"The girl has a mechanical body. However, she is still an adolescent child."Gunslinger Girl
is a manga
created by Yu Aida, which also received two anime
adaptations, telling the story of a group of young girl assassins.
In Italy, the Social Welfare Agency scours the country for little girls who have been traumatized or abandoned ostensibly to give them a second shot at life. In reality, the Agency (as it is usually called) subjects the girls to cyberization
, drugs and brainwashing and uses them to do the government's dirty work. Each girl in the Agency is partnered with a male handler
to form a unit called a "fratello". Her handler oversees the girl's training, determines the level of drugs and conditioning she receives and is ultimately her control when out on a mission.
The stories focus on relationships between the girls and their handlers. The relationships range from handlers who care for their charges like daughters or little sisters to others who regard them merely as disposable tools. The back stories of how the girls come into the custody of the Agency are routinely horrific (Henrietta, the new arrival, had her family murdered in front of her and was then assaulted all night by the intruders before being mutilated and left for dead. We won't even go into what happened to Triela
.) The girls' cybernetic implants as well as the drugs and conditioning they receive are killing them while slowly destroying their minds and personalities. None of them will see adulthood. Despite this bleak backdrop, the show is interesting for its fairly nuanced and even-handed approach to these relationships and the girls' situation as child soldiers - while it does not glamorize the girls-with-guns concept, nor does it wallow in cynicism or mawkishness and treat their lives as entirely despairing black tragedies, instead having an optimistic tinge of the girls finding solace and new worth in their situation where they can.
The manga began publication in Dengeki Daioh
magazine in 2002 and finished in October 2012 with 100 chapters in 15 volumes. Two separate anime seasons were produced in 2003 (by Madhouse) and 2007 (by Artland). Both seasons of Gunslinger Girl
's anime series were licensed and released in the West by FUNimation
. The manga has been continuously published in French, Italian and German, but the English version was more troubled: six volumes were released by ADV
to on an erratic schedule, then lapsed when ADV shut down its manga division before the company folded entirely. Seven Seas Entertainment
revived the English license and began republication of the manga with a new translation from February 2011, this time compiling the volumes into omnibi. Both the anime and manga are well worth your attention but prepare yourself for a moody introspective on mortality and identity mixed with gun battles.