Gunslinger Girl

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Left to right: Claes, Angelica, Rico, Henrietta & Triela. Petrushka's holding the camera.


The girl has a mechanical body. However, she is still an adolescent child.

Gunslinger Girl is a Manga created by Yu Aida, which also received an Anime adaptation, telling the story of a group of young girl assassins.

In Italy the Social Welfare Agency scours the country for little girls who have been traumatized or abandoned ostensibly to give them a second shot at life. In reality the Agency (as it is usually called) subjects the girls to cyberization, drugs and brainwashing and uses them to do the government's dirty work. Each girl in the Agency is partnered with a male handler to form a unit called a "fratello". Her handler oversees the girl's training, determines the level of drugs and conditioning she receives and is ultimately her control when out on a mission.

The stories focus on relationships between the girls and their handlers. The relationships range from handlers who care for their charges like daughters or little sisters to others who regard them merely as disposable tools. The back stories of how the girls come into the custody of the Agency are routinely horrific (Henrietta, the new arrival, had her family murdered in front of her and was then assaulted all night by the intruders before being mutilated and left for dead. We won't even go into what happened to Triela.) The girls' cybernetic implants as well as the drugs and conditioning they receive are killing them while slowly destroying their minds and personalities. None of them will see adulthood. Despite this bleak backdrop, the show is interesting for its fairly nuanced and even-handed approach to these relationships and the girls' situation as child soldiers - while it does not glamorize the girls-with-guns concept, nor does it wallow in cynicism or mawkishness and treat their lives as entirely despairing black tragedies, instead having an optimistic tinge of the girls finding solace and new worth in their situation where they can.

The manga began publication in Dengeki Daioh magazine in 2002 and is still ongoing, while two separate anime seasons were produced in 2003 (by Madhouse) and 2007 (by Artland). Both seasons of Gunslinger Girl's anime series were licensed and released in the West by FUNimation. The manga has been continuously published in French, Italian and German, but the English version is more troubled: six volumes were released by ADV to an erratic schedule, and then lapsed when ADV shut down its manga division before the company folded entirely. Seven Seas Entertainment revived the English license and began republication of the manga with a new translation from February 2011. Both anime and manga are well worth your attention but prepare yourselves for a light version (well, comparatively anyway) of the "Grave of the Fireflies" experience.

Tropes used in Gunslinger Girl include:


  • Adaptation Expansion: the first series of the anime adds several original incidents that did not appear in the manga (e.g. filling out Elsa's backstory), but they remain complementary to and consistent with established continuity, rather than setting up a different canon.
  • All There in the Manual: The radio drama fills in the cracks during manga volume 6 and the first half of 7. It's mostly the girls elaborating on events that were shown (Triela's 2nd fight with Pino, Rico's whole day in Venice and her reaction to falling in the Lagoon, and Claes's reaction to her Berserk Button moment with Petra). We also learn where Angelica got the stuffed dog we see in volume 9 (and its name), and just how widely read Claes really is (enough to shock Hilshire). Plus, Triela scolds one of her bears.
  • Amulet of Dependency: Seen when the girls forget to take their medicine—Triela becomes weak and unable to fight properly, while Angelica becomes so desperate to get her hands on a weapon she breaks Priscilla's wrist.
  • Anime Theme Song: A melancholic song by Scottish band The Delgados, fitting the mood of the series nicely.
    • Incidently, the same album containing the song, also contains the song Child Killers.
    • Il Teatrino got a very solid, somewhat more driving piece in Japanese by domestic artist KOKIA, which also fit the escalating conflict portrayed in that series.
  • Anyone Can Die: Several cyborgs and agency personnel die over the course of the manga, including main characters.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: One is asked of Claes, triggering memories of her dead handler Raballo.
  • Art Evolution: The character designs change quite a bit between the first and second seasons of the anime.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Claes frequently shows off her wide-reading. Bad developments Henrietta's recent breakdown prompt her to quote Ecclesiastes 11:8-9 [1] to Rico. She never names chapter and verse, she simply answers Rico's question "Is that poetry?" with "Not quite, it's biblical".
    • The central chapter of the Triela/Victor and Sandro/Petra team-up in volume 7 is called "The sheep and the goats" (in English) again without explanation.
  • At the Opera Tonight: One of the missions involves an assassination at the opera.
  • Badass and Child Duo: An entire Government Agency of Fiction full of them.
  • Badass Normal: As well as Pinocchio (see Character Sheet) there's also Triela's unarmed combat instructor, Major Salles of the GIS. Moments after Triela flips a GIS trooper twice her size, Salles takes her down twice without showing a great amount of effort.
  • Big Brother Worship: Part of the girls' brainwashing is to make them have positive feelings for their handlers. It takes hold more strongly For some of them than for others.
  • Bleached Underpants: The series' original incarnation was a doujinshi series with some graphic sexual material.
