Gunslinger Girl Vol. #2 (of 3) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Release Date: Monday, May 08, 2006
What They Say
The girl has a mechanical body. However, she is still an adolescent child.
Henrietta is quickly becoming regarded as one of the most efficient assassins at the Social Welfare Agency. However, life for the other girls at the Agency is not so sunny. Enter the prototype and the problem...
The prototype: Angelina was a young girl out on an errand one day when a car mysteriously ran her down and left her for dead. Reborn as Angelica, her training proves to be a much needed distraction for all of the Agency employees. As the assassin develops, so do the problems inherent in the conditioning process. Can Angelica and her handler overcome these setbacks in order to continue with their work at the Agency?
The problem: Elsa, the Agency's newest recruit, is as cold as they come. When Henrietta reaches out to her, a cold shoulder is all she gets in return. Elsa's handler brings Henrietta and Jose in on a hit and strained tensions place the mission in jeopardy. Can Jose hold things together and make it through one more day?
Every weapon has its flaws...
The second volume focuses more on the 'business as usual' side to the Social Welfare Agency as we follow the girls on a few more missions.
This time I decided to watch the show with the English dub and I was quite impressed. I can imagine how this was quite a difficult show to voice and all the voice actors / actresses do a good job with their respective characters. The other plus point for the dub is the fact that it has been remixed into 5.1, this remix does make good use of the surrounds, especially during crowd and action scenes. I also spot checked the Japanese track and noticed no problems.
The video quality is on par with the first volume, although I did notice a couple of instances of edge enhancement this time round, but this was not really distracting. Overall though the picture quality continues to impress.
Subtitles are in the usual yellow MVM font and are clear and easy to read.
Review copy only, no packaging supplied.
Triela takes centre stage for the menu on the second volume, in a nice pose on the right hand side of the screen. The menu options are listed to the right of the screen and the cursor is in the shape of a machine gun and it's easy to see which option you are about to select. Once again the main menu has music which is accompanied by the sound of gunshots, this time round the Gunslinger Girl logo spins round whenever a gunshot is heard. I must admit to preferring this menu to the one on the previous volume. As per other MVM releases all sub menus are static and silent, but menu access times are quick.
We get a little more meat to the extras on the second volume. The standard clean opening and closing are supplied, as is a feature entitled Building Rico. This is in the same format as the Building Henrietta extra on the first disk. The main extra on this disk in the Meet the Real Gunslinger Girls featurette which comprises of the American voice actresses talking about the main character they voice and the challenges they faced with the show. I enjoyed this feature as it's not often that you get to hear people's takes on the characters they play. The extras are rounded out with trailers for Fruits Basket and Yu Yu Hakusho.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Although Henrietta can be a mite unpredictable at times (especially if she perceives Guise to be in danger), she is fast becoming one of the more promising assassins at the Social Welfare Agency. As a result of this, Henrietta is really the main focus for Gunslinger Girls and while we may get to see the other girls in action, Henrietta is usually always included.
The majority of the episodes on the second disk, let us see more of the work that the Social Welfare Agency gets involved in, and to a certain extent this gives us our first opportunity to find out one of the reasons for its existence. It seems that the main focus of the Agency is to fight terrorism, but it does this by removing the terrorist threat by assassination. While this may not be a bad way to get rid of people who are seen as a threat by the government it's probably not the most ethical way to deal with perceived enemies.
The first episode on this disk see's Henrietta and Guise back in action to get rid of terrorist who has threatened to blow up public building. Although the government are keen to stop this guy, he is not actually their main target. This guy is working with some very proficient bomb makers and they are the government's main target. One of the most interesting things to note about this episode is how people react to Henrietta. Many people just take her at face value, which in one instance means that she is talked down to and seen as just a little girl by many; however Henrietta also uses this reaction to her advantage. During this episode she catches the bad guys unawares by making them believe that she is in the wrong place at the wrong time and needs protecting. During this episode we also get to see Henrietta working with Triela and Rico as well as their handlers. While the handlers might engage in slight brinkmanship with one another the girls are quite content to work together and there seems to be no effort to outgun one another.
The focus shifts back to Rico in the next episode, which is the only one on this disk that does not feature Henrietta at all. Rico and Jean appear to be spending a relaxing day at a local art gallery. Of course they are there to do more than just admire the art and they manage to pick up their target " Phillipo " relatively early on. In a slight change of focus Rico and Jean have actually been assigned to protect Phillipo as he has some information which he has managed to steal from his boss that the government would like to get its hands on. Phillipo is being trailed by 2 men who Rico and Jean soon become aware of, but will they be able to get the information they require from Phillipo before these men make their move?
