Metal Panic, does the music for Gunslinger Girl. The music sounds very classical and he seems to favor string instruments in this series. It gives it a nice “Italian” feel. The whole soundtrack is very serene. Some songs may sound haunting, but still so very wonderful to hear. The whole soundtrack is pleasing to the ears and I would highly recommend that you pick it up. Music is absent in many scenes, but that’s where the background noise comes in. I’m also going to give the series good marks for use of sound effects. It’s so neat. The shots fired from an automatic, the empty shells hitting the floor, the sound of bullets hitting the target—you can hear everything. On outdoor scenes, you can hear birds singing and the sound of leaves on a tree being blown by the wind. Such detail is often overlooked in anime. The sound is overall well done without distraction to voices or anything going on in the scenes.
The animation ranges from average to very good through the series. Backgrounds are not heavy on detail as in Noir, but still drawn well to make the world as realistic as possible. The animation fits its dark and quiet atmosphere. There is also a good use of lighting and shadowing which adds more to the realism of the environments. Character designs are done well. The girls look cute, and by looking at them it is difficult to know that they can kill people with their bare hands. In other words, they look the complete opposite of dangerous. This mislead is a nice touch to helping the viewer get the overall feel of the series.
Gunslinger Girl is not for pokemon-aged anime fans. This is definitely an anime targeted for a fairly mature audience due to its amount of blood and violence. I would highly recommend watching this series. If you decide to pick it up, remember that this is not meant to be an all-out action-packed story.
+ Impressive character driven story
+ Great soundtrack and use of sound effects
+ A nice touch of realism to the animation
– Rushed Ending
DVD 1: Ragazzine Piccole, Armi Grandi (Little Girls, Big Guns)
1. Fratello (Siblings)
2. Orione (Orion)
3. Ragazzo (Boy)
4. Bambola (Doll)
5. Promessa (Promise)
DVD 2: Vita, Passione e Pistole (Life, Happiness, and the Gun)
6. Gelato (Frozen)
7. Protezione (Protection)
8. Il Principe del Regno Della Pasta (The Prince of the Kingdom of Pasta)
9. Lycoris Radiata Herb (Be Struck Off Herb)
DVD 3: Il Silenzio Delle Stelle (The Silence of the Stars)
* Will become available on DVD in North America on the 6th of September
I’m not a fan of American dubbing, but the choice for voice actors in Gunslinger Girl is actually well done. I think the choice of voices for Henrietta and Guise are good and sound pretty similar the Japanese voicing. The voice actors did a fairly good job fitting into the emotion of the character. The translators kind of had to add a few bits here and there because of lip synching, but nothing too wacky and unrelated to the original is added. I still favor the original Japanese over the English dubbing, but for the most part the dubbing is tolerable.
I’m not going to go on and describe the characters of this series. These characters are very important and I could spoil the mood if I described them. Go pick up the DVD.
By Bounty Huntress