  • Blessed with Suck: The girls receive superhuman reflexes and reaction time as part of their "conditioning". However, each new application greatly reduces their life expectancy.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Averted, though you normally do not linger on a body long enough to see a bullet hole the targets shot definitely do have blood in them.
  • Brainwashed, which tends to end up being More Than Mind Control as the mutual danger makes handler and cyborg closer.
  • Brand X: Section I Agents are seen using a 'Nakia' phone in one episode of the second season.
  • Break the Cutie[context?]
  • Cain and Abel: Jean and Jose. They lost their parents and sister (and Jean's fiance) to a roadside bomb (aimed at their father). Jean has become completely obsessed with vengeance. Jose's feelings are much more conflicted; he's turned Henrietta into a Replacement Goldfish, and has confessed to having been distant from his father (who was just as obsessed as Jean). Hinted at in the Manga by Jean's reaction to Claes's movie.
    • And as of the manga chapter "Fantasma", things may well be moving in an even more blatantly Cain-and-Abel direction, what with Jean now hallucinating about Enrica being angry over Jose's surrogating of Henrietta. The implication of her words at the end of that chapter were not particularly encouraging.
  • Chekhov's Gun: On several different dramatic occasions, Jose tells Henrietta the story of Orion and Artemis. In the very first issue, shortly after they first meet and he's looking for a way to connect with her, as well as after she is turned into an automaton by the Agency and he wants to know if she still has any memories of him. Then, dozens of chapters later, you see how they die...
  • Child Soldiers: The girls.
  • Children Forced to Kill: Pretty much the basis of the plot.
  • Cleanup Crew: Bruno and Vincenzo, two Punch Clock Villains who dispose of bodies for Padania.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: The main dramatic theme of the plot before it was streamlined into more mainstream action.
  • Conveniently an Orphan: Done plausibly as the Social Welfare Agency only selects girls who don't have extended families who'll be concerned about them. As a victim of child sex trafficking, Triela's background is unknown even to the Agency. Henrietta's entire family was murdered and Angelica's parents are in prison. Petra's family are too poor to travel to see their daughter—which is just as well as her appearance has been altered completely. Presumably forged letters from Petra are sent back to Russia. As Rico is one of the few cyborgs who retains memories of her previous life, the occasional visit from her estranged parents is no doubt enough to reassure them that their Ill Girl is receiving the best of care, and the Agency would have no trouble getting Rico to play along.
  • Cooldown Hug: Hilshire on Triela after her second go-round with Pinocchio—a Book End to how Triela refused to let Hilshire comfort her after Triela's first defeat to Pinocchio.
  • Creepy Child: The girls during their missions — and increasingly outside of them as well.
  • Creepy Good: The cyborgs.

Alphonso: It's just the thought of these little girls who can kill terrorists and speak three languages, and here they are singing Beethoven in the bitter cold. It's a shame they have to be cyborgs.

  • Cultured Warrior: The girls are exposed to varying amounts of culture, depending on their aptitudes and handlers. Henrietta is a skilled violinist, Claes is very well-read, and she and roommate Triela have discussed Balzac and the opera "Tosca" in a "matter of fact" way. Rico expressed great interest when she visited an art museum, and Angelina can barely remember anything anymore. Triela notes that she knows virtually nothing of pop culture while guarding Mimi. Likewise Pinocchio can play the piano, but has little interest in cars or girls unlike other Italian boys his age.
    • Lampshaded when Raballo shows Claes his extensive library and says that reading makes you a good soldier... then notes ironically that he's reading a book on growing vegetables.
  • Cute Bruiser: All of them.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Played up for all its tragic and tearjerking worth.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Both handlers and terrorists are obsessed with avenging family members killed by the other side. Those who aren't are invariably either corrupt leaders or disillusioned veterans.
    • The exception that tests the rule is Hilshire, who works for the program for personal reasons that have nothing to do with Italian civil wars.
    • The self-destructive nature of the spiral of revenge and recrimination is a central theme and oft-repeated motif in Gunslinger Girl. One chapter is even entitled "To break the cycle of retaliation" and an entire story arc is entitled "Vendetta".
  • A Day in The Life Of Claes is a surprisingly moving episode (especially in the anime with its rendition of "Scarborough Fair") showing how Claes tries to mourn a handler she no longer remembers.
  • Dead Little Sister: Jose and Jean are both seeking revenge for the death of their sister Enrica at the hands of terrorists. The names of their chosen weapons, the cyborgs 'Henrietta' and 'Rico', reflect this. The difference is that Jean is cold-blooded towards Rico (perhaps deliberately), whereas Jose has created a surrogate in Henrietta, even (in the manga chapter "Fantasma") making her wear one of Enrica's dresses. Though Jean is visibly shocked by this act, he is unable to find the strength to reprimand his brother.
  • Department of Child Disservices: The Agency is more or less this, although considering most of the girls' backstories, they are still arguably better off.