The next two episodes introduce a couple of new characters, who also come with their own set of problems. Firstly we have Angelica " she was the first prototype for the cybernetic implants and the conditioning process, and it's becoming clear that this new technology has an unexpected side effect. Angelica came to the agency after being involved in a car accident and left for dead, what she doesn't know is that her parents arranged for the car accident so that they could cash in on her life insurance policy as their business was going down the tubes. The Agency make the most of this unusual situation and Angelica becomes their first 'test subject'. Angelica is assigned a handler like all the other girls to come, Marco, with whom she builds a brother / sister relationship. Marco is understandably quite protective of Angelica and has conflicting emotions over what she is to become. However, when the side effects of the treatment start to manifest themselves, Marco becomes unsure how to react and seems to shut Angelica out. Angelica is still as effective as an assassin, however she has started to get amnesia and is starting to loose her short term memory. Strangely the doctors at the Agency do not necessarily see this as an issue, and after being inactive for a short time Angelica might soon be given the all clear and sent back into active service.
The final episode on this disk introduces yet another new character " Elsa. A relatively new recruit Elsa is similar to the other girls in how she sees her handler, but that's where the resemblances' stop. Elsa is pretty much a loner; she has her own room and does not encourage conversation with the other girls. In fact the only girl to really talk to Elsa is Triela and that's only because Triela sees conversation with Elsa as a challenge. While Elsa would do anything her handler asks of her, he unfortunately does not recognise this and treats Elsa as a sub-human who will do exactly what he tells her to. Other than having to train her, he does not engage Elsa in conversation or reward her for a job well done " praise that she desperately requires.
When Henrietta and Guise are assigned to help Elsa and her handler with a job, Guise tries to make Laurell, Elsa's handler, see the error of his ways with regards to his treatment of Elsa. However Laurell likes to think that he's better than everyone else at the Agency and refuses to take advice from anyone. While working together Henrietta tries to reach out to Elsa with no success, it seems Elsa has taken to Laurell's egotistical behaviour and she seems content to be a loner " but is this really the case?
The one thing this disk does not really do is give any indication of where this series is going. While we have found out a little bit more about the treatment the girls are going through with Angelica's story we're still really none the wiser as to why the Agency choose its approach. The final episode also hints at a small problem with the Agency's philosophy - is getting rid of one bad guy really enough to make the others see the error of their ways? The assassination of a group of terrorists linked to the Chief of Police in Tuscany certainly doesn't make him see the light and as such he ends up as the next target on the Agency's list. Just how many people do you need to kill to make your message effective " or will it never be effective no matter how many people you kill?
Just as the girls are different personality wise, so are their handlers and you sometimes get the impression that the handlers are assigned to girls just because they are there. As to be expected each handler reacts differently to his charge, some of them building up a relationship, while others seem indifferent to the person they are meant to be training and looking after. Of all the handlers we've got to know Guise the best, he's built up a trusting and rewarding relationship with Henrietta which seems to benefit both of them. In contrast Laurell is not at all sure how to react to Elsa at all and while Marco seems unable to cope with the changes that Angelica is going through, he did at one point care about his young charge.
Really this disk just focuses on what the Agency actually does, without going into too much detail about why it does it. As a result of this we get to see more of the girls in action along with their handlers, which gives this disk more of an action oriented slant as the girls storm buildings and get involved in car chases. So far though, this is all fairly routine stuff, with the only real unique angle being the age of the main characters.
I'm still unsure as to how I feel about this series. So far it really doesn't seem to be going anywhere, which is not a complaint I usually make. I'm usually a sucker for series where nothing much happens, such as Haibane Renmei, but eventually that series did actually lead somewhere. The second volume of Gunslinger Girls has just followed the girls around as they go about their missions, and we've not really learnt much from this second volume. That said it is interesting getting to know the girls and their handlers a bit better, but I'm hoping that something big is going to happen in the final volume to give the series some much needed purpose.
Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 5.1,English Subtitles,Clean Opening ,Clean Closing,Building Rico,Meet the real Gunslinger Girls
Panasonic 42" Plasma, Arcam 88+ Prog Scan DVD Player, Kef Egg 7.1 Speaker system with a Ruark log sub. Denon 3802 amplifier.
Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: C-
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 15 & Up
Region: 2 - Europe
Released By: MVM Entertainment
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Gunslinger Girl