Before I start with the episode review, I’d like to share something that Solaris wrote up, about Gunslinger Girl’s connections to the real situations in Italy.
You all like Gunslinger girl story don’t you? Let’s take a closer look on the social picture the show feature to us.
The story is setted up in Italy some years in the future and it depict a country on the verge of a civil war. National government is weak and corruption spreads in public affairs. Army are divided and corrupted as well.
There are independist movements in the country, expecially plaved in the Northern Regions. The south is quite lost an the real government there is Mafia now. The national government has quite no power at all there. Sicily is now an independent state itself.
But in the surface everything is ok, and the government doesn’t show any effort in taking any remedy to the situation.
So being the central governmente unable, people is tired and sides up mostly with those who are ruining the country that is independists movement most of all.
The only way to keep back some order and fight back crime is to act over legal and in the dark. And so The Social Wellfare Agency was created and our story begins.
Well, you can never imagine how close to the reality this situation is. Of course there is no civil war in Italy, but all the problems Italy really has, are depicted and emphatized in the fiction.
Italy is nowadays divided in three macro regions that are economically very different. Northern Territories are the richest ones. There are industries that produce services and goods. North is the economical engine of the country.
The center regions are under the influence of Rome, where the governemnt is. So much of the job there is managing the public affairs. Central regions are wealthly and there is turism, industry as well.
Southern countries are a little problem. They’re back economically, and are more rural countries. People usually leaves ang go northside for working.
But the tax income isn’t decided on a regional base. Ecomomical politics is one for all regions. There’s a constant flow of money from the northern countries to the south to develop a part of the italy that wouldn’t grow for some reason. Northern people looks at the south like a burden thus denying that many people from the south are actually working in the north and contributed that way to Italian richness.
Why does South didn’t reach Northern regions developement degree? There are many reason, but mostly two are important. The first is that back a long time ago, after the war it was chosen to spend money for industries in the north mainly, and the other is mafia in the south.
Mafia isn’t just something that reminds you of gangster stories. It’s something ancient, an old relic of what it was South Italy long before Italian Unification (XIX century). When there still was the King of Naples, there were noble families that took care of local government. They were the hands that administrated and protected the people before the king. Here, “mafia” means something like pride, honour, or even social responsibility: an attitude, not an organization. Where the government changed and the state cared less or nothing for the population, there Mafia flourished.
But Mafia in the 20th century dwelled with mostly illegal activities and crimes. They are no longer the protectors of people but became oppressors themselves. Still he old fashoned idea of strong and righteous didn’t vanish even before the crimes. Nowadays Mafia has gain so much power that has no longer need of illecit activities like prostitution or drugs to go on. These low level crimes are now matter of new criminal groups like Albanians. They use illecit activities to force and hold power over the normal socioechonomical substrate of entire cities and regions. They now take money from extorsions and public contracts and invest it. Mafia controls the money nowadays and controls peple with the means of money. Entire cities and quarters are under their rule and also it’s infiltrating in that government, at a local level that once it used to fight with.
So South Italy remained frozen undeveloped, in the hands of these people that rather strangled it. And all the money the central government gave for the South did never reach the population. It disappeared before in nothing. Think that there’s still people living in barracks aftrer the Irpinian Earthquake wich happened 30 yars ago. Read here how much money was given to aid http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italy_Earthquake_of_1980.
Of course Central Government is the first blame from the population for the lack of social wellfare. No work, no money. Many are forced to immigrate to north to gain a job, or are better employed in mafia itself. So still Mafia, taking care of the people is well accepted. That is quite ironical.
Som emore info’s about Mafia are here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mafia
On the other side Northern Region’s population have the burden to train the whole country and are disenchanted. They see their money wasted in the southern black hole and in the burocratic and unefficient public administration. So they grew some resentment for the whole country.
Moreover they grew a lot of conceit. The think they’re the only working in Italy and that the government is oppressing them. Nothing more false than this, but it’s 1/3 of the population in the north believes it to some extent. These people is ironically the same who end to skip on taxes, and be proud of dishonesty. they think something like, the government steals me, i steal everybody else. They are also racist against everybody is not from the North taly.
So from the early 80′s several new movement ware born. All of them exploited resentment against the central governmet and made their flag of discrimination against southern Italians. Open racism against illegal immigrants were also exploited. All these movements were joined in The Lega Nord party. Expecially with the large scandals for the corruption in 1992, the Tangentopoli affair, people had the direct confirm that what Lega said was true. The Lega literly gained the larger success from that moment on.
Lega Nord is openly secessionist and claims for Padania independency. Padania isn’t a real region of Italy, it’s something around the big plains of the Po river, at the centre of the northern Italy. Of course to make alies in the parliament Lega had to make a step back o their claims. Now they only clain for a federal reform of Italy, expecially economically speaking. Nowadays the Lega Nord is the mayor ally of Forza Italia, Berlusconi’s party. I won’t speak of him now, as it seems he and his party isn’t mentioned in Gunslinger Girl.
Of course you notice how much the Movement of the five Republics resembles Lega Nord itself.
Here you can find more info about Lega Nord: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lega_Nord
After reading this, I’m even more surprised at what an interesting setting was chosen for this series. This is exactly what I mean when series need to look beyond Japanese high-schools for their settings at times.
In any case, this episode sets up for the finale of the Pinocchio arc. At least, I think it does, because Triela doesn’t get sent to the place where Pinocchio is about to do his mission, along with Franco and Franca. Instead, he’s up against Henrietta and Beatrice, while Triela, Angelica and Rico are sent to Milano for another mission.
Oh, and Pinocchio also gets some more background, and I’m surprised at how involved Christiano is with his missions. It turns out that even though he doesn’t do the dirty jobs himself, he does help cleaning things up for the people who work under him. Stereotypical bad guys really need to follow this guy’s example, instead of sitting on their chairs, trying to look evil. In any case, during one of these cleanups, Christiano discovered the young Pinocchio, and took him in. There, one of his subordinates (who is now dead), trained Pinocchio to be the assassin he is now.
One rather technical bit that I’d like to note is that this series is the first I’ve seen that avoids what I’d like to call the “piano-syndrome”. Usually in anime, when someone starts playing a musical instrument, the creators just cue a regular background tune. At the really bad cases, I have no idea whether a character is actually playing, or the background music is actually playing, but this series handled this quite nicely by running a small filter though the sound, that makes it sound much more real and in the background, rather than from a recording-studio. Kudos!
All that’s left now is to hope that some kind of third season will close off this series. It took quite some time for the second season to arrive, but I think that that was mostly because Madhouse had no intention to make a second season (if they had, they would have done so much earlier), so if I had to guess, then things will go easier for the third season, especially with the original mangaka behind things.