  • Dirty Cop: In the GSG world, a lot of them (Both mostly Polizia di Stato and Carabinieri) are on the side of the FRF, most of them bribed.
    • There is an episode where the SWA is deployed to take down a team of corrupt paratroopers from the Tuscania Regiment. One of them was Jose's friend from his Carabinieri days.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: While meticulously polishing her assault rifle to the extent of almost caressing it, Elsa goes on to elaborate and describe her obsession for her handler.
    • The show lives for this trope. Another example, Claes isn't allowed on the shooting range since her handler is dead. She comes back one evening and roommate Triela notes the scent of cordite on her. Claes just smiles.
    • Henrietta clasps Jose's shirt to her body while lying on his bed.
    • Petrushka mentions that Sandro does her makeup every day. Angelica and Henrietta are immediately rapt over the idea of receiving such intimate attention from a handler.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Angelica is in hospital, shunned by her handler after stuffing up on a mission. Her friends are trying to cheer her up when she suddenly bursts into tears, declaring that they are all going to die without having the chance to know anything about life. The other cyborgs maintain an embarrassed silence until Claes punches Angelica in the face.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: The GIS, being the Carabinieri's elite anti-terrorist unit. The 1st Regiment Carabinieri "Tuscania", the Carabinieri's elite special forces paratrooper unit.
  • Emotionless Girl: Between drugs and conditioning all of the girls are more than a bit emotionally stunted. Beatrice however, is an extreme case, we never see her get angry, excited, or anything.
    • When Angelica finally dies it affects the handlers more than her friends; even Triela is surprised how little she's affected.
  • Enfante Terrible
  • Even Evil Has Standards: At times evil has higher standards than the good guys, such as a Padania hitman who refuses to kill someone in the Galleria Degli Uffizi while Jean is torturing his accomplice in the men's room.
  • Fan Service: While not at the forefront, it is there — Gun Porn (every character uses a different firearm, all well detailed), Bandage Babe (Triela and Henrietta), Shower Scene (Triela), and She's Got Legs (Petra). Some of the scenes verge on Fan Disservice — the obsession the girls have for their older male handlers (though Yu is careful not to have things the other way round; even Sandro doesn't put the moves on Petra until her Anguished Declaration of Love), the occasional Bleached Underpants shot in early chapters, Henrietta's pre-cyborg rape and mutilation, the detached manner Sandro checks out his new cyborg, and a half-naked Triela in the Snuff Film scene. More overtly, any time the girls do something cute the anime/manga takes pains to remind you that they are also cold-blooded killing machines.
  • Fast Roping: Done in episode 12, when Triela and Angelica break into a mountain terrorist base. The glass is weakened beforehand to justify this.
    • Triela and Beatrice effectively pull this off in reverse (climbing up a tower hand-over-hand really fast) during Vol 11 of the manga. Cybernetics are cool like that.
  • Foreshadowing: During Jose and Henrietta's investigation into Elsa's death Henrietta asks him about a making suicide pact. Near the end of the series Jose is accidently shot by Henrietta during the nuclear power plant assault after she is frenzied by resurfaced memories of her rape and torture. They fulfill the pact they made by fatally shooting each other after she snapped back to her senses.
  • Friend or Foe: Jose gets shot by Henrietta when he tries to stop her Unstoppable Rage during the nuclear power station attack. He assumes this is a matter of The Dog Bites Back, though it was actually her Berserk Button set off by memories of her original assault.
  • Front Organisation: The Social Welfare Agency carries out legitimate research and charity work involving cybernetics and hypno-therapy, which provides a cover for the few patients who get diverted into Section Two's assassination program.
  • Gender Blender Name: Some of the cyborgs are given boys names to make it easier for the handlers to disassociate themselves from what they're forcing these young girls to do.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Social Welfare Agency.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: The Social Welfare Agency mostly fights terrorists and extremist factions, but all sides have understandable motivations for their actions and use morally reprehensible means to accomplish their goals.
  • Gun Porn: Very realistic Gun Porn.
  • Hand of Death: Every time a handler physically touches one of the girls in the anime, even in a friendly manner, they're wearing sinister dark gloves.
    • Except for multiple instances with Jose
  • The Handler: All the girls have one, and the relationships between girl and handler vary with each pair.
  • Handicapped Badass: Marco (eye damage) and Captain Raballo (lost a leg from an accidental discharge) are both using Section 2 as a chance to get back into the field.
  • Harmful to Minors: Nearly every one of the girls has been a witness or victim of horrific violence, sexual assault, or both.
  • The Heart: Priscilla, an intelligence analyst who dotes on Angelica.
