The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-

Title: Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-
Genre: Action/Drama
Company: Artland
Format: 13 episodes
Dates: 7 Jan 2008 – 31 Mar 2008

Synopsis: The Social Welfare Agency is a secret organization that uses technological advancements to greatly enhance the physical capabilities of children who have long lost their ability to live normally in society. The agency employs these children as assassins who use their demure appearances to deceive, disarm and exterminate their enemies. Their primary targets are agents from a terrorist group Padania. Though their operations are usually small scale, two talented bombers from the extremist faction conspire to destroy a bridge in order to destabilize the government. Sent to kill these terrorists, a child named Triela boldly chases after this duo only to stare down the edge of blade of the master assassin, Pinocchio.

The Highlights
Story: At times, dark and disturbing in a soul shredding kind of way.
Characters: Aside from Triela, lacks a sense of presence and importance.
Presentation: Generic, vanilla, mediocre… why the hell did Artland do this?

It’s funny how anime can easily get away with so many questionable ideas. If you sit down and think about it, One Piece glorifies the life of pirates who in real life have blazed their mark on history by pillaging and murdering countless people; Lupin the Third is a womanizing thief who relishes taking things that are not his; and Naruto is really an anime about children training to become assassins. Most anime keep a certain veneer of superficiality that leaves no doubt that a work is fictional to avoid any problems and keep things fun. However, there are certain anime like Madhouse Studio‘s Gunslinger Girl that boldly blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. Artland picks up where Madhouse left off with Gunslinger Girls: Il Teatrino and tries to capture the warmth of the original manga along with the intensity of the first anime, but it only manages to dumb down the final product to around a Naruto.

For an anime about children assassins being exploited by a secret government organization, there is far too much levity to virtually everything. Colors are too bright, character designs lack a sense of realism, and guns look like toys and has a coin flip’s chance of firing with a recoil of a Nerf gun. Apparently some of these aesthetic changes are done to conform more to the sensibilities of the manga, but Artland clearly does not have the money or creativity to make these visuals work.

The story is good; at times, it’s great. The series maintains the same juxtaposition of angelic innocence and horrific brutality. The problem is that show is not subtle about anything. Every event is hammered out into an extremely straightforward narrative that could have easily gone from decent to fantastic with the right presentation. Instead of slowly building tension, there is an over-reliance on music to try to evoke emotion, which is not a bad idea since the music is pretty good. However, around half of the children are hard to take seriously since they are voiced by seiyuu stretching to be moe and serious at the same time.

Madhouse‘s rendition of Gunslinger Girl is a cold, impersonal and highly cinematic interpretation of Aida Yu‘s original manga. Though brilliant in its own right, it’s true that the adaptation never captures the warmth and sense of peace the manga exudes. Il Teatrino tries to soften the experience to a more straightforward and emotional work, but poor execution ends up killing anything good about the whole idea.

The Rating: 5

Reviewed by: Shadowmage

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