Gunslinger Girl: Stories Behind Those Sad Eyes

In the heart of Italy, the Social Welfare Agency rescues young girls from hospital beds and gives them a second chance at life using the latest in cybernetic advancements. With their artificially enhanced bodies, the girls are brainwashed and trained as assassins to carry out the dirty work of the Italian Government. Despite all the modifications, they are still just children at heart, struggling for recognition from those they love, even knowing the love they feel is manufactured. This tragic tale unfolds as these girls grapple with their emotions in an agency that treats them as nothing but ruthless killers.

– MyAnimeList

It’s a bit hard to swallow, the fact that the little girls in Gunslinger Girl were used as tools in secret missions by the government, no less. These girls underwent strict training to become assassins. They lived only to follow orders of their “brothers”, their handlers. They learned to become proficient, sharp shooters for their assignments. It is a career they didn’t choose but chosen for them.

Girls as assassins. I just thought no matter how badly hurt they were or if they’re on the verge of death, is it not right to turn them into merciless assassins. Yes, I’m glad they decided to give them a new life, a new beginning. But is it the life they would want sans conditioning? We’ll never know because they were never given the choice.

Some of the girls were lucky as they were treated as real sisters by their handlers. Some, however, weren’t so lucky. They received harsh treatments from they so-called brothers or abandoned by them – which in the case for Claes was turned into a guinea pig for experiments because she’s ordered to do so. I dislike Jean, Rico’s “brother”, particularly. He always wear that smirk on his face and treated Rico as a killing machine. Most girls didn’t remember their past and accepted their current situation willingly. There were times I find some of their conversations rather amusing. They talked about their injuries, work problems and keep count of men killed like it’s not big a deal. Look, these are children we’re talking about so for them to so effortless talk about killing people  is a bit hard to take.

Besides the occasional weird conversations and robotic attitude towards their works, the girls actually looked and acted normal. They seek for attention from their handlers, love sweet treats, cute things. The girls sometimes hang out and talk about stuff. You know, some mindless chit-chat. They also look out for each other. But we all know that these girls in Social Welfare Agency Section 2 aren’t normal and they’re aren’t really happy either. In addition to that, the series noted the complexity of relationships between the fratello, the “brothers and sisters”. Despite having a body made up mostly artificial materials, the girls were capable of feeling. They went through different emotional turmoil and struggle for affection. To see it from different perspective, the girls pose as dangers even to the ones they supposedly trusted the most. With that, I doubt even the kindest and gentlest handler could truly feel safe around them.

Wait. Did I sound like I was extremely displeased with this series? Putting the mindless rant aside, Gunslinger Girl did actually take me for an adventurous ride. Initially slow-paced, the anime later on centered around exciting cases and missions. If you’re into stories about Mafia and undercover missions, then you could try watching Gunslinger Girl. There’s this “spy” feel to the show, if you know what I mean. But if you’re uncomfortable seeing kids running around killing people, then it’s probably best if you stay away from this series. It’s very different from the Hollywood movie, Spy Kids or anything Hollywood branded for that matter.

There it is. Another anime strike off from my to-watch list. Holidays is good, isn’t it?

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24 thoughts on “Gunslinger Girl: Stories Behind Those Sad Eyes

  1. I remember watching this show. (I only saw the first season.) From what I recall, I was very impressed by the first few eps, but then the rest of the series was just kind of meh. The concept is definitely the strongest point of the series, and I felt the emotion was quite strong at times (particularly in those first few eps).
    It’s nice that there was a show that took this concept seriously though. We get so many shows with people gunning enemies down, but without much thought into the implications of it all.
    I recall the backgrounds were drawn very nicely, too. It seemed clear there was a lot of attention to detail put in this show (eg the guns).

    • The concept is definitely interesting and offers something a little different than the usual anime series I watch so it left me with a strong impression – not a good or bad one, just there’s a certain distinction to the show.

  2. I’ll keep this short and sweet. The 1st season’s ending left me incredibly depressed. Heck, the whole show was depressing, in a good way. Also, “The Light Before we Land” is one of my all time fav anime songs…or at least a song associated with an anime.

    • Oh yeah, does how I feel too – this definitely isn’t a happy series but it is a series I’ll remember for quite some time. Yeaps, I like to listen to that song too. Love the melody of the music.

  3. Just finished writing the second season review yesterday. The manga defintely drew me into anime for the moral grappling it posed. It is not exactly a new concept, however very noteworthy. Only problem was Madhouse for the first season (level of oc) and the same nearly for the seconf (forgot the animation team name). Although I think Funi might have something to due to why bd quality was horrible. Glad I got both free, but I digress, lol.

    And yeah, could not stand Rico’s handler.

    • For me, it’s the popularity of the series that has driven me to pick up the series. I guess I knew what the series is generally about but didn’t anticipate the kind of impact it had on me. Lol, I got both free too. >.<

      He's the biggest jerk of the series, I think. Merciless.

  4. I remember watching this when I was in 5th grade, like I always say, it didn’t make sense to me, I just like to see girls carry high power firearms and kill people. When I officially became an otaku, I re-watched it again and man, did this teach me how to feel sad and depressed for characters, most specially little girls! I find the story to be great as there is a twist to use girls as a counter-terrorist force, the art work was good, not too great not too bad, what probably struck me the most is being able to feel the experiences the girl go through, whether in combat operations or in their free time. This title was a really good experience as I learned the different faces of anime thus keeping this one personally close to me.

    • Wow, 5th grade. How old is that? It sounds so young, lol.

      Now that you’ve mentioned it, I think this series draws out emotions from the viewers very well. I suppose it’s not easy to see young girls being treated like that. No freedom of choice whatsoever and had to kill to earn affection from their handlers. Yeaps, you’re right – anime offers variety of viewing experience and has lots of different content. I wish some anime haters would at least go through some of them before bashing the anime in its entirety.

  5. Interesting point of perspective. I’ve yet to see this one and I’d love to watch this kind of mafia/spy kind of show. I’ve heard good stuff about the anime and I might as well put this in my ever long anime to watch list xD

  6. I’m a bit hesitant to start this because I’m not really fond of action-Mafia type of stories. And, I heard lots of mixed feelings about this show, just like how you narrated this post. ^^

  7. While I can say the first season was good in terms of content I have to add that this was a really sad series both first and second season. 😦

  8. THis is one of my anime in my plan-to-watch list which I really want to marathon for some time now >_< Girls with guns, they are awesome, so the series can never be too bad ;p

  9. That sounds interesting, but nah, I guess I couldn’t watch the girls treated in a bad way 😦
    If somebody of them would die as well, I would need some time to recover ^^

    After finishing Witchblade I think I will watch something less dark toned

    • They aren’t physically abused or anything, just being ill-treated but yeah, do stay away if you can’t stand it.

      That statement made me not want to watch Witchblade >.<. I generally stay out of dark series, would prefer to watch light and happy anime.

      • Ah I see, thats good to know, then I could watch it 😉

        Witchblade often had this dark undertone to it, but it’s not like there are no lighthearted moments. The relationship of Masane and her daughter Riko for example is very nice and heartwarming, Im not sure if I’ll write a review about the anime next.

        • Lol! If you do watch it, share with us your thoughts on the series. =)

          It’ll definitely help if you’ll write a review on Witchblade >.<. At least, from there I may be able to tell how dark is the dark undertone.

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