The cover artwork to the DVD's of Gunslinger Girl, made me roll my eyes and think that the anime industry is getting worse. They seem to have lolita fantasies, young girls with guns. In this series the girls don't look older than ten years of age. So I watched the first disc not expecting much more than silly action and weak storyline. I was glad to be proven wrong.
The opening theme song as the credits started was great and right from the getgo, the episode begins with an intro of a little blonde girl walking around, carrying a mean looking shotgun in her hand; carefully searching for something, but all we see is a room riddled with bullet holes and bloody, dead bodies laid around; Making me wonder, "what the hell happened?". Then a man calls some other people on the phone saying that the witness is not there. Then the scene cuts to another man and a little girl that go to another room where shady looking characters are hiding out and a blood bath starts. Then the story does a bit of a flashback that introduced the little girl named, Henrietta. She first started with the secret government agency called, The Social Welfare Agency, which is really a top secret program, that turns little girls into cybernetically enhanced, assassins!
From the very first episode to the last, Gunslinger Girl, had me hooked! It did not have much action, but when it did it was very violent and over quickly, demonstrating the girl's ability and profiency in killing the bad guys. The melee combat was kenetic and fast, the shoot-outs were bloodbaths and resulted in high body counts. Before any of that happens however, the agency's director and supervisors create a plan of attack. They discuss, strategic approaches to locations, estimated enemy count, possible risks and in case something goes wrong. They know how to cover their tracks before police gets to the scene of the crime. They try to cover all possiblities of a mission before they take action. This careful planning makes the covert element of the story more believable.
What makes the story so compelling however is not the action sequences, in fact, as I said before the action is very short and takes a backseat to the stories which unfold dramatically. The stories are mostly profiles about the little assassin girls which work in the agency; how they got picked, trained and assigned to be under their adult supervisors, known as "handlers". The handlers accompany the girls on these deadly missions, give orders to the girls and even join in attacking their targets. Some of the handlers are cold and uncaring to the girls- they see the girls as nothing more than tools of the trade. Other handlers act like big brothers and treat the girls like their little sisters. They grow weary of the girls safety and well being.
The little assassin girls are loyal and very obediant to their handlers; they are even willing to die to protect their handlers. Part of this loyalty comes from the conditioning (brainwashing) process and part of it comes from their emotional attachment to have a father/big brother figure. I'm glad that there was NO fan service and nothing that implied a lolita fantasy. Everything is very serious and interesting. It is this drama, complimented with the excellent script, voice acting, wonderful music, fantastic artwork which makes Gunslinger Girl, a MUST OWN anime! There is a total of 13 episodes in the whole three disc series, the Enlgish dub and extras on the dvds are excellent as well. Contains graphic violence, and mature themes, for adults only. I also recommend the anime called, Noir and Elfen Leid.