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Gunslinger Girl Review

by: sothis
January 2, 2005

story 8.5/10

Gunslinger Girl screenshot While the idea of exploiting children or other human beings for murder might seem unoriginal, Gunslinger Girl still manages to bring a bit of uniqueness to the story, mostly through how the story is told, rather than the content. So as far as actual content, I enjoyed what it was about.

Although murder and assassination is the job of these young girls, the focus of the series is more based on them as characters, and the morality of using them as tools to reach a means. Because the main topic seems to be character development and moral issues, you should be forewarned that the pacing is very slow, and the actual flow of the series is very lacking and uneven. Each episode tends to be related to one of the girls at first, her past, and how she fits in with her "brother"/partner. Near the end, the focus of morality is touched on more. However, there really isn't a central plot, and for that reason, there isn't really an ending, or one that is conclusive at all (or satisfying).

animation 8/10

I'm a big fan of the type of character designs that were prevalent in Gunslinger Girl. Soft tones were used for the color scheme, usually grays and dark blues. The scenery of the towns was impressive, as much of the series takes place in Italy. Definitely a refreshing step away from seeing same old Tokyo in every anime series. The actual "fights" (or assassinations, I should say) were done well, though seemed a bit generic. Girls with guns seems overdone, and the animation style used when they fought was no different. Then again, how many different things can you really do with a gun? One thing I think was done well was how much the expressions on the girl's face contributed to how disturbed you feel. I doubt many people will watch this series and not be at least a little disturbed about the notion of using extremely mentally scarred, brainwashed girls (this isn't a spoiler, it's revealed in episode 1) for killing tools... and you can see the girls' apathy in their completely neutral, mellow, and calm faces, even when they are being talked down upon. It is almost like they are a puppy dog vying for the attention of their master, and this makes it even more disturbing.

sound 9/10

Beautiful orchestral tracks dominated this series. Many songs had an Italian flair to them, given where a lot of the series took place. Opera songs were present as well.

characters 6/10

While great care was taken to try to make you empathetic towards the plight of the girls, I felt no real attachment after seeing each of their pasts. Because of how distanced you are from them emotionally (due to their total lack of it, as well as not a clear picture of how happy/whatever they were prior to becoming the killer), you just can't feel too much towards them. I didn't feel like any of the characters were really developed over the course of the 13 episodes. The first half of the series introduced each character on a shallow level, and then ended with another 7 episodes of wishy washy "plot" and attempted character development which really didn't work for me. The "brothers" were introduced as well, but I also didn't feel like they evolved or changed over the course of the series. You had indications that a few of them were different as far as empathetic towards the girls in the very beginning, so it wasn't a surprise when they expressed it a little more by the end... but nothing huge. Voice actors did fine for all characters involved.

overall 6/10

Gunslinger Girl is a visual treat with beautiful music, interesting character designs, and an interesting idea at a plot. So where does it fail?

First of all, the pacing is atrocious and the flow between episodes is almost non existant. I like slice of life shows, but this tries (and fails) at combining slice of life, with character development, with action/killing. at least half of the series is dedicated to shallowly introducing one character, who then isn't even a big part of the story. Had this been 26 episodes, perhaps all the introduction would have been prudent, but it just succeeds in making the "story" even less noticable and prominent.

Secondly, as mentioned already, the series can't decide what to be. With only 13 episodes, I feel that either it should be episodic, or actually make good use of the time it has. Gunslinger Girl just doesn't do that... it goes between too many types of genres and never comes to any sort of conclusion about the moral issues raised. Not to mention, it fails completely in a few situations where something (character bonding related) is built up, only to not have a conclusion.

I really did expect a lot from this series, but left it feeling very blah. Though I did give high marks above to a few categories, that is because the series is good on a shallow level, but very unappealing once you keep watching it. Too many questions were brought up that were never addressed, too many people were introduced for such a short time, and in general, I walked away unsatisfied and disappointed. So, decide for yourself. ^_^

Anime Info

Henrietta is a young girl who works for a "welfare group" that does the government's dirty work. Cybernetically-enhanced and specially-trained, she is one of a group of elite hit-girls, remorseless killers with no memories of their past. Jose, her partner, has taken care of her since she was brought into the organization following the murder of her family, and struggles between his affection for her, and his opposing duty to his employer. But, time is running out.. for with each bullet they fire, Henrietta and the other girls lose a little more of their humanity.


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About the Author

sothis's avatar

sothis

My fav genres include sci fi and horror, but you'll find a lot of obscure reviews from me too, given I watch a ton to add to the database. My new reviews are written a lot better than my old ones, so when in doubt, sort by date! ^_^ Enjoy, and I welcome any and all feedback.

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comments

SadisticTendencies avatar SadisticTendencies
Feb 9, 2011

The reason why I switched from Animenewsnetwork to this website is the incredible reviews. Although I enjoyed 'Gunslinger Girl' more than you did, I have to say your review is great!

i8badhaggis avatar i8badhaggis
Jan 25, 2011

I have not seen this but where on Earth did you learn to average numbers?  it isn't I decide what the score is for each part and then just trash the ending because I wasn't happy with it.  Give accurate ratings for each part and then average them for the overall.  each of the parts should add into the overall but here it's like you just made it up.

Lagore avatar Lagore
Jun 23, 2010

I would argue that the character developement in the story has less to do with the girls and their handlers as individuals and more to do with the whole dynamic of power and control that's at play there.  Focusing on each of the girls for an episode seems like just a way to explore this dynamic from every angle.

I'm biased though as it's one of my favorite series.

MaatiSan avatar MaatiSan
Aug 21, 2009

Yeah sound and animation were great with an interesting idea, I just thought it was dull.  I don't really like to see little girls fighting, characters i can't relate with at all, coupled together with a slow moving main plot.  Unless you have a loli fetish or time to kill I wouldn't recommend this

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