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Created by: Yu Aida

There are very few things I find more frightening than an adolescent girl. It’s not the unicorn collecting, wild emotional pendulum, or constant self-absorption that strike fear in my heart; it’s the pure evil manipulation and cunning. Yu Aida’s Gunslinger Girl is your basic adolescent girl: 80% cyborg, trained to kill, and in love with her handler.

The Book

Gunslinger Girl, Volume One compiles the first 5 stories in the series, originally published in monthly digest form. Henrietta, Triela, and Rico are young girls in the custody of the Social Welfare Agency. Due to unfortunate circumstances that range from birth defects to brutal attacks, the girls were severely physically disabled until the Social Welfare Agency rescued them, repaired their damaged bodies with artificial limbs and synthetic muscle tissue, brainwashed them with powerful drugs to erase their past and to increase their compliance, and trained them to be assassins.

The book has a T-15+ rating for the violent content. I also detected a mildly erotic element to the relationship between the girl and her handler, a handsome adult male who is primarily responsible for selecting her and carrying out her conditioning and training. Maybe I’m reading too much into the image of a young girl wearing knee highs and a short little skirt with her panties showing, carrying a huge gun, and submissively following the orders of her master, er, handler.

I’m pleased to say the book has much more going on than just violence and gratuitous exploitation of minors. The storylines are interesting and entertaining, but the real pleasure in reading this book comes from examining the characters’ personalities and their interrelationships. Yu Aida does an excellent job developing unique and complex characters very quickly by employing a skilled mix of deliberate dialog and perfectly drawn emotions.

9.5/10

The Artwork

I greatly appreciate the manner in which Yu Aida uses the artwork to tell a significant portion of the story. It’s almost as if he tries to convey as much of the story as possible in the drawing alone. This keeps dialog to a minimum and engages the reader to more actively look at the entire content of each frame.

If you are a less sophisticated reader or new to manga like myself, you’ll want to take your time with this book to avoid missing any pertinent details. Facial expressions and body language are subtle, violent images are conservative or implied, dialog bubbles are narrowly placed. Nearly every element of each frame is essential in the development of the character and storyline.

I falsely made the assumption that manga is an over-exaggerated and unbelievable medium. That clearly is not the case here. Yu Aida expertly presents the reader with a tightly woven and multi-dimensional story. At the end of Gunslinger Girl, Volume One, I was so invested in the lives of the fictional characters that I wanted to read more.

9/10

Overall (Not an Average) 9.5/10

The Review
The Review
The Story 9.5/10
The Artwork 9/10
Overall (Not an Average) 9.5/10

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