Some of you may remember my review of the first Gunslinger Girl anime by Madhouse. The final verdict ended up as a 9/10 for its excellent character elements, well constructed story and well done action. This week we’re going to look at the second anime, Il Teatrino. Unlike the first series, this one was handled by Artland, a studio best known for doing support work in projects such as Darker than Black, School Rumble, Star Ocean EX and others. The only thing I’ve seen where they took the lead was the atrocious to the point of being almost unwatchable, Ichiban Ushiro no Dai Mao. Of course, that isn’t enough to judge their work as a whole. A lot of prolific studios will work on projects both good and bad. The only way to know is to take a look.
This series has a different view of story than the first. The first one was, mostly, stand alone episodes about the girls going on missions. This one has a proper story. The focus is primarily on the girls facing a small cell from a large terrorist group. The missions that the girls embark on are all connected to this small cell and three particularly skilled operatives from it. There are a few consequences to the change. The first is that they can build up tension a lot more effectively than the first series allowed. Another is that they have proper antagonists in this rather than just random terrorists. This enables them to explore the moral ambiguity more effectively since you actually learn what the terrorists are after and their motivations. There are still problems. Flashbacks get over-used in Il Teatrino. That isn’t to say that they aren’t effective. Most of them are very good for developing the characters. The problem is that they appear in virtually every episode and take up long segments. Which is really distracting and detracts from the main story line a bit.
The characters continue to be very well done, in fact, this season is an improvement in that regard since the antagonists get fleshed out as characters as well. The girls still have plenty of complexity, good interactions and the back stories get more fleshed out for some of them. Claes continues to be the most adorable killing machine ever. The girls having implied or stated crushes on their handlers continues to be the worst aspect. It’s understandable since they are pretty young and these are the only men they spend a lot of time with, but it still gets grating and you’d think a familial bond would be more likely to develop. Although that is arguably the case for some of them. The crush element still takes up far too much focus.
The art continues to be very well done, although not as strong in this series. The character designs are pretty much identical, and the same attention to detail went into rendering the various objects used and in the background. The problem lies in the flashbacks. Apparently, they didn’t trust the viewers to figure out which moments were flashbacks without some indication, so they made them really grainy and gray. They also use a very strange effect during the final action sequence. An effect which doesn’t contribute anything except to make the whole affair confusing to follow and kind of hard to look at. That aside, the action sequences are really good.
The voice acting is still really good, with the same exception. There are still a lot of Italian names that the actors consistently mispronounce. I’m not sure if they just didn’t bother with pronunciation guides or they decided that the correct pronunciations were too hard. One thing that is noticeable is that the actors changed between series. On the positive side, the acting team is roughly as good. The music is a bit better in this series. It was effective and well done in the first one, but this one has several moments that stand out musically while the first didn’t. Hearing Mizuno Risa sing Scarborough Fair is amazing.
The yuri factor is a 3/10. This series has a few more scenes that read as homo-erotic than the first, but it still doesn’t have many.
My final rating for Gunslinger Girl Il Teatrino is a 9/10. It’s a worthy successor to the first, and roughly equal in quality. There are some factors that don’t work as well, but there are others that are improved upon. I would certainly give this one a watch if you’re a fan of the first. Next week, I’ll be looking at Sekirei. It actually will be next week for you lot this time around since tomorrow will have a brand new review to kick off the film festival week.