When the Social Welfare Agency investigates the disappearance of an operative, their inquiry leads them right into the lair of their rival, the Five Republics. The assassin Triela infiltrates the hostile organization, but her search is cut short when she finds herself staring down the barrel of a gun...
I'm hearing so much bleating about how different S2 is to S1, I thought I'd better jot down a couple of pointers for the uninformed.
Anybody who's watched S1 will realise that Madhouse spoilt us - everything was right, the artwork, the music, the character design and most of all the story. When Marvelous commissioned S2 they, for whatever reason (I assume Madhouse had become victims of their own brilliance and had too much work - including, I heard, Satoshi Kon's new movie) they gave the job to ArtLand. This meant an entirely new crew working on the project, from the artists to the seiyuu (so, yes, the characters will look and sound different - live with it). Sadly, for whatever reason, ArtLand simply don't seem to have the budget to fill the very large shoes left by Madhouse (maybe all is not well at the production house, Marvelous.)
Let's start off with what's wrong. The artwork is generally horrible, especially the 'shakey stills' used in episode 1's fight scenes. That was nasty. However, there does seem to be a gradual improvement up to episode 3, although there still isn't enough cash to animate the fight between Pinocchio and Triela properly. (I can only hope that they're keeping funds in reserve to throw at the payoff at the end of the story). The backgrounds are good, but I have a sneaky suspicion they're merely photos that have been painted over.
That said, I want to make one thing very clear: If you're watching GSG as an action show, stop watching it now, because you've missed the point. Whatever action there is, is merely the thread that ties the main story - the relationships between the girls and their handlers within the various fratellos - together.
Character design is another weakness, as are the voices. Jose's terrible hair keeps reminding me of Satou from Welcome to the NHK, and I have no idea who decided to make Henrietta sound so chirpy - it just doesn't work. Maybe I'm nitpicking, but the OP is a bit lame too (although the words have significant meaning) but it's never going to be a 'Light Before We Land'. The ED, however, is about as perfect and suitable as you could get - haunting and evocative and a good replacement for LBWL.
So, that said. what are the strengths? Simply put, the story. Anybody who's read the manga to this point (Basically starting at Vol 3) should be more than happy with the anime. This is largely (I think) due to the greater input of Aida Yu in both the screenplay and art direction. Given his genius in weaving the overall original story, it can only be a plus that he's on board for this series. The opening episode, which rearranged certain events into a more logical chronological order, gave us a good view of the 'goodies', even all the backroom staff. It's just a shame they missed the payoff of the 'walking on the curb' scene. Ah well. Likewise, episode 2 gave us an insight into the 'baddies' and expect a lot more film to be used on their stories. The opening, with the youthful Pinocchio, was IMHO better than the manga. Likewise we're being given a deeper insight into the workings of the most complex of the fratellos - Hillshire/Triela. Her line "everything about me is fake" was not only very insightful from her, but also very sad. Add her newfound insecurity and we're in for an interesting time watching this young lady. In terms of storytelling, Season 2 is more than holding its own against its predecessor.
Yes, it does have it's faults, some of of them are sadly disappointing, especially for a rabid fan of the series like myself. However, if you can look past that you'll find there's still the same ugly/beautiful/gentle/violent/ light/dark/happy/sad and brilliant story that captured our hearts first time round. read more
Having being the first reviewer to actually finish the series, I'd like to say that, despite the obvious reduction in artwork due to changing production studios. They do try their best in trying to stay faithful to the manga. In which they do quite well in my opinion all the way to the final episode.
Story - (Great)
Basically the main story arc this time around is having the girls try to crack down on a radical terrorist organization. The story is simple enough to cause enough action, drama, and straight up melancholy sadness. Yu Aida does such a good job on the story that theres a high chance of having the viewer actually feeling sorry for some of the bad guys.
Art - (Fair)
The art is the obvious difference between the first season and second season. It's almost feels as if a different team was hired to do the art production, and you're 100% right. In all honesty its not the production companies fault that the quality is different. But its painfully obvious that they don't have that 1,000,000Yen per episode backing them. The Art, for the most part does its job not wonderfully, but pretty well. They still manage to hand paint a few landscape pictures of Italy and all its landmarks, they still draw the girls as cute as hell, its all just a little less detailed and polished as before. And you won't see any more brands (other than the guns and a Vespa) floating around. You can also tell money is a big factor in the first few episodes when you can see certain cost cutting techniques like "shaking" a still photo, or slow motion punches. But if you endure to the end you'll manage to see the most exciting episode in the GSG series.
Sound - Fair
Sound is another thing that is a mixed bag. All the action and other sound effects fit this show perfectly fine, but the SAME music plays over and over and over again. Once in a while a new song will appear but they go back to the same 3 songs throughout the whole series. But thankfully its not too intrusive, but its noticeable. That was my only issue with the sound. Everything else was just fine.
Characters - (Very Good)
Now the characters are just as lovable as before, but it does seem like they emit a little more emotion this time around. I can buy that since they are older and (for the most part) learn things. They do look a little different but that just takes getting used to. We do learn a little more of each of the girls and even get introduced to a new character. I was spoiled with falling in love with the dubbed version of the first season, so I never got a chance to pay attention to the seiyu's from there. But they seem to make the voices fit fine. Moe, tsundere, playful, and smart they all fit just fine in my opinion.
