May 29, 2006

Gunslinger Girl

Superficially, Gunslinger Girl is a story about pre-adolescent and adolescent girls who are trained as efficient killers as part of a government special operations team. But if you approach this anime with that mindset, you will be extremely surprised at what this extremely tight and intelligent series really offers. The characters, story, and emotional aspects explored by the writers are some of the best I have ever experienced. What this series is really about are young girls who are trying to understand what life means for them in respect to their father-figure handlers.

You might think it cruel for these girls to have been brain-washed and forced to live in such a controlled and violent environment. But on the surface, all of these young girls were saved from horrible situations and the conditioning serves both to help them forget about what happened to them and to perform their duties more effectively. It might be hard to say whether or not they are better off with their new lives, or if it would have been best to leave them to die or live with their physical and mental scars. I certainly would not wish any young girl to live the way they do, but I think given the choice that this is a better option.

What really drives this series forward are the relationships that each girl has with her handler. Although they are not biologically related, the pair of handler and girl is referred to as a fratello, and their relationship is very much like that of a father and daughter. But as with reality, some girls will suffer tragedy or emotional hurt due to events outside of their control or from how their handler views them. Some handlers look at their cyborgs as tools to be used and nothing more. While others treat their girl as their own daughter. And because the girls and handlers are human, they come with all of the flaws and complexity that you would expect to find in real life. Regardless of if you like how a handler treats his girl, you have to understand that they are a fratello, and the girls would never accept a different handler.

I think that the depth of these characters and the realistic complexity of their relationships would actually provide more than enough detail for a much longer storyline or for greater focus on individual girls. But this series is extremely focused and so there is a great deal to pull out of each episode. The ending is so bittersweet and should really strike a chord within you because you've grown to understand and feel for the girls.

Two things that were really great with this production were the CG and music. The animators made great use of 3-D models and cel shading to create wonderful characters movements that looked absolutely great. It has an energy and fullness to it that you cannot find in traditional hand drawn animation. The music was heavy on the piano and stringed arrangements, partially because the series takes place in Italy, but also because it suits the mood of things very well.

Posted by josuah at May 29, 2006 9:09 PM UTC+00:00

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