Think of the most horrible thing in the world. Well, that's probably a baby in a plastic bag with a razor blade... The second worst thing is probably eating corn flakes that are really bloody scabs. The third is more than likely a helicopter with an ejector seat. But somewhere in the top ten is "dying little girls who are turned into cybernetic beings, conditioned to love a secret service agent and forced to become an assassin for the Italian Government". Guess which one Gunslinger Girl is about.
It may sound like it could be cute (roboticized cute little girls a la Saber Marionette J, Mahoromatic, or half of the ecchi dating sims out there), but here it's all played very seriously and very disturbingly fucked up. All of the characters in this show, be they little machine-girls or the government agents who partner up with the young-uns, are screwed up one way or another. Every child assassin was brought into the Social Welfare Secret G-Man Killers' Agency while on death's door. The mechanical bodies that they are upgraded with are all very new, and very untested, technology, as is the brainwashing that they are forced to undergo in order to accept their new lives as killers. Apparently adults or even boys reject the mind and body tampering in ways that 10 year-old girls don't. Anyway, my point is this is really screwed up.
Gunslinger Girl goes a little something like this: The Italian Government has a CIA-type agency that just created a top secret "Division 2" in which the above horrendous acts put little orphan Annies into Terminator bodies and then scramble their brains a little in order to make them docile and compliant to their Fratello "older brother" (i.e. the actual government agent) and their superiors. This brother person is the one in charge of picking which critically wounded girl is to be his subordinate, naming her, and training her to kill like a mini-Robocop with size 2 shoes. Some of the brother agents treat their tiny terminatrixes like little sisters, showering them with gifts and praising their accomplishments on the killing fields. Some brothers think of their child as if she were nothing more than a weapon. Some are confused and don't know what to think of their partners, and others treat their dinky debutantes with total disgust, as if the faux child were mocking life itself.
What makes this scenario truly sad and totally fucked-up-beyond-all-recognition is the fact that the "conditioning" that the lolis are made to take part in makes them undyingly loyal to their "brothers" in a state that can only be described as "puppy love". Some of the girls are conditioned way too much by their uncaring Fratellos and ironically become obsessed with them the most. Some girls are clear-headed enough to realize their situations and their places in life and just continue with the mission no questions asked. Others just become drones in order to block the horrors that they experience almost daily out of their fragile as an eggshell minds before they wind up like those gay early-nineties "this is your brain on drugs" analogies. And others are either too messed up from the beginning and end up dying painful and terribly sad deaths while nobody in the uncaring secret world that they are marooned in mourns for them. I'm telling you, this is not a show to pick up for the kiddies or as a way to get through a bout of depression. And by the way, don't watch Gunslinger Girl with any razor blades or sleeping pills lying around. Just as a security precaution.
Now, I had covered a show about a high school girl turned into the army's number one top secret weapon before (Saikano aka She, The Ultimate Weapon). Honestly, Gunslinger Girl is exactly what Saikano was aiming for, but missed horribly. GG is deep. It's chock full of questions about the morality of playing God, altering human emotions, and turning the most innocent of humans into the most perfect killing machines. Is it okay to do any of this if it's for the greater good? Well, I'd have to say "Hell no!" Christ on a stick, I was so emotionally drained after plowing through this show and I felt so bad for what those Italian bastards did to those cutie pie little orphans that I ran out and joined a Big Brother/Big Sister organization to save as many chilluns as I could from a life of mass murder... Of course I soon quit when a group of the little fuckers slashed my tires in the parking lot just after I signed up and I found that I had to dangle them from the flagpole in order to make them apologize and cough up the money to cover the damages... but it's the original thought that counts.
The two main characters (well, the two that we follow the most seeing as all the girls and their "brother" agents get an episode or two to call their own) of Gunslinger Girl are little Henrietta and the other half of her Fratello Unit, Jose (which the Japanese pronounce "Joe-see" in their humorous attempt to mimic the Western tongue). Henrietta is the least "conditioned" of her sister agents. Jose feels sorry for her, but deep down understands that his "sister's" mind is already too screwed up for her to even be considered a real child anymore. So, even though he shows her more compassion than his fellow Fratello Agents show their girl partners, he's still rather cold to her. No hugs or anything tender, just a "Good snipering, Henrietta. You got that dirty fucker right between the eyes with just one bullet! Huzzah!" everytime she takes a perp out. I'm telling ya, this is some really messed up shit.
Now, the 13 episode television show doesn't have a definitive ending. It's really open to more storytelling (in the form of the inevitable sequel series which I'm sure is already being drawn as we speak) and doesn't tie up many loose ends. But considering the manga that it came from is continuing, I'm kinda glad that they stopped animation in order for the original manga artist to get farther ahead in his plotting and perhaps even finish his tale of woe up. Seriously, this is what the Rurouni Kenshin series people should have done. They basically made up everything after the glorious Shishio arc, and it was not good. But that's neither here nor there... But it did suck. I'm telling you, I don't know what the hell those Kenshin TV writers were thinking... Christian samurai knight?... Urgh.
So the Division 2 Branch that the cyborg girls make up is just starting up (follow me?... I'm getting back into the plot. It's not that confusing), and the Division 1 Branch is kinda ticked that soooo much money and resources are being sunk into Division 2's secret reserves. Inquiries start arising as some of the girls start to crack, breakdown, or just go loony. At times it's very difficult to watch. The voice actresses do such a good job of portraying the mixed feelings of the mental midgets that you really feel their turmoil right in your gut. It hurts to see their brothers scold them for being 2 inches off on a target on the firing range. And it hurts more cause the girls take the scolding from the only person in the world that they care about in their little artificial hearts. And they keep all their despair bound up inside since they really can't talk to anybody about their feelings (it's against their conditioning)... Man, after getting through this show, I felt really bad for tormenting my little sister as we were growing up. Sorry, Jaime. Please don't ever shoot me in the back of the head with a German handgun at point-blank range.
Holy fucking shit! Not even the Wolfman is heartless enough to sit through this here Gunslinger Chicks show and not shed a tear. Those poor little mentally fucked up girls... Why couldn't they have experimented on the Wolfman instead?!? WHYYYYYYYYYYY God, whyyyyyyy? You incredible fucking pussy, you! You let horrendous tragedies such as this shiitake to happen to pure little flowers, and you refuse to even end their torment and suffering... I gladly would have taken a robotic body if it allowed me to kill hundreds of evil wops indiscriminately, even if it was for the benefit of a gay little Italian secret agency. I would have offered each of my victims' souls to Satan, and she would have been happy, and everyone would have won.
The Wolfman was right. Holy shit! See, I'M not even that evil. Sure, I torture the sinful for all eternity (or at least until the day comes that I figure out the combination lock on the back gate to Heaven and God's jacuzzi), but torturing little girls who are terminally ill is like way below even me. Yeah, sure, I just made Hitler swallow 6 pints of Joseph Stalin's prune and peanut-filled stool this morning just for kicks, but those fuckers killed millions of people in their lifetime. This is simply their punishment for that. Henrietta and crew were just busy petting puppies and making flower bouquets when some dipship Italian motherfucker turned their sad little bodies into killing machines with no conscience and an undying love for some wanker who feared and hated them in return. And I get kicked out of eternal happiness in the Lord's domain. Sheesh!