First we checked out Peace Maker Kurogane. Apparently it's situated during the Meiji Restoration (when the Tokugawa shogunate ended when emperor Meiji retook political power, thus ending the classical period and ushering in the modern times), and out main character is Tetsu, a 15-year old boy who wants to join one of the groups of samurai. The other group has killed his father, and Tetsu wants revenge!
Of course, the group is not about to let a young punk like him join, but he manages to get an "audition" of sorts: he battles a high-ranking member of the group with bokken (wooden swords), and gets the crap beat out of him -- though he does demonstrate resolve and energy.
Then, that night, be witnesses an ambush on one of the top-ranking swordsmen of the group by the other group (I forgot the names, go figure). Apparently samurai have 25 liters of blood under high pressure in their veins... O_o;
The visual style is pretty nice (it is animated by Gonzo Digimation, after all), but I just couldn't care about what happens. One time it's like a sports anime, next you see samurai slaughtering each other. Really an odd mix, and one I didn't care much for. I did love the eye-catches, but I hated the theme songs (stupid rap/rock stuff). We'll not be collecting this any further.
Next was Gunslinger Girl. It's about a shady organisation who uses young girls that have been 'conditioned' (read: 'brainwashed') to function as killing machines. Beautiful visual style, good directing and great music! It's like a cross between Noir and La Femme Nikita. The first episode is a great setup (we see the main character go 'beserk'), and I'm really interested to see how it will develop.