Plot Summary:"Henrietta" was an innocent little girl when her entire family was massacred and she was left for dead. She was rescued by a privately-owned social welfare organization and given cybernetic components over her battered body. Brainwashed by the organization, she and four other girls now work as cold-blooded assassins, doing the dirty work for the Italian government. - Anime News Network
Tech specs first: Season One is only three discs long, so it's easy to watch in a relatively short time span. The extras are nice, but not all that impressive. They include textless songs, voice director commentary, production commentary, and dossiers.
Gunslinger Girl is another one of those I decided to watch just to see what all the fuss was about. For the first time I have to admit that I agree with Charles Solomon at Amazon. I can't tell you how much it pains me to say that. The story is rather 'ho hum' in my opinion. To be honest, I have a hard time saying anymore than that. It's not a bad story, but it's not something I would watch again. (I may reconsider after watching season 2 though, but I doubt it)
The animation and production values are exactly what you'd expect considering all the hype this series got when it first came out. On the other hand I wouldn't call them anything special. The color schemes are muted, which adds to the very melancholy feel and serves to make you even more aware of the overall conflict.
So, is it okay to take little girls and make them into ruthless assassins? As important as that question is, the writing falls flat, and really doesn't do anything to make you care about these characters or want to explore the issue further. It seems to me that the moral and ethical questions were overshadowed by the missions, the training, as well as making the girls so cute some border on annoying. I kept wondering when at least one of them would question whether what they were doing was right or wrong, but that never happened. It is made clear that the girls are "conditioned" but they never show exactly how that is accomplished. The best you get is that they have their memories erased and all of a sudden pledge their undying loyalty to their "Fratello" (siblings/ handlers). I expected more emotional conflict from all the characters, not just this kind of blasé attitude of "Sure it bothers me but there's nothing I can do but make the best of things."
Other than that Gunslinger Girl (Season 1) lacks quite a bit of substance, and seems to be more muted flash with hollow characterizations than anything else. On the plus side, the voice acting is very good. It's been a long time since I've watched an anime with John Burgmeir and Eric Vale voicing two of the main characters. I hope the second season will make up for what this one never bothered to offer.
(Quotes are paraphrasing, not exact wording). Welcome to the Social Welfare Agency, a top secret part of the Italian government which, despite its name, has absolutely nothing to do with the Social Welfare of the nation’s people. Instead, this agency deals with terrorists, the mob, and other such criminal organizations, by assassinating their leaders. Now meet Harrietta, possibly the cutest little girl in the world, trained by the government … more
I'm one of those people that prefers status quo to randomness and chaos. I have two dogs, a Chihuahua and a German Short-haired Pointer, named Chiqua and Pepper. Chiqua is my constant companion. … more
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The complete first season in stunning high-definition!
Officially, the Social Welfare Agency is a government sponsored corporation that's in the business of saving lives. In reality, it's an agency on the fringe of technology. They give terminal patients another shot at life using cybernetic implants. This conditioning process then shapes the patient into an efficient machine for handling all of the government's dirty work.