  • Heel Realisation: Angelina shields Marco from a car bomb, but Marco—relieved that he didn't lose his sight in the blast—doesn't even ask about her until Jose brings the subject up. The realisation that she’s dying finally causes him to start comforting her; in fact it makes all the handlers rethink their relationships with their cyborgs—Alessandro and Petrushka share a First Kiss, Jean's Jerkass Facade slips when he's moved to hug Rico, and Hilshire becomes overly protective of Triela to the extent of leaving her in a hotel room while taking on an assassination himself -- leading to a further Heel Realisation when he realises that he’s been letting Triela do all the killing as a means of avoiding guilt.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Mimi Machiavelli suggests to Triela that she shares a Teacher-Student Romance with Hilshire. Triela replies that even if she is in love with him, they don't have that kind of relationship. Mimi later handcuffs them together so she can nick off and see her boyfriend, saying "You two talk about love, OK?"

Hilshire: Say, what did she mean by "Talk about love"?
Triela: I think she's got the wrong idea about us.
Hilshire: We don't have to talk about love. We're fratello.

  • Heroic RROD[context?]
  • Hitman with a Heart: Franca and Franco, who try to avoid killing children.
    • Padanian agents in general, and their superiors in particular, often try to avoid choosing their own cultural and religious icons as targets despite being terrorists because they're conservative terrorists and those icons represent the things they believe they are fighting to protect. Furthermore, they limit civilian casualties as much as possible by only attacking government locations. Their enemy is the government itself, not the people under them.
  • Hollywood Cyborg: The girls are much stronger than they have any right to be if their cybernetics had real-life abilities.
  • Hollywood Healing: Justified as all body parts can be replaced through each repair, replacement or reconditioning requires a drug that causes brain damage and shortens the girl's lifespans. On one occasion a terrorist leader sees Rico and wonders whether she's one of the rumored child assassins, but concludes otherwise due to the smooth skin of her hands. The next time this terrorist encounters Rico those hands have just rammed his driver's head through the window of his car.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All episode titles for the first season, as well as the box set volume names, are in Italian.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Averted: Raballo goes ballistic when he sees Henrietta look down the barrel of a jammed pistol and berates Giuseppe for neglecting her training.
  • I Know Karate: Subverted; the girls have their fearsome combat abilities programmed into them as a part of their reconstruction package, but at the increasing cost of their remaining humanity. After her defeat to Pinocchio, Triela gets supplementary training from Italian special forces, as she's become too used to relying on her cybernetic abilities.
  • Image Song: All the girls get one.
  • The Infiltration: The SWA does this for several missions, as do the terrorists that raid the Turin Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Seen between Sections 1 and 2 during the investigation into Elsa's death, and at the start of the Pinocchio arc.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Used to great effect when Henrietta is raiding a Radical Faction safehouse -- she tells two men guarding the hallway she needs to get through that she's frightened of the "scary men downstairs". Quite possibly a case of Too Dumb to Live as they were warned that the Social Welfare Agency deploys little girls as foot soldiers and they both wonder out loud how she got in. They quickly dismiss this and instead try to take her hostage. It doesn't end well. Possible overlap with Trojan Prisoner.
  • Ill Girl: Rico before her "enhancement", Angelica at the end of the first season. Elizabeta was a prominent one since unusually for this series, we get to see quite a lot of her life before she joined the SWA. Let's just save the spoilers and say the keywords to her story are: It Got Worse.
  • In a Single Bound: Henrietta when chasing a purse thief - the same incident also features a Magic Skirt and Neck Lift. Petrushka also leaps multiple stories and from the ground to the top of a crane on two separate occasions.
  • Ironic Echo: Manga only, during the initial search for Pinocchio, Triela is trying to get information out of a trio of teenage punks. When they start hitting on her to go off with them she asks them "Shouldn't you be in school?" They laugh it off and ask her why she isn't. Before things get really threatening, Hirscher shows up to collect Triela. As they are walking away, Victor turns around and lectures the boys "Why aren't you in school?"
  • It Got Worse: After the battle at the nuclear plant, the government decides to disband the SWA with extreme prejudice.
  • It Was a Gift: Rico's cuddling pillow is a seemingly out-of-character gift from Jean. A flashback scene shows that Enrica Croce had a similar pillow, presumably also a gift from her Aloof Big Brother.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: Henrietta's reenactment of Elsa's murder/suicide scene.
  • Jerkass: Arguably a few of the handlers:
    • Jean acts like this, though as the series goes on it looks more and more like a Jerkass Facade. He can be hard on Rico, but it's made clear that he really is interested in her well being.
    • Lauro, however, is a perfectly straight example. He makes it clear he regards Elsa as nothing but a tool, and he flat out tells Jose that he doesn't like him and the other handlers for treating their cyborgs otherwise.
  • Kick the Dog: Some of Jean's interactions with Rico qualify, but Lauro's every thought and action toward Elsa take this to a whole new level, until she kills him and then herself.
  • Kill'Em All: The gruesome battle between the forces of the SWA and Giacomo's cell has brought the series right into this territory, and the face-off has resulted in the deaths of three cyborgs with Beatrice being among the dead. After the battle, the government decides to shut down the SWA by declaring them terrorists and sending the army in to kill them.
