Gunslinger Girl

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13 comments posted
Don't expect any change from the status quo...

The next season probably won't have any great departure from what the first season put, asides from focusing on Triela specifically.

The later manga volumes focus on an older cyborg and tend to leave behind the earlier girls.

The anime/manga just steams of wrong. It's so evil. But great.

anonymous's picture
Posted by anonymous (not verified) on 23 December 2007 - 10:32am
Rambling unfocused response to the article

Spoilers for the series if anyone cares.

Interesting read. Good points on the prevalent power structures in the setting, though I felt a bit sorry for Giuseppe and Hirscher being lumped in with Jean and the Section 2 director. They're certainly party to the exploitation but their guilt and uncertainty in dealing with their 'little sisters' are almost as interesting to me as the cyborgs' struggles with their conditioned emotions and I think they're at least worth distinguishing from their more unscrupulous peers.

I disagree with the analysis on one point: that while Triela is the closest thing the cyborgs have to a dissident (and unfortunately isn't much of one), the real disruption of the fratelo power structure comes from Henrietta in the aftermath of Elsa's murder-suicide. As Giuseppe says, Henrietta's alarmingly sudden recreation of Elsa's motives and method for killing her handler and herself are a form of blackmail he can't escape. Henrietta's emotions may be created by Section 2 to its advantage, but Giuseppe is nonetheless held hostage to them. The same willingness and ability to kill and die for Giuseppe that make Henrietta useful to him make her threat credible and force his compliance. Though it's only in a limited way and basically on Section 2's terms, there is an inversion of power in Henrietta and Giuseppe's relationship.

I too had hoped for more exploration of Triela's character, especially her relative independence and ability to separate herself from the emotions created by her conditioning. But because I mostly see the show first as an exploration of the novel psychology of the cyborgs I'm not sure I would have wanted the first season to focus on an escape from it. It'd be an interesting development later, but as far as the first season is concerned I'd rather the show was made feminist-friendly just by mixing up the sexes of the cyborgs and handlers. Or just left feminist-unfriendly so these interesting critiques can be written.

andrew's picture
Posted by andrew (not verified) on 25 December 2007 - 1:14pm
If it follows the manga, and

If it follows the manga, and it probably will since Yu Aida is basically in charge of the writing for the 2nd season, don't expect Triela to somehow provide a 'role model' for feminists... Although she plays the perpetual tough girl, in her arc, her actions reveal that ultimately, her raison d'etre is to gain acceptance from Victor, and despite his wariness around her/fear of her, he eventually comes to terms with that.

anonymous's picture
Posted by anonymous (not verified) on 30 December 2007 - 2:57am
Reply to article

From you article it is obvious you have never really watched the series, I will point out some of the major themes for you. First, all of the girls would have been dead if they were not cyberized (turned into cyborgs) a process that left them with blank minds. The 'conditioning' process you mentioned selectivly returns elements of their personalities to them, without it they would be vacant, empty shells. The main part of the story develops with how the girls, through their own individual strengths, deal with the very difficult emotional situations that they are placed in, and the relationships they develop with each other, gradually empowering themselves. The fact that they are girls was simply because they would be the least suspect for the type of work they do (killing terrorists and mafia types) and in each episode the girls win the day. What could be more empowering than that ? Might be worth another look (imho).

-MD

MD Nehez's picture
Posted by MD Nehez (not verified) on 27 December 2007 - 12:26pm
Exploitation

The manga yanks all the skeletons out of the closet for this series. It's supposed to be sad, exploitative, and rake up feelings of disgust. The girls are essentially doomed to an early death. It's no coincidence an irritated Triela tosses asides a book ending with 'And they all lived happily ever after.'

The girls don't really act to stop 'terrorists' in the name of good, they just do it because that's what they're programmed to do. There are a few scenes with Rico beating various Padania operatives to death, killing one man by smashing one his head right into a car window, and it's not so much about triumph or heroics as it is extreme, mechanical brutality. It stands in nice contrast to a later scene of her cheerfully running across a beach, not a care in the world.

anonymous's picture
Posted by anonymous (not verified) on 30 December 2007 - 3:46am
I must admit, I've had to

I must admit, I've had to reread your article a couple of times to make sure you're talking about the same anime I'm thinking of. As a couple of other comments have mentioned, I think you've actually missed the whole point of the story. Yes, it is about exploitation, but by no means does it glorify that exploitation - in fact it does the exact opposite (more so, in the manga). The scene between Rico and the bellboy, as well as Henrietta's reaction to Elsa's death clearly amplify that. Using the latter example, Jose (who would probably be happier having Henrietta play her violin, than killing people) is suddenly hit with the knowledge that if he ever stops being the centre of Henrietta's world (or even finds a girlfriend), he's dead. The handlers are as much victims of the system as the girls - as Lauro found out... too late.

