Gunslinger Girl (ガンスリンガー·ガール, Gansuringā Gāru) is a manga by Yu Aida. It first premiered in the November 2002 issue of the monthly shōnen magazine Dengeki Daioh. The chapters are also being published in 'tankōbon' volumes by MediaWorks. Eleven volumes have been released in Japan as of November 2009. Set in contemporary Italy, the series focuses on young cybernetic girls and their adult male handlers who use them as assassins under the directions of a government organization.
The manga series is licensed for an English language release in North America by ADV Manga. A thirteen-episode anime adaptation produced by Madhouse aired in Japan on Animax and Fuji Television from October 8, 2003, to February 19, 2004. A sequel created by Artland premiered in Japan on Tokyo MX TV on January 7, 2008. Titled Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-, this sequel spanned thirteen episodes, concluding on March 31, 2008. Two additional episodes were released on DVD in Japan on October 24, 2008. The sequel is licensed for release by Funimation Entertainment.
Set in modern-day Italy, Gunslinger Girl follows the exploits of the Social Welfare Agency (often referred to as simply "the Agency"), ostensibly a charitable institution sponsored by the Italian government. While the Agency professes to aid the rehabilitation of the physically injured, it is actually a military organization specializing in counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism. It is composed of two independent branches: Public Safety, its surveillance and intelligence-gathering division, and Special Ops, the anti-terrorist division. Special Ops is itself divided into Sections 1 and 2, the latter of which employs young girls fitted with cybernetic implants as agents. The implants, which consist of synthesized muscles and carbon fiber frames, result in heightened strength and reflexes as well as high resilience to damage and pain. Each girl is paired with a male trainer, or "handler", and together they are referred to as a fratello — the Italian term for "siblings". The handler is responsible for the training, welfare and field performance of his charge, and is free to use whatever methods he considers suitable. While these methods vary according to the handler, a common part of each girl's regimen is brainwashing called "conditioning", which produces a deadly assassin with unquestioning loyalty to her handler but also limits her life span.
Each fratello exhibits a unique dynamic. Most of the handlers have police or military backgrounds and were recruited directly into Section 2. Most also chose their own cyborgs from a list of candidates, though some appear to have been assigned a cyborg. The Social Welfare Agency primarily concerns itself with dealing with the Padania Republic Faction, an organization seeking an independent northern Italy through acts of terrorism and bribery.