From its very first page, Gunslinger Girl challenges its readers' expectations, daring them to consider and reconsider where the line between "right" and "wrong" may lie. In this exceptionally dark and unyielding manga, there are no white knights to root for. Indeed, the bulk of the story's emotional impact comes from the sheer moral ambiguity between the clash of the Social Welfare agency, whose handlers exploit innocent victims of tragic pasts, and the terrorist organization Padania, whose agents are strictly principled yet horribly violent in their methods. Both sides are simultaneously sympathetic and guilty of terrible atrocities, the list of which only grows as the series progresses.
For those who can appreciate a dose of the macabre, Gunslinger Girl provides a chilling experience. Would the titular Girls have been better off had they been passed over by the Agency? Can anything justify the atrocities committed by their handlers? The answers to these questions can only be provided by the reader, and will likely change over time.
Seven Seas' omnibus edition contains the first three books of the manga with a new, revised translation and superior quality artwork. The previous ADV edition, published in 2003, used scans of the Japanese manga for its pages. Seven Seas' edition uses the original digital images from the Japanese publisher, and the improvement in quality is extremely noticeable. Jose's hair is now properly shaded in dark blacks and subtle greys, rather than a homogeneous dark shading. Action lines are crisp and clear. The size has been slightly reduced from the ADV version, but the page ratio has remained the same, allowing the style to be maintained perfectly.
Finally, the new translation is also an improvement from ADV's version. Certain lines have been changed to give them more clarity and meaning, sacrificing a small amount of ambiguity in favor of providing more depth to the characters. For example, Henrietta's explanation for her rampage in the first chapter is changed from its original "I couldn't let you get hurt, [Jose]." The new translation provides the more revealing "I can't stand it when people are mean to you, Signore Jose." The new translation fits more with Henrietta's character, replacing a generic, obvious statement that made little sense. Similar oddities from the original have been replaced and returned, the linguistics of which would require much more time to explain than is necessary. Suffice to say that the translation is more coherent and in keeping with the storyline.
Ultimately, this version of Gunslinger Girl is a bargain price for a brooding tale that any adult manga fan would enjoy. I highly recommend the Seven Seas omnibus for its improvements in quality, clarity and delivery.