The Social Welfare Agency in Italy is not what it seems. Yes, it rescues young girls who have been brutalized, but it then brainwashes them and turns them into ruthless killers for an elite and secret counter-terrorism unit for the Italian government.
Enter a young girl named Henrietta. After witnessing the savage murder of her family and barely surviving, the Agency takes her in and repairs her injuries using the latest in cybernetic technology. All traces of Henrietta's past are wiped from her mind, as she becomes one of the Agency's most lethal assassins.
Gunslinger Girl had six volumes published in English by ADV Manga from December 29, 2003 to December 11, 2007, following several periods of hiatus. After the publisher went defunct, Seven Seas picked up the license, republishing the entire series with new translations and in an omnibus edition (with the exception of the last volume) from February 1, 2011 to July 2, 2013.
I once heard this manga described as having a cruel premise, and it does indeed tend to rip your heart out at every opportunity. Unlike many stories in this genre the focus is not so much on fanservice but on the condition of the girls themselves. This is not a nice story. Adults and children are shot up, dismembered, turned into killing machines and go through every imaginable horror, and Yu Aida pulls no punches in portraying the violence and psychological damage inflicted on the girls and their handlers. But nonetheless, I find myself on the edge of my seat waiting for each new volume, and it's precisely because it pulls no punches that I find myself drawn to it. The characters as soul crushingly human, and can go from pulling at your heart strings to making you want to slap them within the course of a few pages. If you're ready for this type of reading experience I would highly recommend this series, but if you're anything less than able to deal with this type of violence I would advise caution.read more
Gunslinger Girl manga was one of the first manga to be translated into the English language under the newly launched ADVManga in 2002, and due to a 2 year hiatus between 2005 and 2007, only 10 volumes of this popular manga have been released thus far.
One thing that I can really say about Gunslinger Girl is that is has a pretty dark edge to it, especially when you take the actual content and the plot into consideration. It can quite easily give you very mixed emotions at times (sometimes getting a little too heavy). The fragmented, yet detailed, storyline is actually pretty unique as it often makes you re-read earlier chapters and even volumes, and it really makes you think about things. Especially things that are going on in the manga, and about life itself. This is especially true when you read about each individual girl's experiences. And due to the linear - yet not linear format, the series (I feel) has quite a high re-reading value.
Quite simply put, this is a bittersweet series, often exploring the darker side of human nature, as well as the girl's drive to rediscover what it means to be "human". Accompanied with very lovely artwork, Gunslinger Girl is definitely a must read in my humble opinion.read more
I walked in thinking I was going to get some otaku fetish for 100 chapters. Wrong. This series turns into a whole different monster by the 8th or so volume. I would say it even deconstructs the manga itself. It became way more adult and mature for my taste. But, I can tolerate mature stuff when I am reading. It made this series very engaging.
Gunslinger girls volume one looks nothing like Gunslinger girls volume 15. It's actually brilliant and well thought out writing that overarching led the whole series. I would say, if you get bored of it, keep reading. That piece of information comes around in the later chaper.
Overall, I highly recommend this series as one of your earlier manga series. It's a mix between mature and childish, action and political critique. You learn the different philosophies of the handlers and backstory of several girls that they didn't receive in an anime. The lesson doesn't celebrate gunslinger girls,. Rather, it says it was not a good thing to do, though the ends justify the means.read more
This series makes you feel all sorts of confused. On the one hand, the "Social Welfare Agency" is a counterterrorist governmental organization. On the other hand, they brainwash young girls and turn them into assassin cyborgs. On yet another hand, those same girls would've died without the SWA's interference. You'll have mixed feelings reading this series, especially with some of the "bad guys." There are, for the most part, no clearly defined black-and-white good and bad characters.
This book also has a different setup than a lot of other books. There is no central, overarching plot that the book is focused on (apart from the general themes of terrorism, the SWA, and the girls themselves). This doesn't make it any less of an interesting read though. To me, this setup made the book feel more like real life (life doesn't always have a clear central quest/journey). The real story is with the girls though--what happened to them before the SWA, what they're currently going through, their mentalities, their lives in general.
Overall, it's a very interesting series: The characters are deep and complicated and it is really well-written and well-drawn (The art is beautiful! Gorgeous drawings of Italian architecture and landscapes). I keep reading this series again and again, and I can never wait for new volumes to come out. This is one my favorites. I'd definitely recommend it (though not to children or to the faint of heart--it's quite gritty and violent, and has some complicated and mature themes).read more