Gunslinger Girl is a completed manga saga, written by Yu Aida starting in 2002, and published in Japan. Currently, it spans some one hundred chapters contained in fifteen volumes, over roughly 2,300 pages.
Also, a twenty-eight episode anime series, chronicling the first four books of the series, was produced in 2004. The television series, however, was split into two very different looking seasons.
Enough statistics, what's it about?
Set in contemporary Italy, Gunslinger Girl depicts a seemingly endless, covert war of terror fought between the Padanians (with benefactors in Camorra), and a public-security outfit known as Section Two.The Padanians, represented by both a legitimate political party, and a terrorist wing called the Five Republics Faction, want an independant Northern Italy; the government in Rome, however, is not so enthusiastic about the idea, and opposes their efforts on both levels. When the FRF's resultant attacks become more ferocious, more urban, and harder to fight, the Italian federalists bring out their secret weapon in the suppressive battle: child assassins.
These are not any ordinary child soldiers, however. They are solely girls, handpicked from around the world, past victims of heinous sexual abuse, sole survivors of mass-murders, or terminal cancers, to name a few scenarios that once faced three of our characters, Triela, Henrietta, and Petra, respectively. They are girls that would be otherwise dead if not for the charitable generosity, and medical breakthroughs offered by the Italian Social Welfare Agency, the front organization concealing Section Two.Using the latest in cybernetic medicine -- advanced prosthesis in the realm of this series -- up to eighty percent of the patient's ravaged, worn-out body is discarded, and replaced with bio-mechanical limbs, organs, and muscle. To avoid the immune system's lethal rejection of the new body, the girls must then be phamaceutically Conditioned -- drugged up, in other words. This method also conveniently brainwashes the mind of past memories, good and bad, resulting in a conscious, educated adolescent young girl, with no traces of the past, no allegiances excepts to those around her, and no goals except those given to her by her guardian, called a Handler. And the goals are simple: select some guns, master them, and kill terrorists, whenver told, and however told.
When the memories of the past begin to stir, or when the girl begins to ask questions, another round of Conditioning is ordered, until the day she dies -- be that death from a gunshot wound, drug toxicity from the repeated rounds of conditioning, or the induced chronic-memory loss similar to Alzheimer's, that results from the various procedures inflicted on her body and mind. But, should that happen, in the words of Jean Croce, one of the less sympathetic Handlers on the Agency's team, then "we find another one," and the cruel process starts over again. Cruel? Or is it? These girls would have been dead long ago, if weren't for the efforts of the Social Welfare Agency to begin with . . .
And so the question persists: They've been given a second shot at life, but at what cost?
|The Girls . . .||. . . And their Handlers|
|Elsa de-Sica||Lauro de-Sica|
|Petrushka (aka "Petra")||Alessandro Ricci|
WeaponsEditIn all, over fifty different real-world guns see airtime in the saga. A few notable examples include the SIG-Sauer P-232, Walther P5, and Glock 19, along with others like the AK-47, Heckler and Koch UMP, and Dragunov SVD. Each gun is accurately drawn and behaves in a fashion similar to the real world weapon.
For the complete weapons list, see the Weapons category.
Not only that, but plenty of beautifully detailed vehicles are depicted in the manga as well. From the rare Maserati Kyalami, to the Mercedes-Benz 300CE-24, avid car fans will find plenty of eye-candy amongst the deep commentary found in the stories.
For the complete vehicles list, see the Vehicles category.
Music and VideosEdit
Availability in North AmericaEdit
Books One through Six are currently available in all major bookstores in North America, in the form of two omnibus volumes -- the original, individual releases are now out of print. Book Ten debut in August. According to the Japanese retailer Mangoh, Book Fifteen will be the final volume of Gunslinger Girl. The final issue will ship on December 17th. 
Both seasons of the anime are readily found in most large HMV music stores, or online. The TV series are sold in both standard-def or blu-ray formats.