The Social Welfare Agency, an agency created by the Italian government to help those who have physical injures with rehabilitation is what the public is told. In reality while they do this, they also do counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism for the Italian Government. The groups while using regular people; Section 2 uses young females who have been fitted with cybernetic implants for their operations.
The episodes are character based and focus usually on one of the girls and their handler, though there are some episodes that focus on several girls and their handlers. Usually the episodes focus what happened to the girls in their previous life before coming to the agency and their new lives after getting their new bodies. The intent of the series is to make you think, and think you will. The girls go from terrible or bad past lives to new ones, which they now kill without hesitation and without remorse. Even with their new bodies there are terrible side effects to what has been done with them.
The subject matter of the show is almost something that has to be looked at. The idea of turning young children into cold-blooded killers is going to be off putting to some people and may be morally wrong. You want to feel sorry for the little kids because of what has happened to them, but at the same time you are shocked by what they have become and it makes you want to vomit in disgust. That is the intent of the show, to shock you about what you are seeing and at the same time makes, you think about what you are watching and why it is so gripping to watch.
While not ever episode does this, there are episodes dedicated to looking at the relationship between the handlers and their cyborg partners. Each handler treats the girls differently and has various viewpoints on their relationship with the girls. Some treat their partner as a sister, and others may view them as just tools to get the job completed. Now ever reason why they treat the girls as they do is not explained at least with the first season, the second season does bring this to light.
In terms of pacing, the episodes move along in a slow matter, but for this series, it does fit perfectly. Moving at a fast pace this series would ruin the effectiveness of what the show is trying to do and turn it into something that it is not.
Art and Animation:
As an upscale it is not bad looking, but this is not going to set the world on fire by HD standards. It is better than the DVD version and the images do appear better, but as a non-native HD show there is only so much that can done to make it look good. Some scenes do look better, but there are others that just don’t look good either on the DVD or BD version.
Even without taking into consideration that this is an upscale, the action scenes and overall animation are done well even when looking at the DVD version. The fight scenes are fluid and they do not feel boring.
Dub (English and Japanese):
Funimation did the English dub for the series and is one of their better dubs out that they have done in their history. Any listener of any Funimation dub or English dubs for that matter should be able to pick up the English VA’s in their respective roles. The voices for the girls are the highlight of the dub, which all of the English VA’s who provided their voices fit their characters and nobody sounds too old for their role. The other English VA’s who also give their voices also do very well. There are a few changes from the Japanese script in the English translation but the changes give a very similar meaning from the Japanese so it is not a huge difference between the two.
The Japanese dub is also very good and the voices fit the characters quite well. The Japanese females VA’s doing the voices for the girls do an excellent job with their voices and they fit very well. The other Japanese VA’s also do a very good job and it comes across as solid Japanese dub.
The music is another area where the show shines brightly. The OP which is called “The Light Before We Land” which was sung by the Delgados a Scottish indie rock band that disbanded in 2005. The OP fits the show nicely and fits the theme of the series greatly. The ED which is called “Dopo il Sogno ~Yume no Ato ni~” (After the Dream ~After The Dream~” also fits the shows tone nicely and is also sung well too.
The music that plays during the series also fits and gives the actions scenes that needed touch that it needs to make them fit and feel even more exciting to the watcher.
The extras from the DVD’s have been brought over, which include dossiers for the girls, five conversations (mini commentaries) from the VA’s who provided the voices for the girls in English (This are sadly in SD) two features which draw the girls, along with textless OP/ED, trailers, and two English commentaries from the ADR production staff and directors.
Where it can be obtained:
Gunslinger Girl Blu-ray can be obtained at any major online retailer that sells anime in large amounts or any anime specific distributor.
Gunslinger girl is a series that will make anybody who watches it think, be it pity to the girls and what has become of them, or disgust for what has become of them. While the subject matter of the series may turn some off, those that choose to continue to watch, will be get to enjoy the wonderful dub in both languages along with exciting action scenes and a wonderful music score.
Plot *** out of ****
Art & Animation *** out of ****
Blu-ray Image Quality ** ½ out of ****
English Dub *** out of ****
Japanese Dub *** out of ****
Music: *** out of ****
Overall Score: *** ½ out of ****
Pros: Good English and Japanese dub, excellent music, though provoking plot
Cons: Slow pacing, Video quality with the BD transfer, subject matter is very subjective and may be off putting to some.
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