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Gunslinger Girl DVD 1: Little Girls, Big Guns
Violence: High
Sex/Nudity: None
Runtime Episodes: 13/25
Overall Rating: A -
Artwork: A
Story: A
Comments: 13 million yen was spent on each episode.  This series was well financed for unknown reasons.  The subtitles are not very well done in my opinion.  I don't know Japanese and I found several mistakes, like when the characters speak in plain engish and the english translation for the english is wrong?!  That and other known problems.  Track 2 is most accurate.
Voice Acting English: D +
Voice Acting Japanese: B
Genre: Mafia, Drama, Girls with Guns
Extras: Building Henrietta (a cgi construction of Henrietta), Dossiers on each of the 5 girls on this DVD, Opening and closing songs, previews (Burst Angel, Gunslinger Girls, Lupin the 3rd, Dragon Ball Z Movie, Dragon Ball Z)

Date Reviewed: 6/12/06 Last Updated: 4/17/18

Basic Premise: Adolescent girls who are on the brink of death are adopted by a secret government agency where they are given new bodies and are brainwashed to be asassins.
Review: This is the story of the lives of the people who work at the Social Welfare Agency located in Italy.  The Social Welfare Organization is the name, but what they actually do is very different than what the name implies.  The Social Welfare Agency takes adolescent girls from around the country that are the most hopeless cases and are ones that no one else will accept.  The girls are often near death and face almost certain death due to wounds or other circumstances.  The Girls then have many parts of their bodies replaced with synthetic muscles and eyes and such to enhance them for their new work.  Their memories are almost always erased and reconditioned or brainwashed.

The brainwashing aspect usually involves giving the girls a sense of loyalty to the Agency and a sense of devotion to their handler.  They are given other orders such as how to behave in certain situations and how to relate to each other as well as their handler, but for the most part their personalities remain the same.

Henrietta is one of those girls who could almost be considered the main character of this show, but not by much.  When Jose from the Social Welfare Agency comes by he sees a girl that is in intensive care at a hospital.  Her whole family has been brutally murdered and only she is left.  Her left eye is gone and her left leg had to be removed due to her being assaulted all night long next to the bodies of her dead family.  She desires only to die by the time the Social Welfare Agency finds her and they decide to accept her.

Henrietta does not seem all that happy when she awakens at the Center and has no memory except for the programming that she received earlier.  She has a new name as well that her handler gave her.  It is unclear what her name was before.  She does not talk much and neither does Jose her handler.  Jose decides not to befriend Henrietta as it does not seem appropriate to him, but during their first mission out in the field Jose sees that his standoffish nature will not change Henrietta's devotion to him and so he decides to befriend her and be what she needs; an older brother.

The girls go out on various missions throughout this first DVD as they hunt various terrorists cells located around the country that pose a threat to the country of Italy.  

Ages seem a bit harder to determine in this series based on the nature of the reconstructive surgery.  Their aging seems to have halted you might say even though they do mature emotionally.  Their lifespans are also reduced due to the surgery, but at least they live longer than they would ordinarily.  It would appear that Angelica was the first arrive at the agency and she looks the youngest.  She seems to relate to her handler as an innocent and the reason for that is explained later in the series.

The order in arrival of the girls to the facility is as far, as I can tell, is Angelica first then Triella, Rico, Claes, and lastly Henrietta.  This is really only a guess.  I know Angelica arrived first though.

The artwork is really lovingly and thoughtfully done.  A lot of care went into expressing the emotions of the characters both in the voice acting and the expressions.  Even the choreography did well in expressing the feeling of this show from the wind to the beautiful day to the rain to detail in each gun and sniper behavior.

The first DVD felt almost warm and fluffy to me like a warm blanket that you would wrap yourself up in.  I was a bit uneasy with the second episode since it seemed so much like the first one and rehashed a lot of what you saw in the first episode, but that was only done once in the series and I am really glad that they did that, because the first and second episode did a lot to set the stage for what was to follow.  It was as if the first and second episodes had two different viewpoints, but whose viewpoints is not so easy to pinpoint.  

The acting, artwork, choreography and story were all lacking in nothing.  If anything the dub is what you should fear.  The translation may not be perfect, but it did not seem to change from the original storyline in any way that I could tell, however if you use track 1 of the subtitles as opposed to track 2 you will be in serious trouble and the translation will be very different and very wrong in several places.  Track 2 seems to be much more in line with the original translation.  

How can I say that when I don't speak Japanese?  Well, it's the little things like reading speach text during scenes where no one is speaking for a long period of time (it's as if the editors thought that americans don't like long pauses or something) or when the characters start speaking in english and the subtitles show something completely different.  It kinda makes you wonder how accurate some of these translations are.  

The English can be rather painful to listen to at times, but I gave some of it another shot and found the english versions of Claes and Ravalo were actually quite pleasant to listen to.

The style was more of a mafia style drama from a government perspective.

Conclusion: Considering the culture that we live in I have found that this series is often misunderstood to be a sick anime where young girls are brainwashed and made to be assassins against their will.  There is also the misconception that the pair up between the girl and her handler is romantic or sexual or something along those lines.  This is simply not the case.  In the opening lines of this show it is shown that each pair are known as brother and sister at best.  As you watch the show you can see this for yourself. The characters are very well fleshed out and have a great deal of depth.  Even the secondary characters seem to have a lot of depth to them as well. The music is beautiful and is an asset to any anime and can help make or break an anime.  In this one the music and is well done and it also helps to express the personality of the characters in each scene. The directors and producers are careful in this anime to be very detailed in the artwork and the logic of this series to be sure to be very detailed in the guns that each girl uses as well as how they are used.  This greatly adds to the realism of the story.

I feel that the nature of this series is to show the nature of adolescent girls growing up by placing them in some situations that are more often seen by military personnel.  We get to see the needs of adolescent girls as they grow up and what the value of life and duty are. This DVD does seem to have some problems with subtitles and the voice acting is not perfect.  I can't recommend the English voice acting.  Still it is a very high quality show.  The only reason I criticize it is that it seems like the English version could have been done a bit better.  In short, use subtitles and listen to it in Japanese.  I think you will enjoy it much better that way and get more out of it that way.

Oh, I said this was an almost sad story before I reviewed it.  The story just never came across as sad to me.  I felt that the story was more uplifting to me as it shows the strength of the soul and what a full life worth living is even if it is a bit shorter than most other's.

Publisher: FUNimation
Related Website: http://www.funimation.com/gunslinger-girl/, related manga
Where Found: Amazon, Suncoast
Copyright: 2003/2005
Author: Yu Aida
If you enjoyed this anime try: Noir, Armitage, Mermaid Forest


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