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
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
Reviewers note: I have not yet read the manga, so I can not make tactful comparisons between the anime and the manga. I will only be comparing the quality between the two anime seasons. I am well aware the second season is more faithful to the manga than the first. I am not reviewing how well Il Teatrino follows the manga, I am reviewing the quality and the overall production of Il Teatrino above all else.
After a 4 year gap, Il Teatrino, A second season to the original Gunslinger Girl, has been announced. On January 7, 2008, the first episode was aired. The story would take place directly after the original Gunslinger Girl, and would follow closely to the manga’s premise, rather than the direction the first season.
The big question I asked upon hearing the news was, “What production company would be in charge of managing this anime?” The previous company in charge of producing Gunslinger Girl was Madhouse, a well known production studio that has released high quality material in the past. Among the ranks of these shows includes, X, Trigun, Paprika, Death Note, Boogiepop Phantom, and most notably Monster. Madhouse has also helped produce some biggest budget animmated movies known to date, and has worked with Studio Ghilbi(Metropolis) All in all, the company has an impressive track record, and is a major hitter in the anime industry, and is trusted to produce shows with respectable quality. As it turns out, Madhouse would not be producing Il Teatrino, so after a few minutes of research I learned the company in charge of Il Teatrino would be Artland.
It is important to understand an animation studio’s past works are a clear indicator of the quality and type of work they will put out in the future. What a studio has put out before, is synonymous with the material they will put out later, in layman’s terms. This is a general rule in anime with rare exceptions. Companies such as Toei is known to produce anime for a generally younger audience and creates anime based on a much larger demographic with less emphasis on art quality. Kyoto animation releases disturbingly high quality art, and is aimed at smaller demographic. The list of anime company trends go on. So if that is the general pattern, how is Artland’s Resume?
Artland is a relatively small company in terms of influence, and has produced only a few number of anime. There are only two shows I can remember that I truly enjoyed being produced by Artland. The first being Bokura ga Ita, a drama/romance anime with a decent production value. Bokura ga Ita is story driven and relied on minimalist animation. The other being Mushishi, which is considered by many viewers, and myself, to be a masterpiece. Mushishi is arguably one of the best anime of the decade, in all respects: animation, story, atmosphere, and the list goes on. Other productions I have seen by Artland are nowhere near as impressive and some are just downright sub-par in terms of quality. Artland, however, is not a low-quality studio. Artland has only recently restarted producing anime in 2003, after an approximate 20 year gap from the company’s last title, Megazone 23, released in 1985. Above anything else, the potential for greatness that lies in this studio, made apparent by the award winning Mushishi, is a good indicator that Il Teatrino has the ability to reach greatness, only if the studio takes the show seriously, and invests some serious time and money into its production.
Another important fact to take into consideration is the atmosphere of these two companies will not be similar in anyway. Even before watching the first episode, I knew that the over gritty, dark, and bittersweet atmosphere of the original Gunslinger Girl, would not be apparent in its sequel. After watching the first season of Gunslinger Girl a number of times, and heavily analyzed the first two episode of Il Teatrino; I have come to the conclusion that the second season should act more as a stand alone, manga faithful, adaptation, that just happens to fall after the first season in terms or chronology, than consider it a direct sequel to the original Gunslinger Girl produced by Madhouse. The two shows will not feed of each other, and will not compliment each other in anyway, so why compare them. It’s best to watch Il Teatrino with an open mind, and to enjoy the show for what it is.
Before we begin discussion of the first episode of Il Teatrino, one must address the original Gunslinger Girl, the predecessor to Gunslinger girl: Il Teatrino. The original can be considered by many to be a cult classic. Out of the thousands of anime that exist in pop culture today only a few truly shine and stand above the rest as a work of art. Gunslinger Girl is truly one of those beautiful rarities that never ceases to amaze, captivate, and cause wonder from the start of the first episode to the last. It is truly a shame that it is not better known, but if it were to gain popularity much of its charm would be lost.
Now, to newcomers of anime, the story of Gunslinger Girl is beyond cliche, and the overall idea is laughable. This is understandably so, but I implore you to give it watch. It should be noted the series is emotionally draining. As you go through the series it will be impossible not to make an emotional connection with the characters. The characters are portrayed so vividly, and so beautifully that at times the character has almost too many dimensions causing the viewer to feel confused. Each character has their own foibles, and strengths but there are also so many other elements that are in each character that can not truly be put into words. Most of the conflicts are focused on internal conflicts within each girl and their handlers. If you are curious for more, I suggest you read my review for the original Gunslinger Girl, but enough ranting, it’s time to get this show on the road.
Note the anime isn’t even close to finishing so this acts as a prerequisite review
Art: Is it a step down from the original? Possibly, it really depends on what you think is good animation, but the quality is without a doubt, comes up short compared to that of Madhouse. This is not necessarily a bad thing however. The show still possesses an amazing amount of charm, and despite the new character designs you can still feel the soul and the spirit of the characters through their dialogue and actions. The landscape’s are quite beautiful and the only complaint thus far, is the shaky handy cam effect during the mob scene, but it is acceptable. Overall the art isn’t as great, but it’s not so bad as to detract away from what makes Gunslinger Girl a great anime.
Story: The emotional conflict seen in the first season of the new anime doesn't appear to be rearing it's ugly head yet, but I guarantee it will. After all it is the emotional tensions between the girls and their handlers, and just the inner conflicts inside all the characters themselves that make this anime so great. Hopefully Artland can bring it home and deliver a just sequel to the orignial season.
Sound: I am usually not bogged down by change in voice actors, but I’m finding it hard to adapt to these new ones, especially Henrietta’s, I can’t say much here, perhaps we’ll grow on them?
Characters: As far as I’m concerned the characters are still just as strong as before with a new atmosphere and tone. If taken the right direction this new season can deliver just as much impact in character develop as the first season. Here’s hoping that the studio can pull through here as characters are what made the first Gunslinger Girl so great.
Last Words: When it comes down to it, there is only hoping. I haven’t gone too far in the anime, but Gunslinger Girl was one of my all time favorites. I felt an unbearable tug to write a quick review on the first 2 episodes and I did just that. However I felt a sense of bias against this new season, and had a hard time coming up with logical complaints. The bottom line is that the new season may not be as great, but it certainly isn’t bad. Yet. read more