  • Knife Nut: Pinocchio. Triela is never without hers either, though she uses a full-size old-fashioned bayonet (for her almost a sword). When they go one-on-one, it is not pretty.
  • Knights Templar: A deceptively named Intelligence Agency that uses brainwashed little girls to kill anyone who gets in their way or spots them on a job and occasionally handle unrelated kills as political favours. They get said girls by scouring the hospitals and are at best deceiving the staff/families about the nature of what is in store for them. Seems like they might be bending a few laws into pretzels in the name of anti-terrorism.
    • Rico's Shoot the Dog moment seems to have been a one-off, I'd put it down to Jean. While they are definitely fighting a "dirty war", the others tend to play the "nothing to see here" card rather than shooting witnesses.
    • They also express distaste for the political favours, but can't really say no since they're from high-ranking politicians that give support to the cyborg research.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: The girls have been conditioned out of their previous identities, but not of their basic social skills. Some of them show signs of things from before their transformations. When they start remembering more of their past life than what they did last year it's a very bad sign. See Angelica.
    • Rico seems to have retained memories of her past identity as her introductory episode in the anime's first season shows, presumably because her bedridden past gives her a good incentive to be loyal to the Agency which gave her the ability to walk.
  • Laser Sight: Averted. Particularly with Rico, who is almost always the sniper/sharpshooter during missions.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: During the Turin Nuclear Planet siege, it's strongly implied that the Italian Prime Minister is hoping that the politically-dangerous Section Two and the militant wing of Padania will wipe each other out.
  • Literal-Minded: Used for the girls' Creepy Child moments. When Raballo first starts instructing Claes he's annoyed by her lousy shooting (actually because she's not used to her cyborg implants) and tells her not to leave the range until she can consistently hit the target. The next day it's pouring down rain and Raballo grouches that he hasn't seen any sign of the girl he's supposed to be teaching. He's told to go to the firing range where he finds Claes cold and shivering, still trying to hit the target as instructed after practicing all night. Henrietta also stays up all night stripping and assembling her pistol because Jose told her to get proficient quickly.
  • Lolicon: Basically all the girls except Petra and possibly Triela. Considering where the series come from, though...
    • It's worth noting that, like the book Lolita, the story is actually written the other way around. Romantic and sexual relationships between the girls and their handlers exist and are discussed to a great depth, but in all cases it is made very clear (sometimes even to those involved themselves) that these relationships are wrong, unhealthy, and will only result in tragedy one way or another. As such, the characters (mainly the Handlers) consciously or unconsciously try to distance themselves from their charges to avoid becoming attached or too emotionally involved, from only seeing them as tools (Lauro and Jose after crossing his Despair Event Horizon), "being cold to be kind" (Jean and Raballo), being like an older brother (Jose), or being a distant father figure (Hilshire and Marco).
  • Luminescent Blush: Henrietta does this the most, starting with the opening credits. And any attempt by Hilshire to bridge the gap between them causes Triela to react this way too, which says a lot about her true feelings.
  • Meaningful Echo: An angry Marco tells a wounded Angelica that's she's "freaking useless!" after she stuffs up on a mission. However his tone (as opposed to Lauro's curt and derisory "Useless!" after Elsa's mission-related stuff-up) shows that Marco is showing a Jerkass Facade as opposed to Lauro who was just being a Jerkass.
  • Mercy Kill: Winds up becoming a part of Henrietta's suicide pact with Giuse after accidentally fragging him during her rampage during the nuclear plant fight.
  • Mistress of Disguise: This is a quality of all of the cyborgs - few suspect a sweet young thing to be a Spec-Ops killer, allowing them to hide in plain sight - but is a particular proficiency of the Alessandro & Petrushka fratello, who are well-acquianted with wigs, make-up, and quick wardrobe changes.
  • Mood Whiplash: Every time the cyborgs switch between little girls and ruthless killing machines (e.g., Angelica on her first mission), she massacres half a dozen terrorists in as many seconds, then turns and gives the camera a "Did I do good?" smile. Marco, watching the scene later on video, is noticeably disturbed.
  • Moral Myopia: The cyborgs kill without a qualm and are indifferent to their own injuries, but regard any attack on their handler as an outrageous affront worthy of immediate vengeance.
  • More Dakka: Once Dante gets involved in the scene we see increasing firepower being used to counter the fearsome abilities of the cyborgs. Anti-personnel mines, 50-caliber and 20mm anti-material rifles, Blackhawk helicopters with Gatling Good, armored fighting vehicles, a cruise missile, and a nuclear warhead. Sandro and Petra have an anti-tank missile fired at their car, and even the Agency is getting into the act with RPV's firing Hellfire missiles, and automatic Sentry Guns being deployed to protect the compound.
