Sunday, October 13, 2013

Anime Review: Gunslinger Girl

GUNSLINGER GIRL: Episodic writing at its finest

In the heart of Italy, the Social Welfare Agency rescues young girls from hospital beds using cybernetic technology. In return, the girls are forced to use their artificially enhanced bodies to do underground work for the Italian Government. But there is an inevitable fact that makes their work complicated -- they are still children at heart, longing for freedom, recognition, and love.

It is important to note that Gunslinger Girl is an episodic anime, meaning that it doesn’t have a singular plot; each episode features a unique story of its own. Episodic writing could be problematic, for there is a tendency for the viewers to be disengaged by the lack of an overall plot. Each episode may seem like a fresh start -- for the worse. Luckily, this problem is not seen in Gunslinger Girl.

What makes episodic writing effective for this anime is how it has been exploited to show the development of the characters. The story of each gunslinger girl is focused at least one episode, and this is thanks to the episodic approach. Each of them is drawn to an intricate plot about governments and secret organizations. However, this does not make the show plot-oriented. In fact, it is the opposite. The show is very character-driven. The featured gunslinger girl is still the focal point of the story. Her actions and decisions, and not the seemingly intricate plot, are what drive the story forward.

Speaking of the characters, I find them to be very well-made. Each gunslinger girl has something going on inside her head, and this is expanded during the episode where she is featured. Another thing that makes the characterization amazing is how the characters interact with each other. Each gunslinger girl is supervised by a handler. And it is very interesting how the girls have different relationships with their handlers. There is the master-servant relationship, the sister-brother relationship, the disappointed-teacher-struggling-student relationship, and many others. This just adds to how the story is very character-driven and emotional.

The praising doesn’t stop there. The screenplay is also something worth noting. The dialogue is well thought-out, and, often times, there is subtlety between the lines that could even rival that of Seinen titles. Certain plot elements also appear symbolic, either to depict a truth or an irony -- or both.

Clearly, Gunslinger Girl is an anime of above average quality. I must admit that I thought it is going to be an action-packed title because it involves governments and secret organizations. But it’s good to know that I’m wrong. This is not your typical show that flashes the viewers with mindless action sequences just to appear interesting. This is the kind of show that will capture the viewers’ attention through its characters and how they move in the dangerous world they live in. Add the fact that the stories are freshly set in different landmarks in Italy, and are embedded with musical soundtracks that fit the setting perfectly, and the show becomes even more compelling.

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