New Life For a Fan Favorite—Gunslinger Girl

By Laura Fitzgerald

It always comes as a terrible shock when a manga series that you’ve been following comes to an end before its time. Sometimes, no matter how much you dearly love a series, it just isn’t in the cards. But then, sometimes a series gets a second chance. Gunslinger Girl is getting that second chance.

Gunslinger Girl follows a group of young girls that have been taken in by The Social Welfare Agency and are recruited into Section Two, a military organization dealing in covert espionage and assassination. Section Two treats terminal patients by replacing their broken bodies with cybernetic enhancements and putting them through a rigorous program of mental conditioning in order to create perfect assassins. Quick and deadly, these innocent-looking children are used and discarded like dolls by the uncaring adults in charge of Section Two. Bloody action sequences are juxtaposed by moments of childhood innocence experienced by the girls at home base, making this into an incredibly poignant story that is both sad and sweet.

The story is set in the near future and is based in Italy, which is a refreshing change of pace since so much of anime and manga is based in Tokyo. The cultural details drawn into the backgrounds are fun to look out for and make the story feel that much more genuine.

While the manga was never fully published in the US, the story resonated with fans in a remarkable way. Although Gunslinger Girl never drew in a large audience like a longer syndicated action series might have, both the manga and anime were well reviewed at release and are fondly remembered to this day. Years after the initial publication my friends and I talk about Gunslinger Girl when we think about the older shows that we would recommend to a new generation of anime fans, and I’ve had many conversations at anime conventions with others who feel the same way.

The first volume of the manga was published by ADV in 2003. Only six volumes of this ongoing manga series were released in the US. Seven Seas will publish an omnibus edition of the first three volumes this February and later a second omnibus containing the remaining previously published works. After that, manga readers can look forward to the publication of new material that has never before been released in English.

All twenty-six episodes of Gunslinger Girl and Gunslinger Girl: Teatrino (Funimation) are available via Netflix‘s Instant Play feature if you are curious about the story; however, know that the anime only adapts volumes 1-5 of the manga. Fans of the series have much to look forward to from the Seven Seas releases Look for the first of these new volumes later in 2011 or start at the beginning with the omnibus edition that releases this month.

Gunslinger Girl Omnibus: Volume 1 (978-1-934876-92-3; $15.99) story and art by Yu Aida will be available from Seven Seas on February 1, 2011.

Laura Fitzgerald is the Digital Marketing Coordinator at Tor Books and a complete nerd about anime, manga, and campy marital arts films

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