  • Multinational Team: A bit averted since most of the SWA personnel are from Italian security forces and intelligence. A few however are recruited from other parts of Europe. Victor, for one, is a Polizei officer from Germany and formerly attached to Europol. Olga is from Russia and was an ex-Russian embassy employee.
    • As for the cyborgs... Well Triela has Tunisian roots prior to being with the SWA. Claes possibly has some Swedish roots due to her surname before being reconditioned. Petruska is from Russia.
  • Murder-Suicide: Elsa murders her handler and then kills herself because she feels that he could never love her the way she does him.
  • New Roman Legions: Most of the SWA black ops personnel came from the police, military or the intelligence services.
  • Non-Indicative First Episode
  • No Periods, Period: Averted, Triela talks at length about her period, and becomes very irritable when it happens. In the same episode, Henrietta notes she doesn't have that problem because during conditioning they took her uterus out.
  • Oblivious to Love: One example is Triela preparing candles for a romantic dinner when she's staying in a hotel with Hilshire, who responds by turning on the lights and asking what she's doing in the dark. Likely deliberate on the part of the handlers, as the adoration of underage female cyborgs makes them rather uncomfortable. Jose is regarded as rather odd for encouraging his cyborg's affections.
  • Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Gunslinger Girl ~ Il Teatrino, the second season of the anime by a different studio.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted, in the training sequence of the anime's first episode Henrietta is told to just aim for the center of mass because at close range hitting them anywhere will stop the target. Justified elsewhere due to the girl's enhancements.
  • Only One Name: The cyborgs (except Elsa de Sica, oddly enough).
  • The Other Darrin: In an inversion of the norm, the second season and OVA feature a completely different Japanese voice cast, but retain the exact same English one with the exception of Hilshire.
  • Pink Mist[context?]
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: Happens during a Killing House training exercise. Justified for cyborgs; less so when Franco does it during the Final Battle of Teatrino.
  • Playing Against Type: Rico in the first series is voiced by Kanako Mitsuhashi... or let's say... Killua Zoldyck? One YouTube user who uploaded Rico's character song [1] pointed this out and claimed, "It's really pretty. But if you imagine Killua or Kouhei singing this, you'd probably choke."
    • In the dub, Laura Bailey, typically known for her more sultry or energetic roles, spends much of the time speaking in a chilling near-whisper as Henrietta.
  • The Pollyanna: Most girls due to their conditioning, but mostly Rico. Jean treats her like an attack dog, and she's fine with that; it beats beings bed-ridden.
  • Precision F-Strike: From the dub of Il Teatrino: "This is such a fucked up world."
  • Razor Floss: Used by Triela in one episode to off a Mook.
  • Rare Guns: Marco's Steyr GB pistol and Petra's SITES Spectre submachine gun, neither of which were produced in large numbers. Another, rather extreme example of this is the Walther WA 2000 used by Henrietta in the anime -less than two hundred WA 2000s were ever made. Triela's Winchester 1897 Trench Gun is an aversion, while long obsolete, it's actually fairly common on the surplus and collectors markets, and even to this day, Chinese firearms manufacturers like Norinco make reverse-engineered clones of them.
  • Red Shirt: The first generation girls Chiara and Sylvia, who only get a little bit of focus before they're rather graphically slaughtered in the battle with Giacomo.
  • Retcon: Some of the flashbacks in Il Teatrino (in the dub at least) slightly change the dialogue from the original anime but generally keep the same meaning and tone.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Jean and Jose are driven heavily by revenge and are easily distracted by it when they learn that their adversary for the arc is Giacomo Dante, their family's prime killer. Surprisingly, Jean is consumed by it much less than Jose, and when PFC Aprea wanted to join the SWA attack on Dante's group holing up in a nuclear power plant to avenge her friends, he told her that she should go enjoy her youth for their sake and that he will take vengeance for them, showing that he didn't want anyone else to go down the path he and his brother did.
    • Could also be a case of You Remind Me of X (i.e. Corporal Sophia Durante) making Jean reluctant to risk her life.
  • Robot Girl: All of them.
  • Say My Name:

Jean: "Giacomooo!!!"

  • Sawed-Off Shotgun: For one mission Triela cut down the stock on her signature Winchester to make it handier for a reverse Fast Roping assault. She comments that she should have done this long before (recoil isn't an issue with her enhancements, but size is).
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: Not in-story, but one of the missions takes place during a showing of Tosca, and we see just about every important scene at least in part (see kids, anime can be educational). Claes has apparently memorized Tosca's whole cry to God speech/aria, which seems somehow appropriate.
  • Scenery Porn: At least the first season of the anime spends a good bit of time on the Italian cities and their architecture. Episode 7, "Protezione" is probably the most notable.
  • Schrodingers Cat: Angelica is heavily implied to have died in the first anime season, but is back in full action in Il Teatrino. It is mentioned she was released from hospital, indicating that she just fell asleep while watching the meteorite shower in the first season's last episode, which diminishes its emotional impact quite a bit.