Enjoyment - (Good)
Overall its just like working at a big call center in America, everything is fine and smooth for the first year, and then you find out that they have to take massive cuts or send your job to India. It's the same job but, just with less money and quality. If you can keep an open mind, you can see they do their best to follow Yu Aida's dream. I sure hope they make Volume 6 (of the manga) into an OVA. read more
To call the original Gunslinger Girl a pleasant surprise is an understatement – what began as mere curiosity gradually transitioned into genuine intrigue, as its expertly constructed main cast, thematic depth, haunting beautiful soundtrack, and breathtaking visuals made for an unexpectedly profound, and remarkable, experience. That said, the change in studios for the second season was a bit of a risky move, as the first one did such a large number of things right; and unfortunately, to call this transition rough would be to say the least. However, the series’ rich characters and engaging relationships have remained consistent, making for an experience which, at its core, is enjoyable, despite an underwhelming presentation.
As before, the story takes place in Italy, where the Social Welfare Agency utilizes technological implants and indoctrination techniques in order to convert young, heavily injured girls into adept killers; note that “emotionless” and “tranquil” are not among the list of adjectives describing them, as you might expect. The main cast from the first season returns, with each girl being paired up with a “handler”, in order to form a duo called a “fratello”. After a brief run-in, the game of predator and prey between the agency and a rival terrorist organization initiates, a premise which the show makes use of in order to deliver a comparatively greater number of firefights and one-on-one standoffs.
This may sound like a basis for a sci-fi action show, but the Gunslinger Girl series places much more of its time and attention on its cast and their personal aspects. Our characters, from the atypically loyal Henrietta to the acute and proficient big sister figure Triela, are again brilliantly explored; the latter in particular receives special attention in this season – her diminishing drive and confidence, with her contrasting, climbing lust for revenge, was well presented, despite being a fairly cliche character device. They are, regardless of their environment and perfunctory assassinations, very much children on the inside, making for some complex, subtle relationships between each other and their respective handlers. With this as a foundation, the show continues to oscillate precariously between different shades of morality, blurring the lines between black and white more fluidly and seamlessly than many other shows attempt. Unfortunately, a major characterization issue from the first season is carried over – the handlers themselves, with the exception of one, felt more like plot devices to accentuate the girls’ development rather than fully realized characters on their own.
Right, so it sounds like it’s pretty much neck and neck with the first season, correct? Well… not quite. In fact, the seams in the transition are by no means subtle – the visual overhauls are prominent from the very first scene. What was once a dark, gloomy colour palette is instead replaced by bright and vibrant hues; what was once elegant, polished animation, and unconventional, but well handled direction is now stiff and often awkward. The art style didn’t suffer nearly as much as the other visual components, but characters still look comparatively blocky and, literally, rough around the edges. While the number of action scenes have increased greatly, I instead felt detached this time around, as it was a deviation from what the show kept adamantly good.
Sure, the aesthetics category may seem relatively frivolous with all the depth this show has to offer, but the corollary of this prominent transformation is a large detriment to the atmospheric power. The poignant, yet serene aura of the first season is swapped for an extraneously – and likely, inadvertently – light hearted tone. Part of what made the first season so immersive and memorable was its melancholic ambiance; mercilessly slashing that, however experimental, is unwelcome to say the least. Also, despite the breathtaking opening and ending songs, the accompanying music, while good, soon became repetitive; yet, it still managed to envelop me with a similarly, and appropriately, bleak sensation.
Gunslinger Girl: Il Teatrino is a testament to how detrimental execution can be when it misses the mark, regardless of the source material’s quality. However, I could merely be using the first season as a barometer, rendering this entry ill in comparison; even so, this is a show worth watching, if only for its beautifully realized main cast, emotional resonance, and engaging story, however simple. In other words, although flaws have been carried over and added to, this second season continues to do much of what the first did best- and that, alone, makes for a valuable experience.read more
Okay, this is the first review I've even written and the first anime I've ever graded 1/10, but after watching just the first half of the first episode, it is easy to see how poorly this season compares to the first.
For one thing, the animators are extremely lazy. In the first season, movements were fluid. The girls made firing guns and taking bullets a work of art. Even the few short combat sequences were poetry. But in Il Teatrino, the animators took a still image of a mob attack and shook it. Literally, they shook the image to give the illusion that the people were beating on each other. And when they let Jose fall in slow motion I knew there was nothing worth watching.
The mood of the episode was also entirely different. Somehow, all the heaviness in the first season disappeared, like all of a sudden they were unconcerned by the fact that these girls have such terrible pasts coupled with a very limited lifespan. The girls also suddenly became cheerful, destroying the characters they built in the first season. Rather, they seemed like entirely different people. They've become.. schoolgirls.
Another thing I miss about the old Gunslinger is the background music. The first season's BGM carried the mood of each episode, saying "Hey, these ain't just Lolis with guns. These are Lolis with guns and a story to tell." Comparing the first ep of the second season with the first ep of the first is a no-brainer. The only up-side to the music was Kokia's opening theme. (Yeah, I'm in love with Kokia).
All in all, I don't recommend Il Teatrino for anyone - not for fans of the first season because they'll be terribly disappointed, and not for those who've never seen Gunslinger Girl, because they might get a wrong impression of the first season.read more