The Anime Review

‘Gunslinger Girl’ Animation: Richard Jones

By Richard Jones

Title: Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-

Year: 2008

Studio: Artland

Tag line: Every weapon has a limit.

Synopsis: Set in a fictional near future Italy, Gunslinger Girl revolves around a covert anti-terrorist organization known as the Social Welfare Agency (SWA) and their efforts against a Northern Italian separatist movement known as the Five Republics Faction (FRF).

The agents for the SWA are young children who are augmented with cybernetic bodies, brainwashed, then trained in assassination and anti-terrorist techniques by their ‘handlers’, ex-servicemen and women, to become attack dogs for the Italian Government.

The FRF are a rag-tag collection of revolutionaries and dissidents dissatisfied with southern Italy’s exploitation of the north. Organized by a wealthy elite, they co-ordinate assassination and terrorist bombings to enforce their desire of state independence based on the personal motivations of justice, revenge, loyalty and purpose.

The main story arc revolves around the SWA protagonist Triela and her bitter rivalry with the FRF assassin, Pinocchio.

Review: A warm, soothing slow burner ideal for Sunday afternoons. A strong emphasis is placed on the emotional makeup and development of the characters and their motivations for their actions and allegiances. The guardianship bond between handlers and cyborgs is also a predominant theme throughout as the psychology and trauma of past events influences their behavior and attitudes to one another.

The emotional tension is broken up by occasional action scenes which serve as an efficient transition device from character to character and their past to present. Saying that, the action scenes are robust and gritty with a wide arsenal on display, delighting modern gun enthusiasts, as well as some fast paced martial arts and knife fighting.

For all Gunslinger Girl’s emphasis on childhood innocence and the healing of emotional trauma, there are a good few mature shocks in store in both past and present tense. The girls, although treated as siblings or daughters, have a digital switch of playful wonder to ruthless killing to which their supposed guardians show no real emotional objection to, demonstrating the cold reality of their daily lives. They are an anti-terrorism unit carrying a vendetta and the girls are merely tools to complete that mission.

All in all this is a pleasant production with good flow and a nice balance of drama and action boosted by an unskippable opening theme song.

Overall Grade: 4/5

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