Your article also contains several errors:
- Henrietta is the least programmed of the girls, as Jose actively resists having her overly conditioned. Likewise, Hillshire allows Triela some freedom, due to her age.

- You say they could fight their way out of being exploited. How exactly would they do that, when firstly they have no free will and secondly, their world revolves around their handlers (and I use that word deliberately) so what exactly would they do afterwards?

- oh and a small point - it's a seinen series, not shounen.

Unfortunately, from reading this I get the impression you've gone off half-cocked and have written this according to your own agenda, without doing adequate research. If you'd taken the time to analyse the story in full (i.e. read the manga as well as watch the series - which encapsulates a fraction of the story) you'd see that Aida Yu (amongst his many talents) is well researched in psychology, all of which is shown in the story to highlight the plight of the girls... as well as their handlers.

In some respects I agree with you, it's terrible what's happened to these girls (just look at Rico, who should be a happy 10-year old, pulling a gun on a boy she knows and saying mechanically, "I'm sorry."), but as has been mentioned elsewhere, is this existence really worse than the one they were 'rescued' from? Henrietta had been almost tortured to death, Triella was rescued from a snuff film, Rico was seriously deformed. I'd say however bad their current situation is, it's better than where they were before - would you want Henrietta to carry the memories of her abuse with her, or would you rather have her in some semblance of happiness with Jose. Think about it - even the opening song starts, "In truth, there is no better place to be...".

Just a final point, because I'm curious - if the show was about little boys of the same age in the same predicament, would you have still written your article? And if not,why not?

psygremlin's picture
Posted by psygremlin on 30 December 2007 - 5:23am
I have to agree with this

I have to agree with this comment on the main article. Though I am sympathetic to some of the article's main points--i.e. disgust at seeing young girls being exploited because they are seen as the prime subjects for being controlled by the agency, I think the author has missed the messages that Gunslinger is trying to send out. Gunslinger is a drama/pseudo-political/psychological genre series that more or less is about exploring the idea of using children as weapons for the cause of the greater good. The agency that piloted the cyborg fighter program choose the girls with the thought that females tend to be less psychologically prone to aggression and would therefore make better subjects for training and being controlled. Is isn't a nice or just way of thinking but it does make sense, does it not? In fact, Gunslinger--made for an older audience as the above commentor mentioned-- portrays drama that is oddly "realistic" and plausible given the premises of the show. The girls are hardly likely to rebel and fight their way out of the agency anytime soon because that would make it into a different type of anime. The manga that the anime is based off has been written with overt emphasis on the girls' missions while quietly weaving in the subtle character developments. Rather than telling a story about a renegade troop of ex-government tools escaping into free society and ruling their own lives while fending off the evil agency that created them and want them back (a tale told once and many times before) Gunslinger is a surprisingly quiet drama about the girls coping with their unusual and bleak experience.

Of course, by coping and living the way that they are told to live, the girls of Gunslinger certainly aren't exactly fighting the feminist cause. But then again, the manga and the anime aren't really talking about feminism. The emphasis is on ethics. The agency that the "siblings" work for fight terrorists and mafia organizations...by exploiting young children. This brings me to another point-the girls are awfully young. With the exception of Triella they are all preteens. Triella is the oldest and has the most matured personality, whereas the others are still being subtly developed. Henrietta may be the one with the least brainwashing done on her but she is also the newest member of the team--therefore she is like a clean slate with very little memory of her past life.

It is true that the sibling pairs are all male handlers commanding young female assassins. So yes, the girls are dominated by males. But the relationships (while admittedly not without obvious romantic tension-especially in the case of Henrietta and her "brother") can also be seen as paternal in some cases. The girls are all orphans with little memory of their parents (with the exception of Rico) and get partnered with men that could who more or less make sure that they are taken cared of, get educated and trained. Some of them get stuffed toys for holidays and birthdays.

