A secret Italian government organization saves severely injured little girls by... turning them into brainwashed super-strong cyborg assassins! These girls are paired with adult male handlers (nowhere near as skeevy as that sounds), given great big guns, and sent off to chase terrorists and anyone else the government is down on.

This typically involves a lot of poignant interactions between the girls and their handlers, who variously treat them as disposable tools, or as beloved little sisters or daughters. The girls almost universally adore their handlers. But then, that's what they're programmed to do. Did I mention that any time a girl goes off the rails, she's re-conditioned - a process which erases her memories and shortens her life?

As I said, remarkably not skeevy. Though the girls may get crushes on their handlers, the handlers do not do anything sexual with them. I'm sure that's unrealistic, but a) series about superstrong child cyborgs, b) I would not read it otherwise.

The series so far focuses on the relationships between the girls and their handlers, the girls and each other, the way the girls develop personalities and make choices in a situation where it seems like they shouldn't be able to, and what those choices and personalities look like, stripped down to their eternal-present essence. Plus lots of shoot-outs, not to mention pretty Italian countrysides and monuments. Very much my kind of thing, and very well-done. So far it's episodic, but I assume an arc will start any minute now.

I read the first two volumes, then rushed to the library to get more. Looks like there's twelve volumes total, but I'm not sure it's all available in English. Does the anime have the complete story?

Gunslinger Girl Omnibus 1
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid

The brainwashing and the handlers makes me think of Dollhouse, but the lack of skeeviness makes me think it must be very different.

Can little girls who are cyborgs ever grow up?
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

From: [personal profile] ironed_orchid

I figured if there were twelve volumes, plus translation time, it would probably predate Dollhouse. I'm kind of interested precisely because that's a relationship I'd like to see done better.

From: [personal profile] thomasyan

Dollhouse has the dolls get memory wipes and have new personalities installed on a frequent basis.

The Gunslinger Girls get much of their memory wiped upon being cyborged, but then undergo personality maintenance rather than doll-style reboots.

Plus, the Gunslinger Girls aren't sent out to have sex.

I don't remember the manga giving them new bodies to match or simulate normal growth rates. As Rachel said, they are not expected to live long. The brain-washing procedure ("conditioning") is part of what shortens their lives.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter

[personal profile] yeloson told me the mangaka does lolicon hentai, which makes it read much more skeevy to me in retrospect, although I feel one can read it without that subtext as well (as I did on a first read).

I like the anime a lot, and I think there's a second season I haven't seen.
oyceter: teruterubouzu default icon (Default)

From: [personal profile] oyceter

I don't know? It kind of depends for me. Frex, doujinshi I can kind of keep separate, whereas I reread OSC's Speaker for the Dead lately. And I loved it so much when I first read it because it was about a non-teenager with black Brazilians and families instead of the Lone Male Hero. But then after knowing more about OSC's whole gay marriage thing, it left a really sour taste in my mouth on rereading =(. Like, I can still read and see what I enjoyed, as well as thumb my nose at the author for reading things into it I suspect he didn't put there, but it has affected how I think about it?

I think some of this is also affected by knowing that the lolicon thing is a bit of a genre, which annoys me because I keep picking up series of little girls being kickass and then being skeeved out =(.

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com

There are multiple seasons and OVA for the anime. I feel that the first season is best. I didn't like the second season so much, and I don't think I've yet watched the rest. I think partly the underlying story from the manga is not as strong, and also the animators and writers I think changed between seasons.

I thought the anime did a better job with the Elsa arc.

I have lost track how much of the manga is out in the US. I think while in Japan I saw volume 7 of the manga, and misidentified the young woman on the cover as Henrietta grown up to be around 17, but she turned out to be a different character.

From: [identity profile] coraa.livejournal.com

I haven't seen the whole thing, but was surprised by how un-skeevy what I saw was. I mean, creepy in the way that brainwashing little girls into supersoldiers is! But not sexually skeevy.

From: [identity profile] mkellis.livejournal.com

I've only seen a couple of chapters of the manga. I did really enjoy the first season of the anime (and loved the opening theme).

And yes, remarkably not-skeevy, though there are a few things implied...

One of the weirder things I got out of the series was an interest in the Lega Nord and the secessionist movement in Northern Italy. Now I can't listen to a lecture or read an article without thinking of Gunslinger Girls, which is just sort of wrong.

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com

loved the opening theme

Yeah, I saw the opening and heard the music and said, I'm there. I don't need to see any more to know that I want to watch this series.

few things implied

? I know one of the handlers treats his girl as a tool, and knocks her around physically. But given that the girls treat their handlers as a combination older brother, father, and would-be boyfriend, the series is surprisingly un-skeevy.

From: [identity profile] notarysojac.livejournal.com

One of our all-time favorites.

There were 6 volumes of the Gunslinger Girl manga put out by ADV Manga in the US before they went under. Seven Seas is finally reissuing them in the omnibus format with what appears to be three of the original volumes in each. Hopefully, Seven Seas will not also go under before they publish the third and subsequent volumes.

The original Gunslinger Girl anime covered the first three volumes of the manga, though the stories were not in the same order. The manga is good but we thought the anime told the stories better. It was one of the few shows where we bought and watched each DVD as it was released instead of waiting for a collection.

Several years later - long after we had given up hope of a second season being made - a second season (Gunslinger Girl 2 - Il Teatrino) appeared focusing on the Pinocchio arc from volumes 3-5, and then two OVAs picking up a couple of shorter tales. They were somewhat more action-oriented than the original anime season, but there was still a lot of the character development and personal focus that made us first fall in love with Gunslinger Girl. Just like Thomasyan, the opening alone (it was a trailer on a NewType USA dvd) sold us on the show. The Delgados' The Light Before We Land is one of my favorite OP themes and still tears me several years later. Shame the second season did not find a piece just as powerful to kick it off.

Volume 6 of the manga shifts to Petrushka - a next-generation cyborg - and was the last one ADV Manga printed. I saw volume 7 listed at Amazon and snapped it up, but it turned out to be the German edition. Several years of learning German in High School and College over 30 years ago did not really help me much so I'm looking forward to Seven Sea's 3rd omnibus volume.

If more of the manga is made into anime, we will get them too.

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