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 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.
The first season of the Gunslinger Girl series really struck a chord with me. The art style, characters, music and setting pulled me in. I had little experience reading manga at the time. Luckily for me, the original series was being republished by Seven Seas. I sought out the first omnibus volume and, after blowing through it, began picking up the latter omnibuses.
Having been first exposed to the television series, it was a real treat to find a much more detailed backstory given to the world of Gunslinger Girl. How the Social Welfare Agency came to be, what drove Jean and Jose to hunt Padania
so ruthlessly, and many other story aspects are examined closely. Information such as this is spread throughout the manga series, done through conversations and flashbacks as well as in nightmares and hallucinations.
The manga also shines the spotlight on a much wider cast of characters. More SWA staff, the Padania and freelance terrorists, and new fratello pairs are introduced. At Volume 7 a new cyborg steals the show for several consecutive chapters. This polarized readers, and to be fair the introduction of the character was rather sudden. Despite her intriguing past, she couldn't compete with Henrietta, Triela and the other, well-established cyborgs. I was wary and concerned that Henrietta and company were being relegated to supporting cast. Luckily, the attention is spread more evenly amongst the other characters after Volume 8.
Gunslinger Girl's story grows more painful as further insight is given to the plights of Jean and Jose (as well as other members of the agency). As battles with Padania become more dangerous the SWA handler-cyborg relations are driven in new directions, making for some greatly-unexpected moments. The intensity really picks up within the final volumes which contain some of the most page-turning action I've seen in manga. It's a fittingly-explosive climax with breathtaking moments abound.
Yu Aida manages to write in a way that is both technical and decipherable. The emotional and moral elements of the story are balanced well with the action. Fond glimpses of lightheartedness, bloody moments of combat and scenes of tragedy all occur with sincerity and purpose. The cyborg's enhanced abilities make for some over-the-top occurrences, but they are far from invincible.
The art of Gunslinger Girl is crisp and detailed, yet manages to remain clear within the context of the pages. Great attention is given to weapons, characters and scenery. Yu Aida doesn't employ stylistic gimmicks to shift the mood or draw cheap laughs. A small number of inconsistencies do exist within Gunslinger's thousands of pages, but most of these rare disparities (a head drawn too large, eyes seeming “off”) occur in smaller panels and are quite easy to miss. Layouts are never unnecessarily cramped, and the panels are easy to follow.
I'm extremely biased in the favor of Gunslinger Girl—A serious manga about a counter-terrorism unit? That sounds too good to be true on its own, but toss in the fact that the bulk of the action is carried out by adorable roris without oodles of fan service... Now that's just a dream come true. If you enjoyed the Gunslinger Girl TV series or have contemplated jumping into the manga but haven't yet: go for it. Yu Aida's solid art and writing lend themselves perfectly to this mashup of tactical weaponry, cute and complex characters, and moral dilemma. Gunslinger Girl made me smile, it made me cry, and it often forced me to sit and read many chapters at a time.
Written originally for: http://34fp8jlk987669.blogspot.com
I once asked my friend “why don’t you like Dragonball Z” and he replied “because back in primary school (when it was very popular) I thought the aliens were creepy and disgusting.” That is how I feel about this manga, I just really dislike the idea of turning people into mechanical beings and on top of it trying to produce a drama manga out of it, simply because is cruel and they’re only expressing feeling programed into their heads, and hence I found it very hard to connect with cyborgs especially Henrietta and Rico. Well, at least that’s how I felt half the time, but
I can’t say that the manga is bad because most of the drama concerning the REAL HUMANS was pretty good.
The manga also felt really slow at times, especially when it’s introducing new characters or attempting to add more depth to existing characters by giving more background info. Some of the intended drama was really boring simply because I couldn’t connect with the cyborgs, or maybe is just me not being used to the writing style but to give you an idea of how I felt while read the manga, imagine playing a video game where it took twice as long to kill your enemies and your enemies took twice as long to kill you than the game’s original intention, that’s what it felt like.
Because of the slow pacing many of the drama wasn’t memorable and made the over arcing story disjointed, also the full impact of the parts I enjoyed was taken away because of how bored I was at times. In fact the most memorable part of the story was the irony at the end of a chapter where Franca looked at Henrietta thinking she was a rich girl and said “Is girls like her we’re fighting to protect.” I mean there is something wrong when the most vivid memory of a story is a language technique used.
Overall I can’t say that it is a bad manga because some of the drama is pretty good. Lots of people seem to like it and I can understand why. To people thinking of reading this, I would say it might take a while for you to get used to the slow pace and writing style especially if you’re used to more childish themes such as Shounen like me.
I spend a lot of time reading manga at a local Barns & Noble. After reading what I wanted to read, then reading what I didn't think I would hate, then reading what they had just because they had the whole series, I started reading Gunslinger Girl. I admit, I did not have high hopes for it, having flipped through the pages often and always putting it back on the shelf, but today I decided to read it.
The first thing that drew me in was the art. With a lot of works having pretty shoddy graphics, even after being serialized into a
manga, I was relieved that the mangaka for Gunslinger Girl was pretty good. Often, in battle manga, scenes can have chaotic effect drawings, making it hard to distinguish whats going on, but I never lost track of what was happening. The characters are all drawn similar, but not clones of each other, nor do they fall into obvious stereotypes. However, even characters from different countries seem to look like they came from the same basic mold, and it gets old pretty quickly. What also doesn't help is that none of the characters have unique personalities. What I mean is, try reading a chapter of GG imagining that every line is coming from the same character. Nothing would be out of place. No one on screen seems to have any characteristics that differentiate them from anybody else.
As far as the plot, I can't help but think the story focuses on the bad guys. We see things from their perspective, but that doesn't seem to justify their actions in my mind. Without giving away too much, Gunslinger Girls is about a section of the Italian government that takes elementary-school-aged girls who've suffered fatal wounds and makes them into cyborgs, who're trained assassins. There are a few different teams the story follows around, and all they do it kill different factions of "terrorists" that oppose the current regimen. I don't think I've seen them yet spare an innocent, and in fact, for whatever reason, one of the first kills is an innocent boy who was shot just because he's spoken to one of the Girls in an earlier panel. By contrast, some of the "terrorists" were put into the exact same situation and let their child live. With so many (at least six) different "terrorist groups" trying to take down the current government, and the lack of demonstrated morals by the protagonists, one wonders who is the oppressor.
I'll probably keep reading it, until new volumes for the manga I'd prefer to read come in, but it just seems to drone on and on, a bunch of boring handlers telling lifeless dolls to kill enemies of the state chapter after chapter. In order for GG to be serialized, I know that more of a plot has to show up eventually, but for now, it's just plain.