This brings me to how the article mentioned the girls were willing to die rather than disappoint their brothers. I didn't find this part surprising or disgusting given the premises of the show. The girls seem to get very little social interaction other than between themselves and their handlers--who seek approval from as paternal figures and adults (they appear to be looking for love too...which may to the minds of some of the girls be the same thing as approval). Besides, the Japanese (i don't want to generalize but historically speaking) are not strangers to a honor code that emphasizes failure as shameful.

monica's picture
Posted by monica (not verified) on 14 January 2008 - 6:15pm
i recently bought gunslinger

i recently bought gunslinger girl (all three volumes) on dvd and was captivated. i was romping around the internet when i sumbled across this and, while you are entitled to your own opinion, there are some instances where it seems like you have a one track mind.

see, this was originally a manga, it was only "recently" turned into an "anime."

like many other people have said, it's not about females vs. males. i've noticed that most of your blogs are seeking some kind of minute detail in everything you've seen or heard that you can declare sexist.

these children are given a chance at a life they could not have otherwise had. take angelica, she was run over by her parents. take rico, she didn't have a normal life to begin with because she was hospitalized. this agency was giving these children a life, but in return they are entitled to some kind of pay back. that's just how life is i guess...

the fact that these little girls are turned into assassins is supposed to seem shocking. women are dynamic characters. the way the girls are used in this series are phenominal. usually, girl "superheros" are either geeky or slinky. these children are cunning, that's an aspect that makes the whole story so chilling.

if the girls were boys, it wouldn't be as great a story. boys are supposed to be rough. boys are supposed to be cold. that's what the media has made them to be. that's an accepted view. if the girls were boys, the story would be tragic, yes, but not as gripping.

set aside the feministic views for a minute. take the film as a film to make you think and appreciate how capable you are as a person. not as a woman. not as an adult. as a person.

the fact that the children serve their brothers faithfully starts as a respect, like the respect for a teacher. the fact that they are willing to die goes way beyond the reasoning that they should do it because they were "trained to." they want to. would you die for your father? would you die for your mother? it's called love.

another thing to remember is these girls are cyborgs. they're robots, but they still have hearts. if they didn't have the heart part, they'd do whatever their brother bidded. so they don't have much of a freewill.

if you changed the story, if you added or detracted, there wouldn't be so much interest in it.

[sorry for getting a little worked up there :)]

Catherine's picture
Posted by Catherine (not verified) on 30 December 2007 - 1:41pm
Get out!

You know, it is idiots like you who makes this world a shitty place to live in. You will go and look for a reason for something to be about gender and the blow the whole thing out of proportion. But then again, you are probably to closed minded to see anything other than what you believe is right, and that is that men are the scum of the earth.

Please, grow up, get a life, and stop making everything about gender, race or sex, maybe you will be a happier person afterwards

Dawid's picture
Posted by Dawid (not verified) on 8 January 2008 - 6:14am
Gunslinger girls

But what about Elisa? She may have been a girl that was anti-social with the other girls. But she had some serious issues with her Handler. She was totally in love with him, but he saw her as an object to be used. When Elisa realized this she killed him and then her self. That was a huge sign of rebeling against agentcy. They had to cover it up because it would have been the end of them.

I love the series, it's tragic and deals with the issues of exploting children. You get a Mo-eh feeling for each girl, even the unlikeable Elisa. My favorite is Rico, because she is just glad to be able to move. She seemed to be the sweetest and navie of all the girls. The series really is good and I can't wait till the second season. But they did change the animation dramaticly, which I don't like so much.

deathsxaxgame's picture
Posted by deathsxaxgame (not verified) on 25 January 2008 - 3:36pm
f you were to look on Amazon

f you were to look on Amazon for "Gunslinger Girl", you would find the "Gunslinger Girl" Complete Box Set, as well as the "Gunslinger Girl" Box Set: Viridian Collection. Does anyone know whether both of them have all the episodes? What's the difference between the 2? 'Cause I would prefer to buy the cheaper Viridian Collection, but I don't want to end up buying the wrong thing, ya know? Thanks!

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kurapika's picture
Posted by kurapika on 7 February 2008 - 7:18am
What the hell, before i

What the hell, before i start my amazing rant some things you should know.
1 im a huge anime fan and as such watch incredible amounts of anime
2 Im a guy
3 Im angry with feminist movements for this very reason...
that aside heres my response
first off this anime is very good and obviously is an action drama my favorite type of anime. second your review is formed more as a critical review of women in entertainment and not as a review of anime third your analysis is just wrong the anime is about how terrible the exploitation of the young girls is hence elsa kills her handler. the anime also shows the neccesity of love and kindness. the violence critique is also abusrd because theres many animes that do the same thing to boys or men in much the same way. Moreover WTF is your problem its a cartoon that says these things are terrible....... respond if u want and we'll get in a nice argument :)

Me's picture
Posted by Me (not verified) on 9 June 2008 - 9:34pm
I Agree...

I agree with you totally. The person that did this review made it sound like the men [handlers] are treating the girls like slavery. I a girl and i think the person that did this review TOTALLY misjudged Gunslinger Girl. Im a anime/Manga fan also so I know that Gunslinger girl is WAY different than the way the person put it as.

i said:'s picture
Posted by i said: (not verified) on 10 July 2008 - 1:49pm