    • She does end up dying in volume 9. It's far sadder than the anime, too.
  • Senseless Violins: The girls conceal their weapons in musical instrument cases. Henrietta is the one most often seen carrying the iconic violin case... and when she's off-duty, she carries a violin in the case. Rico once used a clarinet case in the anime.
  • She's All Grown Up: A recent chapter has Alessandro dressing up Triela so she will fit in with Petra while they work together. A change in wardrobe and judicious padding push her apparent age up to the late teens. This makes Hilshire (and her) a bit uncomfortable as she is unlikely to ever reach that actual age. It seems to cause her to give up her pigtails, however.
  • The Siege: The SWA barricades their headquarters when the government attempts to dissolve them.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Nino, once a bomb-happy fanatic, now derisively nicknamed "The Tibetan Terrier" by other terrorists for his apparent over-caution (which turns out to be justified). And Franco is only inspired to continue making bombs by the fervor of his partner Flanca.
  • Shipper on Deck: Chapter 55 indicates Mimi is a Hilshire/Triela shipper.
  • Shoot the Dog: Multiple times.[context?]
  • Shoot the Hostage: When Dante is using Jean as a Human Shield, Rico manages to do this despite her conditioning, as Jean had earlier made it clear they were to give their own lives if necessary to stop Dante.
  • Shout-Out: In Chapter 56 of the manga Triela finds herself having to perform emergency surgery on someone. While she's doing this she ties her hair back into a single pony-tail, leaving long strands of hair down her front. It's also one of the few times she wears a mini-skirt. She ends up looking very much like a certain other girl who knows a thing or two about medicine who also happens to share the same English voice actress.
  • Shown Their Work: The author's grasp on Western literature and art is surprising for a Japanese mangaka; referenced throughout the story has included pieces of work including Horatius, Tosca, and the Rape of the Sabine Women.
  • Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes: Most of the protagonists are Type IVs; the girls themselves are Punch Clock Heroines and the more sympathetic members of the Social Welfare Agency such as Jose are basically good people even though they are part of a (to say the least) morally questionable initiative. Some of the less sympathetic members, such as Jean, come closer to Type V, and some of the assignments of the Social Welfare Agency such as assassinating a congressman on request from a political rival thrust them all into this category.
    • Jose and Marco are closer to type I. Jose has some serious mental issues and a drinking problem to boot. Marco is too straightforward and simple a person to make a good handler. Jean's a Knight Templar with a personal vendetta (and way too much influence over his brother), and Sandro is in it for himself, period. Hirscher is an actual hero slash Knight in Sour Armor but he is in way over his head (not for the first time).
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: All of the girls. But most of the time the girls will use sub-machine guns or smaller caliber pistols. We've seen Rico handle some very large weaponry though (up to firing a G3 machine gun "Rambo style") and Triela's default weapon is a Winchester 1897 "trenchgun" (army shotgun) with bayonet. The first DVD volume is even titled "Ragazzine Piccole, Armi Grandi" — literally "small girls, big guns" in Italian.
  • Snuff Film: Triela was kidnapped from her home and smuggled to Amsterdam to be part of one. She almost died from it until Hilshire and Rachelle rescued her.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Subverted in the most frightening way possible.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: The bleak, operatic "Dopo il Sogno".
  • Spear Counterpart: Pinnochio, an operative for Padania, for Triela, leading to a very, very bloody fight between them.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Henrietta's handler is variously called Jose, Guise, or Guiseppe depending on the translation. Given that his brother is named "Jean" (not Giovani, which was their father's name) it's probably an alias anyway (like Hilshire/Hirscher). This page calls him "Jose".
    • Speaking of Triela's handler, both ADV's and Seven Seas' separate manga translations and Funimation's anime dub went with "Hilshire", whereas Funimation's subtitles and the German version of the manga went with Hirscher.
    • In recent[when?] flashbacks it's shown that his name is "Joseph" (or just maybe Josepho) and his brother is really "Jean", maybe their mom was French/Swiss (they're from Milan anyway).
    • Giuseppe and Jose are (respectively) the Italian and Spanish variants of Joseph, so it's more likely that it's Giuseppe.
    • The names "Jean" and "Josepho" are used (in a flashback), by their grandfather. Apparently their dad was really cosmopolitan. Or he was intentionally using northern Italian forms of the names (which are pretty much like French, Jean would be spelled "Jan" in that case).
  • Suicide Pact: Henrietta forms one with Jose in front of him during their investigation of Elsa's death. Many chapters later, they fulfill the suicide pact together at Jose's request after she accidentally frags him during a rampage. They fire one fatal bullet at each other.
  • Super Senses: Henrietta listens in on a terrorist meeting from the other side of a restaurant. Rico hears a vehicle coming before everyone else on a couple of occasions and detects Fermi throwing a coin at Jean's head even with her back to him.
  • Super Soldier: Played dead straight with the girls, for tragedy.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy: Referenced in Triela's Image Song.
