Gunslinger Girl
Volume 2

Starring (voice): Yuuka Nanri, Kanako Mituhashi and Eri Sendal
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 22 May 2006

Officially, Italy's Social Welfare Agency is a government-sponsored corporation that's in the business of saving the lives of children. At least, that's the ruse. The reality is far more sinister. The Agency operates on the fringes of advanced technology, giving young, female terminal patients another shot at life with the help of cybernetic implants and psychological conditioning. The process effectively shapes the patients into efficient killing machines specifically designed to handle the government's undercover dirty work...

The second volume of Gunslinger Girls builds on the events that unfolded in volume one. Henrietta is quickly becoming regarded as one of the most efficient assassins. However, life for the other girls at the Agency is not so sunny.

In Gelato (Frozen), Jose and Henrietta are assigned to help a bomb expert stop a terrorist bomb maker. A bomb in the subway turns out to be a decoy that the terrorists have used as a diversion for their real plans. Rico and Triela are sent in as back up for Henrietta when the trail leads to the National Museum.

This episode sees Henriette being spoiled yet again by her "handler" Jose, who buys her expensive perfume and tells her she can have anything she wants when her mission is completed. I also loved the ironic ending with two individuals who have been caught up in the whole terrorist scenario passing Henriette in the street and saying: "It's girls like her we are out to protect." Little do they know that she's more than capable of looking after herself.

Protezione (Protection): Rico and Jean are assigned to protect Filippo Adani, Mr Bigliazzi's bookmaker. Bigliazzi want's Adani to return his stolen ledger, which implicates him in terrorist activities. Adani befriends Rico and Jean, little knowing that is them that will save his life.

This episode has a beautiful opening and closing sequence which shows the skyline of Florence, Italy. There are also several scenes inside the Uffizi museum that showcase some incredible works of art.

Il Principe del Regno Della Pasta (The Prince of the Kingdom of Pasta) starts with a flash back to when Marco, Angelina's "handler", started work at the agency. This was in a time before the project was fully developed. We get to see Angelina's back story too. Her parent's tried to kill her by running her over with the car. This was an insurance scam that backfired - the family's business was going through hard times and they took out a hefty insurance policy that would pay up if Angelina died.

When Marco was first assigned to her, he used to tell her an ongoing fairy story that he had made up especially for her, but as the years went by and the cybernetic implants were surgically inserted into Angelina she started to forget things, including Marco's stories.

You can't help but feel for both Angelina and Marco in this episode. He really only started to make up the story to stop her being frightened when having injections and other necessary surgery at the Agency. This keeps her happy and she wants to hear more, which in turn keeps Marco happy. But as her memory starts to become erased, Marco realises that they no longer share the one thing that made them so close.

In Lycoris Radiata Herb (Be Struck Off Herb) we are introduced to Elsa and her "handler" Lauro. Elsa is an outsider and doesn't want to socialise with the rest of the girls in the Agency. Lauro is not much better when it comes to knowing how to behave in social situations. When Henriette and Elsa are sent out on a mission together, Elsa sees how kind Jose is. She realises Lauro may not be the ideal "handler" she believed him to be.

This episode also showcases the differences between the "handlers" and how they all think they know the best way to handle their girls. There doesn't seem to be any handbook they can follow, and all progress as they feel suitable. This usually means that each "handler's" weaknesses/strengthens are projected on to their girls.

Extras include: Building Rico (a similar extra to volume one's Building Henriette) this is slightly pointless as it doesn't actually show you how to draw; Meet the Real Gunslinger Girls, a collection of audio interviews with the actresses that play the girls, set to clips of the show; textless opening and closing titles; and some trailers.

Sadly this series was short lived - there is only one more release in the collection. It's a shame, because this is one of the most touching animes to be produced in recent years.

Darren Rea

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