Post by Old Man Dream on Jul 15, 2020 16:07:53 GMT
Gunslinger Girl is a political thriller/ action series from Yu Aida written for shounen magazine, Dengeki Daioh, from 2002 to 2012 for 100 chapters. Two anime adaptations of the series were made in the 2000s by Madhouse and Artland that adapt events from the first six volumes of the manga series. Gunslinger Girl explores the exploits of the Social Welfare Agency (SWA), an Italian government organization that has the public front of being a charitable group that cares for injured children. In reality, it’s a counter-terrorist military organization that takes injured girls and makes them into cyborg assassins. Each of the cyborgs are paired with a human trainer called a “handler,” who is responsible for the training and well-being of their cyborg partner. These pairs being called “fratellos,” the relationships between cyborg and handler can vary from being something close to a sibling-like relationship or the cyborg regarded as a tool of the trade depending on the handler’s approach to caring for their cyborg charge. While exploring the different fratello relationships throughout the series, Gunslinger Girl also explores the ongoing conflict that the SWA has with the terrorist organization known as the Five Republics Faction.
Gunslinger Girl The Gunslinger Girl anime was made in 2003 by Madhouse. It adapts the first two volumes of the manga series and is mainly a character-driven series exploring the pasts of some of the cyborg girls before becoming part of the SWA and the different fratello relationship dynamics. Being more a character-focused series, the series does a great job dabbling into the different relationship dynamics with the fratello being either professional or family-like and how each cyborg regards their experiences working with the SWA. The series is well aware of the morally questionable treatment that the girls have received due to being made into cyborg assassins. But when you also factor in the pasts of the girls before becoming part of the organization, it does offer some interesting insight on whether or not the audience would think the lives of the girls may be better off under their current profession instead of being left to suffer physically and mentally from their tragic pasts.
Because the anime only adapts the first two volumes of the manga, this does lead the anime to create a good deal of anime-exclusive material to either expand on stories from the manga or create its own story developments to help pad out its 13-episode length. In cases of story expansion, the additions work to add some more dimension to the fratello relationship dynamics that the manga doesn’t get into. For example, the anime’s first two episodes are each shown from the perspectives of the fratello pairing of Henrietta and Jose, in how each regard their partnership and the handling of busting a local terrorist cell. But in regards to adding anime-exclusive plotting as seen in the show’s final two episodes, it adds nothing new to the story, creates unnecessary drama, and makes the fate of one cyborg go in a direction that it didn’t actually go in the manga at that point. For the last point in question, the anime’s sequel, Il Teatrino, disregards the development in question to stay faithful to the manga source material.
A few other issues arise due to elements of the anime’s storytelling. One episode drops possible hints of the cyborg, Triela’s, origins that the series doesn’t thoroughly explore until Il Teatrino later comes out, though this would be a minor complaint. A major complaint that would vary depending on a viewer’s tastes would be the lack of an ongoing plot. Due to the anime being more character-focused, there isn’t actually an ongoing plot for the series to properly follow and it can seem like the series would be going nowhere for those that care more for plotting with anime they follow.
For visuals, Madhouse’s animated talents go very well in depicting Gunslinger Girl’s animation throughout its run. The series has detailed scenery, character, and firearm designs shown throughout its run, with setting designs being very faithful to the European locales that characters visit and firearm designs being very faithful to the real life guns used by characters for those who are gun enthusiasts. The series also comes with great action choreography depicted through careful camera editing and shot use to convincingly create the illusion of fluid animation, one notable highlight being the first action scene in the series when Henrietta is dispatching a terrorist cell.
Music for the series is depicted with classical musical pieces that fit in well with the show’s Italian setting and help enhance the drama of a number of key scenes throughout the anime’s run. The show’s OP and ED musical choices are hauntingly beautiful and do very well at complementing the mood seen throughout the series.
Overall, Gunslinger Girl works great as a character-driven series exploring the relationship dynamics of each of the fratellos and exploring how each cyborg regards their work with the SWA. The series may not be everyone’s cup of tea due to its lack of an ongoing plot and there are some story elements to it that don’t work well in the show’s ongoing developments due to anime-exclusive content that doesn’t always mesh well with the title’s intended focus. But if character-driven titles with a good deal of action are up your alley, Gunslinger Girl offers up solid enjoyment throughout its run.
Rating: 8 of 10
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino (TV and OVAs) Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino was made by Artland in 2008, adapting chapters from manga volumes 3-6. In this season of the series, the SWA come into conflict with a pair of bombers working for the Five Republics Faction and a skilled assassin within the organization named Pinocchio. The latter comes to be a problem for cyborg Triela, who loses to Pinocchio in an encounter and wishes to avenge said loss. There were also two additional OVA episodes made for the series adapting side-stories from the manga’s sixth volume that explore elements of the pasts of the Croce brothers, Jean and Jose, who serve as cyborg handlers for the SWA for Rico and Henrietta respectively.
Before I offer my thoughts on plot and characters with Il Teatrino, I should address the controversial element of the series in regards of its visual presentation. Unlike Madhouse, Artland isn’t so memorable with high production quality for many of their titles and this shows with Il Teatrino. Details for characters and scenery are simplified and animation isn’t as smooth to see in action for combat scenes compared to the first series. I certainly recall this being a turn-off for many fans over 12 years ago when the series originally premiered in Japan with the jarring difference in production quality, and I can’t really argue with the animation quality for Il Teatrino taking a big hit.
If you can look past the subpar visual presentation, Il Teatrino offers up perhaps the best developments within Gunslinger Girl as it features ongoing plot development with the SWA’s conflict with members of the Five Republics Faction. This series crosses into political thriller territory as it thoroughly explores the motives and actions of both the SWA and the Five Republics with the justifications members of both factions have. This not only shows that characters within both factions have their redeemable qualities to justify their actions, but also shows the societal ramifications that the actions of both organizations can have with government corruption and the damage that terrorist acts can have on major buildings and the populace.
Besides the political thriller, Il Teatrino also takes the time to explore the pasts of a number of characters throughout the series and explore how these developments shaped their views of Italian society and terrorism. For the SWA, there is a good deal of focus on exploring the pasts of the handlers in this season and how this effects their outlooks on the work they are doing, this getting unique focus with how one handler’s work effects a romantic relationship he has outside of it. The exploration of the origins of Triela and Pinocchio in this season also provide some interesting parallels with both their tragic pasts, how both each view their work, and the relationships each have with their parental figure within the organizations each represent in the show’s main conflict.
Putting aside its subpar presentation, Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino is still a strong continuation of Gunslinger Girl that offers some ongoing plot developments that push the series into political thriller territory and offers more exploration of the back stories and beliefs of a number of characters within both factions.
Rating: 8.5 of 10
Someday I’ll be gone To somewhere that we belong And God has never played his role 'Cause I’m the one who saves my soul It’s a perfect world we’re longing for
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