  • Taking the Bullet: Taken Up to Eleven with the girls throwing themselves in the blast of carbombs and Bouncing Betty landmines.
  • Tempting Fate: Both Lauro and Hilshire say that their cyborg has never let them down just before a mission where said cyborg stuffs up completely.
  • Tender Tears: The cyborgs have a habit of crying in their sleep as noted by the Agency doctors. Especially tragic as the audience knows why they cry but the girls can't remember their dreams so they don't understand why they feel sad on waking up (Claes dreams of her father figure/handler who was wiped from her conscious memory, while Triela dreams of a woman she believes to be her mother, but is actually the doctor who died resuscitating her in Amsterdam).
    • The normally cheery Rico sheds tears over her handler Jean after he's shot during the Turin siege.
  • Together in Death: When cleaning up the bodies from the Turin siege, their comrades come across the Jose/Henrietta and Hilshire/Triela fratellos like this.
  • Theme Naming: In-story. Triela has been getting stuffed bears from her handler from day one. The first seven are named for (Disney version) Snow White's dwarves. When she gets an eighth it gets the name Augustus (Aug=8th month). After that she seems to have switched to Roman Emperors. We've seen Augustus, Caligula, and Claudius; we have never seen Tiberius.
  • There Are No Therapists: Subverted with Dr Bianchi, whose job is to keep the girls functioning and advise their handlers how to handle them, but not to help the girls re-enter society.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The mercenaries allied with Padania spares no expense when they take on the SWA teams. Beatrice was gutted with an Anti-Materiel Rifle, a rifle designed for piercing the heavy armor on tanks mind you, and afterwords vaporized with a cruise missile.
  • Thirteen Episode Anime: Both seasons have thirteen episodes, as well as an OVA which has only two episodes.
  • Those Two Guys: Amadeo and Giorgio, Section 2's resident GIS troopers, used to support operations.
  • Tuck and Cover: And how![context?]
  • Twenty Minutes Into the Future / Alternate History: Nearly everything about the world seems modern except for the film cameras, which were phasing out even when the manga started, and the cyborg girls, who are well beyond today's technology. The nonexistent organizations, and events (like a nuclear incident in Serbia) make it at least one of these options.
    • The Padania (the northern 5 provinces of Italy) separatist movement has a Real Life analogue, the "Lega Nord" party, but it's much less of an active threat. As of now it's mostly working inside constitutional frameworks, but in their beginning they weren't that nice, at least in their declaration of intents.
    • There's a battle at a nuclear plant, but in our world they dismantled them in 1987 after Chernobyl.
  • Tyke Bomb: All of the girls.
  • Unequal Pairing: Any fanfic that ships a handler with their cyborg. Age issues aside, these girls are brainwashed to unconditionally love and obey their handler and are kept isolated from boys their own age, making any relationship morally ambiguous. It's noticeable that those relationships in canon with a romantic touch (Petra/Sandro and possibly Triela/Hilshire) try to emphasize that the cyborg concerned is more free-thinking that her co-workers.
  • Uncanny Valley (In-Universe): Sandro, a handler who's developed the ability to Sherlock Scan people, notes that he can't read anything from the cyborgs due to their memory-wiped personalities.
  • Waif Fu: Every girl has engaged in hand to hand combat; Triela in particular.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Pretty much the premise of the series with the tragedy dialed up to 11.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Cute?
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: There is mounting confusion about how to view the girls, who lose their human traits more and more as time progresses.
    • Dante describes the cyborgs as 'demons' when giving a Rousing Speech in a deliberate attempt to invoke this trope.
  • We All Live in America: The series, though it's set in Italy, had many of the adult handlers be quite reserved towards their charges, probably causing Values Dissonance for any Italian viewers. They even bow sometimes. The girls don't act much like typical Italian girls, either.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Triela and Claes.
    • In particular, do not try to hide things from Triela. She picks up on euphemisms and omissions very well for a 14-year old, (let alone a brainwashed cyborg one). Fortunately, she tends to be forgiving.
  • World of Action Girls: Not only are all the major characters young girls, but all of them have been trained to take advantage of how they're young girls.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once Dante has been captured and the Turin plant secured, the Prime Minister sends in the army to destroy the SWA.
  • You Remind Me of X: Triela dreams of a woman wearing glasses that she believes to be her mother (actually Rachelle Belleut, the French doctor who died saving her life in Amsterdam). When the Triela/Hilshire fratello encounter Roberta Guellfi, a Meganekko prosecutor they've been assigned to bodyguard, they're both driven to protect her because she reminds them of Rachelle.
  1. "Indeed, if a man should live many years, let him rejoice in them all, and let him remember the days of darkness, for they will be many. Everything that is to come will be futility. Rejoice, young man, during your childhood, and let your heart be pleasant during the days of young manhood. And follow the impulses of your heart and the desires of your eyes. Yet know that God will bring you to judgment for all these things."